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 (249 feet) above sea level.Belmopan was constructed just to the east of the Belize River, 80 km (50 mi) 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.
|POPULATION :||City: 16,451|
|FOUNDED :||August 1, 1970|
|TIME ZONE :||Central (UTC-6)|
|LANGUAGE :||Spanish 46%, Creole 32.9%, Mayan dialects 8.9%, English 3.9% (official), Garifuna 3.4% (Carib), German 3.3%, other 1.6%,|
|RELIGION :||Roman Catholic 49.6%, Protestant 27% (Pentecostal 7.4%, Anglican 5.3%, Seventh-Day Adventist 5.2%, Mennonite 4.1%, Methodist 3.5%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.5%), other 23.4%,|
|AREA :||32.78 km2 (12.66 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||76 m (250 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||17°15′5″N 88°46′1″W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.8%
• Female: 51.2%
|ETHNIC :||mestizo 48.7%, Creole 24.9%, Maya 10.6%, Garifuna 6.1%, other 9.7%|
|AREA CODE :||8|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||501 +8|
THINGS TO SEE:
St. Herman’s cave – Exploring a remote cave once used by the ancient Mayas for ceremonial purposes. Hundreds of pieces of Mayan pottery chard's can be seen inside the cave. The cave is approximately a mile long and is adorned with beautiful stalactite and stalagmite making this a beautiful place for photographs.
Cave Tubing - Enjoy floating past side windows that filters the jungle light trough the mist as you swirl around stalactites and stalagmites looming from above and below through the underworld mystic cave caverns. Cave tubing can be done at either Jaguar Paw or St. Herman's Blue Hole National park, just minutes away from Belmopan.
'Zip lining - is as close as you can get to flying over the jungle. As you soar from tree to tree, experience a bird's-eye view of the Belize jungle, and scenery that cannot be seen from the ground. You will be securely fastened to a harness that is attached to a cable. You push off from a platform up in a tree and zip along the cable to another platform
Actun Tunichil Muknal (usually abbreviated to "ATM") is a Mayan sacrificial burial site near Belmopan. The site is contained entirely within a cave system, and access to the relics is gained via some 500 metres of climbing over rocks, wading and swimming through water that is at times over 1.5 metres deep. The cave was a sacred site for the Mayans and it contains many examples of pottery, ceramics and stoneware, as well as several sets of human sacrificial remains, one of which (known as the "Crystal Maiden") has been almost entirely covered in limestone crystals by the water in the cave. The site is about 45 minutes drive from San Ignacio, and, due to the caving aspect, it may only be visited when accompanied by an official guide (who will provide appropriate safety equipment). Most tour companies in San Ignacio are able to offer officially guided tours.
Barton Creek Cave Barton Creek Outpost: Take the road in Georgeville to Mountain Pine Ridge, drive 50-60 minutes and turn at the large brown sign on the left to Barton Creek Archaeological Reserve. It's about 4 miles from there.
Caracol Biggest ruin in Belize, yet mostly unexcavated, so you really feel like you are in a national park on a ruin. Ca'ana, place of the sky, is one of the biggest and most massive temples in the Mayan world. Definitely a must-see ruin, and it comes with stops at Rio On Pools and Rio Frio Cave too.
Xunantunich (Maya Ruins)
The Artbox, an art gallery which is great for tourists
After Hurricane Hattie in 1961 destroyed approximately 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, and would provide for an industrial area. In 1962, a committee chose the site now known as Belmopan, 82 kilometres (51 mi) west of the old capital of Belize City.
Since Belize was a British colony (known as British Honduras) 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 tidal waves. 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. Thus, in a fashion, 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, and "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 (US$20 million). Only 20 million Belize dollars (US$10 million) were available, but the momentum was not to be lost.
In 1967, work began; the first phase of the new city was completed in 1970 at a cost of 24 million Belize dollars (US$12 million).
There was a reluctance initially amongst foreign governments to relocate their embassies to Belmopan as there was some doubt as to whether this inland area would really 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 officially opened on 11 December 2006.Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Venezuela also have embassies in Belmopan, while Ecuador, Chile, 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
Belmopan features a tropical monsoon climate.
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 roughly 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. Typically 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 from 23 °C to 28 °C.
Climate data for Belmopan
|Average high °C (°F)||27.9
|Daily mean °C (°F)||23.1
|Average low °C (°F)||18.2
|Source: National Meteorological Service of Belize|
Belmopan is 50 miles (80 km) inland from the Caribbean and 76 meters (249 feet) above sea level, located near the Belize River Valley with a view of the Mountain Pine Ridge foothills. (The climate at night is cool.) 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.
At its inception and afterward, Belmopan was governed by the corporation RECONDEV (Reconstruction and Development Corporation), which answered to the government.
As Belmopan is the seat of government, many of its inhabitants work for the national government in administrative or technical roles. Many are based in the large cluster of government buildings around the National Assembly building.
Belmopan has approximately 589 business establishments (the 1997 census revealed the presence of 373). Five international banks are in the city, as are several local financial institutions. A bus terminal and market complex were constructed in 2003.
Within the zoning regulations, Belmopan has set aside approximately 200 acres (81 ha) of land made up mostly of one-acre (4,000 m²) parcels in city limits. While there is very little industrial activity at present, the council has embarked on a scheme to attract local and foreign investment to the city. Plans are underway to create a 100 acres (40 ha) industrial park close to the municipal airstrip — a paved 1,100-meter strip with no control tower or hangars.