Belmopan is the capital city of Belize. Its population in 2010 was 16,451. Although the smallest capital city in the continental Americas by population, Belmopan is the third-largest settlement in Belize, behind Belize City and San Ignacio. Founded as a planned community in 1970, Belmopan is one of the newest national capital cities in the world. Since 2000 Belmopan has been one of two settlements in Belize to hold official city status, along with Belize City. Belmopan is located in Cayo District at an altitude of 76 metres above sea level. Belmopan was constructed just to the east of the Belize River, 80 km inland from the former capital, the port of Belize City, after that city's near destruction by Hurricane Hattie in 1961; the government was moved to Belmopan in 1970. Its National Assembly Building is designed to resemble a Pre-Columbian Maya temple. After Hurricane Hattie in 1961 destroyed 75% of the houses and business places in low-lying and coastal Belize City, the government proposed to encourage and promote the building of a new capital city.
This new capital would be on better terrain, would entail no costly reclamation of land, would provide for an industrial area. In 1962, a committee chose the site now known as Belmopan, 82 kilometres west of the old capital of Belize City. Since Belize was a British colony in 1964, Premier George Cadle Price led a delegation to London to seek funds to finance the new capital. Although they were not ready to commit to funding such a large project, the British government showed interest due to the logic of locating the capital on high ground safe from storm surges. To encourage financial commitment from the British government, Premier Price and the PUP government invited Anthony Greenwood, Secretary of State for the Commonwealth and Colonies, to visit Belize. One of the highlights of this visit was the unveiling of a monument at mile 49 on the Western Highway; the monument records that Lord Greenwood dedicated the site for the new capital on 9 October 1965. In a way, there was a commitment; the name chosen for the new capital, Belmopan, is derived from the union of two words: "Belize", the name of the longest river in the country, "Mopan", one of the rivers in this area, which empties into the Belize River.
The initial estimated cost for building this new city was 40 million Belize dollars. Only 20 million Belize dollars were available. In 1967, work began. From 1970 to 2000 the administration of Belmopan was managed by the Reconstruction and Development Corporation, known as "Recondev." Recondev was vested with the power and authority to provide, or cause to be provided, the municipal functions necessary for the smooth running of the city's business and infrastructure. There was a reluctance amongst foreign governments to relocate their embassies to Belmopan as there was some doubt as to whether this inland area would become the functioning capital; the British High Commission opened in 1981 when Belize achieved independence, moving to its current location in 1984. In February 2005, the United States government broke ground and started building a new embassy in Belmopan, 43 years after it was chosen as the new capital city; the U. S. embassy was opened on 11 December 2006. Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Venezuela have embassies in Belmopan, while Ecuador and the Dominican Republic are represented by consulates.
However, with four embassies and 29 consulates the former capital of Belize City still has most of the country's foreign diplomatic community. The city layout centers around the Ring Road, just under 4 km in circumference; the majority of government buildings are situated either within or around the Ring Road, a large area within the Ring Road is given to parkland. The National Assembly Building is the focal point of the city's design, with the grey stone architecture and broad steps designed to resemble a Mayan temple, reflecting the nation's cultural heritage. Surrounding buildings mirror this design, with the East Wing and West Wing buildings contributing to the overall impression of an ancient Mayan plaza; the original buildings were designed with extensive ventilation to accommodate the tropical climate leading to a pock-marked effect on the buildings' walls. Extensive internal renovations and the widespread introduction of air-conditioners has caused this design to become ineffective and inefficient.
Belmopan is 50 miles inland from the Caribbean Sea and 76 meters above sea level, located near the Belize River Valley with a view of the Mountain Pine Ridge foothills. The city is off the Hummingbird Highway. Two and a half hours south of Belmopan, by road, is the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, it is served by the Hector Silva Airstrip. Belmopan features a tropical monsoon climate under the Köppen climate classification; the city has a lengthy wet season that runs from May through February and a short dry season covering the remaining two months. As is the characteristic of several cities with a tropical monsoon climate, Belmopan sees some precipitation during its dry season. March and April are Belmopan's driest months with 45 mm of rainfall observed on average during those months. Like Belize City, these are somewhat unusual months for a city with a tropical monsoon climate to have its driest months of the year; the driest month for a city with this climate type is the month after the winter solstice, which in Belmopan would be January.
