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Belmopan

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Belmopan

Belmopan
City
City of Belmopan
Flag of Belmopan
Flag
Nickname(s): The Garden City, 'Pan
Motto: City of Promise
Belmopan is located in Belize
Belmopan
Belmopan
Location of Belmopan in Belize
Coordinates:
Country  Belize
District Cayo
Constituency Belmopan
Foundation August 1, 1970[1]
Government
 • Mayor Simeon López (UDP)
Area
 • Total 32.78 km2 (12.66 sq mi)
Elevation 76 m (250 ft)
Population (2010)
 • Total 16,451[2]
Time zone Central (UTC-6)
Area code(s) 501 +8

Belmopan () is the capital city of Belize. Its population in 2010 was 13,931.[3]

Belmopan is located in Cayo District at an altitude of 76 metres (249 feet) above sea level.[4] 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.[4][5] The government was moved to Belmopan in 1970.[6] Its National Assembly Building is designed to resemble a Pre-Columbian Maya temple.[7]

History

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.[6] 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.[6]

Since Belize was a British colony (known as [8] 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",[9] 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.[10]

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). From 1970 to 2000 the administration of Belmopan was managed by the Reconstruction and Development Corporation, known as "Recondev."[11] Recondev was vested with the power and authority to provide, or cause to be provided, the municipal functions necessary for the smooth running of the city's business and infrastructure.

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.[12] 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.[13] The U.S. embassy was officially opened on 11 December 2006.[14] 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.[15]

Design

The city layout centers around the Ring Road which is just under 4 km in circumference. The majority of government buildings are situated either within or around the Ring Road, and a large area within the Ring Road is also given to parkland.[16]

The National Assembly Building is the focal point of the city's design, with the grey stone architecture and broad steps designed to resemble a Mayan temple, reflecting the nation's cultural heritage. Surrounding buildings mirror this design, with the East Wing and West Wing buildings contributing to the overall impression of an ancient Mayan plaza.[17]

The original buildings were designed with extensive ventilation to accommodate the tropical climate leading to a pock-marked effect on the buildings' walls.[18] Extensive internal renovations and the widespread introduction of air-conditioners has caused this design to become ineffective and inefficient.

Geographic setting

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.[19] It is served by the Hector Silva Airstrip.

Climate

Belmopan features a tropical monsoon climate (Am) under the Köppen climate classification. 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
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 28.0
(82.4)
29.2
(84.6)
31.2
(88.2)
32.8
(91)
34.1
(93.4)
32.3
(90.1)
31.7
(89.1)
32.0
(89.6)
31.8
(89.2)
30.8
(87.4)
29.2
(84.6)
28.0
(82.4)
30.93
(87.67)
Daily mean °C (°F) 22.9
(73.2)
23.4
(74.1)
24.9
(76.8)
26.4
(79.5)
27.9
(82.2)
27.5
(81.5)
26.9
(80.4)
27.0
(80.6)
27.0
(80.6)
26.1
(79)
24.6
(76.3)
23.4
(74.1)
25.67
(78.19)
Average low °C (°F) 17.7
(63.9)
17.6
(63.7)
18.5
(65.3)
20.0
(68)
21.6
(70.9)
22.6
(72.7)
22.0
(71.6)
21.9
(71.4)
22.1
(71.8)
21.3
(70.3)
20.0
(68)
18.7
(65.7)
20.33
(68.61)
Rainfall mm (inches) 128.0
(5.039)
64.0
(2.52)
44.0
(1.732)
44.3
(1.744)
84.8
(3.339)
305.7
(12.035)
276.2
(10.874)
224.9
(8.854)
254.8
(10.031)
215.3
(8.476)
199.7
(7.862)
178.2
(7.016)
2,019.9
(79.522)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 13 9 6 5 8 19 21 19 20 18 16 15 169
Source: World Meteorological Organization[20]

Educational institutions

The City of Belmopan has three pre-schools, four primary schools and four secondary schools[21] as well as a modern Regional Language Centre (RLC) on the central campus of the University of Belize,[22] where students from neighbouring Spanish-speaking countries come to study English. University of Belize's campus in Belmopan has the following faculties: Education and Arts, Management and Social Sciences, Science and Technology, and Nursing and Allied Health.[23] The church/state system prevails in Belizean education,[24] especially where pre-school, primary and secondary school education is concerned,[25] and nearly all schools in Belmopan are sustained by churches.[6]

Local missionaries and non-profit organizations also provide practical educational opportunities for Belizeans.

