The essential of Guatemala

Geography  :

Capital : Guatemala.

Area : 108 930 km² (It is 1/5th of the metropolitan France)

Borders : With Mexico (1.684 km) and Belize (266 km) to the North, Honduras (256 km) and El Salvador (203 km) to the South.

Coasts : 250 km with the Pacific Ocean to the West and 150 km with the Caribbean Sea to the East.

Highest Point : Tajumulco volcano (4 220 m)

Time difference : -6h GMT. France is 8 hours ahead of Guatemala. There are winter summer hours in Guatemala, so this gap is constant.

Currency : 1 euro = 8,55 quetzales (2020)

Cities : Guatemala City is the main city in the country, with 1 million inhabitants. Its urban area includes in particular Mixco, Villa Nueva and exceeds 4 million inhabitants. The other main cities of the country are Quetzaltenango (150,000), San Juan Sacatepéquez (140,000).

Population :

Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America.

17.1 million inhabitants (2018)
Density: 155 inhabitants / km2
Life expectancy: 72.5 years

Natality : 2,90 children
Rural population: 50%
Literacy : 80%

Ethnic composition : 60% “mestizo” (Indian-European), 38% Indian of Mayan origin, 2% Garifuna. K’iche (9%) and Cakchiquel (8%) are particularly distinguished in the Mayan indigenous populations.

Languages : Spanish is the only official language in the country (60%), but it is not spoken by all ethnic groups. There are 20 languages of Mayan origin, especially spoken on the plateau and in rural areas. The most common are K’iche ’, Cakchiquel, and Q’eqchi, which bring together nearly 3 million speakers. Two languages complete this multicultural panorama: Garifuna of African-American origin spoken on the Caribbean coast, and Xinca of non-Mayan Native American origin spoken in the southeast of the country.

Politics  :

Regime : democratic. The president is elected for 4 years, he is both the head of state and government. Alejandro Giammattei was elected president in January 2020.

National holiday : September 15. It is celebrated the proclamation of independence of Central America.

National emblem : in the foreground is the quetzal bird, symbol of freedom, and a scroll representing the independence of Central America from Spain. In the background, two rifles remind the defense of the country, and two crossed swords symbolize honor. The whole is framed by a laurel wreath representing victory.

Religion : Guatemala has no official religion. The population is 50% Catholic, 40% Protestant, 10% “other”. We have noticed for 50 years a strong progression of Protestantism in the process of becoming the majority, especially in rural areas. There is also the largest Orthodox community in Latin America made up of 300,000 people. Popular Christianity remains strongly imbued with ancestral indigenous cults.

Economy :

With a GDP of nearly $ 70 billion, Guatemala is the largest economy in Central America. The country has experienced solid growth for ten years (approx. + 4% per year).

The agricultural sector is the most important economic activity, accounting for almost a quarter of GDP and 75% of national exports. Guatemala produces notably coffee, bananas, sugar, corn. It is also the world’s leading exporter of nutmeg. Tourism is also a fundamental source of currency and has great development potential.