Guatemala

Introduction The Mayan civilization flourished in Guatemala and surrounding regions during the first millennium A.D. After almost three centuries as a Spanish colony, Guatemala won its independence 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 left more than 100,000 people dead and had created, by some estimates, some 1 million refugees.
History

Pre-Columbian

The first evidence of human settlers in Guatemala goes back to 10,000 BC, although there is some evidence that puts this date at 18,000 BC, such as obsidian arrow heads found in various parts of the country.[2] There is archaeological proof that early Guatemalan settlers were hunters and gatherers, but pollen samples from Petén and the Pacific coast indicate that maize cultivation was developed by 3500 BC.[3] Archaic sites have been documented in Quiché in the Highlands and Sipacate, Escuintla on the central Pacific coast (6500 BC).

Archaeologists divide the pre-Columbian history of Mesoamerica into 3 periods: The Pre-Classic from 2000 BC to 250 AD, the Classic from 250 to 900 AD, and the calistic from 900 to 1500 AD.[4] Until recently, the Pre-Classic was regarded as a formative period, with small villages of farmers who lived in huts, and few permanent buildings, but this notion has been challenged by recent discoveries of monumental architecture from that period, such as an altar in La Blanca, San Marcos, from 1000 BC; ceremonial sites at Miraflores and El Naranjo from 801 BC; the earliest monumental masks; and the Mirador Basin cities of Nakbé, Xulnal, Tintal, Wakná and El Mirador.

El Mirador was by far the most populated city in the pre-Columbian America, and contained the largest pyramid in the world, at 2,800,000 cubic meters in volume (some 200,000 more than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt).[citation needed] Mirador was the first politically organized state in America, named the Kan Kingdom in ancient texts. There were 26 cities, all connected by Sacbeob (highways), which were several kilometers long, up to 40 meters wide, and 2 to 4 meters above the ground, paved with stucco, that are clearly distinguishable from the air in the most extensive virgin tropical rain forest in Mesoamerica.

The Classic period of Mesoamerican civilization corresponds to the height of the Maya civilization, and is represented by countless sites throughout Guatemala, although the largest concentration is in Petén. This period is characterized by heavy city-building, the development of independent city-states, and contact with other Mesoamerican cultures.

This lasted until around 900 AD, when the Classic Maya civilization collapsed. The Maya abandoned many of the cities of the central lowlands or were killed off by a drought-induced famine.[5] Scientists debate the cause of the Classic Maya Collapse, but gaining currency is the Drought Theory discovered by physical scientists studying lakebeds, ancient pollen, and other tangible evidence.[6] A series of prolonged droughts in what is otherwise a seasonal desert is thought to have decimated the Maya, who were primarily reliant upon regular rainfall.[citation needed] The Post-Classic period is represented by regional kingdoms such as the Itzá and Ko'woj in the Lakes area in Petén, and the Mam, Ki'ch'es, Kack'chiquel, Tz'utuh'il, Pokom'chí, Kek'chi and Chortí in the Highlands. These cities preserved many aspects of Mayan culture, but would never equal the size or power of the Classic cities.

Colonial

After arriving in what they named the New World, the Spanish mounted several expeditions to Guatemala, beginning in 1518. Before long, Spanish contact resulted in an epidemic that devastated native populations. Hernán Cortés, who had led the Spanish conquest of Mexico, granted a permit to Captains Gonzalo de Alvarado and his brother, Pedro de Alvarado, to conquer this land. Alvarado at first allied himself with the Cakchiquel nation to fight against their traditional rivals the Quiché nation. Alvarado later turned against the Cakchiquels, and eventually held the entire region under Spanish domination.

During the colonial period, Guatemala was a Captaincy General (Capitanía General de Yucatán) of Spain, and a part of New Spain (Mexico).[citation needed] It extended from the modern Mexican states of Tabasco and Chiapas (including the then separate administration of Soconusco) to Costa Rica. This region was not as rich in minerals (gold and silver) as Mexico and Peru, and was therefore not considered to be as important. Its main products were sugarcane, cocoa, blue añil dye, blue dye from cochineal insects, and precious woods used in artwork for churches and palaces in Spain.

The first Capital was named Tecpan Guatemala, founded in July 25, 1524 with the name of (Villa de Santiago de Guatemala) and was located near Iximché, the Cakchiquel's capital city, It was moved to Ciudad Vieja on November 22, 1527, when the Cakchiquel attacked the city. On September 11, 1541 the city was flooded when the lagoon in the crater of the Agua Volcano collapsed due to heavy rains and earthquakes, and was moved 4 miles (6 km) to Antigua Guatemala, on the Panchoy Valley, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This City was destroyed by several earthquakes in 1773-1774, and the King of Spain, granted the authorization to move the Captaincy General, to the Ermita Valley, named after a Catholic Church to the Virgen de El Carmen, in its current location, founded in January 2, 1776.

