Guatemala

Guatemala

The largest and most populous nation on the Central American isthmus, Guatemala  returned to civilian rule in 1986 after 32 years of violent and repressive military rule.

Geography: Narrow Pacific coastal plain. Central highlands with volcanoes. Short coast on the Caribbean Sea. Tropical rain forests in the north.

 Climate: Tropical: hot and humid in coastal regions and north. More temperate in central highlands.

 People and Society: Amerindians, concentrated in the highlands, form a majority. Power, wealth, and land are controlled by ladinos (Westernized Amerindians and mestizos). Catholicism is predominant, mixed with Amerindian beliefs. A third of the population lives on less than $2 a day. Literacy levels are low.

 The Economy: Coffee, sugar, and bananas are top exports. Tourism. Damage from natural disasters. Marked wealth inequalities inhibit domestic market.

 Insight: Guatemala, which means “land of trees,” was the center of the ancient Mayan civilization

 Fact-File:

 Official Name: Republic of Guatemala

 Date of Formation: 1838

 Capital: Guatemala City

 Population: 14 million

 Total Area: 42,042 sq. miles (108,890 sq. km)

 Density: 335 people per sq. mile

 Languages: Quiché, Mam, Cakchiquel, Kekchí, Spanish*

 Religions: Roman Catholic 65%, Protestant 33%, other 2%

 Ethnic Mix: Amerindian 60%, Mestizo 30%, other 10%

 Government: Presidential system

 Currency: Quetzal = 100 centavos

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