Belize, a British colony until September, 1981, is a newly formed nation. As a relatively stable, democratic country in a politically volatile region, Belize now has great strategic importance to the United States. Located on the Central American mainland facing the Caribbean, Belize has physical and cultural ties to both regions (Map 1). Belize shares borders with Mexico and Guatemala and has long been involved in a still unresolved sovereignty dispute with Guatemala. Because of this dispute, British troops remain stationed in Belize today. The current political turmoil in Central America is also affecting Belize which has received a sudden increase in U.S. aid and a flow of refugees from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.