Fun Facts

The name Guatemala is said to mean the “land of many trees” in the Maya-Toltec language. However, many believe that it comes from the word “Guhatezmalh” which means “mountain that vomits water”.

The first inhabitants arrived around 18 000 BC

Guatemala was the hub of the Mayan civilization

It is home to 33 volcanoes

Half of the population are direct descendants of the Maya

Spanish is the official language but there are 21 Mayan dialects

The terrible civil war lasted from 1966 to 1996

25% of the GDP is from Agriculture: coffee, sugar and bananas are the mainstay

The northern plains are sparsely populated

Most crops are cultivated in the Pacific lowlands

Most people live in the Central Highlands area

Guatemala City is the capital with a population of about 3 million in the metropolitan area.

The second largest city is Quetzaltenango, or Xela (Shay-la)

Guatemala is the most visited country in Central America

Tikal National Park was the World’s first mixed UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The colonial city of Antigua and the ruins of Quirigua are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Antigua was the old capital of Guatemala until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1773

Guatemala cuisine is based around tamales, chilis, corn and beans

Quetzaltenango and the Guatemalan currency “quetzal” are named for the beautiful tropical bird, the Quetzal

It is believed that in the time of the Mayan Empire, the bird’s tail feathers were used as currency

The Mayans of Guatemala created the first chocolate bar

Mayans came up with the mathematical concept of zero

Guatemala produces more jade than anywhere in the world

Blue denim comes from Guatemala

Guatemala is known for its hand-woven textiles, pottery and wooden carvings

Guatemala gained independence from Spain in 1821, and was officially established as a Republic in 1847

Guatemalans are passionate about soccer

It is hot and humid in the lowlands and cooler in the highlands

The President is elected by popular vote for a four-year term

There is no state religion: however, the constitution recognizes the Catholic Church

35 to 40 % of Guatemalans consider themselves evangelical Christians

Guatemala’s population was estimated to be 14 373 472 in 2013


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