Belize - Infrastructure, power, and communications

There are 1,594 miles of roads in Belize, 303 of which are paved. Of the 4 main highways in Belize, 2 provide border crossings into Mexico and Guatemala. All the main towns and villages are linked to the capital, Belmopan, and to Belize City. Some roads, including major sections of highway, are vulnerable to damage or closure during the rainy season. The road network in Belize was improved in the 1980s, but not enough to support a significant growth in travel, tourism, and manufacturing. A US$14.7 million renovation of the Southern Highway began in 1998. Another US$8.5 million was allocated for the construction of a bypass road and 2 bridges in northern Belize. Funds from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) were used to improve rural access roads. There is regular bus service to and from all main towns.

Belize has 10 ports of entry, the largest of which is at Belize City. Nine major shipping lines run cargo services in and out of Belize City. The main southern ports are at Punta Gorda and Big Creek. The Philip Goldson International Airport, 9 miles from Belize City, handles a majority of the country's commercial air traffic. The airport is served by 3 international carriers: American Airlines, Continental Airlines, and Grupo Taca. From Belize, direct flights are available to Miami, Houston, Dallas, and San Salvador.

The communications network in Belize is extensive. Belize Telecommunications, which was privatized between 1988 and 1992, operates the network and provides modern service to the entire country. The number of subscribers grew from over 3,300 in 1995 to over 30,000 in 1999. Cell phone and Internet use are on the rise. There are no daily papers published in Belize, but there are 2 main weeklies: the Belize Times, which is sympathetic to the PUP, and the Guardian, which favors the UDP. The Broadcasting Corporation of Belize ran only 2 radio stations before it was privatized in 1998. As of 2000 there were 15 radio stations. Television viewers have access to a number of local television stations as well as cable television, which provides up to 50 international channels.

Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations b Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Belize 31,000 3,023 AM 1; FM 12; shortwave 0 133,000 2 41,000 2 12,000
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
Mexico 9.6 M (1998) 2.02 M (1998) AM 865; FM about 500; shortwave 13 (1999) 31 M 236 25.6 M 51 2.5 M
Guatemala 665,061 (2000) 663,296 (2000) AM 130; FM 487; shortwave 15 (2000) 835,000 26 1.323 M 5 65,000
a Data is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
b Data is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
c Data is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

Residents in Belize receive their energy from Belize Electricity (BEL), which, after power sector reforms in 1992, emerged as the single producer and distributor of electric power. In 1999 the government gave up majority control of the company, selling a portion of its shares to the public and the rest to Fortis of Canada, boosting Fortis's ownership to 62.96 percent. The majority of Belize's fuel needs are met through the import of oil from the United States.

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