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Guatemala – Country Profile and General Information

Guatemala, officially the Republic of Guatemala, is a sovereign country located in Central America in its extreme north-west, in the English-speaking countries and others place it in North America. Its Latin American culture has a wide autochthonous culture product of the Mayan culture and the Castilian culture during the Spanish vice-royal era; It is the most populous country in Central America, with 16,301,286 inhabitants.

Despite its relatively small territorial extension, Guatemala has a great climatic variety, product of its mountainous relief that ranges from sea level to 4,220 meters above that level.

This encourages the country to have such varied ecosystems, ranging from the mangroves of the Pacific wetlands to the high mountain cloud forests. It limits to the west and north with Mexico, to the east only an adjacency line with Belize, the Gulf of Honduras and the Republic of Honduras, to the southeast with El Salvador, and to the south with the Pacific Ocean.

The country has an area of 108,889 km². Its capital is Guatemala City, officially called “New Guatemala de la Asunción.” The official language is Spanish, although there are twenty-two Mayan languages, the Xinca and Garífuna languages, these two languages are considered in ‘danger of extinction’, these also spoken by the Afro-descendant population in the Caribbean department of Izabal.

The territory where Guatemala is currently located is part of Mesoamerica and in it, along with neighboring countries, the Mayan and Olmec cultures were developed. After the conquest of America, Guatemala became part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain as the Captaincy General. After its independence from Spain in 1821, the year in which it was established as the Kingdom of Guatemala, what is now Guatemala became part of the First Mexican Empire as well as the Federal Republic of Central America; not being until the year 1847 when the current republic was established and when the country began to open up with neighboring countries and establishing diplomatic relations with some world powers.

After the triumph of a liberal reform in 1871, a series of dictatorial and undemocratic regimes were established until 1944, the year in which the Guatemalan Revolution of 1944 happened. This revolution lasted until 1954, the year in which a liberation movement National regained power in the country and precipitated the country into a civil war, also called “the internal armed conflict in Guatemala,” which began in 1960 to 1996 during the government of Álvaro Arzu.

Already in the 21st century, Guatemala had a relatively stable economic policy that currently positions it as the ninth largest economy in Latin America. However, levels of poverty and income inequality remain high, even higher than when the peace accords were signed in 1996.