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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, by some estimates, some 1 million refugees.

Location - 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:


12,728,111 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 40.8% (male 2,641,179/female 2,556,397)
15-64 years: 55.5% (male 3,426,376/female 3,642,157)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 213,801/female 248,201) (2007 est.)

Median age

total: 18.9 years
male: 18.3 years
female: 19.5 years (2007 est.)

Population growth rate

2.152% (2007 est.)

Birth rate

29.09 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Death rate

5.27 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Net migration rate

-2.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.033 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.941 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.861 male(s)/female
total population: 0.974 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 29.77 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 32.26 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 27.16 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 69.69 years
male: 67.94 years
female: 71.52 years (2007 est.)

Total fertility rate

3.7 children born/woman (2007 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%, Kiche 9.1%, Kaqchikel 8.4%, Mam 7.9%, Qeqchi 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: 69.1%
male: 75.4%
female: 63.3% (2002 census)

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 37 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 in September 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - GANA 49, FRG 41, UNE 33, PAN 17, other 18
note: in the 2003 election, the number of congressional seats increased from 113 to 158

Judicial branch

Constitutional Court or Corte de Constitutcionalidad is Guatemalas highest court (five judges are elected for concurrent five-year terms); 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 1 July 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

$61.38 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp official exchange rate

$35.25 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp real growth rate

4.6% (2006 est.)

Gdp per capita ppp

$5,000 (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 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

526 million bbl (1 January 2005)

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 45.2%, El Salvador 12.1%, Honduras 7.3% (2006)


$9.911 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

Imports commodities

fuels, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity

Imports partners

US 31.3%, Mexico 7.9%, China 6.1%, El Salvador 5%, South Korea 5%, Panama 4.6% (2006)

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

Exchange rates

quetzales per US dollar - 7.6026 (2006), 7.6339 (2005), 7.9465 (2004), 7.9409 (2003), 7.8217 (2002)

Communications - Guatemala:

Fiscal year

calendar year

Telephones main lines in use

1.248 million (2005)

Telephones mobile cellular

4.51 million (2005)

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)

Television broadcast stations

26 (plus 27 repeaters) (1997)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

49,026 (2006)

Internet users

1.32 million (2006)

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 (2006)


total: 14,095 km
paved: 4,863 km (includes 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 (2007)

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.)

Refugees and internally displaced persons

IDPs: undetermined (estimates vary from none to 1 million displaced from governments scorched-earth offensive in 1980s against indigenous people) (2006)

Military expenditures percent of gdp

0.4% (2006)

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 Belizes 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

This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>

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