+502 is the dialing code for Guatemala.
Guatemala in Central America has magnificent scenery and a vibrant indigenous culture with ancient roots. Despite this, tourism is limited, due to the country’s violent history. The civil war of 1960-96 demanded over 200,000 lives. Most of the victims were poor Mayan Indians who fell victim to the military’s overwhelm. After the war, extensive violent crime and corruption have spread. Guatemala is a middle-income country, but resources are extremely widespread and many live in deep poverty.
- Abbreviationfinder: Brief profiles of Guatemala, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Guatemala is located in northwest Central America and is on the surface as a quarter of Sweden. The country has a short coastal section towards the Caribbean in the east and a longer coast towards the Pacific in the south.
Most of Guatemala is mountainous. Five miles inside the south coast, the Sierra Madre mountain range rises. Here is Central America’s highest mountain, the volcano Tajumulco (4,220 meters above sea level). Further north, the Los Cuchumatanes mountain range runs.
The capital of Guatemala City is located in the highlands between the two mountain systems and here the majority of the population lives. At the far south is a fertile coastal plain. To the east of the highlands, the terrain slopes down to marshlands on the Caribbean coast. The northernmost third of Guatemala consists of the inaccessible and flat El Petén limestone plateau with grasslands, swamps and rainforests.
|Cultivated land||41.2 %|
|Land area||108889 km 2|
Population and health
|Population development||1.82 ‰|
|Urban population (Urbanization)||51.6 %|
|Death rate||4.77 per 1000 residents|
|Life expectancy: Women||74.06 years|
|Life expectancy: Men||70.07 years|
|Birth rate||24.89 births per 1000 residents|
|Infant mortality||22.73 deaths / 1000 births|
Population Graph Source: Countryaah.com
|Electricity, production||9781 million kWh|
|Energy consumption per inhabitant||720.4 kg. oil per resident|
|Natural gas, production||million cubic meters|
|Crude oil, production||million tons|
|Internet users||17.1 per 100 residents|
|Mobile subscriptions||115 per 100 residents|
|Passenger cars||68 per 1000 residents|
Business and economics
|Unemployment||2.9% of the workforce|
|GDP||7700 per resident|
|Primary occupations||38 %|
|Secondary profession||14 %|
|Tertiary professions||48 %|
Previously, most of Guatemala was forestry, but forests now cover only about a third of the area. Wildlife is rich. In cloud forests in central parts of the country there is the colorful national bird quetzal, which gave its name to the country’s currency.
The region is affected by earthquakes. The former capital of Antigua Guatemala was abandoned after a devastating earthquake in the 18th century. In 1976, Guatemala City, along with much of the rest of the country, was hit by an earthquake that claimed nearly 30,000 lives.
The climate differs between different parts of the country. On the coasts and in El Petén in the north, the climate is tropical. In the highlands of central Guatemala it is slightly cooler, averaging 20 degrees. It is colder in the northern mountains where a large part of the indigenous people live. There can be minus degrees at night.
In most of the country it rains mainly between May and November, but the Caribbean coast to the east receives rainfall year-round. Occasionally, hurricanes or heavy storms cause severe flooding and landslides there.
FACTS – GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
109 000 km2 (2018)
Swedish –7 hours
Adjacent country (s)
Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras
Capital with number of residents
Guatemala City / Ciudad de Guatemala 994,000 (Sources: Allcitypopulation.com)
Other major cities
Villa Nueva 540,000, Mixco 490,000, Cobán 240,000 (official estimate 2013)
Tajumulco (4,220 m asl)
Average Precipitation / month
Guatemala City 3 mm (Jan), 274 mm (June)
Average / day
Guatemala City 17 °C (Jan), 21 °C (July)
Prison chief arrested for corruption
The head of the country’s prisons Edgar Camargo is arrested, suspected of involvement in widespread corruption and blackmail. According to prosecutors, Camargo has received bribes from a known criminal who is serving a lengthy prison sentence for the 1998 murder of Bishop Gerardi (see Modern History).
Defense chief dead in helicopter crash
Defense Chief General Rudy Ortiz and four other soldiers are killed when a helicopter crashes in the province of Huehuetenango, near the Mexico border. The cause of the crash is unknown.
Massage victims are buried again
The remains of 31 Mayan Indians who were killed in a massacre in the village of Xecax in 1982 are again buried in a ceremony, in yet another reminder of the country’s dark local history. Only eight of the victims have been identified since the remains were excavated four years ago.
Summit on refugee wave to the USA
President Pérez Molina and his colleagues from El Salvador and Honduras meet US President Barack Obama in the White House and discuss what has sailed up as a crisis in the United States, with at least 57,000 unaccompanied refugee children arriving since October 2013, mainly from the three countries. Obama says those involved have a “shared responsibility” to change the conditions that make the refugees leave. This applies to poverty, violence and difficult living conditions in the home countries, but also to some information that most refugees may not stay in the United States, even if they are minors.
Former guerrilla leader convicted of murder
Former guerrilla leader Fermín Felipe Solano is sentenced to 90 years in prison for the murder of 22 faithful peasants in 1988. This is the first time a former guerrilla leader has been convicted of a crime during the civil war. Solano was the leader of a now disbanded guerrilla group, Orpa.
Former chief of state police is sentenced to life
Former Chief of Police Erwin Sperisen is sentenced to life imprisonment in Switzerland for the murder of seven prisoners in Guatemala in 2006. The murders were committed by security forces in connection with a prison riot. Sperisen has both Swiss and Guatemalan citizenship and cannot be extradited from Switzerland, but is well-judged there. The verdict is seen as an important step in the UN-led efforts to rectify impunity.
Ex-president gets jail in US
Former President Alfonso Portillo is sentenced to five years and ten months in prison by a New York court (see May 2013), for money laundering. During the trial, Portillo acknowledged that he received $ 2.5 million in bribes from Taiwan for failing to break diplomatic relations with Taiwan during his presidency (2000-2004). Since he has been detained for a long time, Portillo only needs to sit for another 18 months. He has also been ordered to pay $ 2.5 million in fines – the same amount that he admitted to receiving bribes. A similar target is being pursued against El Salvador’s President Francisco Flores (see El Salvador: Calendar).