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Economic Development of Central America Econ. 4200 - Spring 2004 – Dr. Taylor - page 81 / 153

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Guatemala has long-standing territorial claims to Belize. During the long Guatemalan Civil War perhaps as many as 40,000 Latin American refugees fled the fighting to the relative safety of Belize.

Spanish is now the primary language of a significant percentage of the population, and some Belizeans are concerned about the "Hispanicization" of the country.

As with Guatemala, Belize is major transshipment point for cocaine; small-scale illicit producer of cannabis for the international drug trade with some money-laundering activity related to offshore sector.

With the new millennium, Belize has increasingly turned its attention to the impact of globalization. Concern was expressed by the government about job security and the need for education and training in the skills necessary to compete in a global marketplace.

As a result greater emphasis is placed on education and health care in public policy decisions.

From 1997 through 2003, tourism averaged 20.2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The US, Belize's main trading partner, is assisting in efforts to reduce dependency on sugar with an agricultural diversification program.

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