Guatemala Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Guatemala > Map Economy History

Guatemala City 
Guatemalan Maya Biosphere Reserve A Conservation International project site.

Facts About Guatemala

Background: Guatemala was freed of Spanish colonial rule 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 led to the death of more than 100,000 people and had created some 1 million refugees.
Government type: constitutional democratic republic
Capital: Guatemala City
Currency: 1 quetzal (Q) = 100 centavos

Geography of Guatemala

Location: Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Honduras and Belize and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico
Geographic coordinates: 15 30 N, 90 15 W
Area:
total: 108,890 sq km
land: 108,430 sq km
water: 460 sq km
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:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
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%
permanent crops: 5%
permanent pastures: 24%
forests and woodland: 54%
other: 5% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 1,250 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: numerous volcanoes in mountains, with occasional violent earthquakes; Caribbean coast subject to hurricanes and other tropical storms.
Environment - current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution; Hurricane Mitch damage
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, 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 of Guatemala

More than half of Guatemalans are descendants of indigenous Mayan peoples. Westernized Mayans and mestizos (mixed European and indigenous ancestry) are known as Ladinos. Most of Guatemala's population is rural, though urbanization is accelerating. The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism, into which many indigenous Guatemalans have incorporated traditional forms of worship. Protestantism and traditional Mayan religions are practiced by an estimated 40% and 1% of the population, respectively.

Though the official language is Spanish, it is not universally understood among the indigenous population. However, the Peace Accords signed in December 1996 provide for the translation of some official documents and voting materials into several indigenous languages.

Population: 14,655,189 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  42.11% 
15-64 years:  54.25% 
65 years and over:  3.64% 
Population growth rate: 2.6% 
Birth rate: 34.61 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 6.79 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -1.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 45.79 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  66.51 years
male:  63.85 years
female:  69.31 years
Total fertility rate: 4.58 children born/woman 
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% (more than 20 Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)
Literacy:
definition:  age 15 and over can read and write
total population:  63.6%
male:  68.7%
female:  58.5% (2000 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Guatemala > Map Economy History