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, country, Central America

Guatemala (gwätəmäˈlə), officially Republic of Guatemala, republic (2015 est. pop. 16,252,000), 42,042 sq mi (108,889 sq km), Central America. The country is bounded on the north and west by Mexico, on the east by Belize and the Caribbean Sea, on the southeast by Honduras and El Salvador, and on the southwest by the Pacific Ocean. The capital and largest city is Guatemala City. In addition to the capital, important cities include Puerto Barrios, San José, Quezaltenango, and Antigua Guatemala.

Land and People

A highland region, where most of the population lives, cuts across the country from west to east. The rugged main range includes the inactive volcano Tajumulco, which is the highest point in Central America (13,816 ft/4,211 m). The range is flanked on the Pacific side by a string of volcanoes (some active), including Tacaná, Santa María, Acatenango, Fuego, and Agua. Volcanic eruptions, floods, and hurricanes have plagued Guatemala throughout history. In the center of the range is Lake Atitlán, and south of the highlands is the Pacific coastal lowland. North of them are the Caribbean lowland and the vast tropical forest known as Petén. Lake Petén Itzá is in N central Guatemala. The largest river is the Motagua, which flows into the Caribbean at the port of Puerto Barrios. North of the Motagua is the Lake Izabal–Río Dulce system, which was a major waterway in colonial times.

About 60% of the population is of mixed Mayan and Spanish descent (Ladinos) and about 40% are of purely Mayan origin. The latter have historically suffered from discrimination, poverty, and relative geographical isolation. Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion, and there are also Protestant and traditional Mayan minorities. Spanish is the language of about 60% of the people; the balance speak several indigenous dialects.


Coffee, sugar, and bananas are the leading commercial and export crops in Guatemala's mainly agricultural economy. There is some manufacturing, primarily of refined sugar, textiles and clothing for the U.S. market, furniture, and chemicals. Zinc and lead concentrates are mined. There are nickel and petroleum deposits in the north, and a petroleum industry has developed, although it has been limited by political unrest and environmentalist opposition. Extensive jade deposits are found in E central Guatemala. The Mayan town of Chichicastenango is a popular site for the nation's tourist industry. The leading imports include fuel, machinery, transportation equipment, construction materials, grain, fertilizers, and electricity. The United States, El Salvador, and Mexico are the major trading partners.


Guatemala is governed under the constitution of 1986 as amended. It provides for a president who is popularly elected for four years and may not serve consecutive terms. The president is both head of state and head of government. Members of the 158-member, unicameral Congress of the Republic are also elected for four-year terms. Guatemala is divided administratively into 22 departments.


The Maya-Quiché (see Quiché) inhabited Guatemala long before the arrival of the Spanish. They were defeated (1523–24) by the Spaniard Pedro de Alvarado, who became captain general of Guatemala. The conquerors found little of the gold they sought, but cocoa and indigo were raised with forced labor. The first colonial capital, Santiago de Guatemala (Tecpán), was replaced in 1527 by Ciudad Vieja. A volcanic mud and debris flow destroyed the capital in 1541, and Antigua Guatemala was founded to replace it. After a series of earthquakes destroyed Antigua Guatemala in 1773, the capital was moved to its current location at Guatemala City. Central America became independent from Spain in 1821. Guatemala was first a part of the Mexican Empire of Agustín de Iturbide and then became a nucleus of the Central American Federation. After the federation collapsed, Guatemala became a separate nation (1839). From independence there have been disputes over the border with what is now Belize (formerly British Honduras); Belize has been wholly or partially claimed by Guatemala at times.

Guatemalan interference in the affairs of other Central American republics during the 19th and early 20th cent., under the conservative dictatorships of Rafael Carrera and Manuel Estrada Cabrera and under the liberal, Justo Ruffino Barrios, caused intense hostility and finally led to the Washington Conference of 1907, which established the Central American Court of Justice. Jorge Ubico became president in 1931, and his tenure was marked by repressive rule and an improvement in the nation's finances.

After Guatemala declared war on the Axis powers in 1941, the large German-owned coffee holdings were expropriated. Popular discontent led to Ubico's overthrow in 1944 and his replacement by Juan José Arévalo. Arévalo launched a series of labor and agrarian reforms that were continued by Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, who succeeded him in 1951. A law expropriating large estates angered foreign plantation owners, particularly the United Fruit Company. As Communist influence in the Arbenz government increased, relations with the United States deteriorated. In 1954 the United States aided the anti-Arbenz military force that placed Col. Carlos Castillo Armas in power. When Castillo Armas was assassinated three years later, Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes became president. Guatemalan bases were used to train anti-Castro guerrillas in the early 1960s; around the same time, dissident leftist military officers and students combined to form a guerrilla movement.

In 1963 the prospect of the return to power of Arévalo led to a military coup under the defense minister, Enrique Peralta Azurdia. However, leftist guerrilla activity and terrorism mounted, in turn provoking rightist repression. In 1966 the moderate leftist Julio César Méndez Montenegro was elected president; he allowed the army to conduct a major anti-insurgency campaign against the guerrillas in which thousands were killed. In Aug., 1968, in the continuing violence, the U.S. ambassador was assassinated.

In the 1970 election, Col. Carlos Arana Osorio, an extreme conservative, was chosen president. He imposed a one-year state of siege in an attempt to end the violence. In the early 1970s many labor and political leaders were killed and several foreign diplomats were kidnapped. When no candidate received an absolute majority in the presidential election of 1974, the legislature declared Gen. Kjell Laugerud García the winner, even though Gen. José Efraín Ríos Montt, the antigovernment candidate, had allegedly won a plurality.

Violence continued in the 1970s and 1980s, with reports that anti-insurgency campaigns were destroying Indian villages and killing tens of thousands. In 1977 the United States cut off military aid to Guatemala. After three elections widely regarded as fraudulent, Gen. Ríos Montt took power in a 1982 coup and ruled by decree; he was deposed the next year by another strongman, Gen. Óscar Mejía Victores. During the early 1980s leftist guerrillas formed what became known as the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union (URNG) and began an insurgency against the government.

A civilian reformist, Marco Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo, became president in 1985, after elections held under a new constitution, but his government did not seem to pose a substantial challenge to the power of the military. He was succeeded in 1990 by Jorge Serrano Elías, a right-wing businessman; Serrano adopted unpopular austerity measures, and in 1993, when he attempted to institute rule by decree, he was forced by the army to resign. Ramiro de León Carpio, the attorney general for human rights, was elected by the congress to succeed Serrano and won passage of anticorruption reforms.

