Belmopan is the Capital City of Belize
Belmopan, the current capital of Belize, holds a number of distinctions. Belmopan is the smallest national capital in the region with just 17,000 residents and was built as a brand-new city in 1970 after the long-time colonial capital of Belize City suffered catastrophic damage from Hurricane Hattie in 1961. A carefully planned development, Belmopan is located deep in the heartland of the country in the western Cayo District. Located approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Belize City, Belmopan was designed in 1962 with construction work taking place between 1967-1970.
Safely ensconced 250 feet (76 meters) above sea level, Belmopan enjoys a lovely view of the nearby Mountain Pine Ridge Park. Belmopan’s carefully planned design includes a Ring Road that diverts non-local traffic around the city. The long-time colonial capital of Belize City has many wooden structures that were prone to fire damage and exposure to seasonal storms, so Belmopan was specifically designed to protect vital government services. Modern construction codes ensure that both housing and commercial development in the city are better able to resist natural disasters.
Today, all national government offices are located in Belmopan, including the country’s parliament building. The city now has its first suburb with a largely Mopan and Ketchi Maya population drawn to the area by its lovely array of modern housing options, improved infrastructure, and burgeoning job market. Belmopan’s location on the main road connecting Belize to neighboring Guatemala, including the popular tourist destination of Tikal, has helped Belmopan to flourish as a popular transportation hub.
Once a small settlement far from the hubbub of bigger coastal settlements, Belmopan is rapidly expanding thanks to a combination of government services and Belizeans attracted to the modern infrastructure and housing in the capital. The western Cayo District was once the sleepy backwater of the country as it was sparsely populated throughout most of the country’s history, but an increased focus on eco-tourism and preserving nature has made the area one of the fastest growing regions in Belize. In addition, Belmopan is located close to some of the biggest ancient Maya sites that continue to draw record numbers of foreign visitors every year.
Thanks to its forward-looking development plan, Belmopan has excellent infrastructure, including modern building safety codes, pedestrian ramps, and excellent road signage. With plenty of green spaces and parks, Belmopan is one of the most beautiful urban areas in the country.
The George Price Centre for Peace and Development is the civic centerpiece of the capital, containing a library, community center, computer lab, and conference facilities. Named for the first Prime Minister of post-colonial Belize, the George Price Centre regularly hosts art and museum exhibits, theater performances, music concerts, and dance recitals.
Because it is such a relatively new city, Belmopan lacks many of the historical attractions of other areas in the country. Nonetheless, Belmopan is excellently situated close to many of the top natural attractions in the west, including an extensive series of caves, pristine jungles, and national parks.