According to clothesbliss, the population of Guatemala in 1880 was 1,224,602 residents, Rising to 1,364,678 in 1893, to 2,004,900 according to the 1921 census, to 2,165,000 according to an evaluation of January 1931. In 1921, 35,206 was given from Ladinos and 64.8% from Indios. The average density is 18 residents per sq. Km. (1921), but the contrasts between region and region are very strong (see table). The largest and least populated departments correspond to the flat areas of the north, the Atlantic and the Pacific, and to the mountainous areas (Petén is a typical example). The tierra caliente facing the Atlantic is depopulated (Izabal department 2 residents per sq. Km.). The departments of the coastal section of the Pacific, which present a large part of the territory in the first belt of the tierra templada, have a density very close to that of the general state (Escuintla 15, Retalhuleu 21). In much better conditions is the whole area of the plateaus, which also see the main cities rise.
The Italians in Guatemala add up (1927) to 1000 individuals (650 males and 350 females) and exercise various professions and trades (over 400 people are employed in industry, commerce and transport, 100 are employed, professionals are about ten). Also important is the German colony, with about 1000 people, who live mainly in the plantations of the Pacific side and in the department of Alta Verapaz: they are mainly dedicated to the cultivation and trade of coffee.
The essentially agricultural characteristics of the country are highlighted by the figures in the table below. The average number of people employed in agriculture is 74%; the lowest values are given by the two historical departments of the republic (Guatemala and Sacatepéquez), where the urban agglomeration is more sensitive, and by Petén, which still has a primordial economy today. The capital centers of the departments (considering only the urban population of the municipality) are very modest, with the exception of the capital, the only large center in Central America; followed by Quezaltenango and La Antigua.
Guatemala is essentially an agricultural country. The area occupied by arable land measured 456,412 hectares in 1930; natural meadows and pastures covered 287,982 hectares; arborescent crops 133.281. Among the cereals the first place is occupied by maize, with an area of 140-170,000 hectares. and a production oscillating between 1-1.5 million quintals; it is grown in all departments; it is enough for the residents to consume. As a second cereal we will mention wheat (surface area 7-9000 hectares; production around 50,000 quintals, a significant decrease compared to the pre-war production), cultivated especially in the more mountainous departments (Totonicapán, Quezaltenango, San Marcos, Huehuetenango, etc.). The third grain is rice, with an area between 1-2000 hectares and a production between 10-20.000 quintals:
But the Guatemalan economy is based on some tropicoequatorial products, object of great export, especially on coffee. The cultivated area in recent years appears to be increasing (72,714 hectares in the year 1927-1928; 107,572 in 1929-1930); production fluctuates between 400 and 500,000 quintals per year. Coffee is grown in all departments, but the absolute preference is offered by the Pacific departments (upper tierra caliente and lower tierra templada) especially those of San Marcos, Quezaltenango, Sololá, Santa Rosa, etc. In the Atlantic basin it emerges the department of Alta Verapaz. The cultivation is partly in the hands of the thriving German colony. Coffee is still today the fundamental economic base of the state. Another income is given by banana trees, which cover an area of 24,728 hectares with a production of 9-10 million quintals. It is a typical crop of the department of Izabal, with a constantly humid sub-equatorial climate, which gives 80% of the total production. Most of the banana trees are owned by the United Fruit Company. The export is huge, around 11.4 million quintals, through the ports of the Atlantic (Puerto Barrios, and Livingston). The cultivation of cocoa is also of considerable interest, which is constantly increasing in terms of surface area. It is a typical crop of the Pacific departments (tierra caliente) above all of Retalhuleu and Escuintla: it is also found in Alta Verapaz. Sugar cane (10 to 12,000 cultivated hectares) is also one of the main products of the Pacific side (Escuintla, Quezaltenango, Sololá, Amatitlán, etc.). Guatemalan Monopoly is the chicle chewing gum widely exported to the United States.
The livestock heritage is remarkable: cattle are more widespread (296,985 in 1922, 416,397 in 1930), abundant species in the intensely agricultural departments of the west and south (Escuintla, Santa Rosa, Quezaltenango, Retalhuleu, Jalapa, Jutiapa, etc.). Sheep farming, which has experienced a decrease in recent years (240,501 in 1928,183,537 in 1930), prevails in the essentially mountainous departments (Huehuetenango, Quezaltenango, San Marcos, Totonicapán), due to the greater diffusion of pastures.
The forest patrimony is huge, especially in the Petén region: according to official calculations, the forest cover would cover 24% of the entire surface of the state. The immense Petén, so modest in terms of demography, agriculture and livestock, is instead the richest area for precious woods, especially mahogany.
The industries are very modest and in this respect Guatemala is still today an essentially importer country of textile and mechanical products. Among the food industries we will mention very flourishing breweries in the city of Guatemala (Castillo Hermanos), which also produce mineral waters and ice. The firm recently bought the Quezaltenango breweries and holds a monopoly on the production. The textile industry has its most important plants in Quezaltenango (Cantel factory) : overall the cotton industry has 20,000 spindles and 250 looms; it works with imported cotton and accounts for about 40% of consumption. In the city of Guatemala there is an important cement factory and small mechanical workshops for the repair of machines used in the coffee and sugar industries: these industries are closely connected with agriculture; the sugar factory has 5 large modern refineries. The home textile industry (wool and natural silk) is very widespread among the indigenous people. Cabinetmaking is flourishing, favored by the abundance of timber; likewise the manufacture of straw hats and baskets for the coffee harvest. Even from a mining point of view, the town is not of considerable importance. There are mines of gold, silver, silver lead, iron, copper, etc.; important marble quarries are in the department of Zacapa. Guatemala has considerable wealth in the field of oil and bituminous limestone: the most interesting area is located between Cobán, Huehuetenango, S. Cruz del Quiché, Salamá; the department of Jalapa and the Petén should also be mentioned. However, currently the only important mineral for international trade is gold. The hydroelectric industry is constantly developing.