Latinamerica Collection
Basic Facts

• Capital City: Guatemala City (Metro Area Population: 2.5 million)

• Location and Borders: Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea) between Honduras and Belize

• Administrative Divisions: 22 departments (departamentos, singular: departamento); Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Chimaltenango, Chiquimula, El Progreso, Escuintla, Guatemala, Huehuetenango, Izabal, Jalapa, Jutiapa, Peten, Quetzaltenango, Quiche, Retalhuleu, Sacatepequez, San Marcos, Santa Rosa, Solola, Suchitepequez, Totonicapan, Zacapa

• Area: Total: 108,890 sq km
Land: 108,430 sq km
Water: 460 sq km

• Climate: tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands

• Population: 12,728,000

• Population Growth Rate: 2.2%

• Industries: sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism

• Languages: Spanish 60%, Amerindian languages 40% (23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)

• Government System: constitutional democratic republic

Regions of Guatemala

The country of Guatemala is home to a great deal of important biodiversity. It is said to rank in the top five of biodiversity hotspots around the world. Guatemala maintains some thirty protected areas including national parks and biological reserves. One example, Tikal National Park, one of the country's main tourist attractions, is home to the archaeological Mayan ruins as well as thousands of hectares of pure forest. Because of its sheer size, it is one of the best spots to view the flora and fauna of Guatemala.

Guatemala's wildlife is contained in nearly 20 different ecosystems throughout the country. This wildlife fauna includes some 250 species of mammals, 200 species of reptiles and amphibious creatures, and many different species of butterflies and other insects. Additionally, these ecosystems are home to some 600 bird species including the national Quetzal, which can be seen all over the country. Also included in this list are parrots, toucans, hummingbirds, oriols, and motmots to name only a few.

Much like the region's diverse fauna, Guatemala has many species of impressive flora as well. In fact, the nearly 20 ecosystems in Guatemala house some 8,000 plant species residing in the many mangrove forests, dry forests, tropical rainforests, wetlands, cloud forests, and pine forests. Of Guatemala's complete area, over 36% is said to be forested. Of that over 36%, just under 50% is classified as primary forest. Primary forest means that the growth is extremely old and has never been clear cut. Forest growth after a clear-cut or burning is known as secondary growth and generally less diverse in this area. This is because a primary forest has experienced less severe disturbance allowing for a more rich mix of plants and animals dependant on this age old habitat. Guatemala's national flower, the monja blanca, is one of 600 species of orchids existing in the country's vast forests.