Guatemala, Heart of the Mayan World
Guatemala, Heart of the Mayan world, is an alive, magical, mystic, and ancestral country. Its history dates from four thousand years ago when the Mayan civilization emerged, and whose legacy is still evident in the traditions and culture of its habitants.
Guatemala counts with many natural resources, an extraordinary cultural richness as well as a privileged geographic location. The distances from place to place are so short that you can visit different regions during the same trip. Between its past and present, it is a unique country, full of adventure and diverse activities for every visitor.
Guatemala is known as the country of the eternal spring, its fair weather allows you to visit it in any time of the year. It also offers various accesses from any part of the world by its two international airports: La Aurora, located in the city and Mundo Maya, located in Petén.
The colorful handicraft markets and regional costumes, the hospitality, and the beauty of the landscapes that frame the volcanoes, lakes, rivers, and mountains make Guatemala a place to be kept in the visitors` heart. Not to mention that the natural, cultural and historic heritage is evident in every corner of the country.
Guatemala holds most of the archeological sites of the Mayan culture which are surrounded by and impressive flora and fauna, and are considered true lungs of the humanity. The magic and mystery of the Mayan world subsist in millenary cities like Tikal, Yaxhá, Aguateca, Mirador, Quiriguá, and Q´uma´rkaj among others.
Additionally, Guatemala offers advantages for some specific segments in tourism; like its strategic location and the facilities in its land and maritime terminals which make it an important destination for cruise ships from the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts. Its pacific coast resources make Guatemala as one of the best places of the world to sailfish fishing. By its More than 720 species of birds, Guatemala is a wonderful and important destination for birdwatching; besides, the country has all the characteristics to do business activities, and is also the ideal place for national and international conventions.
The richness and diversity of Guatemala offer you many ways to enjoy your vacations or business travel, since you may find different tourism segments along its seven wonderful regions.
- Guatemala, Modern and colonial
- Highlands, Living Mayan culture
- Petén, Adventure in the Mayan world
- Izabal, A green Caribbean
- The Verapaces, Natural paradise
- The Pacific Coast, Exotic and diverse
- The East, Mystic and natural
Guatemala is one of the main cultural destinations of the world. There, the popular traditions are manifested authentically. The Guatemalan ancestral culture is originated by the pre-Hispanic Mayan legacy. Cultural guidelines and traditions from the colonial period are added as well. Finally, the contemporary period provides its own creating a particular fusion in this country of magical contrasts.
Guatemala is a country for visitors with all kinds of tourist expectations. They may enjoy traditions that have endured from generation to generation through the oral tradition. Some of such traditions are the dance, music, and indigenous valuable art. Holy Week is one of the most relevant, cultural, and religious manifestations for its deep religious syncretism. Moreover, the Palo Volador, the Horseback riding race in Todos Santos Cuchumatán, the kites of Santiago Sacatepéquez (huge kites that are elevated with messages for the ancestors), every November the 1st, and the Cofradías (brotherhoods) are only some of the manifestations of the cultural richness of the country.
The handicrafts are a delicate expression of the Guatemalan culture. The visitor may find a wide variety of handicrafts beautifully made from every region of the country. Many products can be bought by accessible prices: handmade, colorful textiles, carved wood, silver, jade jewelry, candles, pottery, blown glass, leather articles, and many more handicrafts that distinguish the cultural diversity of this small, but great country.
Visiting the colorful markets of the indigenous regions is mandatory, especially the ones in Chichicastenango, San Francisco el Alto, and the diverse towns around Lake Atitlán, among others. The Central Market of Guatemala City, the Handicraft Market located close to the International Airport La Aurora and the Handicraft Market of Antigua Guatemala offer a wide selection of products and handcrafts.
Flavors of Guatemala
The Guatemalan gastronomy has pre-Hispanic roots and displays a colorful mosaic of flavors and exquisite aromas. Each region of the country owns dishes made with ancestral recipes in which are combined a diversity of spices, fruits, and vegetables representative of the country.