In 1996, Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen, a former mayor of Guatemala City and foreign minister, won the presidency. He conducted a purge of top military officers and, in Dec., 1996, his government signed a UN-supervised peace accord with the URNG guerrillas, who subsequently regrouped as a political party. An estimated 200,000 persons died during the 36-year conflict. The 1999 presidential elections were won by Alfonso Portillo Cabrera, a lawyer and rightist associated with former dictator Ríos Montt and backed by the Guatemalan Republican Front. In July, 2003, the government established a national compensation program to pay victims of human-rights violations that occurred during the civil war.

Óscar Berger Perdomo, a conservative former mayor of Guatemala City and the leader of the Grand National Alliance, won the presidency in Dec., 2003, after a runoff election. In the first round of voting in November, Ríos Montt made a bid for the presidency despite a ban on candidates who had overthrown a government. He came in third, and the November vote was marred by violence and intimidation that was largely blamed on his supporters.

In early 2004 former President Portillo was implicated in a corruption scandal, and he fled to Mexico; he was ultimately extradited to Guatemala in 2008. Some 10,000 soldiers were demobilized in May–June, 2004. UN supervision of the peace process ended in Dec., 2004.

Rains from Tropical Storm Stan caused flooding and mudslides in Oct., 2005, that resulted in hundreds of deaths in Guatemala. In 2006, the United Nations and Guatemala agreed to create the independent International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) to investigate and prosecute illegal groups responsible for corruption, organized crime, and political violence. Established in 2007, CICIG was designed to handle cases that might avoid prosecution due to the pervasiveness of organized crime and its ability to intimidate and corrupt law enforcement; it subsequently was responsible for prosecuting former President Portillo, two former national police chiefs, and other high ranking former officials. The case against Portillo and two of his ministers was dismissed in 2011, but in 2013 he was extradited to the United States on money-laundering charges and subsequently (2014) pleaded guilty.

In Nov., 2007, Álvaro Colom, a center-left business executive running as the National Union for Hope (UNE) candidate, won the presidency after a runoff. The presidential campaign was again marred by violence. Guatemala and Belize agreed in 2008 to submit their border dispute to the International Court of Justice following national referendums. In 2018 and 2019 respectively, Guatemala and Belize approved submitting the dispute to the ICJ. In May, 2009, the murder of a lawyer, Rodrigo Rosenberg, created a political crisis when it was revealed he had made a video recording in which he accused the Colom administration of money-laundering drug money and said that if he was killed the president was to blame. The opposition called for Colom to resign; Colom denied the charges and suggested the recording was a right-wing attempt to destabilize his government. Both opponents and supporters of Colom mounted large demonstrations in the capital. Colom was cleared in Jan., 2010, by a CICIG investigation that determined that the lawyer surreptitiously contracted his own murder in an attempt to bring the government down.

In Dec., 2010, the government declared a state of siege in Alta Verapaz dept., in the N central part of the country, in order to regain control over the area's cities from a Mexican drug gang that had been operating there since 2008. A state of siege later (May, 2011) was declared in Petén dept. to the north after a drug-trafficking-related massacre there. President Colom and his wife, Sandra Torres, were divorced in May, 2011, in an attempt to circumvent the country's constitutional prohibition on the election of the president or a close relative to consecutive terms. Torres, who supervised the government's antipoverty efforts under her husband, was expected to be the UNE presidential candidate, but the courts rejected her candidacy. In the election, Otto Pérez Molina, a retired general running as the conservative Patriotic party candidate, won (November) after a runoff.

Ríos Montt was in 2013 convicted of genocide for attacks on the Ixil Maya during the period in the early 1980s when he ruled the country, but a retrial was ordered (2015) on procedural grounds. Custom corruption investigations led in 2015 to the resignation of the vice president (whose private secretary was accused of taking bribes) and led to calls that the president be investigated. After the president was stripped of his immunity from investigation, he resigned in September; he later was formally charged (2015, 2016) with corruption. Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre, a judge and politician who had been chosen as vice president in May, became acting president.

Voters rejected the political establishment in the 2015 presidential contest, electing Jimmy Morales, a comedian with no political experience who ran on an anticorruption platform; his center-right National Convergence Front, however, won only 11 seats in Congress. Members of Morales's family were subsequently accused of tax fraud, and in Aug., 2017, after the CICIG accused Morales of involvement in illegal campaign financing, he ordered the deportation of the UN official in charge of the CICIG, but the constitutional court overturned his order. Attempts to bring Morales to trial were frustrated by the Congress's failure to lift his immunity.

In Aug., 2018, Morales declined to extend CICIG's mandate past Sept., 2019, and refused to allow the UN official in charge to return to Guatemala, then defied (Sept., 2018) a constitutional court ruling against barring the official. Morales' government subsequently made additional moves to interfere with CICIG's staff and work, and in Jan., 2019, withdrew Guatemala from the CICIG and ordered its UN staff to leave the country; the constitutional court, however, overruled that decision. In Aug., 2019, Alejandro Giammattei, a former government official and conservative who had thrice run unsuccessfully for president, was elected to the post, defeating Sandra Torres after a runoff. In Nov., 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the passage of a budget that cut health and social spending led to protests and an attack on the Congress building; the Congress retracted the budget.


See R. N. Adams, Crucifixion by Power: Essays on Guatemalan National Social Structure, 1944–1966 (1970); T. Melville and M. Melville, Guatemala: The Politics of Land Ownership (1971); R. E. Moore, Historical Dictionary of Guatemala (rev. ed. 1973); J. Handy, Gift of the Devil: A History of Guatemala (1984); R. Nyrop, ed., Guatemala, a Country Study (1984); G. Grandin et al., ed., The Guatemala Reader (2011).


, city, Guatemala

Guatemala, city (1994 est. pop. 823,301), S central Guatemala, capital of the republic. Its full name is La Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción. In a broad, fertile, highland valley, c.5,000 ft (1,520 m) high, it enjoys an equable climate the year round. It is the largest city in Central America, with a cosmopolitan atmosphere and many fine public buildings. It is served by international and local airways, railroads, and modern highways, and is the industrial, commercial, and financial center of the republic. To the city's markets come the fruits and vegetables of the tropical coasts and temperate highlands and also native handicrafts, especially textiles. Much of the produce is carried in from the countryside and sold in the market stalls. There is also a modern business section.

