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Guatemala Flag

Country Profile

Capital City: Guatemala (City) (metro area pop. 2.5 million).

Other Cities: Quetzaltenango, Escuintla.

Local Time: UTC -6h

Location: Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea)
Area: 108 890 sq. km. (42 042 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Mountainous, with fertile coastal plain.

Border countries
: Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico

Climate: Temperate in highlands; tropical on coasts.

Type: Constitutional democratic republic.
Constitution: May 1985; amended November 1993.
Independence: 15 September 1821 (from Spain).

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Guatemalan(s).
Population: 14.3 million.
Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed Spanish-Indian), indigenous.
Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, traditional Mayan.
Languages: Spanish, 24 indigenous languages (principally Kiche, Kaqchikel, Q'eqchi, and Mam).
Literacy: 70%


Currency: Quetzal (GTQ), US Dollar (USD)

Natural resources: Petroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, chicle, hydropower.

Agriculture products: sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens.

Industries: Sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism.

Exports partners:
USA 55.6%, El Salvador 9.7%, Mexico 3.5% (2004)

Imports partners: USA 33.3%, Mexico 8.5%, South Korea 7.5%, El Salvador 5.2%, China 5%, Venezuela 4% (2004)

Internet Links

Official Sites of Guatemala

Congreso de la Republica de Guatemala

Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores

Diplomatic Missions
Mision Permanente de Guatemala ante las Naciones Unidas

Embassy of Guatemala in the U.S.

Guatemalan Diplomatic Missions Abroad

Diplomatic Missions accredited in Guatemala

Map of Guatemala

Map of Central America and the Caribbean



Background:  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

Location:  Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Honduras
and Belize and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador
and Mexico

Geographic coordinates:  15 30 N, 90 15 W

Map references:  Central America and the Caribbean

Area:  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

Coastline:  400 km

Maritime claims:  continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of
exploitation exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM

Climate:  tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands

Terrain:  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,

Land use:  arable land: 13% permanent crops: 5% other: 82% (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, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone
Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but not ratified:
Antarctic-Environmental Protocol

Geography - note:  no natural harbors on west coast

People Guatemala

Population:  13,314,079 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 41.8% (male 2,841,486; female 2,725,343)
15-64 years: 54.5% (male 3,629,363; female 3,630,273) 65 years and over:
3.7% (male 227,369; female 260,245) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  2.57% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  34.17 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  6.67 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  -1.79 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.87
male(s)/female total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  44.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   69.66 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  4.51 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  1.38% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  73,000 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  3,600 (1999 est.)

Nationality:  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%

Religions:  Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs

Languages:  Spanish 60%, Amerindian languages 40% (more than 20 Amerindian
languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 63.6% male: 68.7% female: 58.5% (2000 est.)

Government Guatemala

Country name:   Republic of Guatemala conventional short form:  Guatemala

Government type:  constitutional democratic republic

Capital:  Guatemala

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

Independence:  15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday:  Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Constitution:  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

Suffrage:  18 years of age; universal (active duty members of the armed
forces may not vote)

Executive branch:  chief of state: President Alfonso Antonio PORTILLO
Cabrera (since 14 January 2000); Vice President Juan Francisco REYES Lopez
(since 14 January 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state
and head of government head of government: President Alfonso Antonio
PORTILLO Cabrera (since 14 January 2000); Vice President Juan Francisco
REYES Lopez (since 14 January 2000); 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 7 November 1999; runoff held
26 December 1999 (next to be held NA November 2003) election results:
Alfonso Antonio PORTILLO Cabrera elected president; percent of vote -
Alfonso Antonio PORTILLO Cabrera (FRG) 68%, Oscar BERGER Perdomo (PAN) 32%

Legislative branch:  unicameral Congress of the Republic or Congreso de
la Republica (113 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve
four-year terms) elections: last held 7 November 1999 (next to be held
NA November 2003) note: for the 7 November 1999 election, the number of
congressional seats increased to 113 from 80 election results: percent
of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - FRG 63, PAN 37, ANN 9, DCG 2,

Judicial branch:  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); Constitutional Court or
Corte de Constitutcionalidad (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)

Political parties and leaders:  Authentic Integral Development or DIA
[Jorge Luis ORTEGA]; Democratic Union or UD [Jose Luis CHEA Urruela];
Green Party or LOV [Jose ASTURIAS Rudecke]; Guatemalan Christian Democracy
or DCG [Vinicio CEREZO Arevalo]; Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity
or URNG [Pablo MONSANTO, also known as Jorge SOTO]; Guatemalan Republican
Front or FRG [Efrain RIOS Montt]; New Nation Alliance or ANN [leader NA],
which includes the URNG; National Advancement Party or PAN [Leonel LOPEZ
Rodas]; Progressive Liberator Party or PLP [Acisclo VALLADARES Molina]

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:  BCIE, CACM, CCC, ECLAC, FAO,
IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU, LAES,
LAIA (observer), NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW (signatory), PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD,

