Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a governor
Prime minister: Dean Barrow
Dean Barrow's United Democratic Party (UDP) won the general election in February 2008 and again in March 2012.
A leading lawyer, he was elected to parliament in 1984 and served in senior positions in UDP governments until the PUP won a landslide in 1998. He then led the party in opposition until its victory at the polls in 2008.
In the 2008 vote he unseated the People's United Party (PUP) government of Said Musa, which had been in power for 10 years.
The PUP was the driving force behind independence and won 10 of the 12 elections since Belize first elected a legislative assembly under British rule in 1954. In the last years of Mr Musa's government the PUP had been rocked by allegations of corruption.