Citizens Development Corps
 

 

Guatemala

Guatemala is the Mayan heartland of Central America, with the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Mostly mountains with narrow coastal plains, the country is generally tropical, but the highlands tend to be cooler. The population is approximately 55% Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish), 43% Amerindian, and 2% whites and other. Most are Roman Catholic, Protestant, or hold indigenous Mayan beliefs.

Guatemala gained independence from Spanish colonial rule in 1821 and has had a variety of military and civilian governments. The country spent most of the 20th century embroiled in a 36-year guerrilla war. A peace agreement was signed in 1996; however, moves to bring those responsible for atrocities to justice have only just begun.

The Guatemalan economy struggled during years of war; however the 1996 peace agreement has cleared a major obstacle to foreign investment. The agricultural sector accounts for about one-fourth of GDP, two-thirds of exports, and half of the labor force. Coffee, sugar, and bananas are the primary cash products in addition to petroleum, metals and tourism. Major trading partners include other Central American countries, Germany, Japan and the U.S. Ongoing challenges include increasing government revenues, negotiating further assistance from international donors, and increasing the efficiency and openness of both government and private financial operations.

CDC’s program in Guatemala is focused on community development around a future mining site to ensure the local community benefits as much as possible from the incoming capital investment.


Country Links & Resources
Guatemalan Embassy in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala
World Factbook
USAID Guatemala Page

 


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