GUATEMALA

Republic of Guatemala

República de Guatemala

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

Located in Central America at the southern tip of Mexico between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala has a total area of 108,890 square kilometers (42,042 square miles), slightly smaller than that of the state of Tennessee. Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico all share land boundaries with Guatemala that total 1,687 kilometers (1,048 miles) in length, while Guatemala's coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea totals 400 kilometers (249 miles). Guatemala City, the national capital and home to 2 million Guatemalans, is located in south-central Guatemala, less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Pacific Ocean.

POPULATION.

As of July 2000, Guatemala's population was estimated at 12,639,939. There are approximately 484 persons to every square kilometer of the country (1,253 persons per square mile), making Guatemala the second most densely populated nation in Central and South America. (El Salvador is the only nation in the region with a higher population density.) Guatemala also has an extremely high rate of population growth; if the population were to continue at its current growth rate of 2.9 percent per year, the total number of people living in the nation would double in 24 years. Population projections estimate that Guatemala's population will reach 16,295,000 by 2010. The fertility rate in Guatemala is the highest in Latin America, with an average of 5 children born to each Guatemalan woman during her lifetime. Although the Guatemalan government has officially recognized that the national birth rate is high, it has done little to encourage family planning or birth control among its populace. The reluctance of the Guatemalan government to institute population control policies can be partly attributed to its strong ties with the Catholic Church, while resistance to family planning among the general populace can be partially imputed to the civil unrest of the 1980s, which provoked a distrust of foreign-initiated programs (including family planning programs).

In stark contrast to most Latin American countries, Guatemala has a populace that is concentrated mainly in rural areas. Only 39 percent of its population is urban (though urbanization is accelerating). The sizeable rural population is linked to the large indigenous (Amerindian) presence in Guatemala; persons descended from the Mayan Indians account for 56 percent of the nation's total population, making Guatemala the Latin American nation with the largest indigenous population relative to total population. The other 44 percent of the national population is mestizo (of mixed Amerindian-Spanish descent, also called ladino in local Spanish). Despite the concentration of the population in rural areas, close to 80 percent of physicians are located in the metropolitan area, making health care difficult to access for rural inhabitants. Additionally, water supply and sanitation services reach 92 percent and 72 percent of the urban population respectively, while in rural areas they reach marginally more than 50 percent of the population. These facts betray a broader phenomenon of rural disadvantage that

extends to the economic, political, and social realms of Guatemalan life.

AGRICULTURE

Although Guatemala is trying to expand its manufacturing activities to reduce economic dependence on agriculture, the agricultural sector is a crucial component of Guatemala's export and domestic economies, accounting for 23 percent of GDP (US$11 billion) in 1999 and employing 50 percent of the labor force (1.7 million workers).

COFFEE.

One of Guatemala's original commercial developments in the 19th century, coffee production is still of vital importance to the national economy. In 1998, coffee exports brought in US$586.3 million, almost double the amount of sugar, the next most profitable agricultural export. Guatemala's production of coffee is equally important in the global economy, as Guatemala is the world's third largest exporter of coffee. Because large-scale operations are needed to produce vast quantities of coffee for export, most Guatemalan coffee is harvested at large plantations along the southern border of the highlands.

SUGAR.

After coffee, sugar is Guatemala's most profitable crop, earning US$315.3 million on the world market in 1998. Sugar has also shown promise as an expanding industry in Guatemala, particularly because it can be produced in raw form or processed within the country prior to export, augmenting its value.

BANANAS.

Bananas remain one of Guatemala's top agricultural exports, grabbing US$190.4 million in revenue in 1998. Like other developing countries that export bananas, Guatemala has recently encountered problems on the international market, including declining prices and a European Union policy that places new restrictions on its imports of bananas. Additionally, conflicts between Guatemalan banana workers and the companies that contract them have led international fruit companies to move their headquarters from Guatemala to Ecuador, where labor is unorganized and therefore cheaper. All of these factors have contributed to the recent decline of the banana industry in Guatemala.

INDUSTRY

Industry in Guatemala, which includes food processing, publishing, mining, and the manufacture of textiles, clothing, cement, tires, and pharmaceuticals, comprises 20 percent of the GDP (US$9.6 billion) and employs about 15 percent of the total workforce (500,000 workers). After growing steadily during the 1960s and 1970s, manufacturing slowed during the debt crisis of the 1980s but picked up again during the 1990s.

TEXTILES AND APPAREL.

More than 80,000 Guatemalans are currently employed by the apparel industry, most of whom are young women. The apparel industry has experienced growth over the past decade, but international attention directed to the poor working conditions within apparel-for-export factories or maquilas has resulted in the closing of some major plants, including the Phillips-Van Heusen factory that used to be located in Guatemala. So long as labor remains cheap and accessible in Guatemala, the apparel industry is likely to continue expanding. The United States provides a sizeable market for Guatemala's apparel exports, importing more than US$1 billion worth of apparel in 1998 alone.

MINING AND OIL.

Combined with production of energy (mainly from petroleum), mining contributes roughly 3 percent of Guatemala's GDP. Antimony, copper, nickel, iron, and tungsten are all mined in Guatemala, though not in great quantities. Surveys of Guatemala's subsurface have revealed that the nation has a wealth of mineral resources, indicating that, given the right investment interest, mining could become a more prominent part of Guatemala's economy in the future. Guatemala, the only oil-producing country in Central America, has been extracting oil from its Petén Basin since the early 1980s, though it does not extract nearly enough to be a net exporter of petroleum.

SERVICES

TOURISM.

