The World Factbook (1990)/Guatemala

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World Factbook (1990) Guatemala.jpg

 See regional map III


Total area: 108,890 km²; land area: 108,430 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than Tennessee

Land boundaries: 1,687 km total; Belize 266 km, El Salvador 203 km, Honduras 256 km, Mexico 962 km

Coastline: 400 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: not specific
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: claims Belize, but boundary negotiations are under way

Climate: tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands

Terrain: mostly mountains with narrow coastal plains and rolling limestone plateau (Petén)

Natural resources: crude oil, nickel, rare woods, fish, chicle

Land use: 12% arable land; 4% permanent crops; 12% meadows and pastures; 40% forest and woodland; 32% other; includes 1% irrigated

Environment: numerous volcanoes in mountains, with frequent violent earthquakes; Caribbean coast subject to hurricanes and other tropical storms; deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution

Note: no natural harbors on west coast


Population: 9,097,636 (July 1990), growth rate 2.6% (1990)

Birth rate: 37 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 9 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -3 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 61 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 60 years male, 65 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 5.1 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Guatemalan(s); adjective—Guatemalan

Ethnic divisions: 56% Ladino (mestizo—mixed Indian and European ancestry), 44% Indian

Religion: predominantly Roman Catholic; also Protestant, traditional Mayan

Language: Spanish, but over 40% of the population speaks an Indian language as a primary tongue (18 Indian dialects, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi)

Literacy: 50%

Labor force: 2,500,000; 57.0% agriculture, 14.0% manufacturing, 13.0% services, 7.0% commerce, 4.0% construction, 3.0% transport, 0.8% utilities, 0.4% mining (1985)

Organized labor: 8% of labor force (1988 est.)


Long-form name: Republic of Guatemala

Type: republic

Capital: Guatemala

Administrative divisions: 22 departments (departamentos, singular—departamento); Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Chimaltenango, Chiquimula, El Progreso, Escuintla, Guatemala, Huehuetenango, Izabal, Jalapa, Jutiapa, Petén, Quezaltenango, Quiché, Retalhuleu, Sacatepéquez, San Marcos, Santa Rosa, Sololá, Suchitepéquez, Totonicapán, Zacapa

Independence: 15 September 1821 (from Spain)

Constitution: 31 May 1985, effective 14 January 1986

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

National holiday: Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Executive branch: president, vice president, Council of Ministers (cabinet)

Legislative branch: unicameral National Congress (Congreso Nacional)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice (Corte Suprema de Justicia)

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President Mario Vinicio CEREZO Arévalo (since 14 January 1986); Vice President Roberto CARPIO Nicolle (since 14 January 1986)

Political parties and leaders: Christian Democratic Party (DCG), Marco Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo; National Centrist Union (UCN), Jorge Carpio Nicolle; National Liberation Movement (MLN), Mario Sandoval Alarcón; Social Action Movement (MAS), Jorge Serrano Elfas; Revolutionary Party (PR) in coalition with National Renewal Party (PNR), Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre; Social Democratic Party (PSD), Mario Solarzano Martínez; National Authentic Center (CAN), Mario David García; United Anti-Communist Party (PUA), Leonel Sisniega; Emerging Movement for Harmony (MEC), Louis Gordillo; Democratic Party of National Cooperation (PDCN), Adan Fletes; Democratic Institutional Party (PID), Oscar Rivas; Nationalist United Front (FUN), Gabriel Giron

Suffrage: universal at age 18, compulsory for literates, voluntary for illiterates

Elections: President—last held on 3 December 1985 (next to be held 3 November 1990); results—Mario Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo (DCG) 38.7%, Jorge Carpio Nicolle (UCN) 20.2%, Jorge Serrano Elías (PDCN/PR) 14.8%;

National Congress—last held on 3 November 1985 (next to be held 3 November 1990); results—DCG 38.7%, UCN 20.2%, PDCN/PR 13.8%, MLN/PID 12.6%, CAN 6.3%, PSD 3.4%, PNR 3.2%, PUA/FUN/MEC 1.9%; seats—(100 total) DCG 51, UCN 22, MLN 12, PDCN/PR 11, PSD 2, PNR 1, CAN 1

