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 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


 Total: 108,889 sq km
Land: 107,159 sq km
Water: 1,730 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 (Rank: 119)

Maritime Claims:

 Territorial sea: 12 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation


 Tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands


 Mostly mountains with narrow coastal plains and rolling limestone plateau

Elevation Extremes:

 Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Volcan Tajumulco 4,211 m

Note: highest point in Central America

Natural Resources:

 Petroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, chicle, hydropower

Land Use:

 Arable land: 13.22%
Permanent crops: 5.6%
Other: 81.18% (2005)

Irrigated Land:

 2,000 sq km (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 111.3 cu km (2000)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 Total: 2.01 cu km/yr (6%/13%/80%)
Per capita: 160 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural Hazards:

 Numerous volcanoes in mountains, with occasional violent earthquakes; Caribbean coast extremely susceptible to hurricanes and other tropical storms

Volcanism: Guatemala experiences significant volcanic activity in the Sierra Madre range; Santa Maria (elev. 3,772 m) has been deemed a "Decade Volcano" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations; Pacaya (elev. 2,552 m), which erupted in May 2010 causing an ashfall on Guatemala City and prompting evacuations, is one of the country's most active volcanoes; the volcano has frequently been in eruption since 1965; other historically active volcanoes include Acatenango, Almolonga, Atitlan, Fuego, and Tacana

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, Whaling

Signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - Note:

 No natural harbors on west coast

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 Noun: Guatemalan(s)
Adjective: Guatemalan

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)


 Spanish (official) 60%, Amerindian languages 40%

Note: there are 23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca


 Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs


 13,824,463 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 38.1% (male 2,678,340/female 2,582,472)
15-64 years: 58% (male 3,889,573/female 4,130,698)
65 years and over: 3.9% (male 252,108/female 291,272) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 20 years
Male: 19.4 years
Female: 20.7 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 1.986% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 26.96 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 4.98 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 -2.12 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 49% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 3.4% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 GUATEMALA CITY (capital) 1.075 million (2009)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 110 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 26.02 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 28.26 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 23.67 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 70.88 years
Male: 69.03 years
Female: 72.83 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 3.27 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 5.7% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 0.9 physicians/1,000 population (1999)

Hospital Bed Density:

 0.6 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 98% of population
Rural: 90% of population
Total: 94% of population
Urban: 2% of population
Rural: 10% of population
Total: 6% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 89% of population
Rural: 73% of population
Total: 81% of population
Urban: 11% of population
Rural: 27% of population
Total: 19% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 0.8% (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - People Living With HIV/AIDS:

 62,000 (2009 est.)

HIV/AIDS - Deaths:

 2,600 (2009 est.)

Major Infectious Diseases:

 Degree of risk: high
Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
Vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria
Water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)

Children Under 5 - Underweight:

 17.7% (2002)

Education Expenditures:

 3.2% of GDP (2008)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 69.1%
Male: 75.4%
Female: 63.3% (2002 census)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 11 years
Male: 11 years
Female: 10 years (2007)

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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


 Name: Guatemala City
Geographic coordinates: 14 37 N, 90 31 W
Time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)

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; suspended 25 May 1993; reinstated 5 June 1993; amended November 1993

Legal System:

 Civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts

International Law Organization Participation:

 Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


 18 years of age; universal; note - active duty members of the armed forces may not vote and are restricted to their barracks on election day

Executive Branch:

 Chief of state: President Alvaro COLOM Caballeros (since 14 January 2008); Vice President Jose Rafael ESPADA (since 14 January 2008); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

Head of government: President Alvaro COLOM Caballeros (since 14 January 2008); Vice President Jose Rafael ESPADA (since 14 January 2008)

Cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president

Elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a four-year term (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held on 9 September 2007; runoff held on 4 November 2007 (next to be held in September 2011)

Election results: Otto PEREZ Molina elected president in a runoff election; percent of vote - Otto PEREZ Molina 53.7%, Manuel BALDIZON 47.2%; note - Otto PEREZ Molina will take office on 14 January 2012

Legislative Branch:

 Unicameral Congress of the Republic or Congreso de la Republica (158 seats; members elected through a party list proportional representation system)

Elections: last held on 9 September 2007 (next to be held in September 2011)

Election results: percent of vote by party - UNE 30.4%, GANA 23.4%, PP 18.9%, FRG 9.5%, PU 5.1%, other 12.7%; seats by party - UNE 48, GANA 37, PP 30, FRG 15, PU 8, CASA 5, EG 4, PAN 4, UCN 4, URNG 2, UD 1

Judicial Branch:

