Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. It is a relatively small country in terms of both area (108,889 km2) and population (14 million). Guatemala was once populated by the Mayan civilization and was conquered by Spain in the 1500′s. Guatemala achieved independence from Spain in 1821 when it joined the Mexican Empire and not long after this it became an independent country.
Interesting facts about Guatemala
The capital city of Guatemala is Guatemala City, which is located in the central-south of the country. This city is also the largest in the country with a metropolitan population of about 4.1 million. The city is at an elevation of 1,500 m (4,900 ft), which makes it the 12th highest capital city in the world.
Guatemala was long ruled by dictators and suffered through a lengthy civil war from 1960-1996. It is estimated that over 200,000 people were killed in the fighting. Since the end of the war the country has hosted democratic elections and has seen considerable economic growth.
Guatemala has long claimed the bordering country of Belize as part of its territory. Guatemala didn’t recognize Belize as an independent country until 1991, but a resolution between the countries has still not been achieved.
The country is home to one of the largest indigenous populations in the Americas. Approximately 40.5% of the population are indigenous and many of these are from one of the Mayan ethnic groups. Many people in these groups speak one or more Mayan languages. Despite this fact, the official language of the country is Spanish.
Guatemala is located in the tropics, but because it is a mountainous country the climate can be quite varied. The sea level cities have a warm humid tropical climate and the elevated cities have a much more mild climate. The highest point in the country is Volcán Tajumulco, at 4,220 m (13,845 ft).
The country is in a hurricane region and can experience severe tropical hurricanes. In 2005 Hurricane Stan killed more than 1,500 people. The country is also susceptible to earthquakes. A 7.5 magnitude quake in 1976 killed more than 25,000 people. The country also has 4 active volcanoes and 2 of them erupted in 2010.
The most prominent religion in Guatemala is Christian, although a small percentage of people follow traditional Mayan beliefs.
Schooling is free in the country, but the cost of school supplies can prevent children from the poorest families from attending. Guatemala has the lowest literacy rate in Central America and about 74.5% of people over 15 are literate.
Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in the acountry. The national team had competed at the Olympic Games 3 times, but has never qualified for the World Cup.