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Belize, Population and Education

The majority of the population of Belize is of mixed racial descent. The largest group is of black or partly black ancestry. Other groups include Native Americans, principally Carib and Maya, located in the north and west; people of European descent, mainly English and Spanish; and people of mixed Native American-European descent.

The population of Belize is 262,999 (2002 estimate). The overall density of 11 persons per sq km (30 per sq mi) is the lowest in Central America. Population is concentrated in a few principal urban centers, of which Belize City (population, 2000, 49,050) is the largest; it is also the principal port. Belmopan (13,260), a newly constructed city, supplanted Belize City as the official capital in 1972. English is the official language; other languages spoken include Carib, Mayan, Spanish, and a Creole dialect of English. More than half the people are Roman Catholic, and most of the remainder are Protestant.

Education is compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 14. Attendance at primary schools was widespread in 1998, but only 54 percent of children in secondary school were enrolled. Higher education is available at colleges in Belize City and Corozal. The literacy rate of 98 percent is one of the highest in Latin America.

 
 

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