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Demographics of Belize

Belize is the most sparsely populated nation in Central America. It is larger than El Salvador and compares in size to the State of Massachusetts. Slightly more than half of the people live in rural areas. About one-fourth live in Belize City, the principal port, commercial center, and former capital.

Most Belizeans are of multiracial descent. About 46.4% of the population is of mixed Mayan and European descent (Mestizo); 27.7% are of African and Afro-European (Creole) ancestry; about 10% are Mayan; and about 6.4% are Afro-Amerindian (Garifuna). The remainder, about 9.5%, includes European, East Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and North American groups.

English, the official language. The Spanish language is the native tongue of about 50% of the people and is spoken as a second language by another 20%. The various Mayan groups still speak their original languages, and an English Creole dialect (or "Kriol" in the new orthography), similar to the Creole dialects of the English-speaking Caribbean Islands, is spoken by most. English is the primary language of public education, with Spanish taught in primary and secondary school as well. Bilingualism is encouraged.

The rate of functional literacy is 75.1%.

About 60% of the population is Roman Catholic; the Anglican Church and other Protestant Christian groups account for most of the remaining 40%. Mennonite settlers number about 7,160.

Population: 249,183 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 43% (male 54,009; female 51,945)
15-64 years: 54% (male 68,052; female 66,366)
65 years and over: 3% (male 4,298; female 4,513) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.75% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 32.29 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 4.81 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 25.97 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.91 years
male: 68.66 years
female: 73.28 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.14 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Belizean(s)
adjective: Belizean

Ethnic groups: mestizo 44.1%, Creole 31%, Maya 9.2%, Garifuna 6.2%, other 9.5%

Religions: Roman Catholic 62%, Protestant 30% (Anglican 12%, Methodist 6%, Mennonite 4%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3%, Pentecostal 2%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1%, other 2%), none 2%, other 6% (1980)

Languages: English (official), Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib), Creole

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 70.3%
male: 70.3%
female: 70.3% (1991 est.)
note: other sources list the literacy rate as high as 75%

Reference Much of the material in this article comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.

See also : Belize



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