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General facts about Guatemala
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General Facts about Guatemala:


Official Name:
Republic of Guatemala.

Guatemalan flag: Guatemala Flag

Origin of the Name of Guatemala: The name Guatemala means land of the trees in the Maya-Toltec language.

Form of Government: republic with one legislative house.

Head of State: president.

Independence: 15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday: Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Constitution: 31 May 1985, effective 14 January 1986; note - suspended 25 May 1993 by former President SERRANO; reinstated 5 June 1993 following ouster of president; amended November 1993 Read the Guatemalan Constitution (Spanish)

Legal system: civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal (active duty members of the armed forces may not vote)

Executive branch: chief of state:  President Alfonso Antonio Portillo Cabrera (since 14 January 2000); Vice President Juan Francisco Reyes Lopez (since 14 January 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government:  President Alfonso Antonio Portillo Cabrera (since 14 January 2000); Vice President Juan Francisco Reyes Lopez (since 14 January 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

Cabinet:  Council of Ministers named by the president

Elections:  president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 7 November 1999; runoff held 26 December 1999 (next to be held NA November 2003)
election results:  Alfonso Antonio Portillo Cabrera elected president; percent of vote - Alfonso Antonio Portillo Cabrera (FRG) 68%, Oscar Berger Perdomo (PAN) 32%
Legislative branch: unicameral Congress of the Republic or Congreso de la Republica (113 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections:  last held on 7 November 1999 (next to be held in November 2003)
election results:  percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - FRG 63, PAN 37, ANN 9, DCG 2, UD/LOV 1, PLP 1
note:  for the 7 November 1999 election, the number of congressional seats was increased from 80 to 113

Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (thirteen members serve concurrent five-year terms and elect a president of the Court each year from among their number; the president of the Supreme Court of Justice also supervises trial judges around the country, who are named to five-year terms); Constitutional Court or Corte de Constitutcionalidad (five judges are elected for concurrent five-year terms by Congress, each serving one year as president of the Constitutional Court; one is elected by Congress, one elected by the Supreme Court of Justice, one appointed by the President, one elected by Superior Counsel of Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala, and one by Colegio de Abogados)

Political parties and leaders: Authentic Integral Development or DIA [Jorge Luis Ortega]; Democratic Union or UD [Jose Luis Chea Urruela]; Green Party or LOV [Jose Asturias Rudecke]; Guatemalan Christian Democracy or DCG [Vinicio Cerezo Arevalo]; Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity or URNG [Pablo Monsanto, also known as Jorge Soto]; Guatemalan Republican Front or FRG [Efrain Rios Montt]; New Nation Alliance or ANN [leader NA], which includes the URNG; National Advancement Party or PAN [Leonel Lopez Rodas]; Progressive Liberator Party or PLP [Acisclo Valladares Molina]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Agrarian Owners Group or UNAGRO; Alliance Against Impunity or AAI; Committee for Campesino Unity or CUC; Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial, and Financial Associations or CACIF; Mutual Support Group or GAM

International organization participation:
BCIE, CACM, CCC, ECLAC, FAO, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW (signatory), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO.

Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission:  Ambassador Ariel RIVERA Irias
chancery:  2220 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone:  [1] (202) 745-4952
Fax: [1] (202) 745-1908
consulate(s) general:  Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco See details

Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission:  Ambassador Prudence BUSHNELL
embassy:  7-01 Avenida Reforma, Zone 10, Guatemala City
mailing address:  APO AA 34024
telephone:  [502] 331-1541/55

Area: 108,889 square km (42,042 square miles).

Highest Point: Tajamulco Volcano, 4,220 meters/ 13,845 ft. above sea level.

Population:12,974,361 (July 2001 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years:  42.11% (male 2,789,189; female 2,674,747)
15-64 years:  54.25% (male 3,518,209; female 3,519,851)
65 years and over:  3.64% (male 220,640; female 251,725) (2001 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.6% (2001 est.)

Urban to Rural Population: 38.7% urban; 61.3% rural (1995).

Population Density: 99.2 people per square km (256.9 people per square mile).

People: Ladinos (mixed Hispanic and aboriginal origin); aboriginal (Maya); Carib (African origin).

Departments and Populations (at mid-1995):

Guatemala is divided up into 22 departments.

