Best Bitcoin Card for Guatemala
The Republic of Guatemala (República de Guatemala) is a state in Central America between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Guatemala has four neighboring countries: northwest and north Mexico, northeast Belize and southeast Honduras and El Salvador. The country borders the Caribbean Sea in the northeast with a coastline of about 100 km and the Pacific Ocean in the southwest with a coastline of about 300 km.
Large parts of Guatemala are covered by two parts of the Cordillera mountain system, which extends over the entire length of the South American continent. One part (Altos Cuchumatanes) is located in the northwest of Central Guatemala and reaches altitudes of up to 3,800 metres. The second train of the Cordilleras is located in the south of the country and is a foothills of the Mexican Sierra Madre. This part consists of plateaus and chain mountains (here begins the series of Central American volcanoes that extend parallel to the Pacific coast to Panama). Most of these volcanoes are considered extinct, and there is evidence that Fuego (3,835 m) and Santa María (3,772 m) are active.
Among the volcanoes is also the highest elevation of the country, the southwest lying Tajumulco with 4 211 m. It is also the highest mountain in Central America. About one third of the total area of the country is covered by a lowland plain (150 to 500 m) in the north, called Petén, which belongs to the Yucatán peninsula. This is the largest contiguous rainforest area in Central America.
The largest lake of the country is located in the northeast and is called Lago de Izabal. Its surface measures 590 km². Further big lakes are in the southwest the Lago de Atitlán (127.7 km²) and in the north the Lago Petén Itzá (100 km²). The longest river in the country is the Motagua River, which in eastern Guatemala flows from the Central Highlands to the Caribbean Sea and is the main transport route for bananas and coffee from the east. Other rivers are the Polochic River north of Motagua and the Usamacinta River, which is fed by two rivers from the Sierra de Santa Cruz and Sierra Madre in Guatemala and forms the border with Mexico.
According to the 1986 constitution, Guatemala is a presidential republic with a multiparty system. The head of state is the president (Otto Pérez Molina since January 2012). He is directly elected by the people for a term of four years and is also head of government (no re-election possible). His powers include the appointment of ministers and the supreme command of the army.
The legislative power lies with the Congress. Its 158 members are also elected by the people for four years. The country is divided into 22 Departamentos.
Since the mid-1990s, economic reforms have been underway aimed at liberalizing the country’s economy. Nevertheless, according to official estimates, more than half of the population lives below the poverty line, especially in the north of the country. There is a high rate of unemployment and underemployment.
The Guatemalan economy’s focus on the agricultural sector is problematic. Here, a third of the population generates about one tenth of the gross domestic product (GDP), mainly through the cultivation of sugar cane, bananas, coffee, tobacco and cotton and through the production of rubber. There is also cattle, sheep, pig and poultry farming. The usual form of organisation is plantations owned by large landowners; most farmers are only farm workers. Cardamom is also cultivated in the country, a ginger plant whose seeds are used as a spice for meat and sausage products, liqueurs and bakery products. There are also plantations of sapotill trees, which supply milk juice that is thickened and used to make chewing gum. For their own needs, mostly smallholder farms mainly grow maize, beans and rice.
About one third of the country is covered by forest, but there is no economic use of the valuable hardwoods, as the regions are not sufficiently developed from the point of view of transport. Likewise, only some of the abundant raw material deposits – especially ores and crude oil, but also lead, zinc, chromium and copper – are exploited. Industry (20% of GDP) is mainly located in the capital. It is limited to sugar processing, textile production and the processing of crude oil and metal. Tourism has been an important source of foreign currency since the political situation calmed down in the mid-1990s. Here the emphasis lies in the inspection of the former Mayakultstätten.
Two thirds of the energy is obtained from hydroelectric power stations, about a quarter from the combustion of fossil energy. Over a third of imports come from the USA, followed by Mexico and the People’s Republic of China. The country’s most important ports are Puerto Quetzal near San José and the fishing port of Champerico on the Pacific.
On the Caribbean coast Santo Tomás de Castilla near Puerto Barrios is the most important seaport. Guatemala has three international airports. Currency is the Quetzal (= 100 Centavos).