General information about Guatemala
The official name is the Republic of Guatemala (Republica de Guatemala).
Located in Central America. The area is 108.89 thousand km2, the population is 11.2 million people. (2002). The official language is Spanish. The capital is Guatemala (2 million people). The monetary unit is the quetzal. National holiday – Independence Day on September 15.
Member of the UN (since 1945) and its specialized organizations, OAS, IMF, ILO, CAOR (since 1960), etc.
Geography of Guatemala
Guatemala is located between 88°07′ and 92°05’W and 13°6′ and 17°8’N. It is washed by the Pacific Ocean in the southwest and the Caribbean Sea in the east. Guatemala has a good natural harbor – Amatiche in the Gulf of Honduras on the Caribbean coast. The more extended and low-lying Pacific coast is bordered by lagoons and does not have good harbors. The largest lowland of Guatemala goes to the Pacific Ocean. In the north and northwest, Guatemala borders with Mexico, in the east with Belize, in the southeast with Honduras and El Salvador. Guatemala is a mountainous country, more than 1/2 of its territory is occupied by highlands with a height of 1000-3000 m. The northern part of the highlands consists of fold-block ridges and plateaus broken by deep tectonic depressions occupied by river valleys and lakes. From the southwest, the highlands are framed by a young volcanic chain of mountains with cones of volcanoes, among them are the highest point of Central America – Tahumulco (4217 m) and Tacana (4117 m) (both are extinct volcanoes), active volcanoes – Fuego, Santa Maria, Atitlan, etc. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are frequent. In the north, part of the highlands passes into the Peten limestone plateau (height 150-250 m), which occupies 1/3 of the country’s area. Guatemala has industrial deposits of oil and nickel (laterite) ores, small and poorly explored deposits of polymetallic ores, manganese, chromium, gold, and antimony. The country is rich in marble. There are deposits of other non-metallic minerals. occupying 1/3 of the area of the country. Guatemala has industrial deposits of oil and nickel (laterite) ores, small and poorly explored deposits of polymetallic ores, manganese, chromium, gold, and antimony. The country is rich in marble. There are deposits of other non-metallic minerals. occupying 1/3 of the area of the country. Guatemala has industrial deposits of oil and nickel (laterite) ores, small and poorly explored deposits of polymetallic ores, manganese, chromium, gold, and antimony. The country is rich in marble. There are deposits of other non-metallic minerals.
According to BRIDGAT, the climate of Guatemala is subequatorial, trade wind-monsoon. Average monthly temperatures in the highlands + 15-20°C, in the coastal lowlands + 23-27°C. In winter, the northeast trade wind dominates, in summer the southwest equatorial monsoon. In the northeast, precipitation is winter, in the southwest – summer. The annual amount of precipitation on the northeastern slope of the highlands is 2500-3500 mm, on the southwestern slope – 2000-2500 mm, on the Pacific coastal lowland, internal plateaus and valleys of the highlands, as well as the Peten plateau – 500-1000 mm. Hurricanes are not uncommon (including the devastating Mitch in 1998).
Guatemala is relatively rich in rivers and lakes. The watershed between the rivers flowing into the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea runs along the highlands closer to the Pacific coast. Therefore, the rivers flowing into the Pacific Ocean are short and non-navigable, but can be used for irrigation and energy purposes. Much longer and economically more important are the rivers flowing from the highlands into the Caribbean Sea. The longest of them – Motagua (400 km) – is accessible to small vessels and is used for irrigation. The Usumacinta River originates in the highlands, in the middle reaches it is the border between Guatemala and Mexico, where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Within Guatemala, this river is navigable for small craft on the frontier. Among the lakes stand out Lake Isabel, connected by the navigable river Rio Dulce with the bay of Amatiche, lakes Atitlán, Guija, Atescatempa and Peten Itza; some of the lakes are located in the craters of extinct volcanoes.
The mountainous relief determines the diversity of soils and vegetation: 1/2 of the country’s territory is covered with forests, incl. secondary. In the north, mainly in Peten, on red-yellow lateritic soils, constantly humid tropical forests (“hyla”) with a small number of especially valuable tree species (mahogany – red, logwood, balsa, backout, rubber-sapodilla) prevail. South of Peten, on the mountain laterites of the highlands, oak-pine forests predominate. On the brown-red soils of the Pacific Lowland and the northwestern and southern outskirts of the country, there are light forests and savannas, and in the valley of the middle reaches of the Motagua River in the highlands, there are even drier savannas and succulent semi-deserts. In the mountains there are zones of alpine vegetation. The Pacific and Caribbean coasts are partly covered by mangroves. The fauna of Guatemala is rich.
Population of Guatemala
The population census was conducted in December 2002. Birth rate 34.1%, infant mortality 44.55 people. per 1000 newborns. Age structure of the population: 0-14 years old – 41.8%, 15-64 years old – 54.5%, 65 years and older – 3.7%. 63.7% of the adult population is literate.
55% of the population are Spanish-Indian mestizos, 43% are various Indian peoples (the largest are Quiche, Kakchikel, Mam, Kekchi), who speak 24 languages. The stratum of Creoles and whites is less than 2%. Religion – Catholicism, Protestantism and traditional beliefs of the Indians.