by Robert B. Richardson
The economy in Belize has its origins in the logging trade from the days of colonialism, and it has expanded over the decades through the cultivation, production, and exportation of sugar cane, citrus products, bananas, farmed shrimp, and several more specialized crops, as well as through the development of a successful nature-based tourism sector. Despite erratic growth that has taken an overall positive course, the accumulated wealth has not been realized throughout the country, as poverty and its afflictions restrain a significant portion of the population from the advances of a rapidly-changing world. The path of economic development in Belize has resembled the paths of the country’s political, environmental, and social development; it could be characterized by notable advances as well as acute setbacks, sometimes with both occurring contemporaneously. Saddled with unsustainably high levels of public debt, reduced credibility, and a more competitive global trade environment, the government of Belize is in a highly-precarious position in its 25th year of independence. This essay begins with a brief overview of economic history in Belize and continues with an analysis of several indicators of economic development, followed by a discussion of the opportunities and challenges that the country faces as it looks to the next 25 years of its independence.
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Keywords: environment, development, sustainable, economic history, social development