belmopan

Belmopan was constructed with British aid following the devastation of Hurricane Hattie in 1961 that demolished approximately 75% of the homes and business places in Belize City. The government of then Premier George Price promoted the building of a new capital city more inland, safe from tropical cyclones. This new capital would be located on better terrain, and would also provide for an industrial area.

In 1962, a committee chose the site now known as Belmopan, located 82 kilometres (51 miles) west of the old capital of Belize City. Belmopan is 76 metres (250 ft.) above sea level, near the Belize River Valley, with an imposing view of the majestic Mountain Pine Ridge mountains. It enjoys cool climate conditions at night.

Belmopan is laid out around a Ring Road that encircles most of the city. It has good road signage, pedestrian ramps, wide open green spaces, and a building code requiring all buildings be made of concrete in order to reduce fires which plague Belize City where wood buildings and extreme congestion make this a recurring peril. This code does not apply to outlying areas where traditional wood and thatch construction is used by the Maya communities. Market days in Belmopan are Tuesdays and Fridays. Here you will find farmers, fisher folk, butchers, artisans, mobile pet stores, peddlers, traveling tradesmen, and furniture makers. An eclectic variety of fresh produce, marine products, new and used furniture and appliances, clothing, pets, retail and wholesale groceries, and cookouts make these the best days for shopping in the capital.

Being in the centre of Belize, many Belizeans and visitors make Belmopan a watering hole for refueling, stopovers or a jumping-off point for adventure in other Belize destinations. Belmopan is still a relatively quiet city and increasingly a home for retirees looking for a safe city with easy access to essential services. With the growing population several nightclubs have sprung up in the outskirts if the town to provide for a vibrant nightlife. Belmopan is one of the few places in Belize with branches and ATMs of all banks operating in the country. These include the Belize Bank, Scotia Bank, First Caribbean Bank and Heritage Bank. Belmopan is the official home of the annual Belize Agriculture and Trade Show that features exhibits from Belize and Central America, a rodeo, mechanical rides, music and cultural presentations. It is the single largest fair in Belize usually held in the month of May.

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