The Republic of Guatemala is a central American country bordered by Mexico to the Northwest, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Caribbean Sea to the northeast, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast. Its capital is Guatemala de la Atuncio, better known as Guatemala City. Guatemala got independence from Spanish rule in 1827 but was ruled by many dictators afterwards. After Guatemala had suffered a 36-year-long civil war in the late 20th century, Otto Perez Molina was elected as the President of Guatemala in the 2011 elections. Mestizo and European communities constitute 59.4% of its population. Kichi constitute 9.1% followed by 8.4%, Kagchikel, 7.9% Mam, 6.3% Qegchi, 6%, Mayan and 0.3% other communities. The name of ‘Guatemala’ has been derived from CuauhtÄ“mallÄn, meaning ‘place of many trees.’ More than one-third, 36.3% of Guatemala is forested, having more than 1,246 known species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Guatemala is known for its unique biodiversity like the Spider Monkey, Black Howler Monkey, and the magnificent bird Quetzal, Pharomachrus mocinno, whose brilliant green and crimson plumage is taken as the national emblem.
1. Rigoberta MenchÃº Tum
Rigoberta MenchÃº Tum was born in Laj Chimel, Quiche, Guatemala on January 9, 1959. After the long Guatemalan Civil War from 1960 to 1996, and during the course of its conduct, she had devoted her life for the cause of promoting the indigenous rights in her country. She belongs to the Kiche ethnicity and received her early education at different Catholic boarding schools. In 1992 she received the Nobel Prize. Some opponents approached the Nobel Committee, but it dismissed the calls to revoke the Nobel prize on account of the reported falsification of her biography, and the Nobel committee declared that ‘ her prize was not based exclusively or primarily on the autobiography.’ In 1998 she received Prince of Austria’s Award. She is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. She is also a political figure and had been the presidential candidate during the 2007 and 2011 presidential elections.
2. Miguel Angel Asturias Rosales
Miguel Ãngel Asturias was born to Ernesto Asturias Giron and Maria Rosales de Asturias in Guatemala City, the capital of Guatemala, on October 19, 1899. Austria was educated at Colegio del Padre Pedro and Colegio del Padre SolÃs in the suburbs of Guatemala City. El Senor Presidente is his famous novel which describes life under a cruel dictator. His open opposition to the dictatorial rule caused him to live in exile mostly in America or Europe. Another famous book, he wrote was Hombres de MaÃz; Men of Maize, which is in the defense of the Mayan culture and is regarded as a masterpiece. It was after years of living in exile that he was recognized and was honored with the Soviet Union’s Lenin for the Peace Prize in 1966. In 1967 he was awarded the Nobel Prize to make him one of the two Guatemalan Nobel Laureates.
3. Mateo Flores
Mateo Flores was born on February 11, 1922 in Cotio, Mixco in the suburbs of Guatemala City and died on August 11, 2011. He was a long-distance runner and had won many international events including the 1946 Barranquilla Games, 1950 Central American and Caribbean Games, and the 1955 Pan American Games. He also won the Boston Marathon in 1952 and participated in the 1952 Summer Olympics held in Helsinki. During the early stages of his career, he worked as a laborer and used to run for two hours before going to the workplace and for two hours after returning from his job.
4. Rodolfo Galeotti
Rodolfo Galeotti Torres was born in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala on March 4, 1912 and died on May 22, 1988. His father, Antonio Galeotti, was a sculptor, and Torres started his career as his father’s apprentice. He received his secondary education in his hometown, and after that he went to Italy in 1930 for further education. There he attended Accademia di Belle Arti e Liceo Artistico located in Carrara and for three years learned drawing, modeling, and sculpture in marble. His sculpture is on display in the National Palace of Guatemala City. He also created Guatemala’s Coat of Arms. He created his famous bronze sculpture known as ‘Tecun Uman.’ He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Guatemala on May 16, 1988.
