The Maya 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 internal conflict, which had left more than 200,000 people dead and had created, by some estimates, about 1 million refugees.


Guatemalan Flag

Guatemalan Flag


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: 108,889 sq km
country comparison to the world: 107
land: 107,159 sq km
water: 1,730 sq km

Area – comparative:
Area comparison map:

Land boundaries:
total: 1,667 km
border countries: Belize 266 km, El Salvador 199 km, Honduras 244 km, Mexico 958 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
note: highest point in Central America

Natural resources:
petroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, chicle, hydropower

Land use:
arable land: 13.78%
permanent crops: 8.68%
other: 77.55% (2011)

Irrigated land:
3,121 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:
111.3 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 3.46 cu km/yr (15%/31%/54%)
per capita: 259.1 cu m/yr (2006)

Natural hazards:
numerous volcanoes in mountains, with occasional violent earthquakes; Caribbean coast extremely susceptible to hurricanes and other tropical storms
volcanism: significant volcanic activity in the Sierra Madre range; Santa Maria (elev. 3,772 m) has been deemed a Decade Volcano by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations; Pacaya (elev. 2,552 m), which erupted in May 2010 causing an ashfall on Guatemala City and prompting evacuations, is one of the country’s most active volcanoes with frequent eruptions since 1965; other historically active volcanoes include Acatenango, Almolonga, Atitlan, Fuego, and Tacana

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

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People & Society

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)

Spanish (official) 60%, Amerindian languages 40%
note: there are 23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca

Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs

Demographic profile:
Guatemala is a predominantly poor country that struggles in several areas of health and development, including infant, child, and maternal mortality, malnutrition, literacy, and contraceptive awareness and use. The country’s large indigenous population is disproportionately affected. Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America and has the highest fertility rate in Latin America. It also has the highest population growth rate in Latin America, which is likely to continue because of its large reproductive-age population and high birth rate. Almost half of Guatemala’s population is under age 19, making it the youngest population in Latin America. Guatemala’s total fertility rate has slowly declined during the last few decades due in part to limited government-funded health programs. However, the birth rate is still more than three children per woman and is markedly higher among its rural and indigenous populations.
Guatemalans have a history of emigrating legally and illegally to Mexico, the United States, and Canada because of a lack of economic opportunity, political instability, and natural disasters. Emigration, primarily to the United States, escalated during the 1960 to 1996 civil war and accelerated after a peace agreement was signed. Thousands of Guatemalans who fled to Mexico returned after the war, but labor migration to southern Mexico continues.

14,647,083 (July 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70

Age structure:
0-14 years: 36.2% (male 2,698,238/female 2,597,026)
15-24 years: 22.1% (male 1,625,139/female 1,615,543)
25-54 years: 32.4% (male 2,251,665/female 2,487,332)
55-64 years: 5.2% (male 362,686/female 393,273)
65 years and over: 4.1% (male 286,041/female 330,140) (2014 est.)

Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 80.7 %
youth dependency ratio: 72.4 %
elderly dependency ratio: 8.3 %
potential support ratio: 12 (2014 est.)

Median age:
total: 21 years
male: 20.4 years
female: 21.7 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:
1.86% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63

Birth rate:
25.46 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52

Death rate:
4.82 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 194

Net migration rate:
-2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166

urban population: 49.8% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 3.43% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas – population:
GUATEMALA CITY (capital) 1.168 million (2011)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Mother’s mean age at first birth:
note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2008-09 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:
120 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 64

Infant mortality rate:
total: 23.51 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 77
male: 25.57 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.35 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.74 years
country comparison to the world: 143
male: 69.82 years
female: 73.76 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:
2.99 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56

Contraceptive prevalence rate:
43.3% (2002)

Health expenditures:
6.7% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 92

Physicians density:
0.93 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density:
0.7 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source:
urban: 99.1% of population
rural: 88.6% of population
total: 93.8% of population
urban: 0.9% of population
rural: 11.4% of population
total: 6.2% of population (2012 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
urban: 88.4% of population
rural: 72.1% of population
total: 80.3% of population
urban: 11.6% of population
rural: 27.9% of population
total: 19.7% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
0.7% (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
57,800 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58

HIV/AIDS – deaths:
3,400 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria (2013)

Obesity – adult prevalence rate:
19.2% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 100

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
13% (2009)
country comparison to the world: 57

Education expenditures:
3% of GDP (2012)
country comparison to the world: 139

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 75.9%
male: 81.2%
female: 71.1% (2011 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2007)

Child labor – children ages 5-14:
total number: 929,852
percentage: 21 %
note: data represents children ages 5-17 (2006 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 7.5%
country comparison to the world: 126
male: 4.5%
female: 13.6% (2011)