Average monthly temperatures are somewhat constant throughout the course of the year, ranging f
Stann Creek Railway
The Stann Creek Railway was used from 1908 to 1938 as a 25 miles long 3 ft gauge narrow gauge railway from Commerce Bight to Middlesex in Belize. The British Honduras Syndicate opened a mule-drawn railway in 1892 from its main office in Melinda to Sacred Heart Church at the pier in Stann Creek Town, which proved to be useful; the route was built by the colonial government of British Honduras, with the help of Jamaican immigrant workers, for a well above budget total of BH$846,140 or about £ 123,000, or about € 15 million, adjusted for inflation. It had a gauge of 3 feet and was opened in sections from 17 October 1908 to 31 March 1911, it took a detour through the banana plantations on Old Mullins River Road. The bridges were designed as steel bridges with concrete foundations. Four coal-fired steam locomotives were used for the operation, they were stationed at Mile 15, at Mile 21 and in Middlesex. After banana production was reduced to 5,000 stems a week in 1924 and the United Fruit Company ceased operations, the government procured two diesel shunting locomotives capable of handling the entire line at 8 mph.
From 1925, the United States based Tidewater Lumber Company used the railroad to transport mahogany wood from Middlesex to the Commerce Bight pier for shipment to the United States of America. After the decline of the timber industry in Stann Creek Valley in 1929, the railway was still used in the 1930s for passenger transport; the United Fruit Company used the Stann Creek Railway until 1937. The track was reused elsewhere in Belize and Jamaica; the Stann Creek Railway on stanncreekvalley.weebly.com
Belize City is the largest city in Belize and was once the capital of the former British Honduras. According to the 2010 census, Belize City has a population of 57,169 people in 16,162 households, it is at the mouth of the Haulover Creek, a tributary of the Belize River. The Belize River empties into the Caribbean Sea five miles from Belize City on the Philip Goldson Highway on the coast of the Caribbean; the city is the country's principal port and its financial and industrial hub. Cruise ships drop anchor outside the port and are tendered by local citizens; the city was entirely destroyed in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie swept ashore on October 31. It was the capital of British Honduras until the government was moved to the new capital of Belmopan in 1970. Belize City was founded as "Belize Town" in 1638 by English lumber harvesters, it had been a small Maya city called Holzuz. Belize Town was ideal for the English as a central post because it was on the sea and a natural outlet for local rivers and creeks down which the British shipped logwood and mahogany.
Belize Town became the home of the thousands of African slaves brought in by the English to toil in the forest industry. It was the coordination site for the 1798 Battle of St. George's Caye, won by the British against would-be invaders, the home of the local courts and government officials up to the 1970s. For this reason, historians say that "the capital was the colony", because the center of British control was here; this sentiment remains true today. Though people like Antonio Soberanis, George Price and Evan X Hyde all lobbied to take their movements outside, other ethnic groups such as the Garifuna and Mestizos sprang up elsewhere in the country, people looked to Belize Town for guidance. Belize City has been directly struck by two hurricanes since 1900, the 1931 hurricane and 1961's Hurricane Hattie, at various times areas of the city have burnt down, the most recent being the 1999 Albert Street fire that burnt out Mikado's, a 2004 fire that destroyed the Paslow Building; the city was hit hard by Hurricane Richard in 2010 and by the 2016 Hurricane Earl.
Fires on Northside and Southside have burnt out great stretches of housing, but the fire department was able to quench most of these. The city is susceptible to flooding in the rainy season. Belize City spreads out Mile 6 on the Western Highway and Mile 5 on the Northern Highway, at the Haulover Bridge; the city proper is divided into two areas: Northside, bounded by Haulover Creek and ending in the east at the Fort George area, Southside, extending to the outskirts of the city and the port area including downtown. Politically, it is divided into ten constituencies. Freetown, the westernmost constituency on Northside, is home to the Belama, Coral Grove, Buttonwood Bay and Vista Del Mar suburbs. Within the city proper it extends up to around the former Belize Technical College area. Caribbean Shores includes Kings' Park, a small suburb north and west of Freetown Road, West Landivar, home to two of the University of Belize's three city campuses, residential University Heights. Pickstock inhabits the banks of the Haulover Creek extending to Barrack Road.
