Facts About Guatemala
Population: 17,263,239 (2018)
Coordinates: 15.78° N, 90.23° W
Area Total: 108,889 sq km
Capital: Guatemala City
National Holiday: September 15
Currency: Quetzal (GTQ)
Mexico, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador
Spanish and around 20 different Mayan languages
Guatemala is a popular destination among travelers due to its unique heritage and natural beauty. Known as the Land of the Eternal Spring, Guatemala belongs to the seven countries that conform Central America. The tropical weather and interwoven traditions make this region of the world perfect for culture-lovers. But besides Mayan history and volcanoes, there are many other ins and outs. For this reason, we have rounded up a list of interesting facts about Guatemala that will spark your interest.
Let's jump into it!
1. The original name of Guatemala was Quauhtlemallan, which means ‘place of many trees’ in the Mexican language Nahuatl. In fact, most of the departments’ names were given by the Mexican warriors that accompanied the Spanish troops during the colonization time in Guatemala.
2. Guatemala hosts the largest city in Central America. Overlooked by most visitors, Guatemala City is an interesting mix of old and new. Over the centuries the Capital of Guatemala had grown to a metropolis; today it is the home of almost 3 million people. Its Historical Center is 244 years old whereas the modern areas are constantly adapting to the new trends.
3. Almost half of the population in Guatemala is indigenous descendant from the Maya civilization. The modern society still practices pre-hispanic traditions that allow them to preserve their heritage. Today, around 20 different Mayan languages are still spoken and different Mayan communes are spread throughout the country.
4. Guatemala has over 300 microclimates given its altitudinal range. The country is divided in eight different regions that allow the biodiversity to be appreciated at its best. Located in the Northern Hemisphere, Guatemala has only two seasons: winter (dry season) and summer (rainy season).
5. A volcanically active spot where three tectonic plates converge. Guatemala belongs to the Pacific Ring of Fire and is the home to 37 volcanoes (only three of them being active). The volcanism in Guatemala is caused by the subduction of the Cocos Plate beneath the north American and Caribbean Plates. Due to its location above these geological faults, the country is a seismically active zone where tremors are relatively normal.
6. Some of the most important Mayan cities flourished in Guatemala around 5,000 years ago. The Maya achieved stunning advances in mathematics and astronomy, developed an extraordinary writing system and built monumental structures dedicated to their deities. Trace of these impressive achievements can be found in every region of Guatemala. Among the most important and largest Mayan cities are Tikal and El Mirador.
7. There is a remarkable religious syncretism between the Mayan spirituality and Catholicism. When the Spanish came to colonize this part of the world, they brought with them a completely different mentality. One of their goals was to Christianize the native groups, however that was not an easy task. Over the decades both cultures managed to adapt their beliefs and today many of the Catholic practices are merged with pre-hispanic traditions.
8. Guatemalan cuisine is a blend of different cultures. Unique combinations of spices, aromas and textures bring together extraordinary flavors. The traditional dishes are usually stews slowly cooked with dry chilies, meats and different vegetables. Besides that there is a variety of titbits for all tastes. Maize (corn), beans, and pumpkins had been part of the Mayan gastronomy for centuries and you will find them everywhere. The former Mayan traditions and way of cooking are infused with European recipes and ingredients, making today’s cuisine an exquisite delight.
Guatemala is an appealing country that needs to be seen at least once in a life time. Start planning your vacation and allow us to assist you in the process.
Location and Map
Guatemala is located in Central America and shares borders with Mexico to the North and West, Belize and the Caribbean Sea to the Northeast, Honduras to the East, El Salvador to the Southeast and the Pacific Ocean to the South.