Belize is a country on the northeastern coast of Central America. It is the only country in Central America that has English as its official language; Belizean Creole and Spanish are also commonly spoken. Belize is bordered on the north by Mexico, to the south and west by Guatemala, and to the east by the Caribbean Sea. Its mainland is about 290 km long and 110 km wide. This is about the size of Tennessee.
The overall climate of Belize can be described as sub-tropical. Temperatures in Belize range from 50F to 95F with an annual mean of 79F average. May to September is the warmest at about 81F average. However, because of the high percentage of humidity, the real feel is usually about 20-30 degrees above the actual temperature. Belize has two seasons; wet and dry.
The Belizean culture is a mix of influences and people from Kriol, Maya, Garinagu (also known as Garifuna), Mestizo (mixture of Spanish and Native Americans), Mennonites, with a blend of many other cultures from Chinese to Lebanese.
Nearly two-thirds of Belize’s population are teenagers or younger. There are both church and government-run primary and high schools. Only about 70% of teachers are professionally trained, and even teachers with a four-year college degree earn only about US $1000 a month. Many Belizean children don’t go beyond 6th grade due to the costs of education.
The average Belizean makes a little over $2.00 an hour, if they can find work. Cost of living is high, example: gasoline is US $6.75 a gallon, basic electricity, heating, water is US $87.00 month, and 1 pair of jeans is US $33.00. It is no wonder that poverty is prevalent.
Belize is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. The most common form of trafficking in Belize is the internal sex trafficking of minors, particularly situations where poor families push their school-aged daughters to provide sexual favors to wealthy older men in exchange for school fees, money, and gifts. This “sugar daddy” phenomenon occurs in Belize and other Caribbean countries, but often is not recognized as a form of human trafficking by local communities or law enforcement personnel. In two recent cases, more than 70 workers from Nepal and India were trafficked to Belize for forced labor. After being deceived as to the true nature of employment, these victims encountered forced working conditions upon arrival in Belize, in addition to the confiscation of their passports. Some Central American men, women, and children, particularly from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, migrate voluntarily to Belize in search of work but are subsequently subjected to conditions of forced labor or forced prostitution.