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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2002
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2002.

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

Map of Guatemala

Legend: Definition Definition Field Listing Field Listing
   Introduction    Guatemala
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Honduras and Belize and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
15 30 N, 90 15 W
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Central America and the Caribbean
Definition Field Listing
total: 108,890 sq km
water: 460 sq km
land: 108,430 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly smaller than Tennessee
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 1,687 km
border countries: Belize 266 km, El Salvador 203 km, Honduras 256 km, Mexico 962 km
Definition Field Listing
400 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
Definition Field Listing
tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands
Definition Field Listing
mostly mountains with narrow coastal plains and rolling limestone plateau (Peten)
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Volcan Tajumulco 4,211 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
petroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, chicle, hydropower
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 12.54%
permanent crops: 5.03%
other: 82.43% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
1,250 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
numerous volcanoes in mountains, with occasional violent earthquakes; Caribbean coast extremely susceptible to hurricanes and other tropical storms
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
deforestation in the Peten rainforest; soil erosion; water pollution
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
no natural harbors on west coast
   People    Guatemala
Definition Field Listing
13,314,079 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
2.57% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing
34.17 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing
6.67 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-1.79 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
44.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing
total population: 66.85 years
female: 69.66 years (2002 est.)
male: 64.16 years
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing
4.51 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.38% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing
73,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing
3,600 (1999 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Guatemalan(s)
adjective: Guatemalan
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish or assimilated Amerindian - in local Spanish called Ladino), approximately 55%, Amerindian or predominantly Amerindian, approximately 43%, whites and others 2%
Definition Field Listing
Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs
Definition Field Listing
Spanish 60%, Amerindian languages 40% (23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Republic of Guatemala
conventional short form: Guatemala
local short form: Guatemala
local long form: Republica de Guatemala
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
constitutional democratic republic
Definition Field Listing
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
15 September 1821 (from Spain)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal (active duty members of the armed forces may not vote and are restricted to their barracks on election day)
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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; for the November 2003 election, the number of congressional seats will increase by 12-15 seats from the current 113
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - FRG 63, PAN 37, ANN 9, DCG 2, UD/LOV 1, PLP 1; note - as of January 2003, the seat count is FRG 63, PAN 19, ANN 3, Unionista 10, URNG 5, UNE 6, independent 3, other 4
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
Authentic Integral Development or DIA [Eduardo SUGER]; Democratic Union or UD [Rodolfo PAIZ Andrade]; Green Party or LOV [Rodolfo ROSALES Garcis-Salaz]; Guatemalan Christian Democracy or DCG [Vinicio CEREZO Arevalo]; Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity or URNG [Secretary General Alba ESTELA Maldonado]; Guatemalan Republican Front or FRG [Efrain RIOS Montt]; Movement for Guatemalan Unity or MGU [Jacobo ARBENZ Villanueva]; Movement for Principals and Values or MPV [Francisco BIANCHI]; National Advancement Party or PAN [Secretary General Leonel LOPEZ Rodas]; National Unity for Hope or UNE [Alvarado COLOM Caballeros]; New Nation Alliance or ANN, formed by an alliance of DIA, URNG, and several splinter groups most of whom subsequently defected [led by three co-equal partners - Nineth Varenca MONTENEGRO Cottom, Rodolfo BAUER Paiz, and Jorge Antonio BALSELLS TUT]; Patriot Party or PP [retired General Otto PEREZ Molina]; Progressive Liberator Party or PLP [Acisclo VALLADARES Molina]; Reform Movement or MR [Secretary General Alfredo SKINNER-KLEE]; Unionista Party [leader NA]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Antonio Fernando ARENALES Forno
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:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador John Randle HAMILTON
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:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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.
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $48.3 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
2.3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $3,700 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 23%
industry: 20%
services: 57% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
60% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 46% (1998) (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
56 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing
7.6% (2001) (2001)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing
4.2 million (1999 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture 50%, industry 15%, services 35% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing
7.5% (1999 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $2.1 billion
expenditures: $2.5 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
Definition Field Listing
sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
4.1% (1999) (1999)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing
5.929 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 50%
hydro: 45%
other: 5% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
4.797 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
840 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
123 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens
Definition Field Listing
$2.9 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
coffee, sugar, bananas, fruits and vegetables, cardamom, meat, apparel, petroleum, electricity
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
US 57%, El Salvador 8.7%, Costa Rica 3.7%, Nicaragua 2.8%, Germany 2.6% (2000)
Definition Field Listing
$4.9 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
fuels, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
US 35.2%, Mexico 12.6%, South Korea 7.9%, El Salvador 6.4%, Venezuela 3.9% (2000)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing
$4.5 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$212 million (1995) (1995)
Definition Field Listing
quetzal (GTQ), US dollar (USD), others allowed
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Guatemala
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing
665,061 (June 2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing
663,296 (September 2000)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
AM 130, FM 487, shortwave 15 (2000)
Definition Field Listing
835,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
26 (plus 27 repeaters) (1997)
Definition Field Listing
1.323 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
5 (2000)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing
200,000 (2002)
   Transportation    Guatemala
Definition Field Listing
total: 884 km
narrow gauge: 884 km 0.914-m gauge (single-track)
note: much of the railway is inoperable (2001 est.)
Definition Field Listing
total: 13,856 km
paved: 4,370 km (including 140 km of expressways)
unpaved: 9,486 km (1998)
Definition Field Listing
990 km
note: 260 km navigable year round; additional 730 km navigable during highwater season
Definition Field Listing
crude oil 275 km
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Champerico, Puerto Barrios, Puerto Quetzal, San Jose, Santo Tomas de Castilla
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing
none (2002 est.)
Definition Field Listing
475 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
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 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 455 464
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 9
914 to 1,523 m: 9 123
under 914 m: 115 331 (2002)
   Military    Guatemala
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Army, Navy (includes Marines), Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 3,186,894 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 2,080,504 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 140,358 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing
$120 million (FY99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing
0.6% (FY99)
   Transnational Issues    Guatemala
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
major 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 19 March 2003

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