The present city is the fourth permanent capital of Guatemala; the capital was moved there after Antigua Guatemala was destroyed by earthquakes in 1773. An earthquake destroyed Guatemala City in 1917–18, but it was rebuilt on the same site. In 1976, another earthquake caused extensive damage to the city and its environs, resulting in more than 20,000 fatalities. The city is also near several volcanoes, the most active of which is Pacaya (8,373 ft/2,552 m high), some 15 mi (25 km) to the south. From the city excursions may be made to Antigua Guatemala and Ciudad Vieja, the third and second capitals. Many interesting remains of Mayan civilization have been unearthed in the vicinity of Guatemala City, notably at Lake Amatitlán. The Univ. of San Carlos de Guatemala (1676) is in the city, as are many other educational and cultural institutions.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Republic of Guatemala, República de Guatemala), a state in Central America. Bounded by Mexico in the west and north, Belize (formerly British Honduras) in the northeast, Honduras and El Salvador in the southeast, the Caribbean Sea in the east, and the Pacific Ocean in the south and southwest. Area, 108,900 sq km. Population, 5.2 million (1970, estimate). Administratively, Guatemala is divided into 22 departments (1970). Its capital is the city of Guatemala.

Constitution and government. Guatemala is a republic. The present constitution was adopted in 1965 and became effective in May 1966. Various constitutional guarantees were repeatedly suspended after the adoption of the constitution. The head of state and of the government (the Council of Ministers) is the president, who is elected by the people for four years. He is also the commander of the armed forces. Under the president there is a consultative body, the Council of State. The highest legislative power is the unicameral parliament (the National Congress), which consists of 55 deputies elected by the people for four years through direct elections. Suffrage is granted to all men who are 18 years of age and older and to women 18 and over who know how to read and write. This practice substantially decreases the number of voters. In addition to the president, a chairman directs the government. He appoints, in particular, the governors of the departments. The judicial system of Guatemala includes the Supreme Court, six appellate courts, and 28 courts of the first instance.

Natural features. More than half of the territory of Guatemala is an upland with elevations of 1,000-3,000 m. Its northern part is formed of folded block massifs (elevations up to 4,000 m), which are divided by deep tectonic depressions that are occupied by river valleys and lakes, including the Motagua River, Lake Izabal, and Lake Atitlán. There is a young volcanic chain in the southern part of the highlands, including the volcanoes Tajumulco, 4,217 m, and Aca-tenango, 3,975 m. On the south the volcanic region is bordered by a narrow (40-60 km) lowland. The Peten limestone plateau (elevations up to 250 m), with karst forms of relief, occupies the northern part of the country. Severe earthquakes are frequent. There are deposits of complex, chromic, and manganic ores, as well as gold, silver, and petroleum. The climate is subequatorial and trade wind-monsoonal. Average monthly temperatures are 23°-27° C in the lowlands and 15°-20° C in the highlands. Precipitation on the northeastern slopes is as high as 3,500 mm (winter maximum) and up to 2,000 mm on the southwestern slopes (summer maximum). In the southern lowlands, the Peten plateau, and the interior depressions the annual precipitation is 500-1,000 mm. Forests cover more than half of the area of Guatemala. In the north there are primarily evergreen humid forests on reddish yellow lateritic soils, with valuable varieties of trees (palms, rubber trees, mahogany, logwood, balsam, and lignum vitae). In the interior regions of the plateau pine and oak forests prevail, and in the south there are deciduous forests, savannas, and shrubs on brownish red soils. Platyrhine monkeys, jaguars, armadillos, and iguana lizards are found in Guatemala. There are many shrimp in the coastal waters.

Population. About half of the population of Guatemala consists of the Spanish-speaking Hispanic-Indian mestizos (the so-called ladinos), who make up the nucleus of the formative Guatemalan nation. The rest of the population consists of various Indian peoples, who speak languages of the Zoque-Mayan family (19 Indian languages have survived). According to a 1967 estimate, the largest of these peoples are the Quiche (about 580,000), Cakchiquel (350,000), Mam (300,000), and Quekchí (250,000). The main occupation of the Guatemalan Indians is farming. Traditional, highly artistic handicraft production, such as weaving, survives. The official language of Guatemala is Spanish, and the official religion is Catholicism. (Ancient beliefs also exist among the Indians.) The official calendar is the Gregorian.

The average annual population increase between 1963 and 1969 was 3.1 percent. The economically active population is 1.3 million (1965), 64 percent of whom are employed in agriculture. The average population density is 46 per sq km. A large part of the population is concentrated in the intramon-tane hollows (up to 300 people per sq km). The vast Peten plateau in the northern part of the country is virtually uninhabited, and more than one-fourth of the population is concentrated in the cities. The population of the city of Guatemala is 770,000 (1970). Other sizable cities are (thousands of residents, 1966): Quezaltenango (47.4), Puerto Barrios (24.6), Mazatenango (21.1), and Antigua (15.7).

Historical survey. INDIAN TRIBES ON THE TERRITORY OF GUATEMALA UP TO THE EARLY 16TH CENTURY. Around the second millennium B.C. the territory of Guatemala was inhabited by numerous Indian tribes. They cultivated such crops as maize, agave, and cotton, engaged in hunting and fishing, and made great progress in construction, architecture, astronomy, and writing. At the turn of our era cities—the centers of the highly developed Mayan culture—appeared northeast of Lake Petén Itzá. By the end of the 15th century bloody wars among the Indian tribes had brought a decline in the economy. To a considerable degree the exhaustion of the soil and natural disasters contributed to this decline.

THE COLONIAL PERIOD (16TH THROUGH EARLY 19TH CENTURIES). Spanish conquistadors led by Pedro de Al-varado invaded the territory of Guatemala in 1523. The native inhabitants fought courageously against the aggressors. The Quiché tribe, led by Tecún Umán, waged a particularly tenacious struggle: its army of 6,000 repelled the conquerors’ invasion for an extended period of time. However, by exploiting the enmity among the Indian tribes, the conquerors succeeded in breaking the resistance of the Quiche and other tribes and seizing the territory of Guatemala. Many Indian tribes were almost completely annihilated.

Guatemala became a colony of Spain. The captaincy-general of Guatemala, which included almost all of Central America and part of present-day Mexico, was formed in 1560. The Spanish seized the best lands and enslaved the native population. In Guatemala encomienda, repartimiento, peonage, and other forms of feudal exploitation coexisted with slavery. Agriculture was the main branch of the economy, and corn, cacao, and indigo were cultivated. The cultivation of coffee and sugarcane spread in the 17th century. Industry was nonexistent, with the exception of small handicraft workshops in the cities and the rudiments of a mining industry. Petty regulations established by the mother country fettered the development of the productive forces of Guatemala. The native population was completely illiterate. Only Spaniards and Creoles could attend the few schools and the university, which was founded in 1676.

