As capital of Belize, Belmopan has been the seat of government since August 1970. It is 50 miles inland to the west of Belize City, near the junction of the Western Highway and the Hummingbird Highway to Dangriga (Stann Creek Town). Following the devastation caused in Belize City by Hurricane Hattie in 1961, plans were drawn up for a town that could be a centre for government, business and study away from the coast: Belmopan is the result.
The hurricanes of recent years have prompted a renewed interest in plans to develop the capital, and several government organizations are in the process of relocating to the city, injecting a desperately needed ‘heart’ to this most eerie of capitals. One possible site of interest would be the Department of Archaeology, in the government plaza, which has a vault containing specimens of the country’s artefacts. Unfortunately, the vault is currently closed and there are no plans to open it in the near future, although there is a small display and plans to build a museum. Part of the collection is displayed in the National Museum of Belize .
Belmopan has the National Assembly building, two blocks of government offices (with broadly Maya-style architecture), the national archives, police headquarters, a public works department, a hospital, over 700 houses for civil servants, a non-governmental residential district to encourage expansion and a market. The Western Highway from Belize City is now good (a one-hour drive), continuing to San Ignacio, and there is an airfield (for charter services only).
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