Independence and 19th century

On September 15, 1821, the Captaincy-general of Guatemala (formed by Chiapas, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras) officially proclaimed its independence from Spain and its incorporation into the Mexican Empire. This region had been formally subject to New Spain throughout the colonial period, but as a practical matter was administered separately. All but Chiapas soon separated from Mexico after Agustín I from Mexico was forced to abdicate.

In this period the people of Guatemala was affected losing great part of his territory (67 %) in hand of the Mexicans.

The Guatemalan provinces formed the United Provinces of Central America, also called the Central American Federation (Federacion de Estados Centroamericanos). That federation dissolved in civil war from 1838 to 1840 (See: History of Central America). Guatemala's Rafael Carrera was instrumental in leading the revolt against the federal government and breaking apart the Union. During this period a region of the Highlands, Los Altos, declared independence from Guatemala, but was annexed by Carrera, who dominated Guatemalan politics until 1865, backed by conservatives, large land owners and the church.

Guatemala's "Liberal Revolution" came in 1871 under the leadership of Justo Rufino Barrios, who worked to modernize the country, improve trade, and introduce new crops and manufacturing. During this era coffee became an important crop for Guatemala. Barrios had ambitions of reuniting Central America and took the country to war in an unsuccessful attempt to attain this, losing his life on the battlefield in 1885 against forces in El Salvador.

1944 to Present

On July 4, 1944, Dictator Jorge Ubico Castañeda was forced to resign his office in response to a wave of protests and a general strike. His replacement, General Juan Federico Ponce Vaides, was later also forced out of office on October 20, 1944 by a coup d'état led by Major Francisco Javier Arana and Captain Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán. About 100 people were killed in the coup. The country was led by a military junta made up of Arana, Arbenz, and Jorge Toriello Garrido. The Junta called Guatemala's first free election, which was won with a majority of 85 percent by the prominent writer and teacher Juan José Arévalo Bermejo, who had lived in exile in Argentina for 14 years. Arévalo was the first democratically elected president of Guatemala to fully complete the term for which he was elected. His "Christian Socialist" policies, inspired by the U.S. New Deal, were criticized by landowners and the upper class as "communist."

This period was also the beginning of the Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR, which was to have a considerable influence on Guatemalan history. From the 1950s through the 1990s, the U.S. government directly supported Guatemala's army with training, weapons, and money.

In 1954, Arévalo's freely elected Guatemalan successor, Jacobo Arbenz, was overthrown by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a small group of Guatemalans (landowners, the old military caste, and the Catholic Church), after the government instituted Decree 900, which expropriated large tracts of land owned by the United Fruit Company, a U.S.-based banana merchant (Chiquita Banana). The CIA codename for the coup was Operation PBSUCCESS (it was the CIA's second successful overthrow of a foreign government after the 1953 coup in Iran). Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas was installed as president in 1954 and ruled until he was assassinated by a member of his personal guard in 1957.

In the election that followed, General Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes assumed power. He is most celebrated for challenging the Mexican president to a gentleman’s duel on the bridge on the south border to end a feud on the subject of illegal fishing by Mexican boats on Guatemala's Pacific coast, two of which were sunk by the Guatemalan Air Force. Ydigoras authorized the training of 5,000 anti-Castro Cubans in Guatemala. He also provided airstrips in the region of Petén for what later became the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961. Ydigoras' government was ousted in 1963 when the Air Force attacked several military bases. The coup was led by his Defense Minister, Colonel Enrique Peralta Azurdia.

In 1966, Julio César Méndez Montenegro was elected president of Guatemala under the banner "Democratic Opening." Mendez Montenegro was the candidate of the Revolutionary Party, a center-left party which had its origins in the post-Ubico era. It was during this time that rightist paramilitary organizations, such as the "White Hand" (Mano Blanca), and the Anticommunist Secret Army, (Ejército Secreto Anticomunista), were formed. Those organizations were the forerunners of the infamous "Death Squads." Military advisers of The United States Army Special Forces (Green Berets) were sent to Guatemala to train troops and help transform its army into a modern counter-insurgency force, which eventually made it the most sophisticated in Central America.

