Country Profile: Guatemala

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Republic of Guatemala (República de Guatemala), based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Guatemala's Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has no legal status.

Country Background

Guatemala is located in Central America bordering the North Pacific Ocean. It is bounded by El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, and Belize. The name comes from the Mayan word Quauhtlemallan which means "place of many trees." The capital of Guatemala is Guatemala City. The official language is Spanish, but it also has 22 Mayan languages with 43% of the population indigenous. The country’s population in 2016 was approximately 15 million. Guatemala is a predominantly Christian country, but there is also an indigenous population with Mayan beliefs. 

Constitution & Legal Structure

Guatemala is referred to as a presidential republic, in which the sovereignty belongs to the people and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, last amended in 1993. The system of government is civil law based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The country is divided into 22 departments, which are each divided into municipalities. The departmental government is entrusted to a governor appointed by the President of the Republic and his or her duties are only administrative. 

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no constitutional status in Guatemala.

Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no official jurisdiction of operation in Guatemala.

Dominant School of Islamic Law

Guatemala has no official school of Islamic law. 

Sources of Law for Legal Research

Official Publications

 Unofficial Databases


For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide, and for a narrative review, see the GlobaLex Foreign Law Research Guide (most updated version, where available). The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English translation. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].