The most populous nation in Central America, Guatemala is a representative democracy with its capital at Guatemala City. Although the nation has been relatively stable since 1996, Guatemala's recent history has been plagued by civil war and military coups, which have slowed the nation's development. Large portions of Guatemala's interior remain wholly undeveloped, including the nation's many rainforests and wetlands. Guatemala's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contribute to Mesoamerica's designation as an important biodiversity hotspot. Guatemala is known for its many ancient Maya cities such as Tikal located in the municipality of Flores, in the department of Petén.
Los Altos declared independence from Guatemala on February 2, 1838, and was admitted as the sixth state of the Federal Republic of Central America. As the Federation crumbled into civil war, Los Altos declared itself an independent republic. On April 2, 1840, Rafael Carrera, de facto ruler of Guatemala, led an army to capture most government officials from Los Altos, who were summarily executed. Carrera annexed Quetzaltenango and much of Los Altos into Guatemala. Mexico annexed the Soconusco region. Revolts against the Guatemalan dictatorship of Carrera in 1844, 1848, and 1849 reestablished the independence of Los Altos for brief periods.
Miguel Ángel Asturias (October 19, 1899 – June 9, 1974) was a Nobel Prize–winning Guatemalanpoet, novelist, and diplomat. Asturias helped establish Latin American literature's contribution to mainstream Western culture, and at the same time drew attention to the importance of indigenous cultures, especially those of his native Guatemala.