In 1970, Colonel Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio was elected president. A new guerrilla movement entered the country from Mexico, into the Western Highlands in 1972. In the disputed election of 1974, General Kjell Lauguerud García defeated General Efraín Ríos Montt, a candidate of the Christian Democratic Party, who claimed that he had been cheated out of a victory through fraud. On February 4, 1976, a major earthquake destroyed several cities and caused more than 25,000 deaths. In 1978, in a fraudulent election, General Romeo Lucas García assumed power. The 1970s saw the birth of two new guerrilla organizations, The Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP) and the Organization of the People in Arms (ORPA), who began and intensified by the end of the seventies, guerrilla attacks that included urban and rural guerrilla warfare, mainly against the military and some of the civilian supporters of the army. In 1979, the United States president, Jimmy Carter, ordered a ban on all military aid to the Guatemalan Army because of the widespread and systematic abuse of human rights. Almost immediately, the Israeli Government took over supplying the Guatemalan Army with advisors, weapons and other military supplies.

In 1980, a group of Quiché Indians took over the Spanish Embassy to protest army massacres in the countryside. The Guatemalan government launched an assault that killed almost everyone inside as a result of a fire that consumed the building. The Guatemalan government claimed that the activists set the fire and immolated themselves.[7] However, the Spanish ambassador, who survived the fire, disputed this claim, claiming that the Guatemalan police intentionally killed almost everyone inside and set the fire to erase traces of their acts. As a result of this incident, the government of Spain broke diplomatic relations with Guatemala. This government was overthrown in 1982. General Efraín Ríos Montt was named President of the military junta, continuing the bloody campaign of torture, disappearances, and "scorched earth" warfare. The country became a pariah state internationally. Ríos Montt was overthrown by General Óscar Humberto Mejía Victores, who called for an election of a national constitutional assembly to write a new constitution, leading to a free election in 1986, which was won by Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo, the candidate of the Christian Democracy Party.

In 1982, the four Guerrilla groups, EGP, ORPA, FAR and PGT, merged and formed the URNG, influenced by the Salvadoran guerrilla FMLN, the Nicaraguan FSLN and Cuba's Government, in order to become stronger. As a result of the Army's "scorched earth" tactics in the countryside, more than 45,000 Guatemalans fled across the border to Mexico. The Mexican government placed the refugees in camps in Chiapas and Tabasco.

In 1992, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Rigoberta Menchú for her efforts to bring international attention to the government-sponsored genocide against the indigenous population.

The bloody 35-year old war of repression ended in 1996 with a peace accord between the guerrillas and the government of President Álvaro Arzú, negotiated by the United Nations through intense brokerage by nations such as Norway and Spain. Both sides made major concessions. The guerrilla fighters disarmed and received land to work. According to the U.N.-sponsored truth commission (styled the "Commission for Historical Clarification"), government forces and state-sponsored paramilitaries were responsible for over 93% of the human rights violations during the war.[8] During the first 10 years, the victims of the state-sponsored terror were primarily students, workers, professionals, and opposition figures, but in the last years they were thousands of mostly rural Mayan farmers and non-combatants. More than 450 Mayan villages were destroyed and over 1 million people became internal and external refugees. In certain areas, such as Baja Verapaz, the Truth Commission considered that the Guatemalan state engaged in an intentional policy of genocide against particular ethnic groups in the Civil War.[8] In 1999, U.S. president Bill Clinton stated that the United States was wrong to have provided support to Guatemalan military forces that took part in the brutal civilian killings.[9]

Since the peace accords, Guatemala has witnessed successive democratic elections, most recently in 2007. The past government has signed free trade agreements with the Caleb and the rest of Central America through CAFTA, and other agreements with Mexico and Panama. In 2007 elections were held in Guatemala. El Partido Nacional de la Esperanza and its president candidate Álvaro Colom won the presidency as well as the majority of the seats in congress.

Guatemala continues to rank as having one of the highest murder rates in the world with an extremely low conviction rate.

Geography Location: 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
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 108,890 sq km
land: 108,430 sq km
water: 460 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
Coastline: 400 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands
Terrain: 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
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: 1,300 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 111.3 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): 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
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
Politics

Guatemala is a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Guatemala is both head of state and head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Congress of the Republic. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Foreign Relations

