Country Guatemala


Nation in N Central America, with a short coast on the Caribbean Sea on the E and a longer coast on the Pacific Ocean, with Mexico to the N, Belize to the E, Honduras to the SE, and El Salvador to the S. Most of the population, a little more than half Indian and the rest mestizo or mixed, lives in the highland region, which runs from E to W. There are tropical areas along the coasts. The economy is largely agricultural. Before Europeans arrived, Guatemala was a main center of the Maya Empire, especially the Peten region in the northern part of the country. A Spanish conquistador, Pedro de Alvarado, was sent here in 1523 to seek a passage to the Pacific, and in 1524 he defeated the Quiche Indians, southern Mayans.

In 1527 Santiago de los Cabelleros de Guatemala, better known as Ciudad Vieja, was founded as the capital of what became the captaincy general of Guatemala, which also included the present countries of El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. In 1541 Ciudad Vieja was destroyed by a volcanic flood, and a new capital was established nearby in 1542 at Antiqua. Antigua became one of the richest cities in the New World, but in 1773 it was destroyed by earthquakes, and in 1776 Guatemala City was founded as the new capital, which it has remained. When the region achieved independence from Spain in 1821, Guatemala became part of the Mexican Empire, but this lasted only until 1823. In 1825, along with the same land s that had once been the captaincy general, Guatemala became part of the Central American Federation, which lasted until 1838, when the various countries separated. Government from c. 1840 to 1909 was marked by the propensity of Guatemalan presidents to interfere in the affairs of neighbors and to attempt to reestablish the Central American Federation. After President Jose Santos Zelaya of Nicaragua made another attempt, a conference in Washington, D.C., in 1907 resulted in the establishment of the Central American Court of Justice to deal with such disputes.

For the most part, 20th-century governments have been dictatorial, although some have brought a measure of material progress and , at times, reforms to the country. Under President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, starting in 1951, Guatemala turned toward the left, and large foreign-owned estates were expropriated. Arbenz Guzman’s regime was overthrown in 1954 with the United States’s assistance. The 1960s were marked by greater violence from both the left and the right, the U.S. ambassador being assassinated in August 1968. In February 1976 a devastating earthquake killed or wounded up to 100,000 people. Under President Fernand o Romeo Lucas Garcia, who took office in 1978, violence has increased, and the government has used repressive methods against leftists and moderates, according to one estimate, murdering as many as 5,000 opponents. In 1982 General Efrain Rios Montt took power in a coup, but was deposed in 1983 by another general, oscar Mejia Victores. Under a new constitution in 1985, Marco Vinicio Cerezo Arevalo was elected president, but the military continued to hold power while fighting the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union (URNG) leftist guerrillas in the countryside. In 1990 Jorge Serrano Elias was elected president, but was forced to resign by the military in 1993. Ramiro de Leon Carpio, the attorney general for human rights, was elected by the congress to succeed Serrano and won passage of anticorruption reforms.

In the 1996 elections, Alvaro Arzu Irigoyen, a former mayor of Guatemala City and foreign minister, won the presidency. He conducted a purge of top military officers and signed a UN-supervised peace accord with the URNG guerrillas. In 1999, Alfonso Portillo Cabrera, a conservative lawyer associated with former dictator Rios Montt, was elected president. In 2002 Guatemala and Belize reached an agreement on a longstand ing border dispute. In 2003 oscar Berger Perdomo won the presidency, while Montt came in third despite violence and intimidation by some of his supporters. In 2004 former president Portillo was accused of corruption and fled to Mexico. Guatemala continues to reduce its military as the peace process in the country continues.

Guatemala Images


Guatemala: Top Cities

Guatemala City 994,938 Departamento de Guatemala -90.51 x 14.64 America/Guatemala
Mixco 473,080 Departamento de Guatemala -90.61 x 14.63 America/Guatemala
Villa Nueva 406,830 Departamento de Guatemala -90.59 x 14.53 America/Guatemala
Petapa 141,455 Departamento de Guatemala -90.55 x 14.50 America/Guatemala
San Juan Sacatepequez 136,886 Departamento de Guatemala -90.64 x 14.72 America/Guatemala
Quetzaltenango 132,230 Departamento de Quetzaltenango -91.52 x 14.83 America/Guatemala
Villa Canales 122,194 Departamento de Guatemala -90.53 x 14.48 America/Guatemala
Escuintla 103,165 Departamento de Escuintla -90.79 x 14.31 America/Guatemala
Chinautla 97,172 Departamento de Guatemala -90.50 x 14.71 America/Guatemala
Chimaltenango 82,370 Departamento de Chimaltenango -90.82 x 14.67 America/Guatemala
Chichicastenango 79,759 Departamento del Quiche -91.12 x 14.93 America/Guatemala
Huehuetenango 79,426 Departamento de Huehuetenango -91.47 x 15.32 America/Guatemala
Amatitlan 71,836 Departamento de Guatemala -90.62 x 14.49 America/Guatemala
Totonicapan 69,734 Departamento de Totonicapan -91.37 x 14.92 America/Guatemala
Santa Catarina Pinula 67,994 Departamento de Guatemala -90.50 x 14.57 America/Guatemala
Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa 62,097 Departamento de Escuintla -91.02 x 14.33 America/Guatemala
Puerto Barrios 56,605 Departamento de Izabal -88.60 x 15.72 America/Guatemala
San Francisco El Alto 54,493 Departamento de Totonicapan -91.45 x 14.95 America/Guatemala
Coban 53,375 Departamento de Alta Verapaz -90.37 x 15.48 America/Guatemala
San Jose Pinula 47,247 Departamento de Guatemala -90.41 x 14.55 America/Guatemala
San Pedro Ayampuc 46,803 Departamento de Guatemala -90.45 x 14.79 America/Guatemala
Jalapa 45,834 Departamento de Jalapa -89.98 x 14.63 America/Guatemala
Coatepeque 45,654 Departamento de Quetzaltenango -91.87 x 14.70 America/Guatemala
Solola 45,373 Departamento de Solola -91.18 x 14.77 America/Guatemala
Mazatenango 44,132 Departamento de Suchitepequez -91.50 x 14.53 America/Guatemala
Chiquimula 41,521 Departamento de Chiquimula -89.55 x 14.80 America/Guatemala
San Pedro Sacatepequez 40,021 Departamento de San Marcos -91.77 x 14.97 America/Guatemala
Antigua Guatemala 39,368 Departamento de Sacatepequez -90.73 x 14.56 America/Guatemala
Retalhuleu 36,656 Departamento de Retalhuleu -91.68 x 14.53 America/Guatemala
Zacapa 36,088 Departamento de Zacapa -89.53 x 14.97 America/Guatemala