Gua·te·ma·la Pronunciation Key

1. A country of northern Central America. The site of a Mayan civilization dating back to 1500 B.C., the area was conquered by Spain in 1524. After independence was achieved (1821), Guatemala joined in a federation of Central American states (1825-1838) before becoming a separate republic in 1839. Guatemala is the capital and the largest city. Population: 10,322,000.
2. also Guatemala City The capital and largest city of Guatemala, in the south-central part of the country. Founded on its present site in 1776, it was rebuilt after major earthquakes in 1917 and 1918. Population: 1,675,589.

Guate·malan adj. & n.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Location: Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between
Honduras and Belize and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El
Salvador and Mexico

Map references: Central America and the Caribbean

total area: 108,890 sq km
land area: 108,430 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Tennessee

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

Coastline: 400 km

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

International disputes: border with Belize in dispute; talks to
resolve the dispute are stalled

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

Terrain: mostly mountains with narrow coastal plains and rolling
limestone plateau (Peten)

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

Land use:
arable land: 12%
permanent crops: 4%
meadows and pastures: 12%
forest and woodland: 40%
other: 32%


Irrigated land: 780 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution
natural hazards: numerous volcanoes in mountains, with frequent
violent earthquakes; Caribbean coast subject to hurricanes and other
tropical storms
international agreements: party to - Antarctic Treaty, Endangered
Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban,
Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified -
Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Biodiversity, Climate Change,
Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea

Note: no natural harbors on west coast


Population: 10,998,602 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 43% (female 2,324,041; male 2,424,686)
15-64 years: 53% (female 2,939,170; male 2,934,334)
65 years and over: 4% (female 198,807; male 177,564) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.53% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 34.65 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 7.33 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: -2.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 52.2 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 64.85 years
male: 62.27 years
female: 67.56 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.63 children born/woman (1995 est.)


noun: Guatemalan(s)
adjective: Guatemalan

Ethnic divisions: Mestizo - mixed Amerindian-Spanish ancestry (in
local Spanish called Ladino) 56%, Amerindian or predominently
Amerindian 44%

Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, traditional Mayan

Languages: Spanish 60%, Indian language 40% (23 Indian dialects,
including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi)

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 55%
male: 63%
female: 47%

Labor force: 3.2 million (1994 est.)
by occupation: agriculture 60%, services 13%, manufacturing 12%,
commerce 7%, construction 4%, transport 3%, utilities 0.7%, mining
0.3% (1985)


conventional long form: Republic of Guatemala
conventional short form: Guatemala
local long form: Republica de Guatemala
local short form: Guatemala

Digraph: GT

Type: 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 President SERRANO; reinstated 5 June
1993 following ouster of president

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

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
Chief of state and head of government: President Ramiro DE LEON Carpio
(since 6 June 1993); Vice President Arturo HERBRUGER (since 18 June
1993); election runoff held on 11 January 1991 (next to be held
November 1995); results - Jorge SERRANO Elias (MAS) 68.1%, Jorge
CARPIO Nicolle (UCN) 31.9%
note: President SERRANO resigned on 1 June 1993 shortly after
dissolving Congress and the judiciary; on 6 June 1993, Ramiro DE LEON
Carpio was chosen as the new president by a vote of Congress; he will
finish off the remainder of SERRANO's term which expires 14 January
Cabinet: Council of Ministers; named by the president

Legislative branch: unicameral
Congress of the Republic (Congreso de la Republica): by agreement of
11 November 1993, a special election was held on 14 August 1994 to
select 80 new congressmen (next election to be held in November 1995
for full four year terms); results - percent of vote by party; FRG
40%, PAN 31.25%, DCG 15%, UCN 10%, MLN 2.5%, UD 1.25%; seats - (80
total) FRG 32, PAN 25, DCG 12, UCN 8, MLN 2, UD 1
note: on 11 November 1993 the congress approved a procedure that would
reduce its membership from 116 seats to 80; the procedure provided for
a special election in mid-1994 to elect an interim congress of 80
members to serve until replaced in a general election in November
1995; the plan was approved in a general referendum in January 1994
and the special election was held on 14 August 1994

Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice (Corte Suprema de Justicia);
additionally the Court of Constitutionality is presided over by the
President of the Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: National Centrist Union (UCN),
(vacant); Solidarity Action Movement (MAS), Oliverio GARCIA Rodas;
Christian Democratic Party (DCG), Alfonso CABRERA Hidalgo; National
Advancement Party (PAN), Alvaro ARZU Irigoyen; National Liberation
Movement (MLN), Mario SANDOVAL Alarcon; Social Democratic Party (PSD),
Mario SOLORZANO Martinez; Revolutionary Party (PR), Carlos CHAVARRIA
Perez; Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG), Efrain RIOS Montt;
Democratic Union (UD)