THE WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE AND THE FORMATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE GUATEMALAN STATE (EARLY 19TH THROUGH 20TH CENTURIES). The development of the liberation movement in Guatemala was promoted by the struggle for independence in neighboring Mexico and a number of Spanish colonies. On Sept. 15, 1821, an assembly of representatives of the Creole population of the city of Guatemala proclaimed the declaration of Guatemala’s independence from Spain. After liberation from Spanish oppression, two parties formed in Guatemala—the Liberals and the Conservatives, between whom a struggle flared up over the country’s form of government. The ruling junta, which was headed by the Conservatives, presented a demand for union with Mexico. In June 1822, Mexican troops entered the capital of Guatemala. The fall of the Mexican Iturbide empire in 1823 led to an intensification of the political struggle in Guatemala. The Liberals demanded the introduction of a democratic constitution, the confiscation of church property, and the implementation of land reform. The Conservatives, who were defending the interests of the great landed nobility and the higher clergy, sought to preserve the privileges that had existed until the war of independence.

On July 1, 1823, the National Assembly of representatives of the provinces of the former captaincy-general of Guatemala proclaimed the establishment of a federal republic—the United Provinces of Central America, with its capital in the city of Guatemala. The Liberals were in power from 1824 to 1826. At the end of 1826 they were replaced by the Conservatives. The struggle between the Conservatives and the Liberals continued within the federation and developed into an armed struggle, which culminated in the victory of the Liberals under the leadership of F. Morazán in 1829. Elected president of the federation (1829-38), the Hon-duran Morazán carried out a number of progressive reforms: he secularized church lands, proclaimed freedom of worship, and promoted the construction of schools. In 1838 Conservative forces led by the Guatemalan R. Carrera crushed Morazán’s troops. In 1839, Carrera proclaimed the dissolution of the federal pact. The Central American federation disintegrated into independent states: Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Costa Rica.

Led by the dictator R. Carrera (in power 1844-48 and 1851-65), the conservative-clerical bloc that came to power attempted to maintain the stability of the socioeconomic system based on large-scale landholding. A constitution consolidating the power of this bloc was adopted in 1851. All opposition in the country was harshly suppressed. Carrera was proclaimed president for life in 1854. The deep discontent with Carrera’s regime and that of his successor, Pícente Cerna (1865-71), took the form of armed action by the Liberals in 1871. The Liberal government of R. Barrios, which came to power at that time, carried out a number of reforms that promoted the country’s economic development (the construction of roads and railways, the expansion of plantation farming, and the development of domestic and foreign trade) and limited somewhat the influence of the church. There was large-scale confiscation of lands held by the landlords. An educational reform was carried out. In 1879, a new constitution consolidating the transformations in the country was introduced.

E. Cabrera, a representative of extreme right-wing circles, came to power in 1898. Under his regime increased penetration of Guatemala’s economy by American monopolies began. Under a treaty of 1901 the United Fruit Company obtained exclusive rights to sea transportation of postal dispatches. For a nominal sum of money the company was given the most fertile lands, on which it established vast banana plantations. Soon the profit obtained by the United Fruit Company in Guatemala was several times greater than the country’s budget. The exploitation of Guatemalans by foreign companies was not restricted by law.

Having broken diplomatic relations with Germany in 1917 after the USA declared war, Guatemala entered World War I (1914-18) in April 1918.

GUATEMALA AFTER 1918. New social forces entered the political arena at the beginning of the 20th century. The first workers’ organizations were established. Trade unions of agricultural workers were united in the Federation of Workers’ Societies. Subsequently, the Guatemalan Workers’ Federation to Struggle for the Legislative Protection of Labor, which included workers of various specializations, was founded. The Cabrera dictatorship fell in 1920, and the 1920’s were marked by an organized strike movement. The ideas of Marxism-Leninism began to spread among the working people, and the Communist Party of Guatemala was established in 1922. An upsurge in the workers’ movement led to the formation of progressive trade-union centers in the second half of the 1920’s—the Regional Federation of Labor and the Office Workers’ Trade Union of Guatemala.

The world economic crisis of 1929-33 had a serious effect on Guatemala’s economy, which had been deformed by American imperialism and which depended on one crop. In 1931 a coup d’etat brought General J. Ubico to power. A protege of Guatemalan reaction and American imperialism, Ubico established a bloody dictatorial regime (1931-44), under which all bourgeois democratic liberties were eliminated, progressive organizations were persecuted, and the existence of the Communist Party of Guatemala was terminated. Ubico’s government granted additional privileges to the American companies. The main branches of the economy fell into the hands of US imperialists, who controlled two-thirds of Guatemala’s exports and one-half of its imports by the late 1930’s. German capital captured an important position at the same time: it controlled about one-third of Guatemala’s imports and an almost equal share of the country’s exports. In December 1941, after the USA entered World War II, Guatemala declared war on Germany, Japan, and Italy and placed all its naval and air bases at the disposal of the USA. In 1942, the Ubico government confiscated German property in Guatemala (primarily coffee plantations).

THE REVOLUTION OF 1944-54. The development of the world democratic movement, which proceeded under the influence of the Soviet Army’s victories over the forces of fascism, had a profound effect upon broad strata of the Guatemalan population. As a result of a mass popular movement, the Ubico dictatorship was overthrown in June 1944 and replaced by a triumvirate headed by General F. Ponce.

However, the people were demanding fundamental changes in the political and economic system, and on October 20 there was an armed uprising in the capital—the beginning of the anti-imperialist, antifeudal revolution. (SeeGUATEMALAN REVOLUTION OF 1944-54.) The government of J. Arévalo (1945-51), which had the support of all the democratic forces in Guatemala, came to power. In March 1945, a bourgeois democratic constitution was adopted. It proclaimed a number of progressive socioeconomic principles aimed at developing the national economy, declared the liquidation of latifundia, and gave congress the right to prohibit or restrict the activity of foreign monopolies.

With the exception of Communist groups, progressive organizations emerged from the underground. In early 1945 the Guatemalan Confederation of Workers was organized. The Communist Party of Guatemala (from December 1952, the Guatemalan Labor Party), which was reestablished in 1949, began to play an important role. Diplomatic relations with the USSR were established in 1945.

The government of J. Arbenz Guzmán (1951-54), which replaced the Arévalo government, implemented measures aimed at further democratizing the political life of the country and establishing an independent economy. The agrarian reform law of 1952 undermined the domination of the American monopolies in the main branch of the economy, agriculture. Natural resources were put under government protection (prospecting and drilling for oil). In 1951 the General Confederation of Workers of Guatemala was founded. The Arbenz government presented determined opposition to the USA’s intervention into Guatemalan internal affairs.

