Guatemala, officially the Republic of Guatemala (Spanish: Repblica de Guatemala), is a Central American country bordered on the north and west by Mexico, on the southwest by the Pacific Ocean, on the northeast by Belize, on the east by the Caribbean, on the east by Honduras, and on the southeast by El Salvador. With an estimated population of approximately 15.8 million, it is Central America’s most populated state. Guatemala is a representative democracy, with Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, better known as Guatemala City, as its capital and biggest city.
The area that is now Guatemala was originally the heartland of the Maya civilisation, which spanned Mesoamerica. The Spanish captured the majority of the nation in the 16th century, including it into the viceroyalty of New Spain. Guatemala gained independence from the Federal Republic of Central America in 1821 and was dissolved in 1841.
Guatemala suffered from persistent instability and civil conflict from the mid- to late-nineteenth century. It was controlled by a succession of dictators beginning in the early twentieth century, all of whom were supported by the United Fruit Company and the United States government. In 1944, authoritarian tyrant Jorge Ubico was deposed by a pro-democracy military coup, sparking a decade-long revolution that resulted in far-reaching social and economic changes. In 1954, a military coup supported by the United States put an end to the revolution and established a dictatorship.
Guatemala experienced a brutal civil war between the US-backed government and leftist insurgents from 1960 to 1996, which included military-led genocide murders of the indigenous Maya people. Guatemala has seen economic development and successful democratic elections since a peace agreement brokered by the United Nations, but it continues to suffer with high rates of poverty, crime, drug trafficking, and instability.
Guatemala’s wealth of biologically important and distinct habitats supports a high number of endemic species and contributes to the classification of Mesoamerica as a biodiversity hotspot. Additionally, the nation is renowned for its vibrant and unique culture, which is defined by a mix of Spanish and indigenous elements.