Guatemala, officially the Republic of Guatemala, is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, Belize and the Caribbean to the northeast, Honduras to the east, El Salvador to the southeast and the Pacific Ocean to the south. With an estimated population of around 17.2 million, it is the most populous country in Central America and has the 11th largest national population in the Americas. Guatemala is a representative democracy; its capital and largest city is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City.
The core of the Maya civilization, which extended across Mesoamerica, was historically based in the territory of modern Guatemala. In the 16th century, most of this area was conquered by the Spanish and claimed as part of the viceroyalty of New Spain. Guatemala attained independence in 1821 as part of the Federal Republic of Central America, which dissolved by 1841.
From the mid- to late 19th century, Guatemala suffered chronic instability and civil strife. Beginning in the early 20th century, it was ruled by a series of dictators backed by the United Fruit Company and the United States government.