Frightened by the democratic reforms in Guatemala and by their influence on the national liberation movement in Latin America, US imperialists carried out an armed intervention in Guatemala in June 1954, moving in from the territory of Honduras and relying on the support of the forces of Guatemalan reaction. Under the circumstances, the command of the Guatemalan Army refused to arm the people. It carried out a counterrevolutionary coup, forcing Arbenz to retire. The dictatorship of C. Castillo Armas was established in Guatemala.

GUATEMALA AFTER THE COUP OF 1954. The socioeconomic reforms carried out during 1944-54 came to an end with the coup of 1954. The former privileges of the American monopolies were restored, the constitution of 1945 was abolished, and progressive organizations were banned. The Constitution of 1956 confirmed the dominance of extreme right-wing forces and legislatively prohibited activity by democratic parties and organizations. Armas was killed in 1957.

In 1958 the government of M. Ydígores Fuentes (in power until 1963), which expressed the interests of the large landlords and proimperialist bourgeoisie, came to power. It continued the reactionary political policies of C. Armas. Between 1957 and 1963 direct American capital investment in Guatemala grew by 60 percent. The Fuentes government took an openly hostile position toward revolutionary Cuba. Fuentes’ policies provoked mass demonstrations by the working people, strikes by workers on banana plantations, railroad workers, and dockworkers, and finally, in November 1960, an armed uprising. Fuentes suppressed the uprising with the support of the USA; however, the democratic movement and armed actions did not cease. The Insurgent Armed Forces were established in Guatemala in 1963, and a partisan movement developed, in which the Guatemalan Labor Party actively participated.

Fearing the growth of the popular movement, Guatemalan reactionaries carried out a coup d’etat on Mar. 31, 1963, and established a military dictatorship headed by Colonel E. Peralta Azurdia (1963-66). The Constitution of 1956 was abolished. (A new one was adopted in 1965.) The congress was dissolved, and progressive forces were subjected to repression. In both domestic and foreign policy the Azurdia government proceeded from a standpoint of anticommunism. Growing discontent among various strata of the population, including some military circles, forced Peralta Azurdia to hold presidential elections.

With the accession to power in 1966 of J. C. Méndez Montenegro, the leader of the Revolutionary Party (founded in 1957), the government carried out a number of positive measures. In particular, it proclaimed an amnesty for political prisoners. Subsequently, however, under pressure from foreign and domestic reactionaries, the government sharply changed its political course. Political activity was repeatedly banned in the country, civil rights abolished, and censorship instituted. With the open support of the US monopolies, terrorist organizations were founded, such as Mano Blanco and the Anti-Communist League of Guatemala. They attempted to suppress the national patriotic movement by means of mass terror. Several partisan groups continued to operate in Guatemala. In 1968, as a result of the activity of leftist elements, there was a split within the Insurgent Armed Forces. The Guatemalan Labor Party created an independent armed organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces. In connection with the increased level of activity of terrorist organizations in the country in 1970, a state of emergency was repeatedly instituted.

In foreign policy the Méndez Montenegro government supported the USA’s aggressive actions in Vietnam and other areas of Indochina and supported increased military cooperation with the reactionary regimes of Latin America.

The presidential elections of March 1970 were held under extraordinarily tense political conditions. In July Colonel C. Arana Osorio became president. Under him, Guatemala was still further penetrated by American monopolies. In 1970 direct capital investments by the USA amounted to $200 million. Popular discontent with the regime began to grow. At the end of 1970 students established the National Front for Struggle Against Violence. In the same year the National Trade Union Front, which supported the demands of the working people, was established. Persecution of democratic forces has increased. In September 1972 some leaders of the Guatemalan Labor Party were arrested, cruelly tortured, and executed.


Political parties and trade unions. The Institutional Democratic Party (El Partido Institucional Democrático), which was founded in 1964, represents the interests of the bourgeoisie, landowners, and the military and has 123,000 members (1970). It is an extreme right-wing organization. The Movement of National Liberation (El Movimiento de Liberación Nacional) was established in 1959 as a result of a split in the National Democratic Movement, which was founded in 1957. It is a reactionary, pro-American party and has 137,000 members (1970). The Revolutionary Party (El Partido Revolucionario), which was founded in 1957, represents the interests of the petite and middle national bourgeoisie, landowners, and intelligentsia. It has 97,000 members (1970). The Christian Democratic Party (El Partido Democrático Cristiano), which was founded in 1955, was officially recognized in 1968. It represents the interests of the petite and middle national bourgeoisie. The Guatemalan Labor Party (El Partido Guatemalteco del Trabajo), which was founded in 1949, was called the Communist Party of Guatemala until 1952. It has been underground since 1954. The Guatemalan Autonomous Trade Union Federation was established in 1957; it belongs to the World Federation of Trade Unions. The Trade Union Council of Guatemala, established in 1956, belongs to the World Federation of Free Trade Unions and the Pan-American Regional Organization. The Federation of Workers of Guatemala is a semigovernmental organization. The Federation of Railroad Workers and Banana Plantation Workers is an “independent organization.”


Economic geography. Guatemala is an agrarian country, specializing in the production of tropical crops for export. Foreign capital (primarily from the USA) occupies the major positions in almost every branch of its economy. In 1968 the gross national product per capita was 320 quetzals.

AGRICULTURE. Providing about one-third of the gross national product (1968), agriculture is the basis of the economy. Typical of Guatemala is the combination of large tropical crop plantations belonging mainly to the US monopoly the United Fruit Company and producing primarily for export and small, primitive, semisubsistence peasant holdings that supply products for local consumption. Large landownership prevails. Large estates (making up a total of 0.1 percent of all farms) control 41 percent of the agricultural land; small and average farms (88.4 percent of all farms) cover a total of 14.3 percent of the land. Landlords and foreign companies control about three-fourths of the cultivated land. Tractors and other agricultural machines are used on plantations, but at the same time many peasants (particularly Indians) still use the hoe and other primitive implements.

Plantation crops occupy about one-third of the sown area and provide more than half of the gross product and more than nine-tenths of the export product. The most important commodity crop is coffee (a harvest of 104,400 tons in 1968). In 1966 about 140 million coffee trees were cultivated on more than 12,000 farms. Large plantations (1,500) supply more than 80 percent of the crop. The main regions for coffee production are the Pacific slope of the upland (about 75 percent of the crop) and the central portion of the upland—Alta Verapaz Department (up to 10 percent). Cotton is the second most important crop—in 1968 it was cultivated on 94,000 hectares (ha), with a fiber yield of 74,000 tons. It is grown primarily in coastal regions. Bananas (the main plantations are on the Pacific coast) are gradually losing their former importance (an average of 185,000 tons during 1948-52; 100,000 tons in 1968). Abaca, aromatic grasses (lemon sorghum and citronella grass), tobacco, and sugarcane are also grown for export. The main consumption crops are corn (777,000 ha; 690,000 tons in 1968, grown everywhere in the highlands), dry valley rice (on the Pacific coast), beans, potatoes, and various vegetables. Livestock raising is backward. The livestock population in millions of head during 1967-68 was cattle, 1.4, horses, 0.2, sheep, 0.8, and swine, 0.6. Guatemala imports a substantial quantity of dairy products.

