The Republic of Guatemala is a country in Central America, in the south of the continent of North America, bordering both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It is bordered by Mexico to the north, Belize to the northeast, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast.
From the 4th to the 11th century, the lowlands area of the Peten region of Guatemala was the heart of the flourishing Maya civilization.
After the collapse of the lowland states, the Maya states of the central highlands continued until conquered by the Spanish, who first arrived in 1523 and colonised the area. Alta Verapaz is known for the fact that after failing to conquer it by the sword the Spanish entered by the cross, with missionaries. Almost all Pre-Columbian Maya books were lost due to the policy of Spaniards during the colonial period of burning them. The Popol Vuh, a Pre-Columbian Maya creation story, is one that survived.
Guatemala became independent of Spain in 1821, first as a part of the United Provinces of Central America. This confederation fell apart in a war from 1838 to 1840, and Guatemala became an independent nation.
Guatemalan history has since been marked by revolutions, coups, non-democratic governments, and various interventions by the United States. The Central Intelligence Agency with virtually no support of Guatemalan society, orchestrated the overthrow of the democratic Guatemalan government in 1954, known as Operation PBSUCCESS. This led to a period of unrest in the nation in which over 100,000 Guatemalans were killed. A 36-year war between the guerrilla and the Guatemalan Government ended in 1996 with the signing of a peace treaty. Guatemalan political violence ended in 1983, leading to successive successful democratic elections from 1985 to date. The most recent democratic election was in 2003. Guatemala still has to build an operative democracy based on the rule of law, equality before the law and respect of individual rights.