Belize
March 2
Americas


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GEOGRAPHY

Area 22,965 sq.km. Caribbean coastal enclave bordering on Guatemala and Mexico. It has the world's second-largest coral barrier reef.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 240,709 +2.44% 10 per sq. km.
2010 294,499 +1.97% 13 per sq. km.
2025 370,035 +1.49% 16 per sq. km.

Central America's most sparsely populated country.

Capital Belmopan 6,817. Other major city: Belize City 130,000. Urbanites 48%.

PEOPLES

Mestizo/Ladino 43%. Predominantly Guatemalans and Hondurans, with considerable illegal immigration in the 1980s.

Afro-Caribbean 29.5%. Mainly English-speaking. Politically dominant.

Amerindian 11%. Mayans, 3 main languages: Ketchi 20,000; Mopan 6,000; Yucatec 5,600.

Garifuna (Black Carib) 6.6%. Descendants of African slaves and Arawakans.

Europeans 3.9%. Mainly German Mennonites and British.

Other 6%. East Indian 8,400; Chinese 6,000.

Literacy 70%. Official language English. Spanish spoken by 50% of the population. All languages 9. Languages with Scriptures 2Bi 5NT.

ECONOMY

Poorly developed infrastructure slows economic progress, yet relatively prosperous. Main sources of income: ecotourism (40% of country is set aside as national parks and reserves), US aid, agriculture. HDI 0.732; 83rd/174. Public debt 32% of GNP. Income/person $2,700 (8.5% of USA).

POLITICS

Independence from Britain in 1981 as a stable parliamentary democracy. Guatemala long laid claim to Belize, but now recognizes it as an independent state.

RELIGION

A secular state with freedom of religion.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 90.95 218,925 +2.4%
Baha'i 2.88 6,932 +3.9%
Hindu 2.30 5,536 +6.9%
Jewish 1.08 2,600 +2.4%
Spiritist/ethnic rels 1.03 2,479 -2.0%
non-Religious/other 0.83 1,998 +1.6%
Muslim 0.58 1,396 +4.0%
Buddhist 0.35 842 +8.3%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 25 21.96 53 +2.9%
Independent 5 2.71 7 +2.4%
Anglican 1 4.36 10 -1.8%
Catholic 1 56.89 137 +1.7%
Marginal 2 2.22 5 +3.8%
Unaffiliated   9.30 22 n.a.
Doubly affiliated   -6.49 -16 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Catholic C 50 74,021 136,939
Seventh-day Adventist P 89 17,000 24,000
Anglican A 26 3,571 10,500
Methodist P 25 4,964 6,800
Ch of the Nazarene P 40 1,800 4,000
Jehovah's Witnesses M 31 1,380 3,450
Baptist Association P 52 2,050 2,800
Assemblies of God P 49 900 2,700
Ch of God in Christ I 23 1,700 2,500
Ch of God (Cleveland) P 26 1,100 1,800
Mennonite P 4 540 1,600
Latter-day Saints (Morm) M 7 1,138 1,900
Assoc of Evang Chs P 12 1,050 1,350
Ch of God of Prophecy P 14 351 600
Other denoms [20]   247 6,601 11,238
Doubly affiliated     -9,235 -15,700
Total Christians [34]   695 108,931 196,500

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 14.1 34 +2.7%
Charismatic 8.9 21 +2.5%
  Pentecostal 4.5 11 +3.3%

Missionaries from Belize
P,I,A 27 in 5 agencies.

Missionaries to Belize
P,I,A 123 in 31 agencies from 9 countries: USA 92, Canada 31, Belize 25, Guatemala 7.



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Challenges for Prayer

1 Belizeans are largely professing Christians, but nominalism and syncretism are common. The Spanish-speaking immigrants with their superstitions and superficiality, the Mayans with their underlying paganism, and the Garifuna with their black magic – each need a culturally relevant and sensitive presentation of the gospel. Many settlements still need church-planting ministry, despite the five-fold increase in congregations since 1960.

2 Evangelicals have steadily grown from 4.6% in 1960 to 14% in 2000. There has been exceptional growth in some denominations. Challenges to be tackled:

a) Few full-time workers, most must work part-time due to lack of congregational support.

b) Much evangelism but little evidence of 'converts' in the churches, because of poor follow-up.

3 Cultural diversity and denominational variety make unity and common goals for Christians difficult to attain. Pray for:

a) The Mennonites, many of whom live in introspective communities with their own dialect of German. Belize has a higher percentage of Mennonites than any other country. Pray for revival in their communities.

b) Effective fellowship between Spanish- and English-speaking believers in united nation-wide initiatives for the Kingdom.

4 The less-reached:

a) The Mayan peoples – there are a few Nazarene and Mennonite believers.

b) The Garifuna have had their own NT since 1983. Their strong animistic culture has only been marginally penetrated (CoN, Brethren). There are some Nazarene and Brethren believers among them.

c) The Chinese have increased through immigration from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, but only a few are evangelical believers.

d) The East Indians are almost entirely Muslim or Hindu.

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