Guatemala, formally the Republic of Guatemala (Spanish: Repblica de Guatemala), is a Central American nation bordered to the north and west by Mexico, to the east by Honduras, to the southeast by El Salvador, and to the south by the Pacific Ocean. It is the most populated nation in Central America and the 11th most populous country in the Americas, with an estimated population of roughly 17.2 million people. Guatemala is a representative democracy, with Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, popularly known as Guatemala City, as its capital and biggest city.
The heart of the Maya civilization, which spanned Mesoamerica, was traditionally located in modern-day Guatemala. The majority of this territory was acquired by the Spanish in the 16th century and claimed as part of the viceroyalty of New Spain. Guatemala gained independence from Spain and Mexico in 1821. Guatemala joined the Federal Republic of Central America in 1823, which disintegrated in 1841.
Guatemala had chronic instability and civil warfare from the mid-to late-nineteenth century. It was governed by a succession of tyrants supported by the United Fruit Company and the United States government beginning in the early twentieth century. The authoritarian tyrant Jorge Ubico was deposed in 1944 by a pro-democratic military coup, launching a decade-long revolution that resulted in extensive social and economic changes. In 1954, a military coup supported by the United States ended the revolution and established a dictatorship.
Guatemala saw a violent civil war between the US-backed government and leftist rebels from 1960 to 1996, involving genocidal atrocities of the Maya community by the military. Guatemala has experienced both economic development and successful democratic elections since a United Nations–negotiated peace treaty, but continues to suffer from high rates of poverty and crime, drug cartels, and instability. According to the Human Development Index, Guatemala is ranked 31st out of 33 Latin American and Caribbean nations in 2014.
The richness of ecologically important and distinct habitats in Guatemala, which includes numerous endemic species, adds to Mesoamerica's status as a biodiversity hotspot.