5. Luis von Ahn
Luis von Ahn was born in Guatemala City in 1979. He was educated at the American School of Guatemala, received his B.S. from Duke University, and earned his Ph.D. from Carnegie Melon University in 2005. He founded the company re CAPTCHA and is famous all over the world for his work. CAPTCHA is an acronym derived from ‘Completely Automated Public Touring test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.’ He is also known for developing Human Computation that combines the intelligence of humans and computers to solve the problems which cannot be solved by any one of them alone. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship in 2009 and the David and Lucile Packard Fellowship in 2009, and the Presidential Early career award for Scientists and Engineers in 2012.
6. Ilma Julieta Urrutia Chang
Ilma Julieta Urrutia Chang was born in 1962. She ranked as a semifinalist in the Miss Universe 1984 contest held in Miami, Florida. She participated in the Miss International held in Yokohama, Japan. There were 48 countries that participated in the event .The event was held at Kangawa Prefecture Civil Hall, Yokohama, Japan, on October 30, 1984. Ilma Urrutia won Guatemala’s first Miss International crown while Miriam Leyderman of Venezuela earned the first runner up position and Gunilla Maria Kohlstrpom of Sweden was declared as the second runner up.
7. Eugenia J. Wright
Eugenia J. Wright was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala on January 17, 1952 and died of pneumonia at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center on March 31, 2011. She had married J. D. Hall and left behind, her only son Isa Hall after whom she named her firm as ISA Public Relations. She had been a foster child, but her thinking about life was very positive. Prior to one birthday celebration, she said, ‘It’s time to magnify and go full blown into the new decade and step it up like never before. I can’t think of a more exciting day than one’s birthday, the day you were born, for a purpose and to complete your task in this world.’
8. Carlos Enrique PeÃ±a Aldana
Carlos Enrique PeÃ±a Aldana was born to Hugo Pena and Nilsa Aldana de Pena in Guatemala City, Guatemala on January 9, 1988. He is a famous Guatemalan singer and songwriter. He won the 2007 Latin American Idol competition, singing three songs against Ricardo Caballero from Mexico. He debuted with his solo CD Con Una Cancion released in December 2007. His album was double platinum certified in Central America. He received the honorific Ambassador of the Peace from the Guatemalan Government in 2007. He was invited to perform in many balls celebrating President Obama’s inauguration.
9. Harris Whitbeck
Harris Whitbeck was born in Guatemala on May 25, 1965. He was educated at Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland and earned his master’s degree in Journalism from the Columbia University in New York City. Based in Mexico City, he has been a CNN correspondent since 1991. He has covered many events of international importance including: War in Iraq, U.S. Led War against Taliban in Afghanistan, 2004 Haitian Coup d’etat, Hostage Crisis at the Japanese Embassy in Lima, and 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. He has also covered floods in Venezuela and an earthquake in Columbia. He reported Bill Clinton’s trip to Latin America in May, 1997. He won the Global Media Award, the Environmentalist Media Award, and the Emmy Award. He has been selected as 1 of the 12 leaders in International Journalism Category by the Guatemalan Business Council.
10. Manny Marroquin
Manny Marroquin was born in Guatemala on September 21, 1971. At the age of nine years he moved to Los Angeles with his family due to the Guatemalan Civil War. He was educated at Alexander Hamilton High School, Los Angeles, California and joined a local studio attaining the position of an engineer. He worked with famous artists like: Whitney Houston, John Mayer, Shakira, Rihanna, Jazmine Sullivan, and Duffy. He won his first Grammy Award in 2000 for his album Mary Mary. He received his second Grammy award in 2005, for his album Get Lifted.
Nations make efforts to progress, but nature at times has its own and different plans. Guatemala’s geographical profile has made it susceptible to natural calamities like Hurricane Mitch in 1988, Hurricane Stan killing over 1,500 people in 2005, Tropical Storm Agatha killing 200 people in May, 2010. More than 25,000 people were killed in a 7.5 magnitude earthquake on February 4, 1976. Only very recently; on November 7, 2012, an earthquake of a 7.4 magnitude has killed at least 50 people while injuring another 150 people ,according to the preliminary assessment.