Guatemala: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government of the country Guatemala.

GUATEMALA

NITTY GRITTY

Location-Northernmost country in Central America. Mexico is on the north and west. Belize, the Caribbean, and El Salvador to the east. The Pacific Ocean is to the south.

How Created-The area was conquered in 1524 by Pedro de Alvarado operating out of Mexico. In colonial times, the whole of Central America was administered through the Captaincy-General of Guatemala, located in Antigua. When Central America declared its independence from Spain in 1821, Guatemala was the only Central American province to become a part of Mexico. With the collapse of the Mexican Empire in 1823, Guatemala joined its neighbors in forming the United Provinces of Central America. Because of bickering and rivalries both within and between countries, this too collapsed, and in 1838 Guatemala became an independent nation.

Size-42,042 sq. mi. (108,889 sq. km.).

Population-5,900,000: Mayan Indian, 54%; Ladino (mestizos and acculturated Indians), 42%; Spanish and German, 4%. Over 90% Roman Catholic.

Who Rules-In theory a republic with a President and unicameral legislature, Guatemala's history since independence has been a series of dictators, coups, and political repression. The current President, Gen. Kjell Laugerud Garcia, came to the office through a fraudulent election, in which his moderate leftist opponent actually outpolled him 2-1.

Who REALLY Rules-The U.S.-trained military is at present the dominant force in Guatemalan politics.

Guatemala's military has the support and backing of the country's small elite, who actually control most of the wealth and power. Only 2.2% of the population own 70% of the arable land, mostly in the form of huge plantations of coffee and bananas, and vast cattle ranches.

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