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Guatemala was freed of Spanish colonial rule 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 led to the death of more than 100,000 people 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
water: 460 sq km
land: 108,430 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 - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
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 (Peten)
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: 12.54%
permanent crops: 5.03%
other: 82.43% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
1,250 sq km (1998 est.)
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
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
no natural harbors on west coast
People Guatemala
14,280,596 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 42.6% (male 3,118,396; female 2,970,729)
15-64 years: 54% (male 3,898,939; female 3,817,435)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 221,154; female 253,943) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 18.4 years
male: 18.1 years
female: 18.6 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.61% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
34.58 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
6.79 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
-1.67 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 36.91 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 36.07 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 37.71 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 65.19 years
male: 64.3 years
female: 66.13 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
4.6 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
67,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
5,200 (2001 est.)
noun: Guatemalan(s)
adjective: Guatemalan
Ethnic groups:
Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish or assimilated Amerindian - in local Spanish called Ladino), approximately 55%, Amerindian or predominantly Amerindian, approximately 43%, whites and others 2%
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 short form: Guatemala
local long form: Republica de Guatemala
Government type:
constitutional democratic republic
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 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 (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); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 9 November 2003; runoff held 28 December 2003 (next to be held NA November 2007)
election results: Oscar BERGER Perdomo elected president; percent of vote - Oscar BERGER Perdomo (GANA) 54.1%, Alvaro COLOM (UNE) 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 NA November 2007)
note: for the 9 November 2003 election, the number of congressional seats increased from 113 to 158
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - GANA 49, FRG 41, UNE 33, PAN 17, other 18
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 (thirteen 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 [Eduardo SUGER]; Democratic Union or UD [Rodolfo PAIZ Andrade]; Grand National Alliance or GANA [Oscar BERGER Perdomo]; Green Party or LOV [Rodolfo ROSALES Garcis-Salaz]; Guatemalan Christian Democracy or DCG [Vinicio CEREZO Arevalo]; Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity or URNG [Alba ESTELA Maldonado, secretary general]; Guatemalan Republican Front or FRG [Efrain RIOS Montt]; Movement for Guatemalan Unity or MGU [Jacobo ARBENZ Villanueva]; Movement for Principals and Values or MPV [Francisco BIANCHI]; National Advancement Party or PAN [Leonel LOPEZ Rodas, secretary general]; National Unity for Hope or UNE [Alvarado COLOM Caballeros]; New Nation Alliance or ANN, formed by an alliance of DIA, URNG, and several splinter groups most of whom subsequently defected [led by three co-equal partners - Nineth Varenca MONTENEGRO Cottom, Rodolfo BAUER Paiz, and Jorge Antonio BALSELLS TUT]; Patriot Party or PP [retired General Otto PEREZ Molina]; Progressive Liberator Party or PLP [Acisclo VALLADARES Molina]; Reform Movement or MR [Alfredo SKINNER-KLEE, secretary general]; Unionista Party [leader NA]
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 (vacant)
chancery: 2220 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco
FAX: [1] (202) 745-1908
telephone: [1] (202) 745-4952
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant)
embassy: 7-01 Avenida Reforma, Zone 10, Guatemala City
mailing address: APO AA 34024
telephone: [502] 331-1541/55
FAX: [502] 334-8477
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-thirds 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, but widespread political violence and corruption scandals continue to dampen investor confidence. The distribution of income remains highly unequal, with perhaps 75% of the population below the poverty line. 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.
purchasing power parity - $56.53 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.2% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $4,100 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 22.5%
industry: 15%
services: 62.5% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
75% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.6%
highest 10%: 46% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
55.8 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5.6% (2003 est.)
Labor force:
4.2 million (1999 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 50%, industry 15%, services 35% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
7.5% (2003 est.)
revenues: $2.3 billion
expenditures: $2.7 billion, including capital expenditures of $750 million (2002 est.)
sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
4.1% (1999)
Electricity - production:
6.237 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 51.9%
hydro: 35.2%
other: 12.9% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
5.559 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
336 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
95 million kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
21,080 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
61,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Oil - proved reserves:
263 million bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
1.543 billion cu m (1 January 2002)
Agriculture - products:
sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens
$2.763 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
coffee, sugar, bananas, fruits and vegetables, cardamom, meat, apparel, petroleum, electricity
Exports - partners:
US 59%, El Salvador 9.4%, Nicaragua 3.2% (2002)
$5.749 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
fuels, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity
Imports - partners:
US 34.3%, Mexico 8.6%, South Korea 8.4%, El Salvador 5.9%, China 4.1% (2002)
Debt - external:
$5.6 billion (2003 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$250 million (2000 est.)
quetzal (GTQ), US dollar (USD), others allowed
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
quetzales per US dollar - 7.94 (2003), 7.82 (2002), 7.86 (2001), 7.76 (2000), 7.39 (1999)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Guatemala
Telephones - main lines in use:
846,000 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
1,577,100 (2002)
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:
9,789 (2002)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
5 (2000)
Internet users:
400,000 (2002)
Transportation Guatemala
total: 886 km
narrow gauge: 886 km 0.914-m gauge (2002)
total: 14,118 km
paved: 4,871 km (including 74 km of expressways)
unpaved: 9,247 km (1999)
990 km
note: 260 km navigable year round; additional 730 km navigable during high-water season
oil 480 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Champerico, Puerto Barrios, Puerto Quetzal, San Jose, Santo Tomas de Castilla
Merchant marine:
452 (2003 est.)
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 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 441
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 109
under 914 m: 323 (2003 est.)
Military Guatemala
Military branches:
Army, Navy (includes Marines), Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 3,421,682 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 2,233,562 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 156,865 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$202.6 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.8% (2003)
Transnational Issues Guatemala
Disputes - international:
Guatemalan squatters continue to settle in Belize border region; OAS brokered Differendum in 2002 creating small adjustment to land boundary, large Guatemalan maritime corridor in Caribbean, joint ecological park for disputed Sapodilla Cays, and substantial US-UK financial package, but agreement was not brought to popular referendum leaving Guatemala to continue to claim the southern half of Belize intact; numbers of Guatemalans enter Mexico seeking work or transit to the US
Illicit drugs:
major transit country for cocaine and heroin; minor producer of illicit opium poppy and cannabis 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; remains on Financial Action Task Force Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories List for continued failure to address deficiencies in money-laundering control regime