Guatemala is a state in Central America; it covers an area of 108,900 km². The population is 17,263,239 (2018), mostly Spanish-Indian mestizos and Indians. The official language is Spanish. Most of the believers are Catholics. The capital is Guatemala.
Administrative-territorial division: 22 departments. The form of government is republic. The head of state and government is president. The legislative body is unicameral National Congress. The largest cities are Guatemala, Quetzaltenango, Escuintala, Mazatenango, Puerto Barrios, Antigua.
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Nature and Climate
Guatemala has 33 volcanoes, many of which are active. The Cordilleras here are divided into two branches: the Cuchumatanes and the Sierra Madre. The country is divided into three physiographic areas: the lowlands of the Pacific Coast, the highlands of the southern and central part, and the Peten Plain in the north, where tropical forests grow. In the southwest of the highlands, separating it from the coastal lowlands, rises the Sierra Madre Range, whose ancient base is overlain by numerous cones of young volcanoes, including the highest mountain in Central America, Volcan Tajumulco (4,217 m).
In a depression among the volcanoes is the clearest lake Atitlan. From the slope of the highlands, facing southwest, flow short, turbulent rivers that flow into the Pacific Ocean. Most of the mountain area is crossed by rivers belonging to the Caribbean Sea basin: the Sarstoon, Motagua, and tributaries of the Polochik River. Tourists are attracted by picturesque lakes with clear water: Isabal, Ayarsa, Guija. Navigable rivers: Montagua, Polochik. National parks – Tikal, Rio Dulce, Atitlán.
The climate is tropical. The coastal lowlands are more humid and hot, with an average daily temperature of 27 ° C. Rainfall is heaviest on the Caribbean coast and on the slopes of the mountains, as well as on the Peten Plain (1500-2500 mm a year). The lowlands and lower slopes are covered with high-tree rainforest with closed crowns and almost no undergrowth. Palm trees grow on the Caribbean coast. Guatemalan forests are full of valuable trees: cedrela, dalbergia (rosewood), cypress, acaju (mahogany) and campeso, which provides a valuable dye. Lianas, epiphytes, and orchids grow here. Guatemala is home to about 2,000 species of birds. There are especially many tropical birds with colorful plumage, including various species of parrots. The Quetzal, a rare bird with bright green feathers and a long tail, has become the national symbol of Guatemala. The Quetzal appears on the national coat of arms and flag of the country and the monetary unit of Guatemala is named after it.
Guatemala is an agrarian country. The main cash crops are coffee, bananas, cardamom, cotton. Felling of valuable tropical wood and resin of chikle (for chewing gum production). The extraction of lead-zinc ores and salt is conducted. The food-tasting, leather, textile and petrochemical industries are developed. Seaports are Puerto-Barrios, San Jose, Champerico. Coffee, raw cotton, bananas, sugar are exported. Main foreign trade partners: USA, Mexico, Central America, Germany. The center has developed tourism. Currency is quetzal.
In ancient times the territory of the country was inhabited by Indians. In III-X centuries Guatemala was a center of the Maya Empire. In 1523 the country was conquered by the Spanish troops under the command of Pedro de Alvarado. In 1821 during the War of Independence of the Spanish colonies in America (1810-26) Guatemala proclaimed its independence. In 1824 slavery was abolished. In 1823-39 Guatemala was part of the United Provinces of Central America, which also included Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. In 1839, the constituent states declared full independence. From 1898 to 1920 and from 1931 to 1944 the country was ruled by dictatorial regimes. The government of President H. Arbenz Guzmán (1951-54), which tried to carry out land reform, was overthrown by a military coup, which was supported by the United States. A period (1954-65, 1970-85) of new coups organized by various military groups followed; left-wing rebel groups were active in the country. Since 1985, a civilian government has been in power. On January 3, 2000, the candidate of one of the right-wing parties, Alfonso Portillo, won the presidential elections. In May 2000, there were riots in the capital due to an increase in bus fares. The riot resulted in several deaths and the burning of more than 50 buses. The government struggled to resolve the conflict.
