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Economic Development of Central America Econ. 4200 - Spring 2004 – Dr. Taylor - page 3 / 153

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 Belize has a special history of more than two centuries of English and then African settlement. It had been a British colony until 1981, well after most of the rest of the empire achieved independence. This is because neighboring Guatemala claimed a large part of the Belizean territory. Despite recognizing Belize’s independence in 1991, Guatemala has not given up its territorial claim.

Some scholars have referred to “Middle America” as short-hand for centroamérica, Belize, Panama, the Caribbean, and the Guyanas on the north-eastern coast of South America. Central America (including Panama) and the Caribbean (including Belize) have historically been treated as distinct regions and have their own distinct scholarly literature.

Still, the states of the two regions confront similar challenges (if distinct histories) that make joint analysis useful. They are very small countries, with small economies largely based on agriculture and some mining. They are all very close geographically to the United States. And, they are very poor.

This class will focus on the five countries of centroamérica, but also includes some materials on Belize, Panama, the Caribbean and Mexico (today exerts more influence in the region than the US).

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