Álvaro Colom is the President of Guatemala as of 14 January 2008

People Population: 12,728,111 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 40.8% (male 2,641,179/female 2,556,397)
15-64 years: 55.5% (male 3,426,376/female 3,642,157)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 213,801/female 248,201) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 18.9 years
male: 18.3 years
female: 19.5 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.152% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 29.09 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 5.27 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -2.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.033 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.941 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.861 male(s)/female
total population: 0.974 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 29.77 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 32.26 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 27.16 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 69.69 years
male: 67.94 years
female: 71.52 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.7 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 1.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 78,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 5,800 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria (2008)
Nationality: 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)
Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs
Languages: Spanish 60%, Amerindian languages 40% (23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 69.1%
male: 75.4%
female: 63.3% (2002 census)
Government 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
Capital: name: Guatemala
geographic coordinates: 14 37 N, 90 31 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in April; ends last Friday in September; note - there is no DST planned for 2007-2009
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 former President Jorge 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
Suffrage: 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 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 Rafael ESPADA (since 14 January 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held 9 September 2007; runoff held 4 November 2007 (next to be held September 2011)
election results: Alvaro COLOM Caballeros elected president; percent of vote - Alvaro COLOM Caballeros 52.8%, Otto PEREZ Molina 47.2%
Legislative branch: unicameral Congress of the Republic or Congreso de la Republica (158 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 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 Constitutcionalidad is Guatemala's highest court (five judges are elected for concurrent five-year terms); Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (13 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)
Political parties and leaders: Center of Social Action or CASA [Eduardo SUGER]; Democracy Front or FRENTE [Alfonso CABRERA]; Democratic Union or UD [Manuel CONDE Orellana]; Encounter for Guatemala or EG [Nineth MONTENGRO]; Grand National Alliance or GANA [Alfredo VILLA]; Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity or URNG [Hector NUILA]; Guatemalan Republican Front or FRG [Efrain RIOS Montt]; National Advancement Party or PAN [Ruben Dario MORALES]; National Unity for Hope or UNE [Alvaro COLOM Caballeros]; Patriot Party or PP [Ret. Gen. Otto PEREZ Molina]; Unionista Party or PU [Fritz GARCIA]; Unity of National Change or UCN [Sidney SHAW]
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: BCIE, CACM, FAO, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, MINUSTAH, MONUC, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, Union Latina, UNMEE, UNMIS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Guillermo CASTILLO
chancery: 2220 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 745-4952
FAX: [1] (202) 745-1908
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Providence, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador James M. DERHAM
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) 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
Culture

Guatemala City is home to many of the nation’s libraries and museums, including the National Archives, the National Library, and the Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, which has an extensive collection of Maya artifacts. There are private museums, such as the Ixchel, which focuses on textiles, and the Popol Vuh, which focuses on Mayan archeology. Both museums are housed inside the Universidad Francisco Marroquín campus.
Literature

The Guatemala National Prize in Literature is a one-time only award that recognizes an individual writer's body of work. It has been given annually since 1988 by the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

Miguel Angel Asturias, won the Literature Nobel Prize in 1967. Among his most famous books is "El Señor Presidente", a novel based on the government of Manuel Estrada Cabrera.
Music

The Music of Guatemala comprises a number of styles and expressions. The Maya had an intense musical practice, as is documented by iconography. Guatemala was also one of the first regions in the New World to be introduced to European music, from 1524 on. Many composers from the Renaissance, baroque, classical, romantic, and contemporary music styles have contributed works of all genres, of very high quality. The marimba is the national instrument that has developed a large repertoire of very attractive pieces that have been popular for more than a century. The Historia General de Guatemala has published a series of CDs of historical Music of Guatemala, in which every style is present, from the Maya, colonial period, independent and republican eras to current times.

Language

Language Map of Guatemala, according to the Comisión de Oficialización de los Idiomas Indígenas de Guatemala. The dark green area represents Spanish.

Although Spanish is the official language, it is not universally spoken among the indigenous population, nor is it often spoken as a second language. Twenty-one distinct Mayan languages are spoken, especially in rural areas, as well as several non-Mayan Amerindian languages, such as the indigenous Xinca, and Garifuna, an Arawakan language spoken on the Caribbean coast. According to Decreto Número 19-2003, twenty-three languages are recognized as National Languages.

The Peace Accords signed in December 1996 provide for the translation of some official documents and voting materials into several indigenous languages (see summary of main substantive accords) and mandate the provision of interpreters in legal cases for non-Spanish speakers. The accord also sanctioned bilingual education in Spanish and indigenous languages.

Religion

Catholic Christianity was the only religion during the colonial era.[citation needed] However, Protestantism has increased markedly in recent decades, especially under the reign of dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt. More than one third of Guatemalans are Protestant, chiefly Evangelicals and Pentecostals. Protestantism and traditional Mayan religions are practiced by an estimated 40% and 1% of the population, respectively.[5] It is common for traditional Mayan practices to be incorporated into Christian ceremonies and worship, a phenomenon known as syncretism. The practice of traditional Mayan religion is increasing as a result of the cultural protections established under the peace accords. The government has instituted a policy of providing altars at every Mayan ruin found in the country so that traditional ceremonies may be performed there.