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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 City
geographic coordinates: 14 37 N, 90 31 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

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)

several previous; latest adopted 31 May 1985, effective 14 January 1986; suspended, reinstated, and amended in 1993 (2013)

Legal system:
civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts

International law organization participation:
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; the Congress ratified Statute of Rome on 18 January 2012, and ICCt jurisdiction entered into force on 23 February 2012

18 years of age; universal; note – active duty members of the armed forces and police by law cannot vote and are restricted to their barracks on election day

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Otto Fernando PEREZ MOLINA (since 14 January 2012); Vice President Ingrid Roxana BALDETTI Elias (since 14 January 2012); note – the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Otto Fernando PEREZ MOLINA (since 14 January 2012); Vice President Ingrid Roxana BALDETTI Elias (since 14 January 2012)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a four-year term (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held on 11 September 2011; runoff held on 6 November 2011 (next to be held in September 2015)
election results: Otto Fernando PEREZ MOLINA elected president in a runoff election; percent of vote – Otto Fernando PEREZ MOLINA 53.7%, Manuel BALDIZON 46.3%

Legislative branch:
unicameral Congress of the Republic or Congreso de la Republica (158 seats; members elected through a party list proportional representation system)
elections: last held on 11 September 2011 (next to be held in September 2015)
election results: percent of vote by party – PP 26.62%, UNE-GANA 22.67%, UNC 9.50%, LIDER 8.87%, CREO 8.67%, VIVA-EG 7.87%, Winaq-URNG-ANN 3.23%, PAN 3.12%, FRG 2.74%, PU 2.70%, other 3.59%; seats by party – PP 57, UNE-GANA 48, LIDER 14, UCN 14, CREO 12, VIVA-EG 6, PAN 2, Winaq-URNG-ANN 2, FRG 1, PU 1, Victoria 1; note – changes in party affiliation now reflect the following seat distribution: as of 15 January 2014 – PP 55, LIDER 39, TODOS 18, independents 10, CREO 8, UNE 8, GANA 6, EG 3, PU 2, PRI (formerly FRG) 2, PAN 1, UCN 1, URNG 2, Victoria 1, VIVA 1, Winaq 1

Judicial branch:
highest court(s): Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (consists of 13 magistrates including the court president and organized into 3 chambers); note – the court president also supervises trial judges countrywide; Constitutional Court or Corte de Constitcionalidad (consists of 5 judges and 5 alternates)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court magistrates elected by the Congress of the Republic from candidates proposed by the Postulation Committee, an independent body of deans of the country’s university law schools, representatives of the country’s law associations, and representatives of the Court of Appeal and other tribunals; magistrates elected for renewable 5-year terms; Constitutional Court judges – 1 elected by the Congress of the Republic, 1 by the Supreme Court, 1 by the president of the republic, 1 by the University of San Carlos, and 1 by a lawyers bar association; judges elected for concurrent 5-year terms; the presidency of the court rotates among the magistrates for a single 1-year term
subordinate courts: numerous first instance and appellate courts

Political parties and leaders:
Commitment, Renewal, and Order or CREO [Roberto GONZALEZ Diaz-Duran]
Democratic Union or UD [Edwin Armando MARTINEZ Herrera]
Encounter for Guatemala or EG [Nineth MONTENEGRO Cottom]
Everyone Together for Guatemala or TODOS [Felipe ALEJOS]
Grand National Alliance or GANA [Jaime Antonio MARTINEZ Lohayza]
Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity or URNG [Angel SANCHEZ Viesca]
Institutional Republican Party (formerly the Guatemalan Republican Front) or PRI [Luis Fernando PEREZ]
National Advancement Party or PAN [Juan GUTIERREZ Strauss]
National Unity for Hope or UNE [Sandra TORRES]
Nationalist Change Union or UCN [Mario ESTRADA]
New National Alternative or ANN [Pablo MONSANTO]
Patriot Party or PP [Ingrid Roxana BALDETTI Elias]
Renewed Democratic Liberty or LIDER [Manuel BALDIZON]
Unionista Party or PU [Alvaro ARZU Irigoyen]
Victoria (Victory) [Amilcar RIVERA]
Vision with Values or VIVA [Harold CABALLEROS] (part of a coalition with EG during the last legislative election)
Winaq [Rigoberta MENCHU]

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Alliance Against Impunity or AI (which includes among others Center for Legal Action on Human Rights (CALDH), and Family and Friends of the Disappeared of Guatemala (FAMDEGUA))
Civic and Political Convergence of Women
Committee for Campesino Unity or CUC
Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial, and Financial Associations or CACIF
Foundation for the Development of Guatemala or FUNDESA
Guatemala Visible
Mutual Support Group or GAM
Movimiento PRO-Justicia
National Union of Agriculture Workers or UNAGRO