The meals that best represent the Guatemalan culinary culture and that have been declared Cultural Heritage of the Nation are: Jocón, Pepián. Kaq´ik, and Plátano en mole. Other meals worthy to mention are: Subanik, Gallo en Chicha, sweet and salty tamales, Pollo con loroco, rellenitos de Plátano, torrejas, buñuelos and the traditional candies of Antigua Guatemala. Every November 1st, Day of all Saints, a meal where vegetables of pre-Hispanic origin and meats of European origin are mixed to form the traditional Fiambre.
- Official Name: Republic of Guatemala
- Mayan Name: Quauhtemallan, place where trees abound
- Boundaries: North and Westward with Mexico
- Southeastward El Salvador and Honduras
- Southward with the Pacific Ocean
- Northeastwards with Belize and Caribbean Sea
- Extension: 108,889 kilometers
- Surface: The 82 % of the territory is made of slopes and highlands. It has more than 35 volcanoes of which 13 comply with the necessary conditions and two mountain ranges cross the country.
- Population: 13,344,770 habitants (2007)
- Political division: 22 departments
- Capital: Guatemala City
- Currency: Quetzal
- National Holiday: September 15th, Independence Day
- Schedule: GMT-6:00
- Country code: +502
- Internet domain: .gt
- International dialing: 00+country code+ area code+ phone number
Automático: 00 + Código país + Código de área + número de teléfono
The Guatemalan territory has an extension of 108,889 kilometers. It is furrowed by numerous rivers and is covered by tropical jungles, woody plains, and many lakes. The low jungles in the North of Petén are rich in wilderness, fine wood, rubber trees and petroleum. Two mountain ranges cross the country. One is the Niquihil of Sierra Madre in San Marcos, and the other in Huehuetenango. Both form the biggest elevation in Central America.
The volcanoes in the country are a characteristic feature. Three of them remain active. That offers spectacular landscapes. Cavers enjoy exploring the numerous caves that expand many kilometers underground and where huge stalactites, stalagmites, and other unusual rock formations cover the beautiful structures. It is worthy to mention that the access to such caves is by underground rivers.
Guatemala can be visited during any time of the year. Its average temperature is of 22 C º. The country enjoys of two seasons: The rainy from May to October, and the dry from November to April.
The average temperature in the highlands region is of 18.3 C º (64.9 F º), in the coasts is of 25.3 C º (77 F º), and in Guatemala City the temperature is regularly of 19 C º (66.2 F º).
The official language is Spanish. Other 21 languages of Mayan, Xinca, and Garífuna origin are spoken as well.
There are 13,344,770 habitants. The habitants are divided into 21 ethnic groups of Mayan, Ladinos, Garifunas, and Xincas. (Updated in 2007).
The official currency is the Quetzal (Q)/ Q1.00= 100 cents. In Guatemala, a variety of credit cards are accepted, except for the credit card Maestro. Traveler’s checks are also accepted. In the International Airport La Aurora an exchange house can be found. You may visit www.globalexchange.com to verify the currencies that are accepted.
Guatemala ofrece los más avanzados servicios de teléfono doméstico e internacional, Internet, fax, télex, telégrafo y correo postal.
The Guatemalan Constitution guarantees religious freedom. The main religion is the Roman Catholic, but certain tendency towards Evangelic Christianity has been developed. Some communities still practice a combination of Catholicism and pre-Columbian rites called Religious Syncretism.
It is very practical to move around the country. It has a road network that may take visitors to the main tourist destinations. The buses are modern and comfortable, since tourism agencies operate them. There is also many other options to transport as taxies, car rental, buses and by airway.
Central American citizens may come to Guatemala by showing their identification document or their current passport. European and American visitors do not need a Visa. Visitors from other nationalities please visit www.migracion.gob.gt
The tax to be paid if one is leaving by air is of $30.00 and an additional one of $3.00 for Airport Security.
The Capital City emerges as cosmopolitan. The activities that are offers vary from operas, theatre presentations, ballet, symphonic concerts, hotel, shows, restaurants, and night clubs where local and international artists perform and museum and art gallery visits. A well –known place for night entertainment is Zona Viva.