Guatemala is worth a visit to see for yourself how seamlessly the centuries-old history of the ancient Mayan tribes and the promising future of their descendants can be combined. This beautiful place of Central America is simply filled with legendary buildings.
The capital of the country is an architectural eclecticism: glass skyscrapers rise above the old majestic mansions, and the wide and bustling city shopping streets cross the narrow streets, where the locals sip a strong fragrant coffee.
The town is set in picturesque terrain surrounded by volcanoes, lakes and endless plantations that can be seen from a bird’s-eye view if you take a helicopter tour, costing about $900 for five passengers.
The cities of Tigal and Antigua are favorite destinations for tourists from all over the world because of the Mayan civilization. On the territory of cities to this day maintained a large number of pyramids, palaces and temples of ancient Indians.
Widely known for healing hot springs and handmade souvenirs the city of Quetzaltenango. The town of Santa Lucia Cozumalguapa will gladly open before you the pages of American history before its discovery by Columbus. And if you’ve always dreamed of taking a ride on a white-water yacht or a wooden fishing boat, you must visit Livingston in northeastern Guatemala, which offers water excursions.
Guatemalan cuisine is characterized by natural meat dishes, mainly beef and pork. Meat is roasted on grills or stewed in special ceramic pots. Popular dishes are tomato, corn, beans, and kidney beans. Domestic and wild birds are roasted on spits or stewed in pots with vegetables. One of the favorite dishes is the meat sausages reminiscent of Georgian kupaty. At lunch and dinner is sure to be served with table wine. For dessert you can choose ripe fruit. The obligatory attribute of the national table is strong natural coffee.
Hotels in Guatemala have their own appeal, the architecture of the hotels. They are all different, one can be compared to an ethnographic village, another – to a Spanish castle. But they do have something in common – excellent service of European level.
The room must be booked in advance. Resort hotels on the coast resemble hotels from the movies: fitness centers, swimming pools, playgrounds, deckchairs and palm trees.
Most hotels provide an included breakfast buffet. The staff speaks Spanish and English.
If you want to feel the flavor of the local culture, you should stay in a “gesthouse”: it offers full board, and the owners for a fee will help you explore the surroundings and tell ancient legends.
Entertainment and Recreation
There are more than ten national parks and reserves in Guatemala, and their flora and fauna are very diverse. There is also the deepest lake in Central America, Lake Atitlan. The descendants of the Maya tribe live right at the foot of the volcanoes around the lake.
Monterico is the most popular beach in Guatemala, it stretches along the Pacific coast and is an ideal place for lovers of bathing and sunbathing on the volcanic sand.
The country has a huge variety of celebrations. Each village or town has its own patron saint, whose day is usually celebrated on a grand scale, with musical performances and church services followed by festive processions and fireworks. Traditional Guatemalan clothing and local customs can be seen in the Sunday markets of Chichicastenango and the surrounding towns.
For those who prefer active rest to sunny, sandy beaches, there are many ways to spend time: hiking in ancient cities, mountain climbing in volcanoes, surfing, rafting, diving and other pleasures await the adrenaline junkies in Guatemala.
The best souvenirs for yourself and your loved ones may be the products and handicrafts of the indigenous peoples of Guatemala, which include woven clothing and calendars of the Indians, knitwear, semi-precious stones, woodwork, ritual attributes of the Maya civilization, and more.
Predominantly all the handicrafts can be purchased in the city markets, where the price is almost a third to knock down, a little haggling. The streets of cities across the country are literally strewn with souvenir shops, where you can find many products with images of bird-ketzal, which is the national symbol. If we talk about the products used by tourists as a “gift” for the loved ones, it must be said about the chocolate and coffee, it should be noted that even a small store will be able to offer a wide selection of them.
