It has been said that a country that goes through hard times, will often rebound and become stronger as time passes by. Guatemala is one of those countries. It may not be situated in an area of peace and wealth. It may not have the best medicine. It may not have enough of an army to defend its patriots. All in all, Guatemala has survived through the many hardships and warring and has come out as the stronger of the nations. Guatemala may not be the best of the best, but it has survived through it all.
Guatemala is a small and cramped country. Situated in Central America, has an area of 108,889 square kilometers. It has a maximum length of 457 kilometers and a maximum width of 428 kilometers. "It is bounded on the Southeast by Honduras and El Salvador, on the South by the Pacific Ocean, and on the West and North by Mexico. It has a total boundary length of 1,931 kilometers."
Guatemala has held claim to certain parts of Belize. In 1821, just after achieving independence, Guatemala "considered itself the rightful inheritor of this former Spanish possession and continued to regard Belize as an administrative adjunct of Guatemala." The UK, Belize, and the UN General Assembly have rejected Guatemala's claim. (WorldMark 153)
About two-thirds of the land area is mountainous, some of which are volcanic. (Encarta 1) There are two main mountain ranges in Guatemala: The Altos Cuchumatane and the Sierra Madre. The Altos Cuchumatane range is situated in the northern half. It is much older than the Sierra Madre range and is greatly eroded as a result. The latter range is situated in the south. It is much younger and has over thirty-three volcanoes. Only a few of these are active. (World Geography 446)
As the volcanoes exploded over the years, the volcanic ash has made the soil very fertile. (WorldMark 157) As a result, agriculture is a main form of export. Coffee, sugar, bananas,
cotton, hemp, essential oils, and cacao are the main cash crops. (World Geography 446) Coffee is the main crop, with four hundred ninety-three million dollars exported in 1986. The other crops fell sorely behind, with bananas at seventy-six million, sugar at sixty million, cotton at thirty-five million, and all other exports at only 452 million.
Guatemala trades mainly with the US, importing 366 million dollars worth of Guatemalan product. Other high trading countries include El Salvador at 120 million, France at seventy-five million, Japan at thirty-three million, Nicaragua at fifteen million, and all other countries at 451 million. (WorldMark 157 - 158)
Guatemala has a very characteristic climate. "The climate of Guatemala varies considerably according to altitude." Between the altitudes of 915m and 2440m above sea level, the days are warm and the nights are cool. This is where most of the population is concentrated. The average annual temperature is about twenty degrees Celsius (sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit). The weather in the lower regions has a tropical character, with an average temperature of twenty-eight point three degrees Celsius (eighty-three degrees Fahrenheit).
"The rainy season is from May to October with a corresponding dry season from November to April." Annual rainfall in the north ranges between 1525 and 2540 mm (sixty and one hundred inches). In Guatemala City, in the southern highlands, the average is about 1320mm (fifty-two inches) annually. (Encarta 1) Guatemala has been nicknamed "The Land of the Eternal Spring" because of its consistently temperate climate. (WorldMark 153)
Guatemala has an abundance of plant life. Most plants that are commonly found in a tropical zone are usually found in the lowlands of Guatemala. In addition to the great number of plant life, especially flowers, there are also medicinal, industrial, and fibrous types abundant.
Guatemala has many different types of animals. The country's main types of animals are armadillo, bear, coyote, dear, fox, jaguar, monkey, puma, tapir, and manatee. (WorldMark 153) "There is also an abundance of bird life, with the Quetzal as the national bird." (Encarta 2) Last, but not least, there are over one hundred species of reptiles, including bushmaster, fer-de-lance, water moccasin, and iguana. (WorldMark 153)
Guatemala has an unstable government. "Constitutionally, the Guatemalan government is considered democratic and representative, and the new constitution that took effect on January 14th, 1986 reaffirms that definition." Ever since