 Constitutional Court or Corte de Constitucionalidad is Guatemala's highest court (five judges are elected by Congress for concurrent five-year terms); Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (13 members are elected by Congress to serve concurrent five-year terms and elect a president of the Court each year from among their number; the president of the Supreme Court of Justice also supervises trial judges around the country, who are named to five-year terms)

Political Parties and Leaders:

 Center of Social Action or CASA [Feliz Adolfo RUANO de Leon]; Democracy Front or FRENTE [Alfonso CABRERA]; Democratic Union or UD [Edwin Armando MARTINEZ Herrera]; Encounter for Guatemala or EG [Nineth MONTENGRO]; Grand National Alliance or GANA [Jaime Antonio MARTINEZ Lohayza]; Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity or URNG [Hector Alfredo NUILA Ericastilla]; Guatemalan Republican Front or FRG [Luis Fernando PEREZ]; Independent Bloc Guatemala or BG [Macario Efrain OLIVA Muralles]; Independent Democratic Freedom Renewed or LIDER [Manuel BALDIZON]; National Advancement Party or PAN [Juan GUTIERREZ]; National Unity for Hope or UNE [Roberto KESTLER Velasquez]; Nationalist Change Union or UCN [Mario ESTRADA]; Patriot Party or PP [Ingrid Roxana BALDETTI Elias]; Unionista Party or PU [Alvaro ARZU Irigoyen]

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; International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala or CICIG; Mutual Support Group or GAM

International Organization Participation:


Diplomatic Representation in the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Julio Armando MARTINI Herrera
Chancery: 2220 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: [1] (202) 745-4952
FAX: [1] (202) 745-1908
Consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Providence, San Francisco

Diplomatic Representation From the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Stephen G. MCFARLAND
Embassy: 7-01 Avenida Reforma, Zone 10, Guatemala City
Mailing address: APO AA 34024
Telephone: [502] 2326-4000
FAX: [502] 2326-4654

Flag Description:

 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) representing liberty 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 signifying Guatemala's willingness to defend itself and a pair of crossed swords representing honor and framed by a laurel wreath symbolizing victory; the blue bands stand for the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea and the sea and sky; the white band denotes peace and purity

National Symbols:

 Quetzal (bird)

National Anthem:

 Name: "Himno Nacional de Guatemala" (National Anthem of Guatemala)
Lyrics/music: Jose Joaquin PALMA/Rafael Alvarez OVALLE

Note: adopted 1897, modified lyrics adopted 1934; Cuban poet Jose Joaquin PALMA anonymously submitted lyrics to a public contest calling for a national anthem; his authorship was not discovered until 1911

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Economy - Overview:

 Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America with a GDP per capita roughly one-half that of the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. The agricultural sector accounts for nearly 15% of GDP and half of the labor force; key agricultural exports include coffee, sugar, and bananas. The 1996 peace accords, which ended 36 years of civil war, removed a major obstacle to foreign investment, and since then Guatemala has pursued important reforms and macroeconomic stabilization. The Dominican Republic-Central American 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 10% of the population accounting for more than 40% of Guatemala's overall consumption. More than half of the population is below the national poverty line and 15% lives in extreme poverty. Poverty among indigenous groups, which make up 38% of the population, averages 76% and extreme poverty rises to 28%. 43% of children under five are chronically malnourished, one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world. President COLOM entered into office with the promise to increase education, healthcare, and rural development, and in April 2008 he inaugurated a conditional cash transfer program, modeled after programs in Brazil and Mexico, that provide financial incentives for poor families to keep their children in school and get regular health check-ups. Given Guatemala's large expatriate community in the United States, it is the top remittance recipient in Central America, with inflows serving as a primary source of foreign income equivalent to nearly two-thirds of exports or one-tenth of GDP. Economic growth fell in 2009 as export demand from US and other Central American markets fell and foreign investment slowed amid the global recession, but the economy recovered gradually in 2010 and will likely return to more normal growth rates by 2012. President COLOM, in his last year in office, will likely face opposition to economic reform, particularly over a long-delayed tax reform and an IMF-recommended reform to strengthen the banking sector.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $70.15 billion (2010 est.)
$68.36 billion (2009 est.)
$68 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $41.47 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 2.6% (2010 est.)
0.5% (2009 est.)
3.3% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $5,200 (2010 est.)
$5,100 (2009 est.)
$5,200 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 13.2%
Industry: 23.8%
Services: 63% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 4.146 million (2010 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 50%
Industry: 15%
Services: 35% (1999 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

 3.2% (2005 est.)

