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Flag of Guatemala
Map of Guatemala
Introduction Guatemala
The Mayan civilization flourished in Guatemala and surrounding regions during the first millennium A.D. After almost three centuries as a Spanish colony, Guatemala won its independence in 1821. During the second half of the 20th century, it experienced a variety of military and civilian governments, as well as a 36-year guerrilla war. In 1996, the government signed a peace agreement formally ending the conflict, which had left more than 100,000 people dead and had created some 1 million refugees.
Geography Guatemala
Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea) between Honduras and Belize
Geographic coordinates:
15 30 N, 90 15 W
Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean
total: 108,890 sq km
land: 108,430 sq km
water: 460 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Tennessee
Land boundaries:
total: 1,687 km
border countries: Belize 266 km, El Salvador 203 km, Honduras 256 km, Mexico 962 km
400 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands
mostly mountains with narrow coastal plains and rolling limestone plateau
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Volcan Tajumulco 4,211 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, chicle, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 13.22%
permanent crops: 5.6%
other: 81.18% (2005)
Irrigated land:
1,300 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
numerous volcanoes in mountains, with occasional violent earthquakes; Caribbean coast extremely susceptible to hurricanes and other tropical storms
Environment - current issues:
deforestation in the Peten rainforest; soil erosion; water pollution
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
no natural harbors on west coast
People Guatemala
12,293,545 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 41.1% (male 2,573,359/female 2,479,098)
15-64 years: 55.5% (male 3,353,630/female 3,468,184)
65 years and over: 3.4% (male 194,784/female 224,490) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 18.9 years
male: 18.5 years
female: 19.4 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.27% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
29.88 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
5.2 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
-1.94 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 30.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 33.55 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 28.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.38 years
male: 67.65 years
female: 71.18 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
3.82 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
78,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
5,800 (2003 est.)
noun: Guatemalan(s)
adjective: Guatemalan
Ethnic groups:
Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish - in local Spanish called Ladino) and European 59.4%, K'iche 9.1%, Kaqchikel 8.4%, Mam 7.9%, Q'eqchi 6.3%, other Mayan 8.6%, indigenous non-Mayan 0.2%, other 0.1% (2001 census)
Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs
Spanish 60%, Amerindian languages 40% (23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 70.6%
male: 78%
female: 63.3% (2003 est.)
Government Guatemala
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Guatemala
conventional short form: Guatemala
local long form: Republica de Guatemala
local short form: Guatemala
Government type:
constitutional democratic republic
name: Guatemala
geographic coordinates: 14 38 N, 90 31 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in April; ends last Friday in September; note - there is no DST planned for 2007-2009
Administrative divisions:
22 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento); Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Chimaltenango, Chiquimula, El Progreso, Escuintla, Guatemala, Huehuetenango, Izabal, Jalapa, Jutiapa, Peten, Quetzaltenango, Quiche, Retalhuleu, Sacatepequez, San Marcos, Santa Rosa, Solola, Suchitepequez, Totonicapan, Zacapa
15 September 1821 (from Spain)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
31 May 1985, effective 14 January 1986; note - suspended 25 May 1993 by former President Jorge SERRANO; reinstated 5 June 1993 following ouster of president; amended November 1993
Legal system:
civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal; note - active duty members of the armed forces may not vote and are restricted to their barracks on election day
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Oscar Jose Rafael BERGER Perdomo (since 14 January 2004); Vice President Eduardo STEIN Barillas (since 14 January 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Oscar Jose Rafael BERGER Perdomo (since 14 January 2004); Vice President Eduardo STEIN Barillas (since 14 January 2004)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held 9 November 2003; runoff held 28 December 2003 (next to be held September 2007)
election results: Oscar BERGER Perdomo elected president; percent of vote - Oscar BERGER Perdomo 54.1%, Alvarado COLOM 45.9%
