Belize: Independence!

Free but vulnerable

All week long, it was a time for celebration and the infectious beat of "brukdown" music. Then it was a time for ceremony. There was a skirl of bagpipes and the boom of a 21-gun salute.

The Union Jack was lowered and in its place rose the red, white and blue flag of Belize. The former colony once known as British Honduras became the world's newest nation and, with a population of 150,000, one of its smallest.

The transfer of power ended more than 300 years of British colonial rule on the North American mainland, dating from 1607, when...

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