Guatemala (Guatama'la), a republic of Central America, bounded by Mexico, Belize, the Gulf of Honduras, Honduras, San Salvador, and the Pacific. Area, 46,600 sq. m., much of it wholly unexplored. The greater part of Guatemala is mountainous, the highlands having a mean elevation of 7000 feet above the sea; but the surface presents great variety, with extensive plateaus, terraces, and upland valleys - the last notable for their beauty, fertility, and favourable climate. Of the volcanoes, several are active; the most noted is Fuego (12,075 feet). Earthquakes are frequent; sulphur and other hot springs are numerous. The climate, except in the low-lying districts (where the temperature ranges from 70° to 90°), may be described as perpetual spring, and is generally healthy, but the hot coast-lands on the Pacific are liable to yellow fever. Gold and silver are worked, as also salt and saltpetre. Other minerals are lead, iron, copper, coal, quicksilver, marble, porphyry, suphur, zinc, gypsum, etc. But the wealth of the country consists in its rich soil, which, according to the altitude, yields the products of every zone. The forests contain over a hundred kinds of timber trees. Maize, haricot beans, peas, potatoes, wheat, rice, grow well in various districts. Other products are coffee (the chief export), sugar, cacao, india-rubber, tobacco, cotton, hemp, sarsaparilla, and many medicinal plants, bananas, and other fruits. The fauna includes the jaguar, puma, ocelot, coyote, red-deer, tapir, peccary, armadillo, several monkeys, iguanas, turtles, and snakes. The birds are of great variety and beauty; the national emblem is the superbly coloured quetzal. The industries are chiefly confined to the manufacture of woven fabrics, pottery, saddlery, chocolate, and the fiery aguardiente, the sale of which is a government monopoly, yielding about a fourth of the annual revenue. The development of the country, however, is greatly hampered by the absence of serviceable roads. The average annual imports vary from six to eight million dollars, the annual exports average about fourteen million dollars. The imports, of which the United States supplies about one-half and Britain one-fourth, are chiefly specie, cotton, woollen, and silk goods, wines and spirits, railway plant, and flour; the principal exports are coffee, rubber, sugar, fruits, and hides.
About a third of the people are said to be of European descent, and the rest aborigines (Maya-Quiches) and mixed races. In 1905 the total pop. was 1,845,000. The capital, Guatemala (q.v.), is the largest town. The state religion is the Roman Catholic. The executive is vested in a president and council. The standing army consists nominally of about 7000 men, the militia and reserve of nearly 87,000. The revenue, 17,500,000 dollars, is supposed to cover the expenditure; but the finances are mismanaged, and there is a foreign debt of about £1,838,672, and an internal debt of 28,118,000 silver dollars. After three centuries of Spanish rule, under which the vice-royalty of Guatemala embraced all Central America, independence was proclaimed in 1821; and the present republic was founded in 1839. There are about 400 miles of railway in operation, and over 3100 miles of telegraphs.
Guatemala (Santiago de Guatemala; also Guatemala la Nueva), capital of the republic of Guatemala, and the largest and most important city of Central America, stands on a wide plateau, nearly 4900 feet above sea-level, and 72 miles by rail NNE. of its port, San Jose. In the plaza the metropolitan cathedral towers above the government buildings and the archbishop's palace. Tramways and the electric light have been introduced, and all the foreign trade of the republic is concentrated here. Pop. 93,000. The present city is the third capital of the name. The first, now called Ciudad Viejo, has a pop. of some 3000 Indians. The second, Guatemala la Antigua (Old Guatemala), 2 1/2 miles NE. of the first and 21 miles WSW. of the present capital, was one of the finest cities of America, with 60,000 inhabitants ; in 1773 it was for the second time destroyed by an earthquake, but among the noble ruins a new city has arisen, sheltering a pop. of 14,000.