Legislative branch:
unicameral Congress of the Republic or Congreso de la Republica (158 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 9 November 2003 (next to be held September 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - GANA 49, FRG 41, UNE 33, PAN 17, other 18
note: for the 9 November 2003 election, the number of congressional seats increased from 113 to 158
Judicial branch:
Constitutional Court or Corte de Constitutcionalidad is Guatemala's highest court (five judges are elected for concurrent five-year terms by Congress, each serving one year as president of the Constitutional Court; one is elected by Congress, one elected by the Supreme Court of Justice, one appointed by the president, one elected by Superior Counsel of Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala, and one by Colegio de Abogados); Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (13 members serve concurrent five-year terms and elect a president of the Court each year from among their number; the president of the Supreme Court of Justice also supervises trial judges around the country, who are named to five-year terms)
Political parties and leaders:
Authentic Integral Development or DIA [Edgar DE LEON Sotomayor]; Center of Social Action or CASA [Eduardo SUGER]; Democracy Front or FRENTE [Alfonso CABRERA]; Democratic Union or UD [Manuel CONDE Orellana]; Encounter for Guatemala or EG [Nineth MONTENGRO]; Grand National Alliance or GANA [Alfredo VILLA]; Guatemalan Christian Democracy or DCG [Vinicio CEREZO Arevalo]; Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity or URNG [Hector NUILA]; Guatemalan Republican Front or FRG [Efrain RIOS Montt]; National Advancement Party or PAN [Ruben Dario MORALES]; National Unity for Hope or UNE [Alvaro COLOM Caballeros]; National Well-Being or BIEN [Fidel REYES]; New Nation Alliance or ANN [Pablo MONSANTO]; Patriot Party or PP [Ret. Gen. Otto PEREZ Molina]; Progressive Libertarian Party or PLP [Acisclo VALLADARES]; Reform Movement or MR [Juan Jose CABRERA Alonso]; Unionista Party or PU [Fritz GARCIA]; Unity of National Change or UCN [Sidney SHAW]; Social Democratic Party of Guatemala or PSG [Roger VALENZUELA]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Agrarian Owners Group or UNAGRO; Alliance Against Impunity or AAI; Committee for Campesino Unity or CUC; Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial, and Financial Associations or CACIF; Mutual Support Group or GAM
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Guillermo CASTILLO
chancery: 2220 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 745-4952
FAX: [1] (202) 745-1908
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Providence, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador James M. DERHAM
embassy: 7-01 Avenida Reforma, Zone 10, Guatemala City
mailing address: APO AA 34024
telephone: [502] 2326-4000
FAX: [502] 2326-4654
Flag description:
three equal vertical bands of light blue (hoist side), white, and light blue with the coat of arms centered in the white band; the coat of arms includes a green and red quetzal (the national bird) and a scroll bearing the inscription LIBERTAD 15 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 1821 (the original date of independence from Spain) all superimposed on a pair of crossed rifles and a pair of crossed swords and framed by a wreath
Economy Guatemala
Economy - overview:
Guatemala is the largest and most populous of the Central American countries with a GDP per capita roughly one-half that of Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. The agricultural sector accounts for about one-fourth of GDP, two-fifths of exports, and half of the labor force. Coffee, sugar, and bananas are the main products. The 1996 signing of peace accords, which ended 36 years of civil war, removed a major obstacle to foreign investment, and Guatemala since then has pursued important reforms and macroeconomic stabilization. On July 1, 2006, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) entered in to force between the US and Guatemala. The distribution of income remains highly unequal with about 56% of the population below the poverty line. Other ongoing challenges include increasing government revenues, negotiating further assistance from international donors, upgrading both government and private financial operations, curtailing drug trafficking, and narrowing the trade deficit. Remittances from a large expatriate community that moved to the United States during the war have become the primary source of foreign income, exceeding the total value of exports and tourism combined.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$60.57 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$35.25 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.6% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$4,900 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 22.1%
industry: 19.1%
services: 58.7% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
5.02 million (2005 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 50%
industry: 15%
services: 35% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
3.2% (2005 est.)
