Country Focus Data: Guatemala
November 01, 1996
by Mindy Dake
The northernmost country in Central America, the capital of Guatemala is Guatemala City.
Demography: Population 10.99 million (July 1995 estimate), 2.5% growth rate, 38% urban; Spanish, Indian dialect languages; Roman Catholic, Protestant, traditional Mayan religions.
Geography: Tropical. Hot, humid in lowlands, cooler in highlands.
Government: Republic. Chief of state and head of government is President Alvaro Arzu, elected in January 1996; next presidential election in 2000.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture.
Economy: Government involvement is limited. The economy's foundation is family and corporate agriculture, which accounts for 25% of gross domestic product and employs 60% of the labor force. Agricultural exports contribute two-thirds of export earnings.
G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$3,080; growth rate 4% (both 1994 estimates).
Currency: Quetzal. Sept. 30, 1996 exchange rate: 6.06 quetzals per U.S. dollar.
Exports: U.S.$1.38 billion (f.o.b. 1994), coffee, sugar, bananas, textiles and apparel; primary partners, U.S. (30%), El Salvador, Honduras.
Imports: U.S.$2.6 billion (c.i.f. 1994), grain, fuel, machinery, fertilizers; primary partners, U.S. (44%), Mexico, Venezuela, Japan, Germany.
Major agricultural crops/products: Maize, wheat, tropical commodities.
Wheat: Guatemala is the only Central American country that produces wheat, albeit in relatively small amounts. Annual production in 1991-94 averaged about 25,000 tonnes, with use averaging 284,600 tonnes. Imports in the same period averaged 266,000 tonnes. Wheat production has declined in recent years as producers have switched to more profitable commodities.
Coarse grains: White maize is the staple food product for most Guatemalans, consumed primarily as tortillas, with yellow maize used by the livestock industries. Total annual production in 1991-95 averaged 1.27 million tonnes, but only 2% was yellow maize. Use in the same period averaged 1.44 million, with only 25% consumed as feed. Imports fill the production-use gap.
Transportation: Railroads, 1,019 km, all single-track 0.914-m gauge; 26,429 km of highways, with 2,868 km paved; major ports are Puerto Quetzal and Puerto Barrios.