* Information from USAID.gov/Guatemala and WORLD FACT BOOK (cia.gov)


The Maya civilization flourished in Guatemala and surrounding regions during the first millennium A.D. After almost three centuries as a Spanish colony, Guatemala won its independence in 1821.

During the second half of the 20th century, it experienced a variety of military and civilian governments, as well as a 36-year internal armed conflict. In 1996, the government signed a peace agreement formally ending the internal conflict, which had left more than 200,000 people dead and had created, by some estimates, about 1 million refugees.

Guatemala continues to recover from the civil war which lasted over 36 years. The United States government heavily influenced the course of the civil war in order to protect U.S. interests in Guatemala. This negative involvement damaged trust toward the U.S. and between Guatemalans. The military governments in power during the civil war left little room for disagreement or differences of opinion creating a culture of silence and
mistrust which continues today.

Guatemala is a predominantly poor country that struggles in several areas of health and development, including infant, child, and maternal mortality, malnutrition, and literacy. The country's large indigenous population is disproportionately affected. Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America and has the highest fertility rate in Latin America. It also has the highest population growth rate in Latin America, which is likely to
continue because of its large reproductive-age population and high birth rate. Almost half of Guatemala's population is under age 19, making it the youngest population in Latin America. Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America with a GDP per capita roughly half the average for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The agricultural sector accounts for 13.6% of GDP and 31% of
the labor force; key agricultural exports include sugar, co
ffee, bananas, and vegetables.The distribution of income remains highly unequal with the richest 20% of the population accounting for more than 51% of Guatemala's overall consumption. More than half of the population is below the national poverty line, and 23% of the population lives in extreme poverty. Poverty among indigenous groups, which make up more than 40% of the population, averages 79%, with 39.8% of the indigenous population living in extreme poverty. Nearly one-half of Guatemala's children under age five are chronically malnourished, one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world.

Population: 17 million
52% Urban
48% Rural
Language: Spanish (official) 60%,
Amerindian languages 40%
Land Size / Comparison: 107,160 sq. km, The size of Tennessee
Economy: Population below the poverty line: 59.3%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
 Lowest 10%: 1.3%
 Highest 10%: 42.4%
Education: Primary School Enrollment: nearly 100% for both boys and girls
Complete 6th grade: 75% (80% of boys, 73% of girls)
Enrollment in 7th-9thgrade- less than 40%