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Introduction Guatemala
Guatemala previously freed of Spanish colonial rule in 1821. During second half of 20th century, it experienced a variety of military and civilian governments as well as a 36-year guerrilla war. In 1996, government signed a peace agreement formally ending conflict, which had led to death of more than 100,000 people and had created some 1 million refugees.
Geography Guatemala
Middle America, bordering North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea) between Honduras and Belize
Geographic coordinates:
15 30 N, 90 15 W
Map references:
Central America and Caribbean
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
400 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands
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% (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 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 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
Total Population:
13,909,384 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 42.9% (male 3,052,658; female 2,908,428)
15-64 years: 53.8% (male 3,779,688; female 3,706,315)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 215,653; female 246,642) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 18.3 years
male: 18.1 years
female: 18.5 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
2.66% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
35.05 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
6.78 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
-1.71 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 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
Population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 37.92 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 37.09 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 38.72 deaths/1,000 live births
Life Expectancy:
Population: 65.23 years
male: 64.31 years
female: 66.21 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
4.67 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
67,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
5,200 (2001 est.)
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%
Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs
Spanish 60%, Amerindian languages 40% (23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, includes Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Population: 70.6%
male: 78%
female: 63.3% (2003 est.)
Government Guatemala
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Guatemala
conventional short form: Guatemala
local short form: Guatemala
local long form: Republica de Guatemala
Government type:
constitutional democratic republic
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 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 (active duty members of armed forces may not vote and are restricted to their barracks on election day)
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 - president is both 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 - president is both chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by 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 Republic or Congreso de la Republica (140 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 9 November 2003 (next to be held NA November 2007)
note: for 9 November 2003 election, number of congressional seats increased to 140 from 113
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - GANA 49, FRG 42, UNE 33, PAN 16
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (thirteen members serve concurrent five-year terms and elect a president of Court each year from among their number; president of Supreme Court of Justice also supervises trial judges around 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 Constitutional Court; one is elected by Congress, one elected by Supreme Court of Justice, one appointed by 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 [Eduardo SUGER]; Democratic Union or UD [Rodolfo PAIZ Andrade]; Grand National Alliance or GANA [leader NA]; Green Party or LOV [Rodolfo ROSALES Garcis-Salaz]; Guatemalan Christian Democracy or DCG [Vinicio CEREZO Arevalo]; Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity or URNG [Secretary General Alba ESTELA Maldonado]; Guatemalan Republican Front or FRG [Efrain RIOS Montt]; Movement for Guatemalan Unity or MGU [Jacobo ARBENZ Villanueva]; Movement for Principals and Values or MPV [Francisco BIANCHI]; National Advancement Party or PAN [Secretary General Leonel LOPEZ Rodas]; National Unity for Hope or UNE [Alvarado COLOM Caballeros]; New Nation Alliance or ANN, formed by an alliance of DIA, URNG, and several splinter groups most of whom subsequently defected [led by three co-equal partners - Nineth Varenca MONTENEGRO Cottom, Rodolfo BAUER Paiz, and Jorge Antonio BALSELLS TUT]; Patriot Party or PP [retired General Otto PEREZ Molina]; Progressive Liberator Party or PLP [Acisclo VALLADARES Molina]; Reform Movement or MR [Secretary General Alfredo SKINNER-KLEE]; Unionista Party [leader NA]
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 US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Antonio Fernando ARENALES Forno
chancery: 2220 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco
FAX: [1] (202) 745-1908
telephone: [1] (202) 745-4952
Diplomatic representation from US:
chief of mission: Ambassador John Randle HAMILTON
embassy: 7-01 Avenida Reforma, Zone 10, Guatemala City
mailing address: APO AA 34024
telephone: [502] 331-1541/55
FAX: [502] 334-8477
Flag description:
three equal vertical bands of light blue (hoist side), white, and light blue with coat of arms centered in white band; coat of arms includes a green and red quetzal (the national bird) and a scroll bearing 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:
agricultural sector accounts for about one-fourth of GDP, two-thirds of exports, and half of labor force. Coffee, sugar, and bananas are main products. Former President ARZU (1996-2000) worked to implement a program of economic liberalization and political modernization. President PORTILLO has continued liberalization program but with more sporadic results. 1996 signing of peace accords, which ended 36 years of civil war, removed a major obstacle to foreign investment, but numerous corruption scandals associated with PORTILLO administration have dampened investor confidence. distribution of income remains highly unequal, with perhaps 75% of population below poverty line. Ongoing challenges include increasing government revenues, negotiating further assistance from international donors, upgrading both government and private financial operations, and narrowing trade deficit. A free trade agreement between US and Central American countries promises greater access to US and neighboring markets.
buying power parity - $53.2 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.2% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
buying power parity - $3,900 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 23%
industry: 20%
services: 57% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
75% (2002 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):
8.1% (2002 est.)
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.)
revenues: $2.3 billion
expenditures: $2.7 billion, includes capital expenditures of $750 million (2002 est.)
sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
4.1% (1999)
Electricity - production:
6.237 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 51.9%
hydro: 35.2%
other: 12.9% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
5.559 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
336 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
95 million kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
21,080 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
61,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
263 million bbl (37257)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
1.543 billion cu m (37257)
Agriculture - products:
sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens
$2.7 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
coffee, sugar, bananas, fruits and vegetables, cardamom, meat, apparel, petroleum, electricity
Exports - partners:
US 58.7%, El Salvador 9.3%, Nicaragua 3.1% (2002)
$5.6 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
fuels, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity
Imports - partners:
US 33.2%, Mexico 9.9%, South Korea 8.2%, El Salvador 5.7%, China 4% (2002)
Debt - external:
$4.9 billion (2002 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$250 million (2000 est.)
quetzal (GTQ), US dollar (USD), others allowed
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
quetzales per US dollar - 7.82 (2002), 7.86 (2001), 7.76 (2000), 7.39 (1999), 6.39 (1998)
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 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)
835,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
26 (plus 27 repeaters) (1997)
1.323 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
5 (2000)
Internet users:
200,000 (2002)
Transportation Guatemala
total: 886 km
narrow gauge: 886 km 0.914-m gauge (2002)
total: 14,118 km
paved: 4,871 km (including 74 km of expressways)
unpaved: 9,247 km (1999)
990 km
note: 260 km navigable year round; additional 730 km navigable during highwater season
oil 480 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Champerico, Puerto Barrios, Puerto Quetzal, San Jose, Santo Tomas de Castilla
Merchant marine:
none (2002 est.)
466 (2002)
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 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 455
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 115
under 914 m: 330 (2002)
Military Guatemala
Military branches:
Army, Navy (includes Marines), Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 3,320,077 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 2,167,270 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 151,294 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$120 million (FY99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.6% (FY99)
Transnational Issues Guatemala
Disputes - international:
Guatemalan squatters continue to settle in Belize border region; OAS brokered Differendum in 2002 creating limited adjustment to land boundary, large Guatemalan maritime corridor in Caribbean, joint ecological park for disputed Sapodilla Cays, and substantial US-UK financial package, but agreement previously not brought to popular referendum leaving Guatemalan claim to southern half of Belize intact
Illicit drugs:
major 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