The service industry contributes the largest segment of Guatemala's GDP (57 percent, or US$27.3 billion) and employs about 35 percent of the nation's total workforce (1.2 million workers). While the service sector encompasses several different industries like retail , financial services, transportation, and computer services, the most profitable component is tourism. Because of its agreeable climate and diverse landscape, as well as its Mayan ruins, Guatemala is becoming a popular travel destination in the post-conflict period. In light of the high profit margins associated with tourism receipts, the government is making solid efforts to expand tourism and attract more foreign visitors to Guatemala.

DEPENDENCIES

Guatemala has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Banco de Guatemala. "Guatemala: Algunas variables macroeconomicas, años 1950-1999." <http://www.banguat.gob.gt/ver.asp?id'/indicadores/hist03> . Accessed March 2001.

BASICS/USAID. "Guatemala: Country Achievement Summary." <http://www.basics.org/summaries/Guatemala.htm> . Accessed January 2001.

Canadian Foundation for the Americas. "Guatemala Under the FRG: Peace at a Crossroads." <http://www.focal.ca/images/pdf/guatemala.pdf> . Accessed March 2001.

Country Watch. "Guatemala: Economy." <http://www.countrywatch.com/files/069/cw_topic.asp?vCOUNTRY=069 &TP=ECO> . Accessed March 2001.

Pan American Health Organization. "Guatemala: Basic CountryHealth profiles, Summaries 1999." <http://www.paho.org/English/SHA/prflgut.htm> . Accessed February 2001.

Population Reference Bureau. "2000 World Population DataSheet: Central America." <http://www.prb.org/pubs/wpds2000/wpds2000_CentralAmerica.html> . Accessed March 2001.

USAID Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. Latin America and the Caribbean: Selected Economic and Social Data. Washington, D.C.: USAID, 1999.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. "The World Factbook: Guatemala." <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/gt.html> . Accessed February 2001.

U.S. Department of State. "Background Notes: Guatemala." <http://www.state.gov/www/background_notes/guatemala_0500_bgn.html> . Accessed March 2001.

—Heidi Jugenitz

CAPITAL:

Guatemala City.

MONETARY UNIT:

Quetzal (Q). One quetzal is equal to 100 centavos. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavos, as well as paper bills in the amounts of 50 centavos and 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 quetzals.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Coffee, sugar, bananas, fruits and vegetables, meat, apparel, petroleum, electricity.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

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

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$47.9 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$2.4 billion (f.o.b., 1999). Imports: US$4.5 billion (c.i.f., 1999).

Also read article about Guatemala from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

shakemia williams
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Jan 19, 2010 @ 4:16 pm
i think this is very helpful thanks i was m,aking a report about this is this website had to be the best one on google.com thanks very much
Cornelious
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Jan 30, 2010 @ 1:01 am
Guatemala is a very strong developing country, but it needs to be done many things to change our imageAout of the borders. The government should find alternatives to help poor people and provide them good education. Also, the gov should support more farmers to expand the exportation of our goods. This must be taken in consideration in order to make better the GDP.
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Apr 27, 2010 @ 4:16 pm
Thi article is really help for a project i have in history class. Although some info i still need is how Guatemala has been involved in the United Nations...
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May 11, 2010 @ 11:11 am
this really helped a school prodject on guatemala.also my dad is from guatemala
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May 12, 2010 @ 7:19 pm
this helped me on socail studys homework!!! my whole family is from guatemala!
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May 18, 2010 @ 6:18 pm
this article is very interesting i'm working on a school project and this web site helped me a lot. i think I'm going to get an A++ yeah
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Sep 10, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
This was very helpful to my 5 page book report thank you to whoever got this info and put it
on this site
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Sep 18, 2010 @ 7:07 am
This article really helped me on my project. and it is very interesting.
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Oct 5, 2010 @ 9:09 am
I like this article to because it helped me with my project and i got an A+
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Oct 11, 2010 @ 10:10 am
Useful for school projects. Wonderful website. This really helped me out on a school project.
kelly
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Feb 4, 2011 @ 9:09 am
this was really helpful 4o meh class project it was cool and it had lots of interesting facts about my topic guatemala'
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Feb 15, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
I like it because it helped me do my 7th grade spanish project on Guatemala and it had had all the information I needed for the project unlike the other websites I used for my previous project.
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Feb 28, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
i like this webside it was very helful to do my homework, and learn from other places
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Mar 7, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
this information was very helpful
thank you so much for putting it on here
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Aug 21, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
et gonna make it et gonna make it et make big brown
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Sep 18, 2011 @ 6:18 pm
this was not really what i was looking for in my project but i did get a little info about it
lia
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Oct 4, 2011 @ 5:17 pm
this was very interesting and great for my paper for spanish class. thanks!
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Oct 13, 2011 @ 5:17 pm
This was some really usefull information, I am using it on a project I am doing at school
Daulton
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Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:11 am
This really helped me do my spanish project on Guatemala. I really appreciate who ever came up with this website. I was born in Guatemala and wish to visite it soon.
Mr. Man
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Jun 4, 2012 @ 6:18 pm
This was very helpfull for my project on Guatemala, i'm gtoing to bookmark this site. Thanks
Rachelle
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Jan 23, 2013 @ 7:07 am
this article helped me alot and a little bit it does have everything
Trineice
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Feb 18, 2013 @ 12:00 am
I was interested in some knowledge about my fiances background because
im African American and not of Guatemalan desent im sure i will visit sometimes my future in laws still reside there its definitely somthing to look forward to
lonkon
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Mar 11, 2013 @ 6:18 pm
it was a good one but you need to work on your language
Maya
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Apr 16, 2013 @ 8:20 pm
Thank you very much! I'm doing a BIG project in Geography/ History class and this helped a bunch! Thank you your information was very helpful!
Santiago
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Dec 8, 2013 @ 9:21 pm
This helped a lot on my Guatemala project for my Spanish class project!

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