Commerce And Finance

Between 1901 and 1905 the tonnage of vessels accommodated at the ports of British Honduras rose from 300,000 to 496,465; the imports rose from £252,500 to £386,123; the exports from £285,500 to £377,623. The exports consist of the timber, fruit and other vegetable products already mentioned, besides rum, deerskins, tortoiseshell, turtles and sponges, while the principal imports are cotton goods, hardware, beer, wine, spirits, groceries and specie. The sea-borne trade is mainly shared by Great Britain and the United States. On the 14th of October 1894, the American gold dollar was adopted as the standard coin, in place of the Guatemalan dollar; and the silver of North, South and Central America ceased to be legal tender. Government notes are issued to the value of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 and 100 dollars, and there is a local currency of one cent bronze pieces, and of 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent silver pieces. The British sovereign and half sovereign are legal tender. In 1846 the government savings bank was founded in Belize; branches were afterwards opened in the principal towns; and in 1903 the British Bank of Honduras was established at Belize. The revenue, chiefly derived from customs, rose from £60,150 in 1901 to £68,335 in 1905. The expenditure, in which the cost of police and education are important items, rose, during the same period, from £51,210 to £61,800. The public debt, amounting in 1905 to £34,736, represents the balance due on three loans which were raised in 1885, 1887, and 1891, for public works in Belize. The loans are repayable between 1916 and 1923.

Constitution And Administration

From 1638 to 1786 the colonists were completely independent, and elected their own magistrates, who performed all judicial and executive functions. The customs and precedents thus established were codified and published under the name of "Burnaby's Laws," after the visit of Admiral Sir W. Burnaby, in 1756, and were recognized as valid by the crown. In 1786 a superintendent was appointed by the home government, and although this office was vacant from 1790 to 1797, it was revived until 1862. An executive council was established in 1839, and a legislative assembly, of three nominated and eighteen elected members, in 1853. British Honduras was declared a colony in 1862, with a lieutenant governor, subject to the governor of Jamaica, as its chief magistrate. In 1870 the legislative assembly was abolished, and a legislative council substituted - the constitution of this body being fixed, in 1892, at three official and five unofficial members. In 1884 the lieutenant governor was created governor and commander-in-chief, and rendered independent of Jamaica. He is assisted by an executive council of three official and three unofficial members.

For administrative purposes the colony is divided into six districts - Belize, Corosal, Orange Walk, the Cayo, Stann Creek and Toledo. The capital of the last named is Punta Gorda; the other districts take the names of their chief towns. English common law is valid throughout British Honduras, subject to modification by local enactments, and to the operation of the Consolidated Laws of British Honduras. This collection of ordinances, customs, etc., was officially revised and published between 1884 and 1888. Appeals may be carried before the privy council or the supreme court of Jamaica,