History of the City of Belmopan

History of Belmopan Belize

After Hurricane Hattie, with winds of up to 300 km/h, and following the destruction of approximately 75% of the houses and business places in Belize City, the government of the day in its manifesto for the year 1961, entitled "PUP for Progress" (PUP is the People's United Party), proposed to encourage and promote the building of a new capital city. This new capital would be situated on better terrain, would entail no costly reclamation of land, and would also provide for an industrial area. In 1962, a committee chose the site now known as Belmopan, located 82 kilometers (51 miles) west of the old capital of Belize City. Belmopan is 76 meters (250 ft) above sea level, near the Belize River Valley, with an imposing view of the majestic Mountain Pine Ridge foothills. It boasts cool climate conditions at night. In 1964, since Belize was still a colony (known as British Honduras), Premier George Price led a delegation to London in the United Kingdom to seek funds to finance the new capital. Although they were not ready to commit to funding such a large project, the British government showed interest due to the logic of locating the capital on high ground safe from tidal waves. In order to encourage financial commitment from the British Government, Premier Price and the PUP government invited Mr. Anthony Greenwood, Secretary of State for the Commonwealth and Colonies to visit Belize.

One of the highlights of this visit was the unveiling of a monument at mile 49 on the Western Highway (George Price Highway). The monument records that Lord Greenwood dedicated the site for the new capital on October 9, 1965. Thus in a fashion there was a commitment. The name chosen for the new capital -- Belmopan -- is derived from union of two words: "Belize", the name of the longest river in the country, and "Mopan", one of the rivers in this area, which empties into the Belize River. The initial estimated cost for building this new city was forty million Belize dollars (twenty million U.S. dollars), however, only twenty million Belize dollars (ten million U.S. dollars) were available, but the momentum was not to be lost. In 1967, work began; the first phase of the new city was completed in 1970 at a cost of $24,000,000 Belize dollars ($12,000,000 U.S. dollars). From 1970 to 2000 the administration of Belmopan was managed by the Reconstruction and Development Corporation, known as "Recondev". Recondev was vested with the power and authority to provide, or cause to be provided, the municipal functions necessary for the smooth running of the city's business and infrastructure.

There was reluctance initially amongst foreign governments to relocate their embassies to Belmopan as there was some doubt as to whether this inland area would really become the functioning capital of Belize. In February 2005, the United States government broke ground and started building a new United States Embassy in Belmopan, 43 years after Belmopan was chosen as the new capital city. The U.S. Embassy was inaugurated in December 2006.





This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Belmopan".