Guatemala’s urban public transportation is a small number of old school buses from the United States. The conductor is the “main” person on such a bus, as it is his responsibility to announce the route by sticking out of the open door and shouting out the necessary information. And this happens because most of the locals are illiterate. Also, the conductor performs the functions of turn signals and stop lights. Boarding and disembarking passengers is possible even at intersections and bridges, the fare is inexpensive. It is nicer and much safer (however, more expensive) to travel with the tourist shuttles: they move between the major cities, pick up and return to the hotel. The seats are seated only and have a good level of comfort. There is a cab, the price should be negotiated before boarding. The only means of transport, however, by which you can get to some of the national parks, is an ordinary boat.
Internet and cellular telephone service is actively developing in Guatemala. In the capital and major tourist cities of the country there are a huge number of Internet cafes. The airport and several hotels have access to wireless networks. GSM 800/1900 cell phone service is expanding rapidly. To make an international telephone call, you can use the services of post offices, where there are intercom stations.
Phone calls within the country are made with the help of pay phones, which can be found in abundance on the streets of the city.
Guatemala, like any country, has crime, but nowadays the organization of tourist security has increased considerably. A fairly large number of police officers are responsible for order in places frequented by visitors, but theft by pickpocket thieves and attacks to take foreigners’ money are frequent. Therefore, do not leave hotels in the evening and at night, as well as walk around the city alone.
Only first medical aid is free of charge. Full medical services for foreign citizens are provided exclusively by private medical centers, and its scope is stipulated by available insurance documents.
Guatemala has a very close connection to the history of the Mayan civilization. Every year, archaeologists find new artifacts, which allow them to open the door to the past of this people. The country’s authorities hold specialized exhibitions and conferences on the history of the Mayans, which gather not only professionals in the scientific field, but also attract a huge number of tourists.
It is important to note the importance for tourism in the country of the planned opening in December 2012 of the Ancient City of the Maya Samabah. Particular attention to this event is attracted by the fact that the city is located at the depth of Lake Atitlan, under the water column.
The peculiarity of the real estate market in Guatemala can be called its openness to investors. It is worth noting that this area can be called promising due to the annual increase in the number of tourists in the country. The average cost per square meter ranges from one to one and a half thousand dollars, although the location of the object of purchase / sale significantly affects the final price. Foreigners are free to buy and sell real estate in Guatemala, the exception is the areas on the state border, river and ocean shores.
When buying or selling real estate, foreigners must pay the required taxes and adhere to the laws of the country in the execution of the transaction. According to Guatemalan law, a foreign person can own real estate regardless of his/her migration status.
Tips for the tourist
If you have decided to visit Guatemala, have already chosen a tour operator and packed your bags with genuine trepidation, you should devote a few minutes to tips that will allow you to enjoy your trip:
Bringing foreign currency into the country is not restricted, but it will need to be registered on your tax return.
You can pay for souvenirs and goods with local currency and U.S. dollars.
Bargaining is welcome in all markets and all small stores, the exception being large shopping centers.
In restaurants and cafes leave a tip of about 10% of the order.
To use electrical appliances will require adapters and adapters, as the voltage of the electric network is 120 V.
To make an international call, use the telephone code 502 (country) and the area code (Guatemala City Code – 2).
If you want to use your cell phone while traveling, check if its model supports the 1800 band.
Beginning tourists need to know: Guatemala is part of the common visa agreement with countries such as El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. This means that if you have a visa for at least one of these countries, you can safely visit each of them.
On average, it takes 5 to 7 working days to obtain a visa for Guatemala. Duration of stay with a visa must not exceed 90 days. For the rest you have to follow the standard scenario of visa issuance and documents submission to the embassy or travel agency, and, of course, waiting time.
The Embassy of Guatemala in Moscow can be found at: 7, Koroviy val St., entrance 4, office 92. Phone: (+7 495) 238-2214.
