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This chapter provides a brief historical background and a description of major events in Guatemala. It also provides basic political, economic, and social data arranged in the following categories: polity, economy, population, purchasing power parities, life expectancy, ethnic groups, capital, political rights, civil liberties, and status. The chapter discusses the progress and decline of political rights and civil liberties in Guatemala. The patience of the international community and of ordinary Guatemalans appeared to be drawing thin in 2001, as President Alfonso Portillo's government was beset with criticism. The Republic of Guatemala was established in 1839, 18 years after independence from Spain. Citizens can change their governments through elections. Guatemala remains one of the most violent countries in Latin America. Many Guatemalan businesses reportedly spend up to 15 percent of their budgets on private security. Use of Guatemala as a transit point for illegal aliens, particularly from Asia, frequently leads to abuses, including death.