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Guatemala

Background:

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 conflict, which had left more than 100,000 people dead and had created some 1 million refugees.

Geography

Location:

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

Area:

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

Coastline:

400 km

Maritime claims:

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

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, hydropower

Land use:

arable land: 12.54%
permanent crops: 5.03%
other: 82.43% (2001)

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

Population:

14,655,189 (July 2005 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 42.4% (male 3,185,037/female 3,033,947)
15-64 years: 54.2% (male 4,019,052/female 3,928,984)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 226,745/female 261,424) (2005 est.)

Median age:

total: 18.47 years
male: 18.25 years
female: 18.71 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.57% (2005 est.)

Birth rate:

34.11 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Death rate:

6.81 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Net migration rate:

-1.63 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 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 (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 35.93 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 36.74 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 35.09 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 65.14 years
male: 64.27 years
female: 66.04 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:

4.53 children born/woman (2005 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% (23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)

Literacy:

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 70.6%
male: 78%
female: 63.3% (2003 est.)

Government

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

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 and are restricted to their barracks on election day)

Source: CIA World Factbook