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Economy In Guatemala

Guatemala lays claim to the largest economy of any Central American country, but is stuck on the short list of poorest countries in Latin America. More than half the population lives below the poverty line, while 10 percent of the richest Guatemalans eat up half the country's income. The gap between rich and poor is evident throughout the country, especially in Guatemala City where the poor beg for change from BMW's passing by.

The agricultural sector employs around 50 percent of the labor force, with coffee, bananas, and sugar making up the bulk of Guatemala's exports. Tourism is also an ever increasing source of revenue for the country, now employing around 35 percent of the nation's total workforce.


Since the time of the Spanish conquest, Guatemala's economy has been dependent on the export of a handful of agricultural products. During the colonial period, indigo and cochineal dominated the market until synthetic dyes made the materials obsolete. Cocoa and essential oils filled the void, until coffee and bananas became principal exports.

Since 1960, a civil war in Guatemala stifled foreign investment in the country. In 1996, peace accords ended the war, allowing the country to focus on major economic reforms after 36 years of unrest. Guatemala further improved the investment climate by recently ratifying free trade agreements with the United States, Taiwan, Columbia, and several Central American nations.


The United States is Guatemala's largest trading partner, receiving over a third of the country's exports and providing Guatemala with around 41% of its imports. Nontraditional agricultural products such as cut flowers have been a blooming source of revenue for Guatemala in recent years, but sugar, bananas, and coffee dominate the export market.

Guatemala is the top receiver of remittances in Central America, mostly due to the large number of Guatemalan expatriates who fled to the U.S. during the Guatemalan Civil War. The amount of money sent to Guatemala in remittances is equivalent to nearly two-thirds of the total made from exporting goods.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Guatemala: Economy, Political Timeline For Guatemala, Today's Politics And Government In Guatemala and Politics.

20 Jul 2010

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