There are also small communities of Jews estimated between 1,200 and 2,000[6], Muslims (1,200), Buddhists at around 9,000 to 12,000[7], and members of other faiths.

Education

The government runs a number of public elementary and secondary-level schools. These schools are free, though the cost of uniforms, books, supplies, and transportation makes them less accessible to the poorer segments of society. Many middle and upper-class children go to private schools. The country also has one public university (Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala), and 9 private ones (see List of universities in Guatemala). Only 69.1% of the population aged 15 and over are literate, the lowest literacy rate in Central America.

Economy Economy - overview: Guatemala is the most populous of the Central American countries with a GDP per capita roughly one-half that of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. The agricultural sector accounts for about one-fourth of GDP, two-fifths of exports, and half of the labor force. Coffee, sugar, and bananas are the main products, with sugar exports benefiting from increased global demand for ethanol. The 1996 signing of peace accords, which ended 36 years of civil war, removed a major obstacle to foreign investment, and Guatemala since then has pursued important reforms and macroeconomic stabilization. On 1 July 2006, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) entered into force between the US and Guatemala and has since spurred increased investment in the export sector. The distribution of income remains highly unequal with about 56% of the population below the poverty line. Other ongoing challenges include increasing government revenues, negotiating further assistance from international donors, upgrading both government and private financial operations, curtailing drug trafficking and rampant crime, and narrowing the trade deficit. 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $67.45 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $31.35 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5.6% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $5,400 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 13.8%
industry: 27.9%
services: 58.3% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 3.958 million (2007 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 or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 0.9%
highest 10%: 43.4% (2002)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 55.1 (2007)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6.6% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 15.9% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $4.301 billion
expenditures: $5.219 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt: 23.3% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens
Industries: sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism
Industrial production growth rate: 5.9% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 7.281 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 51.9%
hydro: 35.2%
nuclear: 0%
other: 12.9% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 6.361 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 339 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 23 million kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 20,100 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - consumption: 73,510 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - exports: 15,560 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - imports: 72,960 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - proved reserves: 526 million bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 2.96 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: -$1.772 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $7.468 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: coffee, sugar, petroleum, apparel, bananas, fruits and vegetables, cardamom
Exports - partners: US 44.6%, El Salvador 11.9%, Honduras 7.2%, Mexico 5.2% (2006)
Imports: $12.67 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: fuels, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity
Imports - partners: US 33.2%, Mexico 8.8%, China 6.5%, El Salvador 5.3%, South Korea 4.9% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $253.6 million (2005 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $4.559 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $5.561 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Currency (code): quetzal (GTQ), US dollar (USD), others allowed
Currency code: GTQ; USD
Exchange rates: quetzales per US dollar - 7.6833 (2007), 7.6026 (2006), 7.6339 (2005), 7.9465 (2004), 7.9409 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 1.355 million (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 7.179 million (2006)
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 11 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity approaching 60 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)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 130, FM 487, shortwave 15 (2000)
Radios: 835,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 26 (plus 27 repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 1.323 million (1997)
Internet country code: .gt
Internet hosts: 40,927 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 5 (2000)
Internet users: 1.32 million (2006)
Transportation Airports: 402 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 12
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 3 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 390
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 82
under 914 m: 301 (2007)
Pipelines: oil 480 km (2007)
Railways: total: 886 km
narrow gauge: 886 km 0.914-m gauge (2006)
Roadways: total: 14,095 km
paved: 4,863 km (includes 75 km of expressways)
unpaved: 9,232 km (1999)
Waterways: 990 km
note: 260 km navigable year round; additional 730 km navigable during high-water season (2007)
Ports and terminals: Puerto Quetzal, Santo Tomas de Castilla
Military Military branches: Army, Navy (includes Marines), Air Force
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 (2007)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 2,429,033
females age 18-49: 2,503,482 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 1,911,412
females age 18-49: 2,070,806 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 134,032
females age 18-49: 130,641 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 0.4% (2006)
Transnational Issues 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; the Line of Adjacency created under the 2002 Differendum serves in lieu of the contiguous international boundary to control squatting in the sparsely inhabited rain forests of Belize's border region; 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
Refugees and internally displaced persons: IDPs: undetermined (estimates vary from none to 1 million displaced from government's scorched-earth offensive in 1980s against indigenous people) (2006)
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