Other political or pressure groups: Coordinating Committee of
Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial, and Financial Associations
(CACIF); Mutual Support Group (GAM); Agrarian Owners Group (UNAGRO);
Committee for Campesino Unity (CUC); leftist guerrilla movement known
as Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union (URNG) has four main
factions - Guerrilla army of the Poor (EGP); Revolutionary
Organization of the People in Arms (ORPA); Rebel Armed Forces (FAR);
Guatemalan Labor Party (PGT/O)

Member of: BCIE, CACM, CCC, ECLAC, FAO, G-24, G-77, GATT, IADB, IAEA,

Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Edmond MULET
chancery: 2220 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 745-4952 through 4954
FAX: [1] (202) 745-1908
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York,
and San Francisco

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Marilyn McAFEE
embassy: 7-01 Avenida de la Reforma, Zone 10, Guatemala City
mailing address: APO AA 34024
telephone: [502] (2) 311541
FAX: [502] (2) 318885

Flag: 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


Overview: The economy is based on family and corporate agriculture,
which accounts for 25% of GDP, employs about 60% of the labor force,
and supplies two-thirds of exports. Manufacturing, predominantly in
private hands, accounts for about 15% of GDP and 12% of the labor
force. In both 1990 and 1991, the economy grew by 3%, the fourth and
fifth consecutive years of mild growth. In 1992 growth picked up to
almost 5% as government policies favoring competition and foreign
trade and investment took stronger hold. In 1993-94, despite political
unrest, this momentum continued, foreign investment held up, and
annual growth was 4%.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $33 billion (1994

National product real growth rate: 4% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $3,080 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 12% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: 4.9%; underemployment 30%-40% (1994 est.)


revenues: $604 million (1990)
expenditures: $808 million, including capital expenditures of $134
million (1990)

Exports: $1.38 billion (f.o.b., 1994 est.)
commodities: coffee, sugar, bananas, cardamon, beef
partners: US 30%, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Germany, Honduras

Imports: $2.6 billion (c.i.f., 1994 est.)
commodities: fuel and petroleum products, machinery, grain,
fertilizers, motor vehicles
partners: US 44%, Mexico, Venezuela, Japan, Germany

External debt: $2.2 billion ( 1992 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 1.9% (1991 est.); accounts for 18%
of GDP

capacity: 700,000 kW
production: 2.3 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 211 kWh (1993)

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

Agriculture: accounts for 25% of GDP; most important sector of
economy; contributes two-thirds of export earnings; principal crops -
sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; livestock - cattle,
sheep, pigs, chickens; food importer

Illicit drugs: transit country for cocaine shipments; illicit producer
of opium poppy and cannabis for the international drug trade; the
government has an active eradication program for cannabis and opium

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-90), $1.1 billion;
Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments
(1970-89), $7.92 billion

Currency: 1 quetzal (Q) = 100 centavos

Exchange rates: free market quetzales (Q) per US$1 - 5.7372 (January
1995), 5.7512 (1994), 5,6354 (1993), 5.1706 (1992), 5.0289 (1991),
4.4858 (1990); note - black-market rate 2.800 (May 1989)

Fiscal year: calendar year



total: 1,019 km (102 km privately owned)
narrow gauge: 1,019 km 0.914-m gauge (single track)


total: 26,429 km
paved: 2,868 km
unpaved: gravel 11,421 km; unimproved earth 12,140 km

Inland waterways: 260 km navigable year round; additional 730 km
navigable during high-water season

Pipelines: crude oil 275 km

Ports: Champerico, Puerto Barrios, Puerto Quetzal, San Jose, Santo
Tomas de Castilla

Merchant marine: none

total: 528
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 5
with paved runways under 914 m: 360
with unpaved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 12
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 146

Telephone system: 97,670 telephones; fairly modern network centered in
the city of Guatemala
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: connection into Central American Microwave System; 1
INTELSAT (Atlantic Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 91, FM 0, shortwave 15
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 25
televisions: NA


Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 2,574,501; males fit for
military service 1,683,028; males reach military age (18) annually
123,715 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $121 million, 1% of
GDP (1993)

For more information or questions contact us
1-336 655 0541

Office: 00(502) 7934-62-20
Cell: 5966-4528 or 4065-1179

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