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Belize: Government#

Country nameconventional long form: none
conventional short form: Belize
former: British Honduras
CapitalBelmopan Belmopan
geographic coordinates: 17 15 N, 88 46 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions6 districts; Belize, Cayo, Corozal, Orange Walk, Stann Creek, Toledo
Constitutionprevious 1954, 1963 (preindependence); latest signed and entered into force 21 September 1981; amended several times, last in 2012 (2013)
Executive branchchief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Sir Colville YOUNG, Sr. (since 17 November 1993)
head of government: Prime Minister Dean Oliver BARROW (since 8 February 2008); Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar VEGA (since 12 February 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister from the General Assembly
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; prime minister recommends the deputy prime minister
Flag descriptionblue with a narrow red stripe along the top and the bottom edges; centered is a large white disk bearing the coat of arms; the coat of arms features a shield flanked by two workers in front of a mahogany tree with the related motto SUB UMBRA FLOREO (I Flourish in the Shade) on a scroll at the bottom, all encircled by a green garland of 50 mahogany leaves; the colors are those of the two main political parties: blue for the PUP and red for the UDP; various elements of the coat of arms - the figures, the tools, the mahogany tree, and the garland of leaves - recall the logging industry that led to British settlement of Belize
note: Belize's flag is the only national flag that depicts human beings; two British overseas territories, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands, also depict humans
Independence21 September 1981 (from the UK)
Judicial branchhighest court(s): Supreme Court of Judicature (consists of the Court of Appeal with the court president and 3 justices, and the Supreme Court with the chief justice and 2 judges)
note - in 2005, Belize ceased final appeals in civil and criminal cases to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London), replacing it with the Caribbean Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the Caribbean Community
judge selection and term of office: Court of Appeal president and justices appointed by the governor general upon advice of the prime minister after consultation with the National Assembly opposition leader; justices' tenures vary by terms of appointment; Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the governor-general upon the advice of the prime minister and the National Assembly opposition leader; other judges appointed by the governor-general upon the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Section of the Public Services Commission and with the concurrence of the prime minister after consultation with the National Assembly opposition leader; judges can be appointed beyond age 65 but must retire by age 75
subordinate courts: Summary Jurisdiction Courts (criminal) and District Courts (civil)
Legal systemEnglish common law
Legislative branchbicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (12 seats; members appointed by the governor general - 6 on the advice of the prime minister, 3 on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and 1 each on the advice of the Belize Council of Churches and Evangelical Association of Churches, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Belize Better Business Bureau, and the National Trade Union Congress and the Civil Society Steering Committee; to serve five-year terms) and the House of Representatives (31 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: House of Representatives - last held on 8 March 2012 (next to be held in 2017)
election results: percent of vote by party - UDP 50.4%, PUP 47.5%, other 2.1%; seats by party - UDP 17, PUP 14
International organization participationACP, AOSIS, C, Caricom, CD, CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, Petrocaribe, SICA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
National holidayIndependence Day, 21 September (1981)
Political pressure groups and leadersSociety for the Promotion of Education and Research or SPEAR (Nicole HAYLOCK)
Association of Concerned Belizeans or ACB (David VASQUEZ)
National Trade Union Congress of Belize or NTUC/B (Rene GOMEZ)
Political parties and leadersNational Alliance for Belizean Rights or NABR
National Reform Party or NRP (Cornelius DUECK)
People's National Party or PNP (Wil MAHEIA)
People's United Party or PUP (John BRICENO)
United Democratic Party or UDP (Dean Oliver BARROW)
Vision Inspired by the People or VIP (Paul MORGAN)
We the People Reform Movement or WTP (Hipolito BAUTISTA)
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Government typeparliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Diplomatic representation in the USchief of mission: Ambassador Nestor MENDEZ (since 10 July 2008)
chancery: 2535 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: (1) (202) 332-9636
FAX: (1) (202) 332-6888
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles
National anthemname: "Land of the Free"
lyrics/music: Samuel Alfred HAYNES/Selwyn Walford YOUNG
note: adopted 1981; as a Commonwealth country, in addition to the national anthem, "God Save the Queen" serves as the royal anthem (see United Kingdom)
International law organization participationhas not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
National symbol(s)Baird's tapir (a large, browsing, forest-dwelling mammal); keel-billed toucan
Diplomatic representation from the USchief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Margaret HAWTHORNE
embassy: Floral Park Road, Belmopan City, Cayo District
mailing address: P.O. Box 497, Belmopan City, Cayo District, Belize
telephone: (501) 822-4011
FAX: (501) 822-4012