Belize, formerly British Honduras, is a country in Central America. Once part of the Mayan and Spanish Empires, it was most recently a British colony, gaining its independence in 1981. The country is bordered to the south and west by Guatemala, to the north by Mexico, and to the east by the Caribbean Sea.
Belize has a diverse society, composed of many cultures and speaking many languages. It is the only country in Central America where English is an official language, although Spanish and Kriol are also widely spoken. With 8,867 square miles (22,960 km) of territory and 301,270 people (2008 est.), the population density is the lowest in the Central American region and one of the lowest in the world. The country's population growth rate, 2.21% (2008 est.), is the highest in the region and one of the highest in the western hemisphere.