Capital city: Belmopan
Currency: Belize dollar (BZD)
GDP: USD$1.8 billion
GDP per capita: USD$4,645
Belize, formerly British Honduras, is an independent country on the eastern coast of Central America (bordered by Mexico and Guatemala). Although Britain granted British Honduras self-government in 1964, it was not until 1981 that Belize achieved independence.
Throughout Belize’s history, Guatemala has claimed ownership of all or part of Belizean territory. Guatemala’s claim to Belizean territory rests on Clause VII of the Anglo-Guatemalan Treaty of 1859, which obligated the British to build a road between Belize City and Guatemala. This dispute is ongoing and no closer to resolution.
Belize’s rugged geography has made the country’s coastline and jungle attractive to drug smugglers, who use the country as a gateway into Mexico. Belize is attractive to drug traffickers and money launders as the Belize currency is pegged to the U.S. dollar, nonresidents can establish offshore accounts, and it’s easy to establish a Belize bank. As a result, the United States Department of State has recently named Belize one of the world’s ‘major money laundering countries’ (2016 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency).
Belize offshore companies do not pay taxes on earnings from abroad. That is, no taxes on offshore dividends, capital gains, interest and business revenues. Belize offshore companies (International Business Companies) can be incorporated within a few hours and have no reporting requirements.
Belize enacted the Offshore Banking Act in 1996 which allows financial institutions with a minimum of $25 million in capital to apply for an unrestricted banking licence (which allows for banking operations without local regulation). By world standards, this is a super low capital requirement.
You don’t have to be a billionaire to start your own Belize bank!
"You’d be stupid not to try to cut your tax bill and those that don’t are stupid in business"
- Bono: U2