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Economy and Demographics

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ABOUT GUATEMALA

ECONOMY

Guatemala is the largest and most populous country in Central America. The agricultural sector accounts for about one-fourth of GDP, two-fifths of exports, and half of the labor force. Coffee, sugar, textiles, fresh vegetables, and bananas are the country's main exports. Also economically important are remittances from Guatemalans working abroad. The rate of inflation was 5.7% in 2006.

The 1996 peace accords that ended the decades-long Civil War removed a major obstacle to foreign investment.

In March 2005, despite massive street protests, Guatemala's congress ratified the Dominican Republic - Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) between several Central American nations and the United States. Guatemala also has free trade agreements with Taiwan and Colombia.

Miscellaneous data:

Electricity consumption: 6.649 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity exports: 464 million kWh (2004)

Electricity imports: 41 million kWh (2004)

Oil production: 22,300 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil consumption: 67,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Telephones - main lines in use: 1,132,100 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 3,168,300 (2004)

Natural gas proved reserves: 3.087 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.Radio broadcast stations: AM 130, FM 487, shortwave 15 (2000)

Radios: 835,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 26 (plus 27 repeaters) (1997), Televisions: 1.323 million (1997)

Airports with paved runways: Total: 11
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 2 (2006).

Pipelines:
Oil 480 km (2006).

Railways: total: 886 km narrow gauge: 886 km 0.914-m gauge (2005)

Roadways: total: 14,095 km
Paved: 4,863 km (including 75 km of expressways)
Unpaved: 9,232 km (1999).

Waterways: 990 km
260 km navigable year round
additional 730 km navigable during high-water season (2004)

Ports and terminals: Puerto Quetzal, Santo Tomas de Castilla.

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DEMOGRAPHICS

According to the CIA World Fact Book, Mestizos, known as Ladinos in Central America, (mixed Amerindian-Spanish, or pure Amerindian but Spanish-speaking) and people of European descent (primarily of Spanish, but also those of German, English, Italian, and Scandinavian descent) comprise 60% of the population while Amerindians comprise approximately 40% (K'iché 9.1%, Kaqchikel 8.4%, Mam 7.9%, Q'eqchi’ 6.3%, other Mayan 8.6% of the population. There is also a growing Korean community in Guatemala City and in nearby Mixco, currently numbering about 50,000.

Though most of Guatemala's population is rural, urbanization is accelerating. Guatemala City (approx. 3 million residents) is expanding at a rapid rate, and Quetzaltenango, the second largest city (approx. 900 thousand residents), is growing as well. Rural-to-urban migration is fuelled by a combination of government neglect of the countryside, low farm gate prices, oppressive labor conditions on rural plantations, the high concentration of arable land in the hands of a few wealthy families, and the (often unrealistic) perception of higher wages in the city.

The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism. Protestantism and traditional Mayan religions are practiced by an estimated 33% and 1% of the population, respectively. It is common for traditional Mayan practices to be incorporated into Christian ceremonies and worship, a process known as syncretism.

In 1900, Guatemala had a population of 885,000. Over the course of the twentieth century the population of the country grew by a factor of fourteen, the fastest growth rate in the Western Hemisphere. Now the country has more than 12 million inhabitants. The ever-increasing pattern of emigration to the United States has led to the growth of Guatemalan communities in California, Florida, Illinois, New York,Texas and elsewhere since the 1970s.

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