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  Introduction Back To Top

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.

  Geography Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 2.01 cu km/yr (6%/13%/80%)
per capita: 160 cu m/yr (2000)

Total renewable water resources:
111.3 cu km (2000)

Land boundaries:
total: 1,687 km
border countries: Belize 266 km, El Salvador 203 km, Honduras 256 km, Mexico 962 km

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

tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands

Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean

Geographic coordinates:
15 30 N, 90 15 W

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

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Volcan Tajumulco 4,211 m

mostly mountains with narrow coastal plains and rolling limestone plateau

Geography - note:
no natural harbors on west coast

total: 108,890 sq km
land: 108,430 sq km
water: 460 sq km

Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea) between Honduras and Belize

400 km

Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Tennessee

Irrigated land:
1,300 sq km (2003)

Environment - current issues:
deforestation in the Peten rainforest; soil erosion; water pollution

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

Natural hazards:
numerous volcanoes in mountains, with occasional violent earthquakes; Caribbean coast extremely susceptible to hurricanes and other tropical storms

Land use:
arable land: 13.22%
permanent crops: 5.6%
other: 81.18% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
3.59 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.1% (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
78,000 (2003 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.99 years
male: 68.22 years
female: 71.86 years (2008 est.)

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria (2008)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 69.1%
male: 75.4%
female: 63.3% (2002 census)

Net migration rate:
-2.26 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

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)

Median age:
total: 19.2 years
male: 18.6 years
female: 19.7 years (2008 est.)

13,002,206 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
2.6% of GDP (2006)

Population growth rate:
2.11% (2008 est.)

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

Death rate:
5.19 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 28.79 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 31.21 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 26.24 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
5,800 (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2006)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 40.1% (male 2,653,915/female 2,565,841)
15-64 years: 56.2% (male 3,539,874/female 3,762,471)
65 years and over: 3.7% (male 222,303/female 257,802) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
28.55 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs

noun: Guatemalan(s)
adjective: Guatemalan

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Stephen G. MCFARLAND
embassy: 7-01 Avenida Reforma, Zone 10, Guatemala City
mailing address: APO AA 34024
telephone: [502] 2326-4000
FAX: [502] 2326-4654

National holiday:
Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

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

Government type:
constitutional democratic republic

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

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Francisco VILLAGRAN de Leon
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

International organization participation:

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 September 2007 (next to be held in September 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - UNE 30.4%, GANA 23.4%, PP 18.9%, FRG 9.5%, PU 5.1%, other 12.7%; seats by party - UNE 48, GANA 37, PP 30, FRG 15, PU 8, CASA 5, EG 4, PAN 4, UCN 4, URNG 2, UD 1

Legal system:
civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

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

15 September 1821 (from Spain)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Republic of Guatemala
conventional short form: Guatemala
local long form: Republica de Guatemala
local short form: Guatemala

Political parties and leaders:
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 National Revolutionary Unity or URNG [Hector NUILA]; Guatemalan Republican Front or FRG [Efrain RIOS Montt]; National Advancement Party or PAN [Juan Guillermo GUTIERREZ]; National Unity for Hope or UNE [Juan Jose ALFARO Lemus]; Nationalist Change Union or UCN [Mario ESTRADA]; Patriot Party or PP [Ret. Gen. Otto PEREZ Molina]; Unionista Party or PU [Fritz GARCIA-GALLONT]

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

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

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Alvaro COLOM Caballeros (since 14 January 2008); Vice President Jose Rafael ESPADA (since 14 January 2008); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Alvaro COLOM Caballeros (since 14 January 2008); Vice President Jose Rafael ESPADA (since 14 January 2008)
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 September 2007; runoff held 4 November 2007 (next to be held September 2011)
election results: Alvaro COLOM Caballeros elected president; percent of vote - Alvaro COLOM Caballeros 52.8%, Otto PEREZ Molina 47.2%

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

Judicial branch:
Constitutional Court or Corte de Constitucionalidad is Guatemala's 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)

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
US 42.2%, El Salvador 9.6%, Honduras 8.6%, Mexico 6.5%, Costa Rica 4.5% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
6.617 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

Electricity - imports:
8.11 million kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$3.316 billion (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$6.337 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Unemployment rate:
3.2% (2005 est.)

