Guatemala State Overview

Guatemala State Overview


The physical geography of Guatemala is largely mountainous. As a country located in Central America according to Lawschoolsinusa, Guatemala has soft beaches on its coastline of the Pacific Ocean and low plains in the north of the country. It is crossed in its central part by the Cordillera de los Cuchumatanes and part of the Sierra Madre del Sur. [4]

Its ecological diversity positions it as one of the most attractive tourist areas in the region. Its topography makes it have a variety of landscapes and different climates, therefore it has a great wealth of flora and fauna. [4]

Approximately two thirds of the territory of Guatemala is made up of mountains, many of them of volcanic origin. The highlands comprise two parallel mountain ranges, the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes and the Sierra Madre system, a continuation of the Mexican mountain range of the same name, which crosses Guatemala from west to east and divides the country into two plateaus of unequal extension. [4]

There is a great diversity of climates in Guatemala. The climate in the central plateau is quite temperate, with an average of 15 ° C throughout the year. The climate of the coastal regions is of more tropical characteristics; the Atlantic coast is wetter than the Pacific, with an annual average temperature whose average or 28.3 ° C. The rainy season occurs between May and November. The annual precipitations of the north zone oscillate between the 1525 mm and the 2540 mm; Guatemala City, in the southern mountains, receives about 1,320 mm of annual average. [4]


The highest summit in the country is the Tajumulco volcano (4220 meters above sea level); Also noteworthy are the Tacaná (4092 masl) between the Guatemala-Mexico border, the Santa María (3772 masl), the Agua Volcano (3766 masl), the Fire Volcano (3763 masl), the Atitlán volcano (3 537 masl), located next to the beautiful lake of the same name, and the Pacaya volcano (2,552 masl) located next to Lake Amatitlán, very close to Guatemala City. [4]

In Guatemala, a surprising number of 324 eruptive foci have been identified. Most of these are small lava and cineritic cones in the southeastern part of the country.

  • Department of Jutiapa: 181 eruptive foci
  • Santa Rosa Department: 42;
  • Jalapa Department: 31;
  • Chiquimula Department: 27;
  • Guatemala Department: 13;
  • Quezaltenango Department: 11;
  • Solola Department: 7;
  • Escuintla Department: 4;
  • San Marcos Department: 2
  • Totonicapán Department: 2;
  • Chimaltenango Department: 1
  • Sacatepéquez Department: 1
  • Department of El Progreso: 1
  • Zacapa Department: 1.

Of these, 11 volcanoes are classified as “active” in the “Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World”, and three of these: Santiaguito, Fuego and Pacaya have registered eruptions in the last ten years.


One of the climatic events with the greatest impact in Guatemala is the El Niño phenomenon, with important implications for the climate, which has been reflected in the variation of rainfall patterns. Under severe events, there has been a significant decrease in accumulated rainfall at the beginning of the rainy season, with less water availability, fires, etc.

The phenomenon has been associated with a higher incidence of cold fronts, an increase in the number of hurricanes in the Pacific while they decrease in the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, as has been observed in recent years.

These atmospheric conditions cause significant floods in river basins, mainly those corresponding to the Pacific slope, which are aggravated by the high vulnerability of many populated areas established in high-risk areas, such as river banks and slopes prone to landslides. .

In relation to the conditions brought about by climate change, it is considered that the impacts will be very strong in all aspects of national life, unless there are substantial improvements in socioeconomic conditions. Guatemala is a highly vulnerable country. The social conditions of the country (high rate of poverty, inequality and social exclusion) make a large part of the population suffer easily in situations of political, economic and natural tension, including climatic phenomena.

Political-administrative organization


  • Alta Verapaz
  • Baja Verapaz
  • Chimaltenango
  • Chiquimula
  • Petén (Guatemala)
  • El Progreso (Guatemala)
  • Quiche
  • Escuintla
  • Guatemala
  • Huehuetenango
  • Izabal
  • Jalapa
  • Jutiapa
  • Quetzaltenango
  • Retalhuleu
  • Sacatepequez
  • San Marcos (Guatemala)
  • Santa Rosa (Guatemala)
  • Only the
  • Suchitepequez
  • Totonicapan
  • Zacapa

Economic development

Guatemala is a developing country. Its economy is the tenth in Latin America. The most important sector in the Guatemalan economy is agriculture, with Guatemala being the largest exporter of cardamom in the world, the fifth largest exporter of sugar and the seventh producer of coffee. The tourism sector is the second generator of foreign exchange for the country. Industry is an important branch of the Guatemalan economy and the service sector that year after year gains greater importance, thus turning the typical Guatemalan economy based on agriculture into an economy based on the provision of services.

An important contribution to the Guatemalan economy is made up of remittances from Guatemalans who emigrated to different developed countries, especially in the United States, where an estimated 1.2 million reside, of which more than 60% are undocumented. [5]

Social development


The current cultures of Guatemala bring together numerous influences from the Mayan, Spanish and Afro-Caribbean, and to a lesser extent Mexican and American, as well as from the rest of Europe. The influences of the indigenous and Spanish settlers can still be seen throughout Guatemala. The “typical” fabrics and some traditional clothing are made in a traditional Mayan way, however, transculturation has had its influence on clothing, mainly in the young indigenous population. You can also find important archaeological sites with Mayan ruins and some others still undiscovered.

In literature, Miguel Ángel Asturias stands out, who won the Lenin Peace Prize in 1966 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1967. Among his most famous books is El Señor Presidente, a novel based on the government of Manuel Estrada Cabrera. He also wrote The Children of Corn and Legends of Guatemala.


The Spanish language is the official language, although it is used as a second language by some ethnic groups in the interior of the republic. [6] There are 21 varieties of the Mayan language, which are used in rural areas and an original language other than the Mayan language family, the Xinca language, spoken in the southeast of the country; also an Afro-American language, Garífuna, used on the Atlantic coast.

Law 19-2003, known as the “Law of National Languages”, in accordance with article 143 of the Political Constitution of the Republic, recognizes the twenty-three Guatemalan vernacular languages as “national languages” with which the use of languages in public activities and in the provision of education, health, police and judicial administration services, among others, in any of the 24 languages used in the country (including Spanish, of course).

Established in 1990 by Decree No. 65-90, the Academia de Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala (ALMG) is responsible for regulating the use, writing and promotion of Mayan languages that have population representation in Guatemala, as well as promoting the Guatemalan Mayan culture. The Academy of Mayan Languages of Guatemala offers consultations to the Guatemalan Government on the linguistic aspect of public services.

The December 1996 Peace Accords incorporated the translation of official documents and voting materials into various indigenous languages and demanded the provision of interpreters in legal cases for non-Spanish speakers. The agreement also called for bilingual education in Spanish and indigenous languages. It is common for indigenous Guatemalans to learn to speak between two and five of the other national languages, including Spanish.

Guatemala State Overview