was freed of Spanish colonial rule in 1821. During the second
half of the 20th century, it experienced a variety of military
and civilian governments as well as a 36-year guerrilla war.
In 1996, the government signed a peace agreement formally ending
the conflict, which had led to the death of more than 100,000
people and had created some 1 million refugees.
bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Honduras and Belize and bordering
the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico
humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands
||Belize 266 km,
El Salvador 203 km, Honduras 256 km, Mexico 962 km
is located in Central America and shares borders to the north
and west with Mexico, to the southeast with
El Salvador and Honduras, to the northeast with Belize and the
Caribbean sea and to the south with the Pacific ocean. The landscape
mountainous and heavily forested. A string of volcanoes rises above
the southern highlands along the Pacific, three of which are still
active. Within this volcanic area are basins of varying sizes which
hold the majority of the country’s population. The region is
drained by rivers flowing into both the Pacific and the Caribbean.
One basin west of the capital has no river outlet and thus has formed
Lake Atitlán, which is ringed by volcanoes. To the northwest,
bordering on Belize and Mexico, lies the low undulating tableland
of El Petén, 36,300 sq km (14,000 sq miles) of almost inaccessible
wilderness covered with dense hardwood forest. This area covers
approximately one third of the national territory, yet contains
only 40,000 people.