In 1961 Hurricane Hattie all but destroyed Belize City. Certain that a coastal capital would never be secure from further terrible hurricanes, the government decided to move. In 1971 it declared its intention to build a new capital in the center of the country, which would become Belmopan.
A grand new National Assembly was built to resemble a Maya temple and plaza, with government offices around it. Government needs have since outgrown these core buildings and an assortment of less-uniform government offices are spread out around the central green. While hardly geared toward recreation, Belmopan is a pleasant enough town. Many government ministries and other organizations are based here, as are a few embassies, giving the place an unexpected international atmosphere. Stick around long enough and it might just grow on you.
Belmopan is located 1 mile east of the Hummingbird Hwy, reached by either of two turn-offs, 1 and 2 miles south of the Hummingbird's junction with the Western Hwy, 50 miles from Belize City. Belmopan is a small place that is easily negotiated on foot. A ring road encircles the central area of town. The bus terminal and the main commercial area are within the west side of this ring.