The small Central American country of Belize is considered to have of the most diverse ecosystems and for many world travelers a bucket list country to visit. Its coins and banknotes are not very diverse but for “Queen” collectors, the Belize banknotes are a must have.
Belize became independent from the United Kingdom in 1981, but it was put on the road to independence in 1973 when it changed its name from British Honduras to Belize. A year later, the new Government of Belize issued its first series of banknotes. Like most British colonies, the banknotes included a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and was printed by am English security printer. Bradbury & Wilkinson designed a beautiful series of notes. They look a lot like Fiji pre decimal notes from the 1960s. All of the notes show Queen Elizabeth II on the front and include a lot of security line work surrounding both her portrait and the Belize country crest. The reverse had a design and scrollwork seen in many older banknotes.
Post British Honduras Banknotes
After independence, Belize redesigned their banknotes but kept the focus on Queen Elizabeth II. In 1983, the banknotes showed images of the Central Bank building and rain forest animals. All of the banknotes in this series share the same overall design but have different colors. This design approach is common for small countries to save money during printing and design.
Evolution of Belize Banknotes
The 1990 series shows a further evolution in theme from a colony to an independent country. While Queen Elizabeth II is still featured on the front of all of the notes, the reverse sides show local culture, history and fauna. The Belize 10 dollar (P-54b) is a very clean design that allows the image of the Queen to pop. The reverse shows several historic Belizean buildings. This De La Rue designed banknote is a good balance of security printing and design. The 1997 series wasn’t very different from the previous series. A windowed thread was added, and a few small design changes were made. Same story for the 2003 issuance that are still in circulation. The Central Bank did issue a commemorative note in 2012 (P-72) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the creation of the Central Bank. It is again a nice clean design but the only real indication that it is special is the inclusion of some test on the front say it is a 30th anniversary commemorative.
A unique aspect of Belize notes is that they continue to include Queen Elizabeth on all of their denominations. It is likely the next series will follow the trend of other former colonies by removing the Queen from many of the denominations and highlighting local flora and fauna.