Belize is a country located on the northeastern coast of Central America. It is situated south of the Yucatan Peninsula and Mexico, east of the Caribbean Sea, and northwest of Guatemala. The country’s name is believed to have been the Spanish pronunciation of the last name of Peter Wallace, who is said to have begun a settlement at the mouth of the Belize River in 1638. The name could have also been from the Mayan words “belix” (muddy water) or “belikin” (land facing the sea).
Belize was formerly known as British Honduras. It was the last British colony in Central America and gained its independence in 1973. However, it still maintains its strong ties with the United Kingdom through its membership in the Commonwealth. These ties are reflected in the Belizean dollar banknotes, which all feature different portraits of Queen Elizabeth II. Bradbury, Wilkinson & Company printed Belize’s banknotes until 1990, when De La Rue took over. Early Belizean dollar banknotes had the same designs and were differentiated by their colors. However, in 1990, the Central Bank of Belize introduced newly-designed banknotes with different reverse sides. The reverse sides of the notes highlighted the rich variety of Belizean wildlife, national culture, and historic sites. The 1990 designs are still used in the current family of banknotes—the only difference is the heightened security features. In 1984, the Central Bank of Belize produced The First Gold Bank Notes of Belize, special legal tender banknotes that were covered in 22K gold and featured the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and different animals and ships. In 2012, the Central Bank of Belize issued commemorative 20-dollar banknotes to celebrate the Bank’s 30th anniversary.