University of the Pacific
Bechtel International Center
Stockton, CA 95211
(209) 946-2246
Fall: February 22
Spring: September 24
Academic Year: February 22
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The Republic of Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the northwest, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize and the Caribbean Sea to the northeast, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast. Guatemala is mountainous, except for the south coastal area and the vast northern lowlands of Petén department. Two mountain chains enter Guatemala from west to east, dividing the country into three major regions: the highlands, where the mountains are located; the Pacific coast, south of the mountains; and the Petén region, north of the mountains. These three regions vary in climate, elevation, and landscape, providing dramatic contrasts between hot and humid tropical lowlands and colder and drier highland peaks. The country has 14 eco regions ranging from Mangrove forests, to both ocean littorals with five different ecosystems. Guatemala has an endemic (Abies guatemalens is) species. Guatemala has 252 listed wet lands, including five lakes, 61 lagoons. 100 rivers, and three swamps; six of those wetlands are of international importance or RAMSAR sites.

Politics of Guatemala takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Guatemala is both head of state and head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. The president and vice president are directly elected through universal suffrage and limited to one term. A vice president can run for president after four years out of office. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Congress of the Republic. The Congress of the Republic has 158 members, elected for a four-year term, partially in departmental constituencies and partially by nationwide proportional representation. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The Constitutional Court is Guatemala's highest court. It is composed of five judges, elected for concurrent five-year terms by Congress, each serving one year as president of the Court: one is elected by Congress, one elected by the Supreme Court of Justice, one is appointed by the President, one is elected by Superior Council of the Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala, and one by the bar association.

 Although Spanish is the official language, it is not universally spoken among the indigenous population, nor is it often spoken as a second language. Twenty-one distinct Mayan languages are spoken, especially in rural areas, as well as several non-Mayan Amerindian languages. Twenty-three languages are recognized as National Languages. The Music of Guatemala comprises a number of styles and expressions. The Maya had an intense musical practice, as is documented by iconography. Guatemala was also one of the first regions in the New World to be introduced to European music. A large part of the Guatemala culture is that it is home to many of the nation's libraries and museums, including the National Archives, the National Library, and the Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, which has an extensive collection of Maya artifacts. There are private museums, such as the Ixchel, which focuses on textiles, and the Po pol Vuh, which focuses on Mayan archeology.

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Quick Facts

Population: 14,099,032
Capital: Guatemala
Per-capita GDP: $ 5100
Size: 108,889 km2
Time Zone: (GMT - 06:00 hours) Central Time (US & Canada)

US State Department

Travel Warning: NO

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Country Specific Info.

Country information is adapted from public domain resources including the CIA World Fact Book and
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University of the Pacific Education Abroad Office