Across the planet step by step
Guatemala is a small but picturesque state situated in Central America. Guatemala is a center of Maya civilization, the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, beautiful volcanoes and rainforests, ancient monuments and excellent ecology. There are 33 volcanoes and about 100 rivers in the small territory of the country, which amaze the tourists with its beauty. Guatemala is recognized as the fifth “hot spot” of the planet, one-third of the country is protected as natural reserves, which are home to exotic animals and birds. But despite all its natural wealth, Guatemala is the poorest country in Latin America.
Guatemala is “the place where many trees grow.”
The capital of the Republic of Guatemala is the largest and most modern city of Guatemala, Guatemala (the “New Guatemala of the Ascension”) named after the Virgin Mary, who in 1620 appeared to the inhabitants of the de las Vacasi Valley and became the city’s holy protector. The capital is located in the southeastern part of the Guatemalan highlands, in a valley at an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level. There were major Mayan cities in this valley even before the Spanish discovery of the Americas, and today these civilizations are almost completely hidden by modern structures. The city is located on the hills of three volcanoes, surrounded by intact forests of age-old trees, many ancient pyramids, churches and cathedrals.
The flag of Guatemala is a two-color rectangular cloth, with an aspect ratio of 5:8. The flag consists of three equal vertical stripes – sky-blue on the sides, and white in the middle. In the center of the white stripe is the national emblem of Guatemala .
- white is a symbol of purity and peace
- Blue – symbol of legality and justice
The Guatemalan coat of arms is a composition in the center of which is a scroll with the date of the independence of Central America from Spain – “LIBERTAD 15 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 1821” (September 15, 1821). On the scroll sits the Magnificent Quetzal bird, hanging its luxurious tail to the base of the coat of arms. Behind the scroll are two crossed Remington rifles with bayonets and two crossed swords. This entire composition is framed by a wreath of olive branches.
- The wreath of olive branches is a symbol of victory
- The quetzal bird symbolizes freedom
- two crossed Remington rifles – Guatemala’s readiness to defend itself in case of need
- two crossed swords – symbol of valor and honor
The National Anthem of Guatemala (“Himno Nacional”) is the national anthem of Guatemala, adopted in 1896. The lyrics were written by José Joaquín Palma and composed by Rafael Álvarez Ovalle. In 1934 part of the anthem was changed by Jose Maria Bonilla. The Guatemalan anthem is often abbreviated “Guatemala Feliz!” after the first line, but the anthem does not have a separate name, most commonly referred to as “Himno Nacional” (National Anthem). Read the text of the anthem of Guatemala…
The official currency of Guatemala is the Guatemalan Quetzal (lit.: Q or GTQ), which is equal to 100 centavos. Banknotes are in circulation in denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos and 1 quetzal (quetzal) as well as in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 quetzals (quetzals). In addition to the national currency, the U.S. dollar is also freely circulating. Quetzal is a non-convertible currency which cannot be converted outside the country. The best way to change your local currency is to use it before you leave home, which is easiest at the bank at the airport.
Guatemala on the world map
The Republic of Guatemala – a small state located in Central America, bordered in the north and northwest by Mexico, in the south and southeast – by Honduras and El Salvador, in the northeast – by Belize, washed in the west by the Pacific Ocean and in the east – by the Gulf of Honduras of the Caribbean Sea.
Guatemala covers 108,890 km² of mountains, hills, plateaus, deep valleys and numerous volcanoes. The highest point of the country is the volcano Tajumulco (4,211 m). 54% of the country is covered by dense forests. Due to the fact that the country lies at the junction of several tectonic plates, there is high seismic activity. Guatemala has many rivers, the longest of which is the Motagua River, and the most important lake in the country is Lake Isabal.
What is worth seeing in Guatemala?
