Guatemala, officially the Republic of Guatemala, is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, Honduras to the east and El Salvador to the southeast. It spans an area of 108,890 km2 (42,043 sqmi) and has an estimated population of 15,806,675, making it the most populous state in Central America. A representative democracy, its capital and largest city is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City.
The region known today as Guatemala was for centuries part of the Mayan civilization that extended across Mesoamerica. Most of the country was conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century, becoming part of the colony of New Spain (present-day Mexico). Guatemala attained its independence in 1821 as part of the Federal Republic of Central America, which dissolved in 1841.
From the mid to late 19th century, Guatemala endured the chronic instability and civil strife that was endemic to the region. Early in the 20th century, it was ruled by a series of dictators, who had the support of the United Fruit Company and the United States government. In 1944, one such authoritarian leader, Jorge Ubico, was overthrown by a pro-democratic military coup, initiating the ten-year Guatemalan Revolution that led to sweeping social and economic reforms. The revolution was ended by a U.S.-engineered military coup in 1954.
From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala underwent a bloody civil war fought between the U.S.-backed government and leftist rebels, which included Mayan population massacres perpetrated by the former in the Ixil Triangle in an effort to get them out of the oil rich region of northern Quiché. Since the end of the war, Guatemala has witnessed both economic growth and successful democratic elections. It continues to struggle with high rates of poverty, crime, drug trade and instability. In the most recent election, held in 2011, Otto Pérez Molina of the Patriotic Party won the presidency.
Guatemala's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems, and large number of endemic species, contributes to Mesoamerica's designation as a biodiversity hotspot. The country is also known for its rich culture, characterized by a fusion of Spanish and Indigenous influences.
How places in Guatemala are organized
All places in Guatemala
Further information on historical place organization in Guatemala