International organization participation:
BCIE, CACM, CD, CELAC, EITI (candidate country), FAO, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, MINUSTAH, MONUSCO, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), PCA, Petrocaribe, SICA, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, Union Latina, UNISFA, UNITAR, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jose Julio Alejandro LIGORRIA Carballido (since 5 September 2013)
chancery: 2220 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 745-4952
FAX: [1] (202) 745-1908
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, McAllen (TX), Miami, New York, Phoenix, Providence (RI), San Francisco, Silver Spring (MD),

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant), ChargĂ© d’Affairs ad interim Bruce WILLIAMSON (since 5 March 2014)
embassy: 7-01 Avenida Reforma, Zone 10, Guatemala City
mailing address: DPO 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) representing liberty 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 signifying Guatemala’s willingness to defend itself and a pair of crossed swords representing honor and framed by a laurel wreath symbolizing victory; the blue bands represent the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea; the white band denotes peace and purity

National symbol(s):
quetzal (bird)

National anthem:
name: “Himno Nacional de Guatemala” (National Anthem of Guatemala)

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Economy – overview:
Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America with a GDP per capita roughly one-half that of the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. The agricultural sector accounts for 13.5% of GDP and 30% of the labor force; key agricultural exports include coffee, sugar, bananas, and vegetables. The 1996 peace accords, which ended 36 years of civil war, removed a major obstacle to foreign investment, and since then Guatemala has pursued important reforms and macroeconomic stabilization.

The Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) entered into force in July 2006, spurring increased investment and diversification of exports, with the largest increases in ethanol and non-traditional agricultural exports. While CAFTA-DR has helped improve the investment climate, concerns over security, the lack of skilled workers, and poor infrastructure continue to hamper foreign direct investment. The distribution of income remains highly unequal with the richest 20% of the population accounting for more than 51% of Guatemala’s overall consumption. More than half of the population is below the national poverty line, and 13% of the population lives in extreme poverty.

Poverty among indigenous groups, which make up more than 40% of the population, averages 73%, with 22% of the indigenous population living in extreme poverty. Nearly one-half of Guatemala’s children under age five are chronically malnourished, one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world. Guatemala is the top remittance recipient in Central America as a result of Guatemala’s large expatriate community in the United States. These inflows are a primary source of foreign income, equivalent to one-half of the country’s exports or one-tenth of its GDP.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$81.51 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80
$78.91 billion (2012 est.)
$76.64 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$53.9 billion (2013 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:
3.3% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105
3% (2012 est.)
4.2% (2011 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$5,300 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157
$5,200 (2012 est.)
$5,200 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 84.5%
government consumption: 11%
investment in fixed capital: 14.1%
investment in inventories: 0.7%
exports of goods and services: 25.1%
imports of goods and services: -35.3%
(2013 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 13.5%
industry: 23.8%
services: 62.7% (2013 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:
3.7% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80

Labor force:
4.465 million (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 38%
industry: 14%
services: 48% (2011 est.)

Unemployment rate:
4.1% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35
3.5% (2010 est.)

Population below poverty line:
54% (2011 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.3%
highest 10%: 42.4% (2006)

Distribution of family income – Gini index:
55.1 (2007)
country comparison to the world: 11
55.8 (1998)

revenues: $6.411 billion
expenditures: $7.851 billion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
11.9% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-2.7% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 112

Public debt:
31% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
29.5% of GDP (2012 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
4.4% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145
3.8% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
6.5% (31 December 2010 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
13.4% (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 54
13.49% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money:
$8.461 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
$7.975 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money:
$23.83 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80
$22.3 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$22.6 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78
$20.5 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Current account balance:
-$1.822 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 138
-$1.489 billion (2012 est.)

$10.29 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
$10.11 billion (2012 est.)

Exports – commodities:
coffee, sugar, petroleum, apparel, bananas, fruits and vegetables, cardamom

Exports – partners:
US 40.2%, El Salvador 11.1%, Honduras 8%, Mexico 5.5%, Nicaragua 4.7%, Costa Rica 4.3% (2012)

$16.7 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
$15.84 billion (2012 est.)

Imports – commodities:
fuels, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity, mineral products, chemical products, plastic materials and products

Imports – partners:
US 38%, Mexico 11.3%, China 7.4%, El Salvador 4.6% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$7.118 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
$6.694 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Debt – external:
$17.67 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 83
$16.61 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates:
quetzales (GTQ) per US dollar –
7.883 (2013 est.)
7.8336 (2012 est.)
8.0578 (2010 est.)
8.1616 (2009)
7.5895 (2008)

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