Belmopan is the capital of Belize, nearer the geographic center of the country than (former capital) Belize City. It was established following the massive damage that occurred when Hurricane Hattie struck Belize City in 1961; an inland location was deemed a safer location for the national government than the low-lying seaside metropolis of Belize City.
Although the smallest capital city in the continental Americas by population, Belmopan is the third-largest settlement in Belize, behind Belize City and San Ignacio. Founded as a planned community in 1970, Belmopan is one of the newest national capital cities in the world. Since 2000 Belmopan has been one of two settlements in Belize to hold official city status, along with Belize City.