St. John's Cathedral stands on the southern end of Albert Street. St. John's is the oldest Anglican Church in Central America, one of the oldest buildings in Belize; the orange bricks came to Belize aboard British ships as ballast. Construction began in 1812, the church was completed in 1820. St. John's is the only Anglican cathedral in the world outside England where the crowning of kings took place. Fort George is the most colonial area in the city and contains Memorial Park, the Baron Bliss Grave and Baron Bliss Lighthouse and the Museum of Belize. On the Southside, Lake Independence and Port Loyola are home to some of the city's poorest residents. "London bridges", rickety wooden pallets linking dwellings, low-strung poles are not uncommon here. On the east side of Central American Boulevard are Mesopotamia, Queen's Square and Albert, which are better. Albert contains the downtown streets of Albert and Regent Streets; the divisions of the city are linked by four bridges: the Swing Bridge, at Market Square and North Front Street.
Numerous smaller bridges link individual streets. The three main canals running in Belize City, are Haulover Creek, Burdon Canal and Collet Canal. All of them run through Southside; the city is served by Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, in Ladyville, northwest of Belize City, by Belize City Municipal Airport, within the city itself. Belize City features a tropical monsoon climate, with warm and humid conditions throughout the course of the year; the city has a lengthy wet season that runs from May through January and a short dry season covering the remaining three months. However, as is the characteristic of several cities with tropical monsoon climates, Belize City sees some precipitation during its dry season. March is Belize City's driest month with only 48 mm of precipitation observed, a somewhat unusual month for a city with this climate type; the driest month for a city with a tropical monsoon climate is the month after the winter solstice, which in Belize City would be January.
Average monthly temperatures remain constant throughout the course of the year, ranging from 23 °C to 28 °C. B
George Price Highway
The George Price Highway is one of four main highways in Belize. It originates in Belize City, runs west through Hattieville, the Belize Zoo, the capital city of Belmopan, San Ignacio, San José Succotz and terminates at the Guatemalan border at Benque Viejo; the highway ties the eastern and western parts of Belize together. A new steel bridge over Beaver Dam Creek was constructed to replace the broken concrete one; the highway was built in the 1930s and was known as the Western Highway. It was renamed the George Price Highway in 2012, after the late former prime minister who led the country to independence in 1981
Rail transport in Belize
There is no active rail transport in Belize, although there were lines in the past. One of the major railways in Belize was the Stann Creek Railway used by United Fruit, which connected Middlesex Estate with the port of Dangriga; the railway was 3 ft narrow gauge, operated from 1913 till 1937, when it was abandoned. Many remains are still visible along the Hummingbird Highway; this road uses some of the old railway bridges, though they are disappearing as bridges are modernized. A second abandoned railway ran from Hill Bank, at the south end of a lagoon on the New River, west through Sierra de Agua to Gallon Jug, an abandoned community about 10 km from the Guatemala border. There have been no railway connections to other countries. Belize Transport in Belize Railways of the Caribbean by David Rollinson ISBN 0-333-73042-9 Railways and Trains in Belize. A Guide to the Past with facts and background information to the Belize railway history. History of Belize with a mention of the railway and a picture with a train in Dangriga port
Southern Highway (Belize)
In Belize, the Southern Highway takes up where the Hummingbird Highway ends and runs from Dangriga to Punta Gorda. It is paved, with the completion of a 10-mile segment between Golden Stream and Big Falls circa 2008-09; the Southern Highway provides important access to a number of natural areas. The ancient Mayan sites of Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun are each situated a few miles west of the highway in southern Belize; the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is several miles west of the highway in south-central Belize. In 2011, a project was initiated, complete by 2015, to extend the Southern Highway 21.4 mi/34.5 km to Jalacte in southwestern Belize
Hummingbird Highway (Belize)
Hummingbird Highway is one of the four major highways in Belize. It connects the George Price Highway outside of Belmopan, Cayo District to the Southern Highway outside of Dangriga, Stann Creek District, it follows, sometimes uses the infrastructure of, the former Stann Creek Railway. A paving project was completed in 1994. All the citrus produced in Belize travels along this highway to the two major processing plants in Stann Creek district. There are quite a few small villages along the highway. A new bridge was completed over the Sibun River in 2004, a new bridge inaugurated in 2006 across Silver Creek; the traffic along the Hummingbird Highway has been on the increase due to an increase in demand for eco-tourism and the passage of petroleum trucks, which use the Highway as a shortcut en route to the George Price Highway. The Hummingbird Highway is the only Highway in Belize; the highway rests in a valley which comprises citrus orchards in the lowland and untouched jungle habitat on the outskirts and beyond