Formal name: Guatemala.
Capital: Guatemala City (Ciudad de Guatemala)
Estimated population: 13,314,079 (July 2002 est.)
In 1996, three and a half decades of civil war formally came to an end in Guatemala. This conflict, particularly at its peak in the early 1980s, had been the cause of most of the displacement, both internal and cross-border, which has occurred in the country. While 20 per cent of the country's total population is estimated to have been displaced at least temporarily (one and a half million people), of these, between 150,000 and 200,000 crossed an international border, mostly to Mexico. Some 200,000 people are also estimated to have been internally displaced in Guatemala. Some 46,000 of those in Mexico were registered refugees and received assistance from UNHCR. A significant proportion of the remaining Guatemalans are thought to have continued north and entered the USA, some claiming asylum. Beginning in the early 1990s, refugees from Mexico began formally and publicly returning to Guatemala until mid-1999, by which time most had either returned or had opted to remain in Mexico, where they were finally being offered citizenship.
While some people undoubtedly remain displaced as a result of the conflict, the issue is largely regarded as resolved as far as the government and UNHCR is concerned. However, issues of access to land and huge inequities in the ownership of land persist. The vast majority of the fertile land remains the property of a wealthy elite of finca (plantation) owners. Peasants have continued to protest and demonstrate on this issue by legal proceedings and more direct action, including the illegal occupation of land. Human rights abuses continue to occur and have become more of a problem since 2000.
- CIA World Factbook - http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/gt.html#Issues
- LANIC - University of Texas resources - http://www.lanic.utexas.edu/la/ca/guatemala/
- AlertNet: Country Profile - http://www.alertnet.org/thefacts/countryprofiles/216111.htm
- BBC Online: Country Profile - http://news.bbc.co.uk//hi/english/world/americas/country_profiles/newsid_1215000/1215758.stm