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Guatemala is a representative democracy; its capital and largest city is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City.
The territory of modern Guatemala once formed the core of the Maya civilization, which extended across Mesoamerica.
Since a United Nations-negotiated peace accord, Guatemala has witnessed both economic growth and successful democratic elections, though it continues to struggle with high rates of poverty, crime, drug trade, and instability.
As of 2014, Guatemala ranks 31st of 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries in terms of the Human Development Index.
The King of Spain authorized moving the capital to its current location in the Ermita Valley, which is named after a Catholic church dedicated to the Virgen del Carmen. On 15 September 1821, the Captaincy General of Guatemala, formed by Chiapas, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Honduras, officially proclaimed its independence from Spain.
The Captaincy-general was dissolved two years later.
This region was formally a part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain throughout the colonial period, but as a practical matter had been administered separately.
The Maya civilization shares many features with other Mesoamerican civilizations due to the high degree of interaction and cultural diffusion that characterized the region.
Advances such as writing, epigraphy, and the calendar did not originate with the Maya; however, their civilization fully developed them.
Maya influence can be detected from Honduras, Guatemala, Northern El Salvador to as far north as central Mexico, more than 1,000 km (620 mi) from the Maya area.