Population Below Poverty Line:

 56.2% (2004 est.)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 1.3%
Highest 10%: 42.4% (2006)

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 55.1 (2007)
55.8 (1998)

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons:

 IDPs: undetermined (the UN does not estimate there are any IDPs, although some NGOs estimate over 200,000 IDPs as a result of over three decades of internal conflict that ended in 1996) (2007)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 15.2% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $4.644 billion
Expenditures: $6.005 billion (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 11.2% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -3.3% of GDP (2010 est.)

Public Debt:

 29.7% of GDP (2010 est.)
28.2% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 3.9% (2010 est.)
1.9% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 6.5% (31 December 2010 est.)
NA% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 13.34% (31 December 2010 est.)
13.85% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:

 $6.106 billion (31 December 2008)
$5.876 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $9.7 billion (31 December 2008)
$8.903 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $6.806 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$5.994 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $25.54 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$22.39 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $15.94 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$14.47 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Agriculture - Products:

 Sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens


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

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 3.2% (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production:

 8.395 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 51.9%
Hydro: 35.2%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 12.9% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 7.108 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 76 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 71 million kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - Production:

 13,070 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 71,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 15,300 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 78,550 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 83.07 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 2.96 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 -$878.3 million (2010 est.)
-$51.8 million (2009 est.)


 $8.566 billion (2010 est.)
$7.295 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

 Coffee, sugar, petroleum, apparel, bananas, fruits and vegetables, cardamom

Exports - Partners:

 US 36.8%, El Salvador 10.3%, Honduras 8.8%, Mexico 7.5% (2010)


 $12.86 billion (2010 est.)
$10.64 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Fuels, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity

Imports - Partners:

 US 34.6%, Mexico 11.8%, China 7.9%, El Salvador 5.3% (2010)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $5.646 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$4.973 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $15.75 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$13.8 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Guatemala Quetzal to Any Currency

Quetzales (GTQ) per US dollar -
8.0798 (2010)
8.1616 (2009)
7.5895 (2008)
7.6833 (2007)
7.6026 (2006)

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 1.499 million (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 18.068 million (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: fairly modern network centered in the city of Guatemala

Domestic: state-owned telecommunications company privatized in the late 1990s opening the way for competition; fixed-line teledensity roughly 10 per 100 persons; fixed-line investments are being concentrated on improving rural connectivity; mobile-cellular teledensity exceeds 100 per 100 persons

International: country code - 502; landing point for both the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) and the SAM-1 fiber optic submarine cable system that together provide connectivity to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; connected to Central American Microwave System; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2008)

Broadcast Media:

 4 privately-owned national terrestrial TV channels dominate TV broadcasting; multi-channel satellite and cable services are available; 1 government-owned radio station and hundreds of privately-owned radio stations (2007)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 130, FM 487, shortwave 15 (2000)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 26 (plus 27 repeaters) (1997)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 196,870 (2010)

Internet Users:

 2.279 million (2009)

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 372 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 13
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 4
Under 914 m: 3 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 359
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 84
Under 914 m: 271 (2010)


 Oil 480 km (2010)


 Total: 332 km
Narrow gauge: 332 km 0.914-m gauge (2009)


 Total: 14,095 km
Paved: 4,863 km (includes 75 km of expressways)
Unpaved: 9,232 km (2001)


 990 km (260 km navigable year round; additional 730 km navigable during high-water season) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:

 Puerto Quetzal, Santo Tomas de Castilla

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Military Branches:

 National Army of Guatemala (Ejercito Nacional de Guatemala, ENG), Guatemalan Navy (Marina Nacional, includes Marines), Guatemalan Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Guatemalteca, FAG) (2009)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 All male citizens between the ages of 18 and 50 are liable for military service; conscript service obligation varies from 12 to 24 months; women can serve as officers (2009)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 3,165,870
Females age 16-49: 3,371,217 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 2,590,843
Females age 16-49: 2,926,544 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 171,092
Female: 168,151 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 0.4% of GDP (2009)

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Disputes - International:

 Annual ministerial meetings under the OAS-initiated Agreement on the Framework for Negotiations and Confidence Building Measures continue to address Guatemalan land and maritime claims in Belize and the Caribbean Sea; Guatemala persists in its territorial claim to half of Belize, but agrees to Line of Adjacency to keep Guatemalan squatters out of Belize's forested interior; Mexico must deal with thousands of impoverished Guatemalans and other Central Americans who cross the porous border looking for work in Mexico and the United States

Illicit Drugs:

 Major transit country for cocaine and heroin; in 2005, cultivated 100 hectares of opium poppy after reemerging as a potential source of opium in 2004; potential production of less than 1 metric ton of pure heroin; marijuana cultivation for mostly domestic consumption; proximity to Mexico makes Guatemala a major staging area for drugs (particularly for cocaine); money laundering is a serious problem; corruption is a major problem

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Last Updated: December 2011

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