Nation at a Glance - Guatemala

History

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.

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

Border Countries: Belize 266 km, El Salvador 199 km, Honduras 244 km, Mexico 958 km

Total Area: 108,889 sq km Land: 107,159 sq km Water: 1,730 sq km

Climate: Tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands

Terrain: Mostly mountains with narrow coastal plains and rolling limestone plateau

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

Land use: Agricultural land: 41.2% arable land 14.2%; permanent crops 8.8%; permanent pasture 18.2% Forest: 33.6% Other: 25.2% (2011 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)

Languages: Spanish (official) 60%, Amerindian languages 40%

Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs

Population: 15,189,958 (July 2016 est.)

Literacy: 81.5%; Male: 87.4%; Female: 76.3% (2015 est.)

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

Economy: Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America with a GDP per capita roughly half the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. The agricultural sector accounts for 13.5% of GDP and 31% of the labor force; key agricultural exports include sugar, coffee, bananas, and vegetables. Guatemala is the top remittance recipient in Central America as a result of Guatemala's large expatriate community in the US. These inflows are a primary source of foreign income, equivalent to two-thirds of the country's exports and one-tenth of its GDP. The 1996 peace accords, which ended 36 years of civil war, removed a major obstacle to foreign investment, and Guatemala has since 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 23% of the population lives in extreme poverty. Poverty among indigenous groups, which make up more than 40% of the population, averages 79%, with 40% 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.

Agriculture - products: Sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens

Industries: Sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism

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