There is logging of valuable varieties of trees, including balsam and lignum vitae. In 1965, 7 million cu m of lumber were prepared. Chicle, which is used in the production of chewing gum, is harvested. Shrimp are caught on the Caribbean coast and exported.

INDUSTRY. About one-sixth of the gross national product of Guatemala (1968) is provided by industry. The country’s mineral resources have been poorly investigated. There is small-scale mining of zinc (900 tons in 1968, by metal content), lead (500 tons), silver, and salt (13,000 tons). The established capacity of electric power plants was 140,000 kilowatts in 1967, and the output of electric power was 570 million kilowatt-hours in 1969. Manufacturing is represented primarily by small enterprises of the domestic type. Only in the 1960’s were plants built, with the aid of capital from the USA, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), and Japan. Among them are oil refineries in Matías de Gálvez (near Puerto Barrios) and Escuintla, a galvanized sheet steel plant, and a domestic appliances plant. In 1971 International Nickel of Canada began to build a nickel ore-dressing complex. It will operate on the basis of deposits of laterites in the vicinity of Lake Izabal. A large proportion of enterprises are engaged in the processing of agricultural raw goods, such as sugar. The main industrial centers are the city of Guatemala (textiles, food-processing, leather and shoes, woodworking, and other enterprises) and Quezaltenango (textiles and food-processing). Handicraft trades are developed.

TRANSPORTATION. In 1968 there were 1,300 km of railroads. The main lines connect the capital with the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, with Mexico (and through it, the USA), and with El Salvador. There are about 13,000 km of highways (1968). The Pan-American Highway passes through Guatemala (511 km). The total number of motor vehicles at the end of 1968 was 63,700, including 39,000 automobiles. Transportation of freight by Indian bearers still plays an important role in remote areas. The importance of air transportation is growing, particularly for passenger transportation. Hauling is done on sea vessels. The main ports are Puerto Barrios and Santo Tomas on the Caribbean coast and San José and Champerico on the Pacific coast. Properly speaking, there is no merchant fleet. There is an airport in the city of Guatemala.

FOREIGN TRADE. Guatemala’s exports in 1968 totaled 222 million quetzals and its imports, 247 million quetzals. The main exports are coffee (more than one-third of the value of exports), raw cotton, and bananas. Lumber, abaca, aromatic oils, chicle, and shrimp are also exported. Imports are dominated by food products, consumer goods, motor vehicles, equipment, and fuel (petroleum and petroleum products). The USA accounts for between one-third and one-half of Guatemala’s foreign-trade turnover. The FRG is second to the USA, followed by the countries of the Central American Common Market and Japan. The monetary unit, the quetzal, is equivalent to US $1.00 (January 1971).


Armed forces. In 1968 there were about 9,000 men in the Guatemalan armed forces, which consist of land forces (about 7,800 men), an air force (about 1,000 men and 40 planes), and a navy (about 200 men and five patrol vessels). The commander of the armed forces is the president, who is also the minister of defense. The army is staffed by calling up reservists for a period of two years. For the most part, the weapons of the land forces are manufactured in the USA. They include several Sherman tanks. There is a national police with a total strength of about 3,000 men.

Health and social welfare. The birthrate in 1968 per 1,000 inhabitants was 42.5. General mortality was 13.3, and infant mortality was 93.8 per 1,000 live births. The average life span is 47.5 years. Cutaneous leishmaniasis, endemic goiter, and various mycoses have been recorded among the population of the northern regions. In the southern highland coastal region, where the bulk of the population is concentrated, infectious diseases—particularly intestinal diseases—are prevalent. In 1963 mortality from acute infections was 435.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. Infantile diarrhea accounted for 27 percent of the general mortality. Other causes of infant mortality were diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus. Mortality from measles reached 973.0 per 100,000 inhabitants. Leptospirosis is prevalent in the southwestern regions of Guatemala. Morbidity of malaria was 10.6 per 10,000 inhabitants. Onchocerciasis occurs frequently on coffee plantations on the border with Mexico. Yellow fever, Chagas’ disease, endemic goiter, syphillis, and gonorrhea are also prevalent among the population. In 1969 there were 12,600 hospital beds in Guatemala (2.5 per 1,000 inhabitants). Of these, 12,300 were state operated.

In 1969 there were 1,200 doctors working in Guatemala (one doctor for 4,200 people), 200 dentists, 205 pharmacists, 760 nurses, and 95 midwives. The medical faculty of the state university trains doctors. In 1968,47 doctors were graduated.


VETERINARY SERVICES. Infectious diseases prevail among diseases of agricultural animals. Brucellosis of cattle is widespread (7.5 percent of the world total of cases). Brucellosis also afflicts 7.5 percent of the swine population. During 1959-67, 1.6 percent of the worldwide incidence of tuberculosis of cattle was recorded in Guatemala. During this same period, 215 cases of anthrax were recorded. Rabies is infrequently recorded. Among agricultural animals, classic swine fever, black quarter, pasteurellosis, leptospirosis, rickettsial keratoconjunctivitis, vesicular stomatitis, Newcastle disease, and many other diseases have not been eliminated. Piroplasmosis, arachnoentomoses, and helminthiases of animals are prevalent everywhere. In 1967 there were 23 veterinary specialists.


Education. Universal compulsory free education for children seven to 14 years old, which was proclaimed in 1945, does not in fact exist. In 1964, 62.1 percent of the people over 15 years old were illiterate (in rural areas, 87.8 percent). There are preschool institutions for children four to six years old. Elementary schools have six-year programs in the cities and three-year programs in rural areas. Secondary schools have five-year programs, with two cycles (three and two years of instruction). In 1967 there were 20,200 children in preschool institutions. During the 1967-68 school year there were 457,100 students in elementary schools and 43,600 in secondary schools. Vocational training is given in four- and five-year vocational schools based on the six-year elementary school. Elementary school teachers are trained in teachers colleges (five years) based on the six-year elementary school, and secondary school teachers are trained at the universities. During the academic year 1967-68 there were 10,400 students in the vocational training system and 7,600 students in the teachers colleges.