Culture

Ethnic composition

Belmopan Regional Language Center Monument

Belmopan proper (estimated population of 20,000 inhabitants in 2009) is a mix of ethnicities including Kriols, Garifuna, Mestizo, Maya and more historically recent immigrants from Asian countries such as the People's Republic of China and Republic of China.[26]

There are five zones around Belmopan proper:[27]

  • Salvapan - population 3,000 - mostly of Central American origin.[28]
  • San Martin - population 1,694 - mixed origins (Kriol and Central American Mayan).
  • Las Flores - population 453 - mostly Central American origin.
  • Maya Mopan - population 241 - mostly Ketchi/Mopan Maya.
  • Riviera - population unknown - mix of Central American immigrants and locals.

Local and regional events

Some of Belmopan's noteworthy events include presentations by the Belmopan Choral Society, the Festival of Arts for school children, and National Day activities.

The University of Belize's Black Jaguars squad has won two national championships playing out of Belmopan. Nearby communities including Roaring Creek, Camalote, Esperanza, and Georgeville play a softball tournament in the early part of the year.

Social and community activities

The City Council promotes Belmopan as "The Garden City." A George Price Centre.

Museums

Museums and galleries in the city include Belize Archaeology Museum.

Economy

Government

Belmopan Parliament Building

At its inception and afterward, Belmopan was governed by the corporation RECONDEV (Reconstruction and Development Corporation), which answered to the government.[11]

Residents of Belmopan voted in a referendum in 1999 to switch to direct election of a city council. In 2000, Belmopan was incorporated as a city and held its first City Council election.[6] Anthony Chanona of the People's United Party was elected mayor with a six-man slate, and reelected in 2003.[29] Following the UDP's municipal victory of 2006, the mayor of Belmopan is Simeon López.[30]

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.

Commercial

Largest Chinese Food Restaurant in Belmopan

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.

Industrial

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.

References

  1. ^ [1] (information about Belmopan's foundation is in the second page)
  2. ^ "Population Data – Census 2,010". Statistical Institute of Belize. Retrieved 27 February 2,014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "travel-central-america.net". travel-central-america.net. Retrieved 29 June 2010. 
  5. ^ "The Hurricane With Three Names," at is th best nuber everwww.belmopanbelize.com/ belmopanbelize.com
  6. ^ a b c d e "belmopanbelize.com". belmopanbelize.com. Archived from the original on 22 July 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2010. 
  7. ^ Travel to Central America: Belize at travel-central-america.net
  8. ^ "Exhibition highlights history of Belmopan". http://archive.org. 30 July 2004. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  9. ^ Belmopan at mybelizeadventure.com
  10. ^ "Belmopan: Perspective on a New Capital", Kevin C. Kearns, Geographical Review, p. 153 (footnote #13), © 1973 American Geographical Society
  11. ^ a b "About Belize". Casa Cayo Real Estate. Archived from the original on 29 February 2008. Retrieved 29 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "Belmopan: Perspective on a New Capital", Kevin C. Kearns, Geographical Review, p. 159, 1973, American Geographical Society.
  13. ^ "Groundbreaking Ceremony for New U.S. Embassy Compound," at belize.usembassy.gov
  14. ^ "U.S. Embassy Belmopan Officially Opens," at belize.usembassy.gov
  15. ^ embassypages.com
  16. ^ http://www.belmopancityonline.com/Portals/0/belmopan%20map.jpg
  17. ^ http://articles/Belmopan#mediaviewer/File:Belmopan_Parliament.jpg
  18. ^ http://articles/Belmopan#mediaviewer/File:Belmopan_Parliament.jpg
  19. ^ "Description of birding in Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve," at exoticbirding.com
  20. ^ "Climate Information for Belmopan City". World Meteorological Organization. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  21. ^ Schools at gradfinder.com
  22. ^ Regional Language Centre website
  23. ^ Belmopan Campus at the University of Belize website
  24. ^ Belize at the Mexico State University website
  25. ^ Penados, Filiberto, "Teacher Education and Professional Development in Belize: Developments and Challenges," ICMI (The International Commission on Mathematical Instruction) Bulletin No. 49, December 2000
  26. ^ History of Belize at the Regional Language Centre website
  27. ^ Cayo South Electoral Division at the Belize Elections and Boundaries Department website
  28. ^ "Salvapan comes of age as part of capital," 10 January 2002 archive of channel5belize.com
  29. ^ April 2003 Report on The Elections: Parliamentary, City and Town Council
  30. ^ Three More Years! UDP Dominates Municipal Elections at The San Pedro Sun

External links

  • Map of Belmopan
  • Online Portal of Belmopan
  • Belmopan City Council Official Website
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