Oil - exports:
15,560 bbl/day (2006 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$5,400 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
20.3% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$13.96 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$70.19 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$36.28 billion (2008 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
55.1 (2007)

Exchange rates:
quetzales (GTQ) per US dollar - 7.5895 (2008 est.), 7.6833 (2007), 7.6026 (2006), 7.6339 (2005), 7.9465 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:
3.9% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$6.227 billion (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
4.054 million (2008 est.)

Imports - partners:
US 34.9%, Mexico 9.9%, China 6.8%, El Salvador 4.6%, Costa Rica 4.1% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
12.2% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 13.2%
industry: 25.8%
services: 61% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
72,960 bbl/day (2006 est.)

$8.028 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

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

Economy - overview:
Guatemala is the most populous of the Central American countries with a GDP per capita roughly one-half that of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. The agricultural sector accounts for about one-tenth of GDP, two-fifths of exports, and half of the labor force. Coffee, sugar, and bananas are the main products, with sugar exports benefiting from increased global demand for ethanol. 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. The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) entered into force in July 2006 and has since spurred increased investment in the export sector, but concerns over security, the lack of skilled workers and poor infrastructure continued to hamper foreign participation. The distribution of income remains highly unequal with more than half of the population below the national poverty line. Other ongoing challenges include increasing government revenues, negotiating further assistance from international donors, curtailing drug trafficking and rampant crime, and narrowing the trade deficit. Given Guatemala's large expatriate community in the United States, it is the top remittance recipient in Central America, with inflows serving as a primary source of foreign income equivalent to nearly two-thirds of exports. Economic growth will slow in 2009 as export demand from US and other Central American markets drop and foreign investment slows amid the global slowdown.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

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

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

Electricity - exports:
131.9 million kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:
56.2% (2004 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
12.84% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$8.928 billion (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
7.643 billion kWh (2006 est.)

$15.42 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
83.07 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)

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

Natural gas - proved reserves:
2.96 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$4.229 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
74,230 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Public debt:
23.7% of GDP (2008 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 0.9%
highest 10%: 43.4% (2002)

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

Economic aid - recipient:
$253.6 million (2005 est.)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 51.9%
hydro: 35.2%
nuclear: 0%
other: 12.9% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $4.944 billion
expenditures: $5.647 billion (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
15,820 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
1.32 million (2006)

Telephones - main lines in use:
1.355 million (2006)

1.323 million (1997)

Internet country code:

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

835,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
10.15 million (2007)

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

Telephone system:
general assessment: fairly modern network centered in the city of Guatemala
domestic: state-owned telecommunications company privatized in the late 1990s opening the way for competition; fixed-line teledensity 11 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity 80 per 100 persons
international: country code - 502; landing point for both the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) and the SAM-1 fiber optic submarine cable system that together provide connectivity to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; connected to Central American Microwave System; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
5 (2000)

Internet hosts:
124,095 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

990 km
note: 260 km navigable year round; additional 730 km navigable during high-water season (2007)

oil 480 km (2007)

total: 886 km
narrow gauge: 886 km 0.914-m gauge (2006)

Ports and terminals:
Puerto Quetzal, Santo Tomas de Castilla

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 12
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 3 (2007)

total: 14,095 km
paved: 4,863 km (includes 75 km of expressways)
unpaved: 9,232 km (2000)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 390
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 82
under 914 m: 301 (2007)

402 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

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; women can serve as officers (2007)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 2,861,696
females age 16-49: 3,062,967 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 2,310,272
females age 16-49: 2,622,450 (2008 est.)

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

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 161,550
female: 159,760 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
0.4% of GDP (2006)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

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 (the UN does not estimate there are any IDPs, although some NGOs estimate over 200,000 IDPs as a result of over three decades of internal conflict that ended in 1996) (2007)

Trafficking in persons:
current situation: Guatemala is a source, transit, and destination country for Guatemalans and Central Americans trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor; human trafficking is a significant and growing problem in the country; Guatemalan women and children are trafficked within the country for commercial sexual exploitation, primarily to Mexico and the United States; Guatemalan men, women, and children are also trafficked within the country, and to Mexico and the United States, for forced labor
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - for a second consecutive year, Guatemala is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in persons, particularly with respect to ensuring that trafficking offenders are appropriately prosecuted for their crimes; while prosecutors initiated trafficking prosecutions, they continued to face problems in court with application of Guatemala's comprehensive anti-trafficking law; the government made modest improvements to its protection efforts, but assistance remained inadequate overall in 2007 (2008)

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

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