The name Guatemala is derived from Quuahtlemallan that means “Place of many trees” in the Nahuatl language. Guatemala has a rich culture and a diverse population of people from the Mayan, Latinos, Garifuna, and the Xinka descent. Guatemala is located in Central America and has a population density of 16.6 million people, whereby 50% of the population practices Roman Catholicism.
Guatemala earned its independence in 1821 from Spanish colonial rule. Spanish is the official language and used for communication by 90% of the population. However, Guatemala has a diversity of 25 different recognized languages. Guatemala has a mild climate all year round, thus also referred to as a “country of eternal spring.”
1. National Anthem
The Guatemalan national anthem was written by a Cuban Jose Joaquin Palma and composed by Rafael Alvarez Ovalle. The White Nun Orchid (Monja Blanca) is the national flower of Guatemala.
The Guatemalan Quetzal is the local currency of the country, and more interesting, Quetzal is also the name of the endangered Guatemala national bird. The Guatemala national bird is considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world, characterized by its colorful body and long–feathered tail.
3. Chocolate Bar
was inveted in Guatemal
chocolate bar was invented by the Maya people who believe that chocolate has great nutritional value and it’s the food of the gods, and interestingly they worship the cacao tree. During the ancient Mayan civilization, chocolate was greatly used as a form of currency for trade.
Guatemala is ranked the poorest country in Central America with a total nominal GDP of $49.8 billion with the highest crime rate, and this is attributed by 50% of the nationals living in poverty, and a 60% population that does not know how to read and write.14% of this population live on less than $1.25 per day.
Guatemala has over thirty volcanoes, of which three are still active due to the confluence of three tectonic plate movements around the area. The active volcanoes include Pacaya, Fuego and Santiaguito. The Tajumulco volcano boasts of having the highest peak in Central America, with heights reaching 4,220 meters.
6. Capital City
Antigua, now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was once Guatemala’s city in 1776 until a devastating earthquake occurred, leaving ruins; hence the capital shifted to Guatemala City, also known as Nueva Guatemala de la Asuncion.
Coffee is one of the main export and source of income in Guatemala. Guatemala was the first country to initiate the process of making instant coffee under the English chemist George Washington in 1906.
8. Blue Denim
Guatemala is the leading producer of blue denim, and it’s distributed around the world by the Levis brand.
Guatemalans have preserved their indigenous Mayan handwoven fabrics culture for almost 2000 years, and these fabrics are exquisite and multi-colored.
10. Deepest Lake
Lake Atitlan is the deepest lake in Central America, with beautiful breathtaking views of the volcanoes. Lake Atitlan has 18 islands and covers a length of 26kilometers, a width of 18 kilometers, and a depth reaching 340 meters, making it one of the great wonders in Central America. Lake Atitlan was formed through volcanic eruptions around 84,000 years ago.
Guatemala, with a population density of 16.6 million people, is viewed to be the most populous and has the youngest population in Central America. Almost half of Guatemala’s population is under the age of 19. Approximately 50% of Guatemalans are employed in agricultural activities and 35% in the tourism industry.
In Guatemala, there are effigies of a Saint called Maximon without arms because of a myth believed that Maximon would sleep with all the village men’s wives once they head to work, and the men, out of anger, cut his arms and leg. Some Guatemalans still worship Maximon and offer him alcohol and cigars for blessings.
13. Duolingo Creator
Luis Von Ahn, a Guatemalan national, is the creator of the Duolingo and also the creator of the CAPTCHA and RECAPTCHA technology.
14. Largest Tree reserves
The name Guatemala in the Mayan language refers to a land of trees, and this is evident by Guatemala having the largest and dense tree reserves in Central America.
Guatemala is among largest producers of Jade in the world, a green ornamental gemstone, and the Guatemalans use these rare gems to perform rituals. The main source of jade gemstones is the Motagua River valley.
Guatemala has the second-largest concentration of ozone in the world.
17. All Saints Day Kite Festival
Every 1st November, Guatemalans fly beautiful, massive kites that measure up to as much as 36 meters over the graves of their family members to honor their dead as they lay flowers and pray. The Guatemalan’s have practiced this ritual for over 3000 years. Bamboo frames, paper, or fabric are used in the construction of kites.
18. Sink Hole
In 2010, a sinkhole measuring 60 feet wide and 30 stories deep opened up in the middle of Guatemala City, and it believed the cause of this sinkhole was attributed to the material the city is built on.
19. Chicken Buses
Old American school buses are auctioned off and imported to Guatemala, which is then revived and given a splash of rainbow colors and used for public transport. The bus drivers name the buses their wives or daughters names.
20. Number Zero
Mayans were the first civilization to derive the number zero.
Guatemala has 360 different microclimates that allow a variety of plants and animals to flourish. Guatemala has an average of 250 species of mammals, 200 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 600 species of birds.
22. Civil War
Guatemala has a history of civil war that lasted for 36 years between the years 1960 to 1996 and resulted in 200,000 casualties and one million refugees, and this has had great effects around the country to date.
23. Firing of Guns
Guatemalans fire guns into the sky as part of their tradition for the Christmas celebration, and this often causes fatalities of 5 to 10 people each Christmas as a result of falling bullets.
24. Stray Dogs
In Guatemala, you will often find many stray dogs roaming in the streets.
25. Largest UNESCO world heritage sites
Guatemala has the largest number of world heritage sites under UNESCO’s protection program, and they are considered to inspire great value to humanity and an irreplaceable source of life. Some of the most monumental sites include the Tikal National Park, the Ruins of Quirigua, and Archeological Park.