Diplomatic representation in the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Ariel RIVERA Irias chancery: 2220 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
consulate(s) general: Chicago, 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
Prudence BUSHNELL embassy: 7-01 Avenida
 APO AA 34024 telephone:
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:  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. Former President ARZU
(1996-2000) worked to implement a program of economic liberalization
and political modernization. The 1996 signing of the peace accords,
which ended 36 years of civil war, removed a major obstacle to foreign
investment. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused relatively little damage to
Guatemala compared to its neighbors. Ongoing challenges include increasing
government revenues, negotiating further assistance from international
donors, and increasing the efficiency and openness of both government
and private financial operations.  Despite low international prices
for Guatemala's main commodities, the economy grew by 3% in 2000 and
2.3% in 2001. Guatemala, along with Honduras and El Salvador, recently
concluded a free trade agreement with Mexico and has moved to protect
international property rights. However, the PORTILLO administration has
undertaken a review of privatizations under the previous administration,
thereby creating some uncertainty among investors.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $48.3 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  2.3% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $3,700 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 23% industry: 20% services:
57% (2000 est.)

Population below poverty line:  60% (2000 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):  7.6% (2001)

Labor force:  4.2 million (1999 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:  agriculture 50%, industry 15%, services 35%
(1999 est.)

Unemployment rate:  7.5% (1999 est.)

Budget:  revenues: $2.1 billion expenditures: $2.5 billion, including
capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)

Industries:  sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals,
petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism

Industrial production growth rate:  4.1% (1999)

Electricity - production:  5.929 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 50.35% hydro: 44.54%
other: 5.11% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  4.797 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  840 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  123 million kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans,
cardamom; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens

Exports:  $2.9 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Exports - commodities:  coffee, sugar, bananas, fruits and vegetables,
cardamom, meat, apparel, petroleum, electricity

Exports - partners:  US 57%, El Salvador 8.7%, Costa Rica 3.7%, Nicaragua
2.8%, Germany 2.6% (2000)

Imports:  $4.9 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Imports - commodities:  fuels, machinery and transport equipment,
construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity

Imports - partners:  US 35.2%, Mexico 12.6%, South Korea 7.9%, El Salvador
6.4%, Venezuela 3.9% (2000)

Debt - external:  $4.5 billion (2001 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:  $212 million (1995)

Currency:  quetzal (GTQ), US dollar (USD), others allowed

Currency code:  GTQ; USD

Exchange rates:  quetzales per US dollar - 8.0165 (January 2002), 7.8586
(2001), 7.7632 (2000), 7.3856 (1999), 6.3947 (1998), 6.0653 (1997)

Fiscal year:  calendar year

Communications Guatemala

Telephones - main lines in use:  665,061 (June 2000)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  663,296 (September 2000)

Telephone system:  general assessment: fairly modern network centered
in the city of Guatemala domestic: NA international: connected to
Central American Microwave System; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat
(Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:  AM 130, FM 487, shortwave 15 (2000)

Radios:  835,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations:  26 (plus 27 repeaters) (1997)

Televisions:  1.323 million (1997)

Internet country code:  .gt

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  5 (2000)

Internet users:  65,000 (2000)

Transportation Guatemala

Railways:   884 km 0.914-m gauge (single-track) note: Highways:  total:
13,856 km paved: 4,370 km (including 140 km of expressways) unpaved:
9,486 km (1998)

Waterways:  990 km note: 260 km navigable year round; additional 730 km
navigable during highwater season

Pipelines:  crude oil 275 km

Ports and harbors:  Champerico, Puerto Barrios, Puerto Quetzal, San Jose,
Santo Tomas de Castilla

Merchant marine:  none (2002 est.)

Airports:  475 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:   2 914 to 1,523 m: Airports - with
unpaved runways:   9 914 to 1,523 m: Military Guatemala

Military branches:  Army, Navy (includes Marines), Air Force

Military manpower - military age:  18 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 3,186,894 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 2,080,504
(2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:  males: 140,358
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $120 million (FY99)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  0.6% (FY99)

Transnational Issues Guatemala

Disputes - international:  the "Line of Adjacency", established as an
agreed limit in 2000 to check squatters settling in Belize, remains in
place while OAS assists states to resolve Guatemalan territorial claims
in Belize and Guatemalan maritime access to the Caribbean Sea

Illicit drugs:  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
(cocaine and heroin shipments); money laundering is a serious problem;
corruption is a major problem

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

La Hora

Prensa Libre



Voces de Guatemala

Arts & Culture
Arte Maya Tz'utuhil

Biblioteca Nacional de Guatemala

Cultural Guatemala

Business & Economy
Banco de Guatemala

Guatemala Products
La Casa del Jade

Destination Guatemala - Travel and Tour Guides

Turicentro Corazón del Bosque

Puerta al Mundo Maya

Conoce Guatemala

Colorful Guatemala

Nuestra Guatemala

Fotos de Guatemala

Guatemala On The Web

City Guide
Guatemala City

Tour Operators

Universidad del Valle de Guatemala

Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala

Universidad Francisco Marroquín

Universidad Mariano Gálvez de Guatemala

Universidad Rafael Landívar

Comisión Nacional del Medio Ambiente, CONAMA

Instituto Nacional de Bosques

Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza

Parque Natural Ixpanpajul

Guatemala: Memory of Silence

Maya Culture
Mundo Maya

Guatemalan Maya Organization - OMG

Maya Archaeology

The Maya Astronomy Page

The Maya Calendar

The Maya Ruins Page

Guatemala Web




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