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Guatemala

This article is about the country in Central America. For other uses, see Guatemala (disambiguation).

Republic of Guatemala
República de Guatemala
Flag of Guatemala Coat of arms of Guatemala
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: 
  • "Libre Crezca Fecundo"[1]
  • "El País de la Eterna Primavera"
  • "The Land of the Eternal Spring"[2]
Anthem: Himno Nacional de Guatemala
National anthem of Guatemala
File:National Anthem of Guatemala by US Navy Band.ogg
Capital
and largest city
Guatemala City
14°38′N 90°30′W / 14.633°N 90.500°W / 14.633; -90.500{{#coordinates:14|38|N|90|30|W|type:city||

| |name=

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Official languages Spanish
Ethnic groups (2010)
Demonym Guatemalan
Government Unitary presidential republic
 -  President Otto Pérez Molina
 -  Vice President Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre
Legislature Congress of the Republic
Independence from the Spanish Empire
 -  Declared 15 September 1821 
 -  Declared from the
First Mexican Empire
1 July 1823 
 -  Current constitution 31 May 1985 
Area
 -  Total 108,889 km2 (107th)
42,042 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 0.4
Population
 -  2014 estimate 15,806,675[3] (66th)
 -  Density 129/km2 (85th)
348.6/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $78.681 billion[4]
 -  Per capita $5,208[4]
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $49.880 billion[4]
 -  Per capita $3,302[4]
Gini (2007)55.1
high
HDI (2013)11px 0.628[5]
medium · 125th
Currency Quetzal (GTQ)
Time zone CST (UTC−6)
Drives on the right
Calling code +502
ISO 3166 code GT
Internet TLD .gt

Guatemala (Listeni/ˌɡwɑːtɨˈmɑːləˌ ɡwæ-/ GWAH-tə-MAH-lə or GWAT-ə-MAH-lə; Spanish: [gwateˈmala]), officially the Republic of Guatemala (Spanish: República de Guatemala), is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, Honduras to the east and El Salvador to the southeast. With an estimated population of around 15.8 million, it is the most populous state in Central America. A representative democracy, Guatemala's capital and largest city is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City.

The region of modern day Guatemala was for centuries part of the Mayan civilization that extended across Mesoamerica. Most of the country was conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century, becoming part of the colony of New Spain (present-day Mexico). Guatemala attained its independence in 1821 as part of the Federal Republic of Central America, which dissolved in 1841.

From the mid to late 19th century, Guatemala endured the chronic instability and civil strife that was endemic to the region. Beginning in the early 20th century, it was ruled by a series of dictators backed by the United Fruit Company and the United States government. In 1944, one such authoritarian leader, Jorge Ubico, was overthrown by a pro-democratic military coup, initiating the ten-year Guatemalan Revolution that led to sweeping social and economic reforms. The revolution was ended by a U.S.-engineered military coup in 1954.

From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala underwent a bloody civil war fought between the U.S.-backed government and leftist rebels, which included massacres of the Mayan population perpetrated by the former in the Ixil Triangle.[6][7] Since the end of the war, Guatemala has witnessed both economic growth and successful democratic elections, though it continues to struggle with high rates of poverty, crime, drug trade, and instability. In the most recent election, held in 2011, Otto Pérez Molina of the Patriotic Party won the presidency.

Guatemala's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems, which includes a large number of endemic species, contributes to Mesoamerica's designation as a biodiversity hotspot.[8] The country is also known for its rich culture, characterized by a fusion of Spanish and Indigenous influences.

Etymology

The name "Guatemala" comes from Nahuatl Cuauhtēmallān, "place of many trees", a translation of K'iche' Mayan K'iche' , "many trees".[9][10] This was the name the Tlaxcaltecan soldiers who accompanied Pedro de Alvarado during the Spanish Conquest gave to this territory.[11]

History

Main article: History of Guatemala

Pre-Columbian

The first evidence of human settlers in Guatemala dates back to 12,000 BC. Some evidence suggests human presence as early as 18,000 BC, such as obsidian arrowheads found in various parts of the country.[12] There is archaeological proof that early Guatemalan settlers were hunters and gatherers, but pollen samples from Petén and the Pacific coast indicate that maize cultivation was developed by 3500 BC.[13] Sites dating back to 6500 BC have been found in Quiché in the Highlands and Sipacate, Escuintla on the central Pacific coast.

Archaeologists divided the pre-Columbian history of Mesoamerica into the Preclassic period (2999 BC to 250 BC), the Classic period (250 to 900 AD), and the Postclassic from 900 to 1500 AD.[14] Until recently the Preclassic was regarded as a formative period, with small villages of farmers who lived in huts, and few permanent buildings. However, this notion has been challenged by recent discoveries of monumental architecture from that period, such as an altar in La Blanca, San Marcos, from 1000 BC; ceremonial sites at Miraflores and El Naranjo from 801 BC; the earliest monumental masks; and the Mirador Basin cities of Nakbé, Xulnal, El Tintal, Wakná and El Mirador.

Both the El Tigre and Monos pyramids encompass a volume greater than 250,000 cubic meters,[15] and the city lay at the center of a populous and well-integrated region.

The Classic period of Mesoamerican civilization corresponds to the height of the Maya civilization, and is represented by countless sites throughout Guatemala, although the largest concentration is in Petén. This period is characterized by heavy city-building, the development of independent city-states, and contact with other Mesoamerican cultures.

This lasted until around 900 AD, when the Classic Maya civilization collapsed.[16] The Maya abandoned many of the cities of the central lowlands or were killed off by a drought-induced famine.[17] Scientists debate the cause of the Classic Maya Collapse, but gaining currency is the Drought Theory discovered by physical scientists studying lakebeds, ancient pollen, and other tang