Population below poverty line:
56.2% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.6%
highest 10%: 46% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
59.9 (2005)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5.8% (2006)
Investment (gross fixed):
15.5% of GDP (2006 est.)
revenues: $3.84 billion
expenditures: $4.431 billion; including capital expenditures of $750 million (2006 est.)
Public debt:
18.6% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:
sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens
sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
3.6% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:
7.2 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 51.9%
hydro: 35.2%
nuclear: 0%
other: 12.9% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
6.625 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports:
335 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:
23 million kWh (2005)
Oil - production:
16,370 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - consumption:
73,510 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - exports:
15,560 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - imports:
72,960 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - proved reserves:
263 million bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
3.087 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
Current account balance:
$-1.533 billion (2006 est.)
$3.71 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
coffee, sugar, petroleum, apparel, bananas, fruits and vegetables, cardamom
Exports - partners:
US 50.1%, El Salvador 12.1%, Honduras 7.3%, Mexico 4% (2005)
$9.911 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
fuels, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity
Imports - partners:
US 38.1%, Mexico 7.6%, El Salvador 4.8%, South Korea 4.8%, Panama 4.4% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$4.061 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
$3.908 billion (2006 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$250 million (2000 est.)
Currency (code):
quetzal (GTQ), US dollar (USD), others allowed
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
quetzales per US dollar - 7.6026 (2006), 7.6339 (2005), 7.9465 (2004), 7.9409 (2003), 7.8217 (2002)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Guatemala
Telephones - main lines in use:
1.132 million (2004)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
3.168 million (2004)
Telephone system:
general assessment: fairly modern network centered in the city of Guatemala
domestic: NA
international: country code - 502; connected to Central American Microwave System; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 130, FM 487, shortwave 15 (2000)
835,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
26 (plus 27 repeaters) (1997)
1.323 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
49,026 (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
5 (2000)
Internet users:
756,000 (2005)
Transportation Guatemala
450 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 2 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 439
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 111
under 914 m: 319 (2006)
oil 480 km (2006)
total: 886 km
narrow gauge: 886 km 0.914-m gauge (2005)
total: 14,095 km
paved: 4,863 km (including 75 km of expressways)
unpaved: 9,232 km (1999)
990 km
note: 260 km navigable year round; additional 730 km navigable during high-water season (2004)
Ports and terminals:
Puerto Quetzal, Santo Tomas de Castilla
Military Guatemala
Military branches:
Army, Navy (includes Marines), Air Force
Military service age and obligation:
all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 50 are liable for military service; conscript service obligation varies from 12 to 24 months (2005)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 2,429,033
females age 18-49: 2,503,482 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 1,911,412
females age 18-49: 2,070,806 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males age 18-49: 134,032
females age 18-49: 130,641 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$169.8 million (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.5% (2006 est.)
Transnational Issues Guatemala
Disputes - international:
annual ministerial meetings under the OAS-initiated Agreement on the Framework for Negotiations and Confidence Building Measures continue to address Guatemalan land and maritime claims in Belize and the Caribbean Sea; the Line of Adjacency created under the 2002 Differendum serves in lieu of the contiguous international boundary to control squatting in the sparsely inhabited rain forests of Belize's border region; Mexico must deal with thousands of impoverished Guatemalans and other Central Americans who cross the porous border looking for work in Mexico and the United States
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
IDPs: undetermined (estimates vary from none to 1 million displaced from government's scorched-earth offensive in 1980s against indigenous people) (2006)
Illicit drugs:
major transit country for cocaine and heroin; in 2005, cultivated 100 hectares of opium poppy after reemerging as a potential source of opium in 2004; potential production of less than 1 metric ton of pure heroin; marijuana cultivation for mostly domestic consumption; proximity to Mexico makes Guatemala a major staging area for drugs (particularly for cocaine); money laundering is a serious problem; corruption is a major problem

This page was last updated on 15 March, 2007