Guatemala is a Central American country. It has an area of 108 890 km2 and is bordered by Mexico to the north and west, Belize and the Caribbean Sea to the northeast, Honduras to the east, El Salvador to the southeast and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital is Guatemala City, with a population of 999,400 residents (2004) and is included in a metropolitan area of 2,508,400 residents; cities like Mixco (407 700 residents), Villa Nueva (320 200 residents), Chinautla (81 700 residents) and Amatitlan (64 600 residents) also stand out.
There are distinct geographic regions in Guatemala: to the south, a mountainous region of volcanic origin; to the north, the Petén region, with an altitude of no more than 300 meters, with numerous lakes, including Lake Izabal, the largest in the country; in the Center, the region of high mountains, with altitudes above 3000 m, is torn by the region of the valleys in a west-east direction.
The climate is humid tropical. The altitude introduces significant variations in both temperature and precipitation. The Atlantic slope receives more rainfall than the Pacific Ocean façade.
Guatemala is a country with an economy based mainly on agriculture, which not only employs half of the active population, but represents 25% of GDP and 60% of exports. The main agricultural products are coffee, cardamom (an aromatic and therapeutic plant), sugar cane, bananas, beans, vegetables and cotton. Raising livestock for export also has a significant economic weight.
Thanks mainly to government incentives given to tourism, the tertiary sector has seen its importance increase. As for the industry, despite being the most developed in Central America, it is still at a stage of development where the food, pharmaceutical, rubber and textile manufacturing industries and the construction industry have played an important role. Guatemala’s main trading partners are the United States of America, Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras.
Environmental indicator: the value of carbon dioxide emissions, per capita (metric tons, 1999), is 0.9.
In 2006 the population was 12 293 545 residents, which was equivalent to a population density of 134.59 residents/km2. The birth and death rates are respectively 29.88% and 5.2%. Average life expectancy is 69.38 years. The value of the Human Development Index (HDI) is 0.652 and the value of the Gender-adjusted Development Index (IDG) is 0.638 (2001). In ethnic terms, mestizos represent 55% of the population, Amerindians 43%, whites and another 2%. Catholicism is the majority religion, followed by 75% of the population. The official language is Castilian.
Guatemala is the cradle of the Mayan civilization, whose center was the Petén region, which justifies the unique characteristics of Guatemalan culture in the context of Central American culture. 2500 a. Until the tenth century d. C., the Mayans lived a flourishing era, entering in decline until being subdued by the Spanish conqueror Pedro de Alvarado, in 1523. The period of Spanish dominance, marked by the weak commercial development, lasted until 1821, the year of the declaration of the independence of the colonies American cities in Guatemala City, Guatemala being, however, annexed by the Mexican Empire until 1823, and later becoming part of the United Provinces of Central America until 1839. In 1871 a revolution began, culminating in the rise to power by Justo Rufino Barrios in 1873, which initiated an economic development program based on investment in large coffee producing properties. Barrios was followed by two dictatorships: Manuel Estrada Cabrera (1898-1920) and Jorge Ubico (1931-44), characterized by internal political despotism and favoring American investors. In 1945, a democratic-liberal coalition, led by Juan José Arévalo, instituted a framework of political and social reforms that favored urban workers and peasants, taking away powers from the large landowners and the military. This policy, followed by Arévalo’s successor, Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán (1951-54), would lead to his overthrow following an invasion supported by the Americans, which brought Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas to power, assassinated in 1957. Ydígoras Fuentes was declared by Congress as president on March 2, 1958, but was overthrown by his defense minister, General Enrique Peralta Azurdia, in March 1963. Three years later, the leader of the Revolutionary Party, Júlio César Méndez Montenegro, was elected president, but never managed to impose its policies by action of the military, who completely controlled the corridors of Power. Arana Osório, who succeeded Montenegro in the 1970 elections, imposed a policy of extinction of all opponents, whether political parties, rural or urban guerrillas. For Guatemala democracy and rights, please check localbusinessexplorer.
The discovery of oil reserves in the late 1970s, in northern Guatemala, created a crisis between this country and Belize (at the time called British Honduras), as it was believed that the reserves extended to that territory. However, in September 1981, England gave independence to Belize under the protests of Guatemala, which would only abdicate its claims about Belize in September 1991. This discovery also served as a pretext for the Guatemalan Government to initiate a repressive movement over the Indians in the North of the territory, causing not only the exodus to Mexico, but also an unprecedented adhesion to the guerrillas. Until 1985, all elections were monopolized in order to keep the military in power. And in December of that year, following the approval in March of a new Constitution (of a more humanist nature), was elected the first civilian president of the last 15 years – Marco Cerezo. However, instead of appeasing the country, Cerezo promoted the resurgence of death squads (very active during the military presidencies), which led to the formation, by the various guerrillas, of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union (URNG). Marco Cerezo also had to face several military coup attempts by the military, in addition to growing popular dissatisfaction. In the 1991 elections, President Jorge Serrano Elías was elected, who soon established a dialogue with URNG in order to end the war situation in the country. This initiative, however, caused violent reactions on the part of the right wing through actions carried out by death squads.
Despite the signing of the peace agreements between the Government and the URNG in 1993, political and social instability continued to mark the daily life of Guatemala, rendering the efforts of President Ramiro de León Carpio (elected in 1994) in establishing a solid democracy impotent in the country. An example of this is the beating of an American citizen accused of child trafficking, which was carried out by popular militias in March 1994. This episode, which caused enormous economic losses by causing the cancellation of tourist visits, came about when more and more the military tried to meddle in Guatemalan politics, thus giving rise to speculation about possible military involvement in that popular action.
- Countryaah.com: Offers a full list of airports in the country of Guatemala, sorted by city location and acronyms.
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Provides most commonly used abbreviations and initials containing the country name of Guatemala. Listed by popularity.
1UpTravel.com – Maps of Guatemala
View a collection of city, country, political, and shaded relief maps of Guatemala, bordering the Caribbean Sea, and the North Pacific Ocean. View the Guatemala city map.
Guatemala – About.com
Peruse a simple political map along with an overview of the Central American country’s population, economy, government and military.
Guatemala – Expedia Maps
Interactive map of Guatemala allows users to zoom in or out on a particular region, to move the map in all directions, and print for projects.
Guatemala – Falling Rain Genomics
Peruse satellite maps, weather reports and longitude and latitude readings for nearly 8,000 towns across the country.
Guatemala – InfoPlease Map
Access a large, close-up map of Guatemala and easily locate towns and villages, and river systems and parklands.
Guatemala – Mapquest
Features a close-up map view of this small Central American country. Easily identify towns and villages, plus land features and water bodies.
Guatemala – MyTravelGuide.com Map
Access a black and white graphical map for Guatemala, and locate cities and geographical features.
Guatemala – National Geographic Map Machine
Provides a shaded-relief map of this colorful Central American country. Also includes a brief history and an overview of the economy.
Guatemala – University of Texas
Offers a variety of maps, from large to small, plus, black and white maps of the capital, Guatemala City.