Guatemala Wildlife and Economy

Guatemala Wildlife and Economy

Animals and Plants

Animals and Plants in Guatemala

The many landscapes of Guatemala such as coast, mountains and lowlands have produced a great diversity of species. There are also many endemic species, that is, species that are only found here and nowhere else in the world.

The wildlife of Guatemala

A variety of animals live in the forests of Guatemala. This includes, for example, the jaguar, which has become rare. Other predators are the puma, the ocelot, the jaguarundi, the white-nosed coati and the coiled bear. Howler monkeys also live in Guatemala. They are so named because they mark their territory by their roar

Pakas are rodents that are just as little known to us as the collar and whitebeard peccaries. The Central American tapir lives in the tropical rainforest in Petén. The nine-banded armadillo is also interesting to look at. Armadillos are the only mammals with a shell. Anteaters are another inhabitant of Guatemala.

The country’s reptiles include the bumpy crocodile, green iguana, sea turtles and snakes such as the terciopelo lance viper or the boa constrictor. It’s easy to see where the roach tree frog got its name from!

The quetzal

In the bird world, the quetzal should be mentioned above all. It is the national bird of Guatemala and is featured on the country’s coat of arms. He even gave his name to the currency, because in Guatemala people pay with the quetzal. Even for the Aztecs he was the “bird of the gods” and they worshiped a god named Quetzalcoatl. The long tail feathers of the male Quetzal served as headdresses for the priests. The quetzal lives in the cloud forests.

Other birds in Guatemala are the colorful toucans, the equally colorful scarlet macaws and the small hummingbirds. Take a look at the Montezuma-fronted bird in the slideshow below! Unfortunately the Atitlán diver, which was only found in Lake Atitlán, is extinct.

From the Caribbean to the lake

Numerous manatees and bull sharks live in Lake Izabal. They come into the lake from the Caribbean Sea via the Río Dulce.

What is growing there in Guatemala?

Several types of forest are among the landscape types in Guatemala. Tropical rainforest grows in the lowlands of the north (in Petén). It is the largest contiguous rainforest area in America after the Amazon rainforest. It is so humid here all year round that the trees do not shed their leaves. The biodiversity is particularly great.

On the mountain slopes, especially on the eastern sides, there is cloud forest from around 2000 m height. Here the clouds that the trade wind brings rain down. In addition, there is moisture from rising air, which then envelops the slopes in damp fog. In the cloud forest there are mosses, ferns and epiphytes. These are plants that grow on other plants. These include orchids and bromeliads, for example. More than 400 species of orchids grow in Guatemala’s cloud forest. One of them is the “White Nun”, which is considered the national flower.

In the highlands it is rather dry. Here, grassy areas alternate with trees, for example pines or the Guatemala fir, which can also survive drier times. Sometimes the landscape changes into a thorn bush savannah. On the Atlantic coast grow mangroves, on the Caribbean coast is wet it again and it grows tropical rainforest.

Tree species in Guatemala are the pear apple tree (sapote, chewing gum tree), the kapok tree, the mahogany and the teak tree, the white gum tree, the balsa tree and the jacaranda (rosewood tree). The sundew belongs to the carnivorous plants.

Guatemala Wildlife


Guatemala’s economy

According to transporthint, Guatemala is a poor country. More than half of the population is poor. 9 percent of people even live in extreme poverty. You only have $ 1.90 a day to live on. Among the Indians, this figure is even 22 percent. Almost half of the children in Guatemala are malnourished.

Corruption and the unequal distribution of income (few rich, many poor) are just as much a problem as the maquila economy (see below) and the low tax revenue. Because tax revenues are so low, there is hardly any investment.

In 2012, Guatemala had the lowest level of tax revenue in the world (10 percent of gross domestic product). Money sent by Guatemalans who live abroad and send money to their relatives at home alone achieve the same value.

Coffee, bananas, sugar cane and cardamom

Agriculture generates only 13.3 percent of the country’s income (gross domestic product), although 31.4 percent work in this area. Coffee, bananas, sugar cane and cardamom are grown in large plantations for sale abroad, i.e. for export. These belong to a few wealthy landowners.

However, the majority of the rural population grows on small fields for their own needs – maize, beans, rice and fruit. Only what you don’t need yourself is then sold in the market or a stall on the street.

The industry

Maquila companies (maquiladoras) play a major role in industry. From Mexico (see Mexico Economy) they have spread south. In these factories, imported parts are assembled into finished goods. This could be clothing, but also machines or cars. In Guatemala, however, it is mainly textiles that are sewn together here – mainly by women. Garments make up the largest item of income from exports.

The finished goods are sold abroad again, i.e. they are exported. The maquila companies do offer jobs and free many people from unemployment. However, they often pay very little wages and people work hard, often 12 hours a day, and they have no labor rights. Many maquila establishments are owned by Koreans. The finished goods are mainly exported to the USA.

Other industrial companies process sugar, crude oil and metals. Guatemala’s economy is geared towards export. In addition to coffee, bananas and sugar, cotton, rubber and petroleum are the main exports. Of raw materials and mineral gold, zinc, cobalt and nickel are supported in mines. The main trading partners are the USA. Because the demand for biofuels is growing, sugar cane and palm oil have been grown for these purposes since 2013.

The industry generates 23.4 percent of the income, although only 12.8 percent of the people work here. So it’s the other way around than in agriculture.


The largest part of the income, however, makes up the services, namely 63.2 percent (55.8 percent of the working population). This also includes tourism, which is slowly gaining in importance. Energy is mainly obtained from hydropower plants.

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