Guatemala was the administrative center of Central America during the days of Spanish colonial rule. As such, it has enjoyed a privileged status in terms of economic and political activity for much of Central America's independence. Despite its vast beauty, the archeological treasures left by the Mayas, and the 1996 peace accords that ended 36 years of civil war, serious challenges await the most populous country in Central America. In terms of various economic indicators, such as infant mortality, illiteracy, malnutrition, and income distribution, Guatemala is near the bottom of not only Latin America but Central America as well. Better treatment of the indigenous population, great freedom for the press, and the healing of wounds left behind by a prolonged civil war must be the top priorities of any administration that is to govern Guatemala.
||12,293,545 (July 2006 est.)
||108,430 sq km
||slightly smaller than Tennessee
||Spanish 60%, Amerindian languages 40% (23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)