running parallel to the Pacific coast. Three river valleys extend to
the Caribbean coast.
There are basically five regions which are geographically defined
and which support very diverse ecologies and environments: 1) the
Western Highlands, 2) the Pacific South Coast, 3) the Eastern Plateau,
4) the Caribbean Lowlands, and 5) the Peten Lowlands. The northern-
most section of (Cuattemala, known as the Peten, is primarily a semi-
rainforest with a hot, wet climate. This tropical environment is also
found in the Caribbean Lowlands as well as in the narrow strip of
coastal plain lying along the Pacific coast. It is in these latter
two areas where the vast majority of the commercial export-agriculture
is based. On the other hand, the Eastern Plateau, better known as
El Oriente, is characterized by a relatively drier, semi-arid environ-
ment. It is in the Western Highlands, referred to as El Altiplano,
where approximately three-fourths of the total population of Guatemala
lives, that there is the greatest environmental variability with ele-
vations in some areas reaching over 3,000 meters. In general, the
climate of Guatemala varies greatly with the altitude, with cool tem-
peratures in the highlands and hot, tropical temperatures in the
lowlands. Most of Guatemala experiences distinct wet and dry seasons,
each lasting about six months, though in the lowlands, rain is common
throughout the year.
According to the 1973 census, Guatemala recorded a population of
some 5,160,221, however, present estimates run about 7 million. Being
an ethnically "pluralistic society", approximately 45 percent of the
total population is classified as Indian, while the remainder is Ladino.
Rodeheaver, Daniel Gilbert, 1954-; Bates, Frederick L. & Murphy, Arthur D. Malnutrition And Food Aid Programs: A Case Study From Guatemala. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc84342/. Accessed March 12, 2014.