Guatemala - Encyclopedia Information
Official name Republic of Guatemala
Formation 1838 / 1838
Capital Guatemala City
Population 14.4 million / 344 people per sq mile (133 people per sq km)
Total area 42,042 sq. miles (108,890 sq. km)
Languages Quiché, Mam, Cakchiquel, Kekchí, Spanish*
Religions Roman Catholic 65%, Protestant 33%, Other and nonreligious 2%
Ethnic mix Amerindian 60%, Mestizo 30%, Other 10%
Government Presidential system
Currency Quetzal = 100 centavos
Literacy rate 74%
Calorie consumption 2171 kilocalories
Guatemala has Mexico to its west and north, El Salvador to its south-east and Belize to its east.
English privateers like Drake and Cavendish prowled the Pacific coast of Guatemala in the late sixteenth century. Both Drake and Cavendish, for instance, passed through here and attacked Huatulco, across the border in Mexico.
The attractive Castillo de San Felipe was built in 1652 by the Spanish to protect Lake Izabal from the attentions of pirates, many of whom happened to be English. And the Guatemalan town of El Estor allegedly gets its name from English pirates sailing up the Rio Dulce to get stores.
In more recent times, the border between Guatemala and British Honduras, now Belize, has at times been a tense one due to Guatemalan claims to the territory, and British troops have regularly had to respond to crises in the area. In February 1948, there were fears of a Guatemalan invasion and a company from the Gloucestershire Regiment was rushed to the border. In 1958, the Hampshires intercepted a group from the Belize Liberation Army that had crossed the border. In 1975 the Guatemalans moved troops to the border and we responded again.