Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Country Challenge - Guatemala

Because I will be away this weekend, I cooked and researched this week's country early - Guatemala! I chose Guatemala for many reasons (see next post)... so here's a little background on the country that borders Mexico (which I didn't know) and is actually not too far from us here in the states!

Archaeologists have found remains that lead them to believe there was civilization in Guatemala as far as 12,000 BC. Between the years of 250 and 900 AD, the Mayan Civilization was at it's peak in Guatemala, and many cities and states were built. The cities were all abandoned around 900 AD as famine broke out and killed off the population.

After the Spanish arrived in the Americas, there were many expeditions thru Guatemala. The contact with Spaniards by the natives resulted in widespead disease, and again killed off much of the population. Guatemala was then claimed as an Audiencia, and supplied Spain with sugarcane, cocoa, dye, and wood used for building churches.

In 1821, Guatemala claimed Independence from Spain, and incorporated itself into the Mexican empire, however it dissolved. In 1871, the "Liberal Revolution" occured, which modernized Guatemala, and brought new manufacturing and agriculture, including coffee, a major export.

As far as Modern history goes - America supplied Guatemala with arms and machinery during the Cold War. Guatemala was also involved in providing air strips for the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Many years followed with leaders stepping up and being overthrown, invasion, and guerrilla groups. In a scorched earth style of warfare, 45,000 Guatemalans fled to Mexico as civil war erupted in 1982. The war carried on for many years, finally ending in 1996. The UN negotiated talks between the guerrillas and the government. Since the war ended, Guatemala has had very successful government elections and has prospered in creating trade agreements.

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