Communists: Guatemalan Labor Party (PGT); main radical left guerrilla groups—Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP), Revolutionary Organization of the People in Arms (ORPA), Rebel Armed Forces (FAR), and PGT dissidents

Other political or pressure groups: Federated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACIF), Mutual Support Group (GAM), Unity for Popular and Labor Action (UASP), Agrarian Owners Group (UNAGRO), Committee for Campesino Unity (CUC)


Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Rodolfo ROHRMOSER V; Chancery at 2220 R Street NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 745-4952 through 4954; there are Guatemalan Consulates General in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco; US—Ambassador Thomas F. STROOCK; Embassy at 7-01 Avenida de la Reforma, Zone 10, Guatemala City (mailing address is APO Miami 34024); telephone [502](2) 31-15-41

Flag: three equal vertical bands of light blue (hoist side), white, and light blue with the coat of arms centered in the white band; the coat of arms includes a green and red quetzal (the national bird) and a scroll bearing the inscription LIBERTAD 15 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 1821 (the original date of independence from Spain) all superimposed on a pair of crossed rifles and a pair of crossed swords and framed by a wreath


Overview: The economy is based on agriculture, which accounts for 25% of GDP, employs about 60% of the labor force, and supplies two-thirds of exports. Industry accounts for about 20% of GDP and 15% of the labor force. The economy has reentered a slow-growth phase, but is hampered by political uncertainty. In 1988 the economy grew by 3.7%, the third consecutive year of mild growth. Government economic reforms introduced since 1986 have stabilized exchange rates and have helped to stem inflationary pressures. The inflation rate has dropped from 36.9% in 1986 to 15% in 1989.

GDP: $10.8 billion, per capita $1,185; real growth rate 1.3% (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 15% (1989)

Unemployment rate: 13%, with 30-40% underemployment (1988 est.)

Budget: revenues $771 million; expenditures $957 million, including capital expenditures of $188 million (1988)

Exports: $1.02 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—coffee 38%, bananas 7%, sugar 7%, cardamom 4%; partners—US 29%, El Salvador, FRG, Costa Rica, Italy

Imports: $1.5 billion (c.i.f., 1988); commodities—fuel and petroleum products, machinery, grain, fertilizers, motor vehicles; partners—US 38%, Mexico, FRG, Japan, El Salvador

External debt: $3.0 billion (December 1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 3.5% (1988 est.)

Electricity: 807,000 kW capacity; 2,540 million kWh produced, 280 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism

Agriculture: accounts for 25% of GDP; most important sector of economy and contributes two-thirds to export earnings; principal crops—sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; livestock—cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens; food importer

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of opium poppy and cannabis for the international drug trade; the government has engaged in aerial eradication of opium poppy; transit country for cocaine shipments

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $869 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $7.7 billion

Currency: quetzal (plural—quetzales); 1 quetzal (Q) = 100 centavos

Exchange rates: free market quetzales (Q) per US$1—3.3913 (January 1990), 2.8261 (1989), 2.6196 (1988), 2.500 (1987), 1.875 (1986), 1.000 (1985); note—black-market rate 2.800 (May 1989)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 870 km 0.914-meter gauge, single track; 780 km government owned, 90 km privately owned

Highways: 26,429 km total; 2,868 km paved, 11,421 km gravel, and 12,140 unimproved

Inland waterways: 260 km navigable year round; additional 730 km navigable during high-water season

Pipelines: crude oil, 275 km

Ports: Puerto Barrios, Puerto Quetzal, Santo Tomas de Castilla

Merchant marine: 1 cargo ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,129 GRT/6,450 DWT

Civil air: 10 major transport aircraft

Airports: 451 total, 391 usable; 11 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 3 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 19 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: fairly modern network centered in Guatemala [city]; 97,670 telephones; stations—91 AM, no FM, 25 TV, 15 shortwave; connection into Central American Microwave System; 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force

Military manpower: males 15-49, 2,028,875; 1,327,374 fit for military service; 107,251 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: 1% of GDP, or $115 million (1990 est.)