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Introduction

Although a relatively new participant in the offshore arena, Belize, formerly called British Honduras, is emerging as a serious player in the increasingly competitive offshore industry.

Belize is an English-speaking country located between Mexico and Guatemala on the western Caribbean and operating in a convenient time zone. The country is considered to have one of the most stable governments in the region, and is proudly progressing towards full participation in the world’s major forums. Belize law is derived from the English Common Law System supplemented by local legislation. Furthermore, Belize offers competent and accessible support services (legal, accounting, trust and fund administration, banking, etc.) and is constantly improving the quality and range of services offered in order to attract foreign interest and investment into the country.

Belize enjoys a long history of peace, stability and democracy and is sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of Central America. It became a British Crown Colony in 1862 and achieved complete self rule in 1981. Belize is a member of the British Commonwealth, the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of American States, and the World Bank.

The political system is based on the British Westminster Model with Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a Belizean Governor General, as titular Head of State. Executive authority is exercised by the cabinet under the leadership of the Prime Minister. Legislative authority vests in a 29 member House of Representatives elected by universal adult suffrage every five years. In addition there is an 8 member Senate with the majority appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

Over the past three years there has been a substantial increase in the number of new International Business Companies (IBC’s) formed in Belize.

Instructions have originated from all areas of the globe, especially NAFTA countries and those in the Far East. This increase in IBC formation suggests that Belize is no longer, a secret within the global financial community.