Here’s a small list of sights to look at when making a tour plan for Guatemala:
- Quirigua Archaeological Park
- Maya Aguateca Archaeological Center
- Quetzal Biosphere Park
- Semuc Champay Falls
- Pacaya Volcano
- Sololá City
- Palace of Captain Generals
- Bat Palace in Tikal
- Reserva Natural Reserve in Monterrico
- The Lost World in Tikal
- Metropolitan Cathedral
- Coffee Plantation at the Asotea Cultural Center
- Mayan Music Museum at the Asotea Cultural Center
- Yaxha-Nacum-Naranjo National Park
- Tikal National Park
- Lake Atitlan
- King Marco Caves
- Seven Temples Square in Tikal
- Yaxha Ruins
- Ritual cave of the Maya in Guatemala
- Northern Acropolis
- Temple of the Great Jaguar in Tikal
- Temple of the Two-Headed Serpent in Tikal
- Temple of the Masks in Tikal
- Central Park in Coban
- Antigua Central Square
- St. Augustine Church
- Church of Mercy
- Jurrieta Church
- Fort San Felipe de Lara
- Guatemala, the capital city of the Republic of Guatemala
- Villa Nueva
- San Juan Sacatepequez
- Villa Canales
Guatemala has a tropical climate, which is directly influenced by the altitude and the availability of humid trade winds that blow inland from the Caribbean Sea. In the mountains and plateaus the average temperature ranges from +5 ° C in winter to +20 ° C in summer, and on the coast all year round the temperature is +26 ° C … +28 ° C. Guatemala can distinguish two seasons – from May to October with relatively cool and rainy winters, and from November to April with hot and dry summers. The rainy season throughout Guatemala lasts from mid-May to early October, with maximum rainfall on the Caribbean coast – up to 3,000 mm per year. The best time to visit the country is from November to April.
The population of Guatemala is 16,887,786 (data as of February 2017), of which 55% are Indians, descendants of the ancient Mayans, 45% are Mestizo Ladino, descendants of intermarriages between Indians and Europeans, 9% are descendants of Germans and Spaniards, and natives of Italy, Britain, France, and Belgium, 1% are natives of the African continent.
Spanish is the official language of Guatemala, spoken by 93% of the population. Other national languages include the Maya, Xinca, and Garifuna. In Guatemala there are about 20 languages belonging to the linguistic group (Kiche, Kekchi, Kakchikel, Mam, Pokomchi, Tsutuhil, Achie, Kanhobal, Ishil, Akatek, Hakaltek, Chuh, Pokomam, Chorti and others).
Christianity is the most widespread religion in Guatemala, with 95% of the country’s population practicing Christianity. Of these, 60% are Catholics and 40% are Protestants. The ancient religious beliefs, often combined with Christianity, are still strong in the Amerindian communities today.
- 1 January – New Year
- January 6 – Epiphany
- March/April – Easter and Easter Holidays
- May 1 – Labor Day
- 30 June – Guatemala Armed Forces Day
- September 15 – Guatemala Independence Day
- October 12 – Columbus Day
- October 20 – Revolution Day
- November 1 – All Saints Day
- December 24 – Christmas Eve
- December 25 – Christmas
- December 31 – New Year Eve
Here’s a little list of the most common souvenirs that tourists usually take from Guatemala:
- Guatemalan wooden mugs
- clay mugs with lids
- carved decorative figurines of mythological characters
- woven purses and bags
- Sculptures and products related to history of Mayan tribes
- Statuettes and amulets associated with religious rituals of tribes
“No nail, no rod” or customs regulations
Guatemala’s customs regulations permit no restrictions on the import and export of foreign currency, while a declaration is obligatory; however, the import and export of local currency is prohibited.
Individuals over the age of 18 are allowed up to 80 cigarettes or 100 grams of tobacco and up to 1.5 liters of alcoholic beverages duty free. To bring medicines for personal use, you must have a supporting certificate from a medical institution. Pets must be vaccinated at the time of travel and have a veterinary certificate. A special permit is required.
It is prohibited to export drugs, archaeological treasures, antiques, rare animals and birds, their skins and stuffed animals.
Voltage in electric network
Voltage of the electric grid in Guatemala: 120 volts at 60 hertz. The socket types are: Type A, Type B, Type G, Type I.
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