Belize is a Central American country located south of the Yucatan peninsula, east of the Caribbean Sea, and northwest of Guatemala. There are two theories on the origin of its name. One theory is that Belize came from the Spanish pronunciation of “Wallace”, the last name of Peter Wallace who started a settlement at the mouth of Belize River in 1683. Another theory is that Belize came from two Mayan words: “belix” meaning muddy water, or “belikin” meaning land facing the sea.
Belize was formerly known as British Honduras and is the last Central American colony to gain its independence from Britain in 1973. However, it still maintains its British ties through its membership in the Commonwealth. Belize has a developing free market economy. Commercial logging and timber were its primary exports, but by 1960 Belize shifted its focus to agriculture, tourism, and other services.
The Monetary Authority of Belize handled all central bank functions and responsibilities until 1983, when the Central Bank of Belize was established and took over. The Belizean dollar is the currency used in Belize. The Belizean dollar banknotes reflect the ties between Belize and the United Kingdom. Early banknotes were printed by Bradbury, Wilkinson & Company until De La Rue took over in 1990. Early Belizean dollars had one design: a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in front and the National Assembly building in Belmopan at the back. The denominations were differentiated by color. When De La Rue took over banknote printing in 1990, the Central Bank of Belize issued newly designed banknotes. Each banknote still featured an updated portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. However, each denomination had a different design on the back. These designs highlighted the rich variety of Belizean wildlife, culture, and history.