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Belize City is the largest city of the Central American nation Belizemarker.

Unofficial estimates place the population of Belize City at 70,800 or more people. It is located at the mouth of the Belize River on the coast of the Caribbean. Belize City is the nation's principal port and its financial and industrial hub. Several cruise ships drop anchor outside the port and are tended by local citizens. The city was almost entirely destroyed in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie swept ashore on October 31. It was the capital of British Honduras (as Belize was then named) until the government was moved to the new capital of Belmopanmarker in 1970.

History

Swing Bridge, Belize City, British Honduras (now Belize) ca. 1919
Belize City was founded (originally as "Belize Town") in the mid-17th century by British lumber harvesters. It had previously been a small Maya city called Holzuz. Belize Town was ideal for the British as a central post because it was on the sea and a natural outlet for local rivers and creeks down which the British shipped logwood and mahogany. Belize Town also became the home of the thousands of African slaves brought in by the British to assist in the forest industry. It was the coordination site for the 1798 Battle of St. George's Caye, won by the British against would-be invaders, and the home of the local courts and government officials up to the 1970s. For this reason, historians often say that "the capital was the Colony", because the center of British control was here.

This sentiment remains true today. Even though people like Antonio Soberanis, George Price and Evan X Hyde all lobbied to take their movements outside, and other ethnic groups such as the Garifuna and Mestizos sprang up elsewhere in the country, people looked to Belize Town for guidance.

Belize Town slowly improved its infrastructure and has been the object of numerous infrastructural projects. Nevertheless, many of the streets built from colonial days are still small and congested, a majority of houses are still susceptible to fire and damage from hurricanes, and the city is always awaiting something calamitous to happen.

Natural disasters

Belize City Pier
Belize City has been directly struck by two hurricanes since 1900, the 1931 hurricane and 1961's Hurricane Hattie, and at various times areas of the City have been burnt down, the most recent being the 1999 Albert Street fire that burnt out Mikado's, and a 2004 fire that destroyed the Paslow building. Fires on Northside and Southside have burnt out great stretches of housing, but the Fire Department has been able to quench most of these. The city is also susceptible to flooding problems in the rainy season, but timely repairs and a letup in the rain usually help.

Location and geographic setting

Highcourt of Belize City
Belize City spreads out to Mile 8 on the Western Highway and Mile 13 or 14 on the Northern, at the Haulover Bridge.The City proper is usually divided into two areas: Northside, bounded by the Haulover Creek and ending in the east at the Fort George area, and Southside, extending to the outskirts of the City and the Port area and including downtown. Politically, it is divided into ten constituencies, described below.

Freetown, the westernmost constituency on Northside, is home to the Belama, Coral Grove, Buttonwood Bay and Vista Del Mar suburbs. Within the city proper it extends up to around the former Belize Technical College area.

Caribbean Shores includes Kings' Park, a small suburb north and west of Freetown Road, West Landivar, home to two of the University of Belize's three City campuses, and residential University Heights.
Belizean Coast Guard
Pickstock inhabits the banks of the Haulover Creek extending to Barrack Road. St. John’s Cathedral stands attractively upon its well-manicured lawn on the southern end of Albert Street. St. John’s is the oldest Anglican Church in Central America, and one of the oldest buildings in Belize. The orange bricks came to Belize aboard British ships as ballast. Construction began in 1812, and the church was completed in 1820.St. John’s is the only Anglican cathedral in the world outside of England where the crowning of kings took place.

Fort George is perhaps the most colonial area in the City and contains Memorial Park, Baron Bliss Grave and the Museum of Belize.

On the Southside, Lake Independence, Collet and Port Loyola are home to some of the City's poorest residents. "London bridges", rickety wooden pallets linking dwellings, and low-strung poles are not uncommon here. On the east side of Central American Boulevard are Mesopotamia, Queen's Square and Albert, which are slightly better. Albert contains the downtown streets of Albert and Regent Streets.

Bridges and other infrastructure

File:Swingbridgebze.jpg|Swing Bridge Belize City, Belize. The only manually operated Swing Bridge in the Americas still in useFile:MuseumofBelize.JPG|The Museum of Belize in Belize City, BelizeFile:Fort StreetTD o.jpg‎|Fort Street Tourism PortFile:St. John's Cathedral, Belize City.jpg|St. John's Cathedral in Belize City, BelizeImage:There were many religious schools in Belize.jpg|Palotti high school in Belize CityFile:BelizeCityAerialo9.jpg|Belize City AerialFile:TheBlissBZE.JPG|"The Bliss" Belize City, BelizeFile:OBZEPIC.JPG|"Old Belize" Belize City, Belize

The divisions of the City are linked by three bridges: the Swing Bridge, located at Market Square and North Front Street; the Belchina Bascule Bridge at the Douglas Jones Street and Youth for the Future Drive junction, and the Belcan Bridge linking Central American Boulevard and the Roundabout leading to the Northern Highway and Caribbean Shores. Numerous smaller bridges link individual streets.

The three main canals running in Belize City, are Haulover Creek, Burdon Canal and Collet Canal. All of them run through the Southside.

Air travel

The city is served by Philip S.marker W.marker Goldson International Airportmarker, which is located in Ladyvillemarker, northwest of Belize City, and by Belize City Municipal Airportmarker, located within the city itself.

Educational institutions

Belize City has the most educational institutions at any level in the nation of Belize. Most City children attend high school. The majority of schools are co-ed, with the exception of three, all on the Northside: Saint John's College (boys), Saint Catherine's Academy (girls) and Pallotti High School (girls). One Southside school that was previously all girls, Sadie Vernon Technical (Belize Continuation), integrated recently.

Culture

Belize City's culture is considered similar to that of Caribbean capital cities such as St. George's, Grenadamarker or Georgetown, Guyanamarker. Always busy in the daytime, there is the hustle and bustle one would associate with a city of 70,800. Notable cultural events include Garifuna Settlement Day (November 19), Belize City Carnival (September), Baron Bliss Day (March 9).

Economy

The majority of working Belizeans travel to work in downtown offices or else ply their trade on the street sides. Belize City is home to branches of all the major banks of Belize and the Central Bank, as well as nearly all insurance centers, marketplaces and the like.Belize City is the hub for both national and international air, sea and road travel.

Government

Belize City Hall.
Belize City is operated by a mayor-council form of government. The Belize City Council is composed of 10 councillors (generally reflecting the ten constituencies located in Belize City) and a mayor, all elected in municipal elections held every third year in March.After the most recent municipal elections in 2009, the current Mayor is Zenaida Moya of the United Democratic Party; she is Belize City's first female mayor.

Sister city

 Ann Arbormarker, United States.


References

External links

  • [26113], History of Belize City.
  • [26114], Online Magazine on Belize City.
  • [26115], History of Belize City.



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