Guatemala is mostly mountainous except for the lowlands in the north.
The country has many rivers running through it.
Natural resources in the country are petroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, wildlife, hydropower .
The highest geographical point is the Tajumulco volcano at 4,220 m
Topographical map of Guatemala
Guatemala’s weather varies because of the mountains and low lands. The climate ranges from tropical to temperate.
Guatemala’s location between the Caribbean and the Pacific make it targets of hurricanes. This in turn causes landslides and flooding and has devastated the country.
Guatemala is also prone to earthquakes and volcano eruptions.
Guatemala has a population of 12,728,111
42% of the population is Mestizo, 18% of White (European) background, and 39% are indigenous (Mostly Mayan).
There are smaller communities of African-Americans, Koreans, and Jews.
Tz'utujil men (Part of 21 Mayan ethnic groups).
During the Guatemalan Civil War many Guatemalans left the country. Between 400,000 to a million went to the US while several thousand went to neighboring Mexico and neighboring Central American countries.
Spanish is the official language of Guatemala it is not universally spoken as there are over 21 Mayan languages spoken in rural areas.
Guatemala has produced many indigenous artists.
There are many contemporary music groups in Guatemala from Caribbean music, salsa, punta, Latin pop, Mexican regional, and mariachi. There is also a vibrant scene for what is known in the Hispanic world as rock en Español, Spanish rock.
The Iglesia de Santo Tomás, a church built around 1545.
Religion: In Guatemala, 50-60% of the population is Roman Catholic, 40% is Protestant, and 1% follow a variety of Mayan religious faiths.
There are very small communities of Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists, as well as a growing amount of Mormons.
Catedral Metropolitana in Guatemala City.
Pre-Columbian: First evidence of human settlers in Guatemala date back to 18,000 BCE. They were hunter gatherers. The Maya ruled the region during the classic era up to 900 CE when the civilization collapsed.
Colonial: The Spanish Empire led expeditions into Guatemala in the 16 th century. Guatemala was held by the Spanish until its independence on September 15, 1821. During the late 19 th century and early 20 th , Guatemala was ruled by dictator Manuel Estrada Cabrera and during this time the United Fruit Company was able to grow in power there.
Tikal Maya ruins.
20 th Century: In 1954 Jacobo Arbenz was elected as president. Many of his policies were inspired by the New Deal were seen as communist by the very small elite class.
The United Fruit Company held a lot of land in Guatemala and wasn’t happy when Arbenz wanted to forcibly buy back their land to distribute it among the peasants. This led to American intervention in the form of a CIA orchestrated coup. The force trained to overthrow failed to do its job but after sending planed over the capital, Arbenz knew worse would come from America in the form of direct intervention (bombing, troops, etc.) The Arbenz government promptly left the country and Carlos Armas was put as leader. From this point forward, Guatemala would have right wing dictators leading the country and punishing leftist movements. All of this would escalate in the 70s, 80, and 90s when leftist guerilla movements grew and a long period of Civil War ensued as these groups fought with the right wing governments.
Under Eisenhower, the CIA helped topple the Guzman led government.