Alta Verapaz 670,815
Baja Verapaz

205, 481

Chimaltenango 385,856
Chiquimula

274,091

El Petén 310,008
El Progreso 117,943
El Quiché

652,022

Escuintla 610,322
Guatemala

2,246,170

Huehuetenango 816,376

Izabal

370,538
Jalapa

211,830

Jutiapa

387,177

Quezaltenango 623,571
Retalhuleu

268,996

Sacatepéquez 202,243
San Marcos 790,118
Santa Rosa 291,611
Sololá

274,356

Suchitepéquez 403,618
Totonicapán

333,634

Zacapa

174,450
Total:

10, 621,226

Principal Towns and Populations (at mid-1995):

Guatemala City 1,167,495
Quetzaltenango 103,631
Escuintla 63,532
Mazatenango 43,316
Retalhuleu 40,062
Puerto Barrios 39,379
Chiquimula 33,028

Officially Recognized Languages: Achi', Akateko, Awakateko, Chalchiteko, Ch'orti', Chuj, Itzá, Ixil, Popti', Kaqchikel, K'iche', Mam, Mopan, Poqoman, Poqomchi, Q'anjob'al, Q'eqchi', Sakapulteko, Sipakapense, Spanish, Tekiteko, Tz'utujil, Uspanteko, Garifuna and Xinka.

Capital: Guatemala City (official population estimate at mid-1996: 1,167,495).

Currency: Quetzal (Q); 1Q=100 centavos.

Religion: predominantly catholic, 1/3 of which are Catholic/traditional syncretist; other Christian; traditional Maya.

Time Zone: GMT -6 hours; -5 in summer.

Weights and Measures: metric system.

Electricity: 110 and 220 V.

Public Holidays for 2000:

January 1 (New Years Day), January 6 (Epiphany), 21-24 April (Easter), May 1 (Labor Day), June 30 (Anniversary of the Revolution), August 15 (Assumption, Guatemala City only), September 15 (Independence Day), October 12 (Columbus Day), October 20 (Revolution Day), November 1 (All Saints Day), December 24-25 (Christmas), December 31 (New Years Eve).

Visa and Entry Requirements:

Although it is important to contact a local Guatemalan consulate to check for changes in requirements before leaving for Guatemala, current requirements are as follows:

No Visa is required for citizens of Australia, Brazil, Canada, all Central American countries, the EU, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the US. At the airport citizens of these countries must present their valid passport, and will be asked by custom officials how long they intend to stay (thirty, sixty or ninety days). Although there is officially no charge to enter Guatemala, generally the officials ask for some sort of small landing fee.

Citizens of some other countries (including the Czech Republic, Poland, South Africa and most Gulf States) will need a tourist card, which is available at the point of entry (for about US$5) and valid for up to ninety days.

Citizens for other countries (most African and Asian) will need a visa bought in advance from a Guatemalan consulate at least a month before entering Guatemala. These should cost around US$10.

To extend visas to ninety days, visitors must go to the immigration department in Guatemala City (at 41 Calle and 17 Avenida in Zona 8). Allow one full day for processing the visa. Visitors closer to surrounding countries may find it easier to cross into another country and re-enter Guatemala.

Newspapers:

In English: Revue, Guatemala Post.

In Spanish: El Periódico, Siglo Veintiuno, Prensa Libre, Diario de Centroamérica, La Hora, Impacto, Imparcial, La Nación, La Tarde.

Borders:

Bordered on the east by Belize and the Gulf of Honduras, on the west and north by Mexico, on the southeast by Honduras and El Salvador, and on the south by the Pacific Ocean.

Climate:

Central Highlands & Pacific Coastal Lowlands: Have a dry season form May to October and a rainy season the rest of the year.

Central Highlands: Warm days and cool nights; at higher altitudes, the temperature can fall to zero degrees Celsius in December and January; average annual temperature of 20 degrees C (68 degrees F).

Pacific, Atlantic Coastal Regions and Petén lowlands: tropical, hot and humid; average annual temperature of 28.3 degrees C (83 degrees F); heavy rainfall all through the year.

El Oriente: hot and dry.

Annual Rainfall:

North: 1525-2540 mm (60-100 inches).

Southern Highlands: about 1320 mm (52 inches).

Pacific Lowland and Western Highland: 760-1500 mm (30-60 inches).

Eastern Highland: 510-760 mm (20-30 inches).

Land & Vegetation

Highlands: varies from tropical in lower valleys to temperate semi-deciduous forests, and at the highest elevations, mountain grasses.

Central Highlands: 1,100-2,400m (3,500-8,000 ft.) above sea level with mountain ranges diminishing in elevation from east to west.

Western Highlands: between the volcanic mountain chain of the Sierra Madre to the South and the Cuchamatantes chain of the Sierra Madre to the north; pine forests, lakes, streams, deep valleys, cool mountain air, volcanoes (3 active- Pacaya, Santiaguito, fuego); prone to earthquakes and eruptions; two major fault lines.

Southern Highlands: narrow coastal plain, rivers.

El Oriente (eastward to the Caribbean Sea): deep valley lowlands separated by eastern mountain ranges, deserts.