The higher educational institutions are the state-operated University of San Carlos (founded in 1676) and the Rafael Landivar, Mariano Gálvez, and del Valle private universities, all of which are located in the city of Guatemala. During the academic year 1968-69 there were 11,400 students in the universities.

The National Library (founded in 1879; 75,000 volumes), National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology of Guatemala (founded in 1948), National Museum of History and the Fine Arts (founded in 1935), and other cultural institutions are located in the city of Guatemala.


Scientific institutions. The Guatemalan Academy (founded in 1930), the Academy of Medical and Natural Sciences (founded in 1945), and the Association of Engineers and Architects (founded in 1930) are among Guatemala’s scientific institutions. In addition, there are the Central American Anatomy Association (founded in 1964), the Central American Association of Natural History (founded in 1950), the Institute of Anthropology and History (founded in 1946), and the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (founded in 1949). Other scientific institutions include the National Institute for the Study of Indian Culture (founded in 1945) and an observatory (founded in 1925).

Press, radio, and television. In 1970 ten to 12 daily newspapers with a total circulation of 225,000 were published. Among the most important is El Imparcial (since 1921; circulation, 40,000), which expresses the interests of large latifundia owners and the financial bourgeoisie, which is connected with American imperialism. Prensa Libre (since 1951; circulation, 50-70,000) is the largest and most influential newspaper in the country. La Hora (since 1920; circulation 50,000) expresses the interests of the local bourgeoisie, and Diario de Centro América (since 1880; circulation, 12,000) is an extreme right-wing newspaper. Closely connected with clerical circles is Impacto (since 1959; circulation, 12,000). Verdad (since 1954) is the organ of the Guatemalan Labor Party, and Juventud (since 1958) is the organ of its youth section. (Both newspapers are published illegally.) El Guatemalteco is the daily government bulletin.

In 1970 over 70 radio stations broadcasting in Spanish were operating in Guatemala. The largest are Voz de Guatemala—a government station—and Radio Cultural, which belongs to the American cultural center and broadcasts in Spanish and English. Most radio stations are commercial, including Voz de las Americas, Radio 1210, and Radio Fabuloso. There are four television stations in the city of Guatemala: Televisión Nacional, which is a government station, and three commercial stations—Radio y Televisión Guatemala, Televicentro, and Teleonce.


Literature. In Guatemala literature has developed essentially in Spanish. The Spanish conquistadores destroyed numerous works of the ancient culture of the Mayan tribes, which had a developed literature and written language. Monuments of this culture have come down to us, including the folk epos Popul Vuh (published 1861; Russian translation, 1959) and the drama Rabinal Achí (written down in 1862). Under Spanish rule the literature of Guatemala was imitative. Only in the 18th century did the enlightening satirical works of A. Paz y Salgado (c. 1700-57) and the descriptive poem Rural Life in Mexico (1781) by R. Landivar (1731-93) appear.

Romanticism, which developed in Guatemala after independence was proclaimed in 1821, was marked by militant civic enthusiasm, which was expressed by the poet J. Batres Montúfar (1809-44), who wrote the satirical Guatemalan Legends (1843-44), the satirist J. A. de Irisarri (1786-1868), J. Diéguez Olaverri (1813-66), D. Estrada (1850-1901), the poet and dramatist J. Fermín Aysinena (1838-98), and the author of historical novels J. Milla y Vidaurre (1822-82). It was Milla y Vidaurre who initiated costumbrismo in Guatemalan literature, publishing collections of essays on the actual life of the country. One of the best works of costumbrismo was the anticlerical tale Bird’s-eye View (1879) by L. Lainfiesta (1837-1912).

The realistic novel, which developed under the influence of European critical realism and naturalism, is represented by the work of R. A. Salazar (1852-1914), E. Martínez Sobral (1875-1950), and M. Soto Hall (1871-1944), who spoke out against the imperialist policies of the USA in the novel, Shadow of the White House (1927).

In addition to the Decadents (the poet and novelist C. A. Brañas, who was born in 1900, the poet A. Velásquez, born around 1892, and the majority of the members of the literary group Tepeus, which was formed in the early 1930’s), writers who were seeking to create a nationally distinctive literature and who were turning to national themes adhered to modernism. Among these writers were F. Calderón Avila (1891-1924), the author of the collections of anti-imperialist poems The Proud Lyre (1924) and Songs of America (1926, posthumous), and R. Arévalo Martínez (born 1884), the author of sharply satirical pamphlets. With the outbreak of the Revolution of 1944-54, writers united in the group Casa de Cultura. This was joined by representatives of the Acento group, which had emerged in the early 1940’s, the Tepeus group (the poet J. H. Hernandez Cobos), and the youth association Saker-Ti. The Casa de Cultura group was led by the poet L. Gardoza y Aragon (born 1902) and the major Latin American novelist M. A. Asturias (born 1899). Among the latter’s works are the satirical novel Señor President (1946; Russian translation, 1959) and the trilogy about the life and struggle of the people of Guatemala— Strong Wind (1950). The Green Pope (1954; Russian translation, 1960), and Eyes of the Interred (1960; Russian translation, 1968).

The journal Revista de Guatemala has furthered the unification of literary forces. Among its directors are the critic-essayist and poet Gardoza y Aragon, the poet R. Leiva, who wrote the epic poem Ode to Guatemala (1953), the poet O. R. Gonzalez (born 1921), and the journalist and critic H. Alvarado. Since the triumph of the reaction in 1954, most of Guatemala’s prominent national writers have been continuing the struggle for freedom and peace in exile.


Architecture and art. The ancient culture of the Mayan Indians flourished on the territory of Guatemala during the second through ninth centuries. Remains of their culture are found at the centers Tikal, Kaminaljuyú, and Quiriguá and include temples on pyramidal or tower-shaped foundations, palaces, pyramids, stelae with relief depictions of rulers, altars, burial vaults, painted and figured ceramics, and articles made of stone, bone, and shell. The traditions of this culture are maintained today in the artistic folk crafts of the Indians (red, black, and white cloths with geometric designs, shawls and belts with designs and figures of people and animals, embroidery on women’s jackets and men’s shirts, painting on ceramic vessels, and weaving with agave and palm leaves). During the colonial period new cities (Antigua and Chichicastenango) with rectangular networks of streets and one-story adobe houses were founded. Massive structures with thick walls were decorated with stucco and carving in the baroque spirit, frequently with Moorish motifs (architects L. Diez Navarro, J. M. Ramirez, J. de Porrez, and D. de Porrez). There are outstanding statues of the saints—silver, poly-chromic ceramics, or wood carvings abundantly decorated with gold, silver, enamel, and lacquer. Painting, too, was primarily religious in nature (A. de Montúfar).

