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Map of Guatemala
Introduction Guatemala
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.
Geography Guatemala
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
Map references:
Central America and the 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 the 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: 13%
permanent crops: 5%
other: 82% (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 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, 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
13,314,079 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 41.8% (male 2,841,486; female 2,725,343)
15-64 years: 54.5% (male 3,629,363; female 3,630,273)
65 years and over: 3.7% (male 227,369; female 260,245) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.57% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
34.17 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
6.67 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-1.79 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
44.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 66.85 years
female: 69.66 years (2002 est.)
male: 64.16 years
Total fertility rate:
4.51 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.38% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
73,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
3,600 (1999 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% (more than 20 Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 63.6%
male: 68.7%
female: 58.5% (2000 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 the armed forces may not vote)
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 - the president is both the 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 - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the 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 the Republic or Congreso de la Republica (113 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 7 November 1999 (next to be held NA November 2003)
note: for the 7 November 1999 election, the number of congressional seats increased to 113 from 80
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - FRG 63, PAN 37, ANN 9, DCG 2, UD/LOV 1, PLP 1
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (thirteen members 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); Constitutional Court or Corte de Constitutcionalidad (five judges are elected for concurrent five-year terms by Congress, each serving one year as president of the Constitutional Court; one is elected by Congress, one elected by the Supreme Court of Justice, one appointed by the 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 [Jorge Luis ORTEGA]; Democratic Union or UD [Jose Luis CHEA Urruela]; Green Party or LOV [Jose ASTURIAS Rudecke]; Guatemalan Christian Democracy or DCG [Vinicio CEREZO Arevalo]; Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity or URNG [Pablo MONSANTO, also known as Jorge SOTO]; Guatemalan Republican Front or FRG [Efrain RIOS Montt]; New Nation Alliance or ANN [leader NA], which includes the URNG; National Advancement Party or PAN [Leonel LOPEZ Rodas]; Progressive Liberator Party or PLP [Acisclo VALLADARES Molina]
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 the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ariel RIVERA Irias
chancery: 2220 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco
FAX: [1] (202) 745-1908
telephone: [1] (202) 745-4952
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Prudence BUSHNELL
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 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 wreath
Economy Guatemala
Economy - overview:
The agricultural sector accounts for about one-fourth of GDP, two-thirds of exports, and half of the labor force. Coffee, sugar, and bananas are the main products. Former President ARZU (1996-2000) worked to implement a program of economic liberalization and political modernization. The 1996 signing of the peace accords, which ended 36 years of civil war, removed a major obstacle to foreign investment. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused relatively little damage to Guatemala compared to its neighbors. Ongoing challenges include increasing government revenues, negotiating further assistance from international donors, and increasing the efficiency and openness of both government and private financial operations. Despite low international prices for Guatemala's main commodities, the economy grew by 3% in 2000 and 2.3% in 2001. Guatemala, along with Honduras and El Salvador, recently concluded a free trade agreement with Mexico and has moved to protect international property rights. However, the PORTILLO administration has undertaken a review of privatizations under the previous administration, thereby creating some uncertainty among investors.
purchasing power parity - $48.3 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $3,700 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 23%
industry: 20%
services: 57% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
60% (2000 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):
7.6% (2001)
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: $2.1 billion
expenditures: $2.5 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
4.1% (1999)
Electricity - production:
5.929 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 50.35%
hydro: 44.54%
other: 5.11% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
4.797 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
840 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
123 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens
$2.9 billion (f.o.b., 2001)
Exports - commodities:
coffee, sugar, bananas, fruits and vegetables, cardamom, meat, apparel, petroleum, electricity
Exports - partners:
US 57%, El Salvador 8.7%, Costa Rica 3.7%, Nicaragua 2.8%, Germany 2.6% (2000)
$4.9 billion (f.o.b., 2001)
Imports - commodities:
fuels, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity
Imports - partners:
US 35.2%, Mexico 12.6%, South Korea 7.9%, El Salvador 6.4%, Venezuela 3.9% (2000)
Debt - external:
$4.5 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$212 million (1995)
quetzal (GTQ), US dollar (USD), others allowed
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
quetzales per US dollar - 8.0165 (January 2002), 7.8586 (2001), 7.7632 (2000), 7.3856 (1999), 6.3947 (1998), 6.0653 (1997)
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 the 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:
65,000 (2000)
Transportation Guatemala
total: 884 km
narrow gauge: 884 km 0.914-m gauge (single-track)
note: much of the railway is inoperable (2001 est.)
total: 13,856 km
paved: 4,370 km (including 140 km of expressways)
unpaved: 9,486 km (1998)
990 km
note: 260 km navigable year round; additional 730 km navigable during highwater season
crude oil 275 km
Ports and harbors:
Champerico, Puerto Barrios, Puerto Quetzal, San Jose, Santo Tomas de Castilla
Merchant marine:
none (2002 est.)
475 (2001)
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 (2001)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 464
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 123
under 914 m: 331 (2001)
Military Guatemala
Military branches:
Army, Navy (includes Marines), Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 3,186,894 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 2,080,504 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 140,358 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$120 million (FY99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.6% (FY99)
Transnational Issues Guatemala
Disputes - international:
the "Line of Adjacency", established as an agreed limit in 2000 to check squatters settling in Belize, remains in place while OAS assists states to resolve Guatemalan territorial claims in Belize and Guatemalan maritime access to the Caribbean Sea
Illicit drugs:
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

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002