Historical Perspective
The Maya civilization flourished in Guatemala and surrounding regions of Central America for more than one thousand years until the 1100's. From 1524 to 1821, the Spanish ruled Central America. During the second half of the 20th century, Guatemala experienced a variety of military and civilian governments as well as a 36-year guerrilla war. In 1996, the government signed a peace agreement formally ending the conflict, which had led to the death of between 100,000 and 200,000 people and had created some 1 million refugees. Further, it is estimated that the civil war left 125,000 children as orphans and 36,000 women as widows. Since 1996, Guatemala has seen an increase in legal, linguistic and educational rights for the indigenous people and has enjoyed greater tranquility.

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