Belmopan: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Last updated: December 20, 2022

Before going to Belize, I would not have been able to put Belmopan on the map, or even say it is the capital of a country in Central America. The recent construction, 1967, and the modest size, 20,000 inhabitants, make the Top 10 exercise a little unusual. Out of curiosity, the city is worth a visit. Here is what you have to see to get an idea of it.

01. Independence Plaza

A former British colony, Belize, formerly known as British Honduras, became independent in 1981, remaining a member of the Commonwealth. The Independence Square is therefore located in the centre of the official district, and is where the outdoor ceremonies are held. The arch-shaped sculpture on the square was donated by Mexico, the powerful northern neighbour.

02. Canon

Belize has not experienced any major conflict. Before the arrival of the British, the region was plagued by pirates, looking to the bounty of the Spanish empire. They were offered to buy wood from them for export to the United Kingdom, which turned them into traders. However, since the departure of the British, Guatemala has been seeking to take over part of the country.

03. The National Assembly

Belize is a parliamentary system headed by the Prime Minister, with the Head of State remaining the Queen of England, represented by a High Commissioner. The bicameral Parliament is housed in a building said to be inspired by the Mayan temples. The country is rich in Mayan sites such as Lamanai or Caracol, which are less frequented and therefore more pleasant than in Mexico.

04. Ministries

The various ministries occupy modest buildings like this Ministry of Health. The decision to relocate the capital inland was made in 1961 following a cyclone that devastated Belize City, the former colonial capital. Administrations and embassies are gradually moving though the size of the city has not reached the initial target yet.

05. Police Headquarters

During the colonial period, police officers were often enlisted in the British West Indies. At the end of the First World War, the return of military personnel to the country gave the opportunity for a first local recruitment. Since then, the police force has remained organized on the British model. The headquarters was transferred to Belmopan in 1970.

06. Pedestrian walkway

The design of the downtown area allows for the main buildings to be connected by pedestrian walkways away from the traffic lanes. Around the administration district runs a ring road leading to the car parks, within this perimeter, mobility is on foot. Although the small size of the city facilitates this organization, the idea is attractive.

07. Market

The downtown market consists mainly of food stalls but also contains more diversified products including electronics. In addition to the daily covered market, twice a week, a larger market spreads over the surrounding lawns. The city centre then comes out of its torpor to show the animation of a real city.

08. Restaurants

Around the market are several rows of fast-food restaurants. One places an order at the counter and then takes a seat around the common table. There is a good-natured atmosphere and the prices are low. The clientele is hardly renewed, a bad cook would not last long, which is reassuring when you hesitate to eat there.

09. Airfield

It is indeed Belmopan airport, which can be accessed from the road, without gates or controls. Given the small distances, it is finally the airport of Belize City which continues to be used, it is 80 kilometers away. It is also the location of the British military base, which has been reinforced in recent years due to the Guatemalan threat.

10. The house on the hill

I was intrigued by this weird building on a hill overlooking the city of Belmopan. I did some research and I found out that it was the residence of the owner of the main fuel distribution chain in the country. It could be a subject of meditation about good taste, money and how to spend it.

To be informed of upcoming articles, register here (it’s free).

Latin America cities in the Top 10 series:

To be informed of upcoming articles, register here (it’s free).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s