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Country Profile: Guatemala (Republic of Guatemala)

1. Geography
Area: 108,889 sq.km.; a land of mountains, volcanoes and lakes. Mexico’s southern neighbour.
Population: 11,385,295 in 2000; 14,631,050 in 2010; 19,816,134 in 2025
Capital: Guatemala City (1,,925,000)

2. Peoples
Spanish-speaking Latinos: 43%
Amerindian: 54%
Afro-Caribbean: 2%
Literacy: 56%
Official language: Spanish

3. Economy
Agriculture provides 25% of the country’s GDP, but two-thirds of its export – mainly coffee, sugar and bananas. Just 2% of the population owns 80% of the land, marginalizing and oppressing the largely Maya majority. Nearly 80% of the population live below the poverty line. Since the 1996 peace accord, economic growth and living standards have improved. 1998’s Hurricane ‘Mitch’ was a severe setback.
Exports: coffee, sugar, bananas, fruits and vegetables, cardamom, meat, apparel, petroleum, electricity
Imports: fuels, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity
Industries: sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism
Currency: quetzal, US dollar, others allowed
GDP per capita: 4,100

4. Politics
Independent from Spain in 1821, and from the Federation of Central American States in 1838, but controlled by a few plantation owners through a series of dictatorships and military governments. The poor, particularly the Mayan, suffered years of indignity and deprivation which exploded in 1960 into 36 years of guerrilla war with around 200,000 deaths, mainly at the hands of the US-armed military. The human-rights record during those years was appalling with over 40,000 ‘disappearances’, widespread torture and displacement of one million internal and 250,000 international refugees. The 1996 peace agreement has ended
warfare but has not fully implemented by the authorities. There remains a culture of violence in the country and cynicism about the government. The 2000 elections were won by those who supported the former repressive regimes.

5. Religions
Christian: 11,102,940 adherents (97.52% of population)
Non-religious/other: 216,321 adherents (1.90% of population)
Traditional ethnic: 34,156 adherents (0.30% of population)
Baha’i: 22,771 adherents (0.20% of population)
Buddhist: 6,831 adherents (0.06% of population)
Chinese: 2,277 adherents (0.02% of population)
Churches: Catholic (3,783,784 members)
Ch of God of the Full Gosp (160,000 members)
Assemblies of God (98,570 members)
Prince of Peace Ev. Ass (108,000 members)
Calvary Chr. Ministries (100,000 members)
Latter-day Saints (morm) (100,000 members)
Elim Christian Mission (70,000 members)
Seventh-day Adventist (84,601 members)
Evang Ch of Cent Amer (105,000 members)
Christian Brethren (43,000 members)
Ch of the Nazarene (47,000 members)
Lluvias de Gracia (30,757 members)
Baptist Convention (30,000 members)
Jehovah’s Witnesses (20,323 members)
Nat’l Evang Presby (12,000 members)
Chr & Miss Alliance (6,5114 members)
Other denominations (632,000 members)

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