50 Fascinating Facts about Guatemala

Guatemala is located in Central America and is bordered by Mexico and Belize to its north, the Pacific Ocean, Honduras and El Salvador to its south, and the Pacific Ocean to its west. The country is 42,043 square miles (108,890 square kilometers) large and has a total population of 13.2 million people. Its capital city of Guatemala City is home to 1.1 million people, and is constantly growing. The official language of Guatemala is Spanish, and it does not recognize an official religion. However, around 50% of its citizens practice Catholicism. The Guatemalan flag is comprised of two blue stripes encompassing one white stripe. In the middle of the white stripe is Guatemala’s coat of arms. The currency that is used in the country is the Quetzal.

Guatemala Facts

1
Guatemala’s total nominal GDP is $49.8 billion.
2
Guatemala has an unequal distribution of income. More than half of the country lives under the poverty line, while many other citizens have high paying jobs.
3
Some of Guatemala’s main exports include fruits and vegetables, flowers, and clothes. They import corn and biofuel.
4
Guatemala is a part of the Dominican Republic – Central America Free Trade Agreement, which means that it can trade freely between the United States and many other Central American countries.
5
The country runs under a unitary presidential constitutional republic. They elect a new President and Vice President each term.
6
The name Guatemala translates into land of trees in the Mayan language. Today, the country has the largest tree reserves in Central America.
7
Even though the official currency of the country is the Quetzal, many larger businesses will take the US dollar.
8
The first ever chocolate bar was invented in Guatemala.
9
There are over twenty indigenous languages spoken throughout Guatemala. Because of this, many newspapers and businesses find it difficult to communicate with many older indigenous people. Spanish is spoken as a first or second language by approximately 90% of the population though.
10
Instant coffee was invented in Guatemala.
11
The Museum of Archeology and Ethnology is Guatemala is home to one of the largest collections of Mayan artifacts in the world.
12
Traditional food in Guatemala today is still based on the traditional food eaten by the Mayans. Their diet is largely based on corn, beans and chilies.
13
During Christmas festivities, Guatemalans go to church, spend time with their families and eat a variety of tamales as their main dish.
14
It is tradition to eat a dish known as paches each Thursday. Paches are tamales that are potato based.
15
Funerals in Guatemala occur as soon as the person passes. It is traditional to have a funeral quickly in order to allow the person’s soul to pass into Heaven sooner. Funerals are often decorated with many candles and rum in drank in remembrance of the deceased. Loud crying and mourning occurs only at funerals of adults, children are mourned for quietly.
16
Blue denim was first invented in Guatemala. Shortly after their invention, the Levis brand began distributing blue jeans around the world.
17
The Mayans were the first civilization to determine the number zero.
18
Most unmarried adults will live with their parents until the day they marry their spouse.
19
Guatemala has the most UNESCO heritage sites in the world. Some of these include the Archeological Park, the Ruins of Quirigua and Tikal National Park
20
Guatemala is home to 33 volcanoes. Most of the volcanoes are located in the central highlands of the country, which is largely populated.
21
Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America.
22
Guatemala became independent in 1821.
23
Tikal is one of the country's most popular tourist sites. It is the location of about 3,000 Mayan buildings that date back to 600 B.C. to A.D. 900.
24
In terms of area, Guatemela is only slightly larger than Tennessee.
25
A 36-year guerilla war finally ended with the signing of a peace agreement in 1996. The war resulted in 200,000 casualties and created approximately one million refugees.
26
Almost half of the population is under the age of 19. Guatemela has the youngest population in Central America.
27
Ladinos and Mayas are the two main ethnic groups found in Guatemala.
28
Lake Atitlán is the deepest lake in Central America, with a maximum depth of approximately 340 meters.
29
About half of the country's workforce are employed in agriculture.
30
Guatemala is the leading producer in the world of jade, a green gemstone.
31
Over one million people visit this country every year.
32
In 2010, a hole opened up in the middle of Guatemala City. The hole was 30 stories deep and 60 feet wide. It is thought that the material that the city is built on was the cause for the hole.
33
About 14% of Guatemalans live on less than $1.25 per day.
34
Approximately 60% of the population does not know how to read or write.
35
Many Guatemalans enjoy playing basketball into the late hours of the night.
36
Guatemalans celebrate the country's independence from Spain every September 15.
37
Chichicastenango, or Chichi, is one of the top shopping spots in Guatemala. Shoppers can find such items as local fabrics, pottery, and items crafted from wood.
38
Monterrico features a volcanic beach that has black sand and is a great spot to get away from it all.
39
Guatemalans have a legend that says that Mayan babies do not cry at birth because they are born warriors.
40
The second highest concentration of ozone is found in this country, researchers say.
41
Part of "Star Wars: A New Hope" was filmed in Tikal Park.
42
The official currency, the Quetzal, is named after the rare national bird of Guatemala.
43
The blue stripes on the country's flad represent two bodies of water.
44
Guatemala has the highest fertility rate in Latin America.
45
A Cuban, José Joaquín Palma, wrote the Guatemalan national anthem.
46
Guatemala has one of the highest crime rates in Latin America.
47
About thirty-five percent of the workforce works in the tourism industry.
48
During the celebration of Christmas, it is common to shoot guns into the sky. Sadly, this results in five to ten deaths annually caused by falling bullets.
49
Guatemalans celebrate Day of the Dead every November 1.
50
Guatemala is considered to be one of the poorest cities in Latin America.

Guatemala is a vibrant country that is home to many different cultures. Due to a few economic pitfalls, the country has yet to become a developed country, but they are trying very hard to boost their economy. Today, over 50% of their citizens live under the poverty line while many others are living in luxury. Guatemalans are very close to their families, and often live near their immediate families in order to share each other’s salaries, food and clothes. The country is a wonderful place to visit, and is full of warm hospitality and beautiful cultures.

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