Guatemala, a country of Central America, is dominated by Indian culture within its interior, which separates Guatemala from its Central American neighbors. The Guatemalan Quetzal (GTQ) is the official currency of Guatemala. It first appeared in 1924 and is subdivided into 100 centavos. To honor the ancient Mayans' usage of the bird's feathers as currency, they named the Quetzal after it, with the latest banknotes highlighting pictures of these long-tailed birds. The Quetzal officially replaced the Guatemalan peso circulated in 1859 to replace the Central American real in 1925.
At the time, the Central Bank of Guatemala began circulating the currency at a rate of 1 quetzal to 60 pesos. The currency was initially linked to the gold standard and then later pegged to the U.S. dollar at par. In 1944, after a political revolution, Guatemala moved from a dictatorship to more democratic government institutions. The new Bank of Guatemala was established by the government in 1945 and took over the issuance of currency from the Central Bank of Guatemala. The newly established bank took over the minting of coins and issued a new series of banknotes. The central bank has let the quetzal's exchange rate float freely against foreign currencies since 1987. Nonetheless, following an initial climb after removing its peg, the currency's value has remained stable since 2000 in a range of approximately 7 to 8 quetzal per U.S. dollar.
Belize and Guatemala form the northern edge of the Central American isthmus. Despite having one of the largest economies in Central America, Guatemala suffers from high wealth inequality rates, with more than half the nation living beneath the national poverty line, based on U.S. Central Intelligence Agency statistics. Since 2018, the U.S. State Department has released a travel advisory urging that potential visitors rethink their travel plans because of high levels of gang activity and violent crime present in the country.
Guatemala's service sector operates the majority of its economy. The agricultural sector also plays a significant role in employment and accounts for a large percentage of the country's exports. Cash crops include sugar, coffee, bananas, and other fresh produce. A large amount of the money rolling into the country comes from foreign sources, mainly expatriates living in the United States. The country had a GDP increase of 3.6% and an inflation rate of 3.7% in 2019, the latest year for data availability.