During the 19th and 20th centuries, Guatemalan cities basically preserved their former character. In the area of painting, realistic landscape art and genre painting have developed in the 20th century (pictures on themes from the life of the Indians by T. Fonseca, R. Lazo, and J. Sisay-Sisay). Styli-zation and ornamentation that has a linear rhythm characterize the works of a number of Guatemalan artists (the painter C. Mérida and the sculptor J. Urruela).


Narody Ameriki, vol. 2. Moscow, 1959. (Bibliography.)
Gonionskii, S. A. Ocherki noveishei istorii stran Latinskoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1964.
Thomas, A. B. Istoriia Latinskoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from English.)
Narod Gvatemaly i “Iunaited Frut kompani.” Moscow, 1954. (Translated from Spanish.)
Villacorta, J. A. Historia de la capitanía general de Guatemala. Guatemala, 1942.
Jones, C. L. Guatemala: Past and Present. New York, 1966.
Guatemala: Tenencia de la tierra y desarollo socio-economico del sector agrícola. Washington, D. C, 1965.
Gardoza y Aragon, L. Guatemala, las lineas de su mano. [Havana, 1968.]
Venin, V. M. Gvatemala. Moscow, 1954. Khudozhestvennaia literatura Latinskoi Ameriki v russkoi pechati, 1765-1959: Bibliografiia. [Compiled by L. A. Shur.] Moscow, 1960. Pages 114-17.
Shur, L. A. Khudozhestvennaia literatura Latinskoi Ameriki v russkoi pechati, 1960-1964. Moscow, 1966. Pages 72-74.
Velá, D. La literatura guatemalteca, vols. 1-2. Guatemala, 1943.
Mentòn, S. Historia crítica de la novela guatemalteca. Guatemala, 1960.
Teatro guatemalteco contemporáneo, Selección y prólogo de C. Solórzano. [Madrid, 1964.]
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Hoppenot, H. Guatemala. [Lausanne] 1955.
Chinchilla Aguilar, E. Historia del arte en Guatemala. … Guatemala, 1965.



a city; capital of Guatemala. Located in a valley on the Guatemalan highland at an altitude of more than 1,500 m. Population, 770,000 in 1970 (in 1940, 165,000; in 1957, 360,000). Guatemala is a junction for railroads going to the ports of San José and Champerico (on the Pacific Ocean) and Puerto Barrios (on the Caribbean Sea) and the capitals of neighboring countries—Mexico City and San Salvador. The city has an airport. There are food, textile, leather goods and footwear, furniture, and cement enterprises and railroad workshops.

Founded in 1524 under the name of Santiago, the city was later renamed Guatemala. In 1541 it was destroyed by an earthquake. After it was rebuilt in 1776, it became the administrative center of the captaincy general of Guatemala. In 1821, Guatemala’s independence from Spain was proclaimed in the city, and in 1823 the creation of the federation of the United Provinces of Central America was declared and Guatemala became the capital. The city of Guatemala suffered heavily from earthquakes in 1874 and especially in 1917-18, but it was rebuilt. In 1944 there was an armed revolt in the city, marking the beginning of the Revolution of 1944-54.

Guatemala is laid out in a rectangular grid and has chiefly one- and two-story houses. Among the large buildings are a cathedral (1782-1815), a theater (1852-59), the presidential palace (1933), and the government palace (1941).

The city of Guatemala has four universities (including the state university), the National Conservatory, the Guatemalan Academy, the National Museum of History and Fine Arts, and the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology of Guatemala.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Republic of Guatemala

Capital city: Guatemala City

Internet country code: .gt

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

National bird: Quetzal

Geographical description: Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea) between Honduras and Belize

Total area: 42,042 sq. mi. (108,890 sq. km.)

Climate: Tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands

Nationality: noun: Guatemalan (s); adjective: Guatemalan

Population: 12,728,111 (July 2007 CIA est.)

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%

Languages spoken: Spanish 60%, Amerindian languages 40% (23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)

Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan

Legal Holidays:

All Saints' DayNov 1
Army DayJun 30
Celebration of the 1944 RevolutionOct 20
Christmas DayDec 25
Christmas EveDec 24
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Holy SaturdayApr 23, 2011; Apr 7, 2012; Mar 30, 2013; Apr 19, 2014; Apr 4, 2015; Mar 26, 2016; Apr 15, 2017; Mar 31, 2018; Apr 20, 2019; Apr 11, 2020; Apr 3, 2021; Apr 16, 2022; Apr 8, 2023
Holy WednesdayApr 20, 2011; Apr 4, 2012; Mar 27, 2013; Apr 16, 2014; Apr 1, 2015; Mar 23, 2016; Apr 12, 2017; Mar 28, 2018; Apr 17, 2019; Apr 8, 2020; Mar 31, 2021; Apr 13, 2022; Apr 5, 2023
Independence DaySep 15
Labor DayMay 1
Maundy ThursdayApr 21, 2011; Apr 5, 2012; Mar 28, 2013; Apr 17, 2014; Apr 2, 2015; Mar 24, 2016; Apr 13, 2017; Mar 29, 2018; Apr 18, 2019; Apr 9, 2020; Apr 1, 2021; Apr 14, 2022; Apr 6, 2023
New Year's DayJan 1
New Year's EveDec 31
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a republic in Central America: original Maya Indians conquered by the Spanish in 1523; became the centre of Spanish administration in Central America; gained independence and was annexed to Mexico in 1821, becoming an independent republic in 1839. Official language: Spanish. Religion: Roman Catholic majority. Currency: quetzal and US dollar. Capital: Guatemala City. Pop.: 12 661 000 (2004 est.). Area: 108 889 sq. km (42 042 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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The Government of Guatemala has mobilized prosecutors and police to implement a new aggressive policy to arrest and prosecute traffickers.
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Last month, the government ordered the CICIG to leave the country but the decision was reversed by Guatemala's Constitutional Court.
"The government and people of Guatemala are in our thoughts and prayers," the foreign affairs office said.
In December 1960, the Tratado General de Integracion Economica Centroamericano (Central American Economic Integration General Agreement) was signed by El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, with Costa Rica adhering two years later.
The Mayan Ruins are one of the things to do in Guatemala that you must do.
Josh Sevick, CPR's President, stated, "Guatemala is experiencing rapid improvements to its wireless networks and this is spurring major growth in smartphone penetration.
* Encouraging respect for human rights and the rule of law, and the efficient functioning of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which was inaugurated in 2008;
Although Guatemala is highly agricultural, malnutrition is very prevalent throughout the country.