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Social conditions

Guatemala is one of the world's most unequal countries with large differences between the poor majority and a small wealthy elite. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of GTM and acronym for Guatemala. About 55 percent are estimated to live in poverty and in rural areas the figure is even higher with widespread malnutrition in children under five.

Society of Guatemala

The indigenous maya, who dominate the countryside, belong to the poorest people groups and about 70% of children suffer from malnutrition.

During the 1960-96 civil war (see History), hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee from rural battles, creating growing slums in the cities. Many went to the United States to work, most of them illegally, and the money they send home to their families is one of the country's most important sources of income. The state social insurance system covers health care, work injuries and childbirth, but is poorly functioning and in practice only covers a limited part of the population.

After the 1996 peace agreement, violence has increased dramatically, largely due to the fighting between rival youth gangs and drug cartels, and the country has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Guatemala has become a transit country for the transport of cocaine from Colombia, and Mexican cartels have established a strong presence in the northern part of the country.

Guatemala City

Guatemala City, Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala City, Capital of Guatemala; 4.1 million in the metropolitan area (2011). The city was founded in 1776 after the former capital of Antigua was destroyed by an earthquake a few years earlier. It is situated at an altitude of 1500 m near four volcanoes and has been hit by earthquakes several times. in 1917, when it was almost destroyed but rebuilt with wide, straight streets and many squares and parks.

The city is the center of a fertile subtropical agricultural land; the average. temperatures differ slightly from 19 C all year round. The rain falls especially from May to October. Ciudad de Guatemala is a bustling industrial and commercial city with increasing pollution and smog problems. A large influx of highlands in the 1970's and 1980's has created widespread slums, and unemployment is high among this underprivileged class, made up of Native Americans and mestizos. The streets are marked by shoe polishers and street children, who live in an everyday life of petty crime, hunger, cold and glue sniffing and with abuse and police violence as the typical adult contact. During the civil war in Guatemala, many migrants came to the city, and it has grown tremendously, even in land. It is especially the slums that have received refugees.

The city is the country's cultural center and has a number of national museums, but only a few colonial buildings; the cathedral of San Jaime from the late 1700's. is one of the few preserved. The modern city hall from 1943 is built in concrete with a facade decoration inspired by Mayan art.


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