Guatemala Facts – 10 Fun and Interesting Facts!
Guatemala is best known as the birthplace of the Mayan civilisation and many of its ancient traditions are present across the country. Guatemala is a land of extraordinary landscapes and a sense of the exotic, and you will also find a profound sense of hospitality among the people, who will invite you to discover all aspects of their country with open arms. Whether you want to persue learning Spanish or just want to discover more about Guatemala for a trip abroad, we have listed some Guatemala facts you need to know. Buen viaje!
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10 Guatemala Facts:
1. Spanish is the Official Language of Guatemala
The official language of Guatemala is Spanish. Yet, 21 distinct Mayan languages as well as several non-Mayan Amerindian languages are also spoken in Guatemala, particularly in the rural areas. The name Guatemala actually means ‘land of the trees’ in the Maya-Toltec language. The first on our list of Guatemala facts.
2. Tamajulco is the Highest Peak in Guatemala
Tajamulco Volcano is the highest point in Guatemala, at 4,220m. Guatemala is home to 33 volcanoes spread throughout the highlands. Of these 33 volcanoes 3 watch over the colonial town of Antigua: Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. Activities such as hiking, mountain biking and bird watching are popular activities on these volcanoes.
3. UNESCO World Heritages Sites in Guatemala
Guatemala boasts three UNESCO World Heritage sites. the beautiful town of Antigua Guatemala, the ancient Maya archaeological site of Quirigua and Tikal National Park in northern Guatamala.
4. The Importance of Agriculture
Agriculture contributes a quarter of Guatemala’s GDP. Coffee, bananas and sugar are its main products.
5. Is Chocolate from Guatemala?
Chocolate is originally from Guatemala, so they say! It was used in Mayan culture as early as the sixth century A.D. The word ‘chocolate’ comes from the Maya word ‘xocoatl’ which means bitter water. At the time, cocoa was the basis for a thick, cold, unsweetened drink. As sugar was not yet discovered, different spices were used to add flavour, including hot chilli peppers – which are used in gourmet chocolate production today.
6. The Division of Guatemala
Guatemala is divided into 3 main parts: the sparsely-populated northern plains, the volcanic yet largely-populated central highlands and the agricultural Pacific lowlands. It is known as ‘land of the eternal spring’ as it boasts a warm, tropical climate.
7. The Flag of Guatemala
The Guatemalan flag features two blue vertical stripes, representing the sea on either side of the country, with a white vertical stripe in the middle bearing the country’s coat of arms. This coat of arms includes the quetzal, Guatemala’s national bird, and a scroll that gives the date of Guatemala’s independence.
8. Delicious Food in Guatemala
Eating out in Guatemala is inexpensive and delicious. Guatemala’s food and drink is influenced by its Mayan and Spanish cultures. The climate also enables them to produce an abundance of tropical fruit. Breakfast in Guatemala usually consists of eggs, tortillas, beans and plantains, with fruit such as papaya, bananas, mangoes and avocado. Guatemalan coffee on the side is a must! Lunch and dinner are usually then based around corn, beans, rice, cheese and tortillas, with soups (sopas) and stews (caldos). Nachos, stuffed peppers, tamales and enchiladas are also popular in Guatemala, as they are in Mexico.
9. Guatemala’s Independence Day
September 15th is Independence Day in Guatemala. On this day, they celebrate the country’s independence from Spain on September 15th 1821. It is a national holiday and the largest holiday festival takes place in Quetzaltenango.
10. The Beauty of Lake Atitlan
Visiting Lake Atitlan is a must whilst in Guatemala. Famous for its natural beauty, Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán) is the deepest lake in Central America. The lake is surrounded by three spectacular volcanoes as well as many colourful Mayan towns and villages. Maya culture is predominant in these lakeside communities. Lake Atitlan is about 50km north-west of Antigua. The last on our list of Guatemala facts!
Are looking to discover Guatemala? Cactus offers a variety of great Spanish language courses for adults in Guatemala, for those looking to start an immersive language experience. Cactus also offers a variety of great Spanish language courses, online and in the UK!
Learning Spanish is a wonderful way to discover the amazing cultures of many different countries! Did you enjoy these Guatemala Facts? Then you can also Download our Spanish Language Kit.
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