Cobán Region: elevated plain east of the Cuchamatanes of the Central Highlands; lakes, rainforest, nature reserves, lagoons.

Atlantic Lowlands: Caribbean coastal plain towards the Gulf of Honduras; Montagua valley, swampy flatlands with Guatemala’s largest lake (Lago Izabal), which drains into the Caribbean through the Rio Dulce, short coastline with a port; beaches.

Petén: Northern third of Guatemala that extends into the Yucatan Peninsula; limestone plateau with numerous sinkholes; ranges from grazing land to tropical rainforest of hardwood trees.

Pacific Lowlands: southern side of the highlands beneath the mountain chain; largely farmland, forest-lined streams, grassy, beaches.

Volcanoes: 19

Mountain Ranges: Cuchumatanes range stretches east from Chixoy or Negro River, where it divides into two groups, the Cuchmatanes and Verapaz mountains; Sierra Madre mountains stretch from east to west and divide the Pacific slope from the midlands. Minor ranges include the Chamá, Santa Cruz, Chuacús, Las Minas, Montañas del Mico.

Widest Points: East/West: 430 km (270 miles); North/South: 450 km (280 miles)

Principal Rivers: Motagua, Usumcinta, Dulce, Polochic, Sarstún.

Principal Lakes: Izabal (800 square km/38 square miles), Petén Itzá (98 square km/ 38 square miles), Atitlán (126 square km/ 49 miles), Amatitlán (16 square km/6 square miles).

Geographic coordinates: 15 30 N, 90 15 W

Coastline: 400 km

Maritime claims:

continental shelf:  200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

exclusive economic zone:  200 NM

territorial sea:  12 NM

Economy and Economic Indicators (1996):

Gross domestic product (million queztales at 1990 prices) 43,569
GDP per heat (quetzales at 1990 prices) 3, 986.9
Annual growth of real GDP (%) 3.0
Annual growth of real GDP per head (%) 0.1
Government budget (million queztales at current prices)
Revenue 8,605.1
Expenditure 8,378.5
Consumer price index (annual average; base: 1990=100) 218.7
Rate of inflation (annual average, %) 11.1
Foreign exchange reserves (US$ million at Dec 31) 855.1
Imports c.i.f. (US $ million) 3146.1
Exports f.o.b. (US $ million) 2030.8
Balance of payments -451.5
Gross National product (purchasing power parity of GNP per head, USA = 100, 1995): 12.4
Economically active population (official estimate, 1995): 1.4 %
Total public debt (external, outstanding , 1996): US $2,766,000,000

Tourism (1995): receipts US$ 277,000,000; expenditures US $174,000,000

Production (metric tones except as noted): Agriculture, forestry, fishing (1996): sugarcane, 14,380,000, corn (maize) 1,135,896, bananas 676,692, coffee, 207,000, tomatoes, 129,168, oil palm fruit 126,000, livestock (number of live animals) 2,291,440 cattle, 950,408 pigs, 21,000,000 chickens; roundwood (1995) 14,123,400 cu m; fish catch (1995) 11,927. Mining and quarrying (1994); gypsum (1993) 60,000; iron ore 3,498; antimony ore 494. Manufacturing (value added in Q’000,000; 1995): food and beverage products 273; clothing and textiles 111; machinery and metal products 51. Construction (value of building authorized in Q’000,000; 1991): residential 170.2; nonresidential 127.5. Energy production (consumption: electricity (kw/h; 1994) 3,161,000,000; crude petroleum (barrel; 1994) 2,632,000; petroleum products (metric tons; 1994) 750 (1,805,000).

Life Expectancy: 65 (females, 68; males 63)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 1.38% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 73,000 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths: 3,600 (1999 est.)

School Enrollment Ratio (7-8 years, 1995): 57%

Adult Illiteracy Rate (15 years and older, 1995): male: 23.8%, female 38.9%

Traditional Exports: coffee, bananas, sugar,

Economic Activity Rate (Adults, GDP $US, 1998): Male 83, female, 24

Population with Access to Safe Water (1995): urban: 97%, rural: 48%

Population with Adequate Access to Proper Sanitation (1995): urban: 91%, rural: 50%

Infant Mortality Rate: 46 births out of 1000

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 665,061 (June 2000)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 663,296 (September 2000)

Telephone system: general assessment:  fairly modern network centered in the city of Guatemala

International:  connected to Central American Microwave System; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 130, FM 487, shortwave 15 (2000)

Radios: 835,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 26 (plus 27 repeaters) (1997)

Televisions: 1.323 million (1997)

Internet country code: .gt

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 5 (2000)

Internet users: 65,000 (2000)

 
 
 
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