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Guatemala: Home

Introduction to Guatemela

  • Capital: Guatemala City
  • Official Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Quetzal


  • Pre-Columbian: The Maya civilization flourished in Guatemala and surrounding regions from c. 1000 BCE to 900 CE.
  • Spanish Conquest: Conquered by Spain in the 16th century, Guatemala was part of the Captaincy General of Guatemala.
  • Independence: Guatemala gained independence in 1821 as part of the First Mexican Empire, then part of the Federal Republic of Central America, before full independence in 1839.
  • Civil War: Guatemala suffered a 36-year civil war from 1960 to 1996 between the government and leftist rebels.

Culture & Traditions

  • Cuisine: Known for dishes like pepian, tamales, tostadas. Ingredients like maize, beans, chili peppers are common.
  • Traje: Colorful traditional clothing worn in the highlands.
  • Music: Marimba music and dances like the Punto are popular cultural expressions.
  • Religions: Predominantly Catholic and Protestant Christian. Maya religions and practices coex

Geography & Environment

  • Regions: The highlands, Pacific coast, and the Petén region in the north have distinct geographies.
  • Volcanoes: Home to over 30 volcanoes including active ones like Pacaya.
  • Biospheres: Tikal National Park and Maya Biosphere Reserve are key protected areas.
  • Climate: Tropical climate. Prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tropical storms.

Famous Personalities

  • Rigoberta Menchú - Indigenous activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner
  • Miguel Ángel Asturias - Novelist and poet, won the Nobel Prize in Literature

Modern Guatemala

  • Economy: Dependent on agriculture and tourism. Major exports are coffee, sugar, textiles. 
  • Society: Indigenous Maya populations maintain distinct identities and practices. 

Recommended Readings & Film

  • Books:

    • "I, Rigoberta Menchú” by Rigoberta Menchú - Autobiography of the Nobel laureate
    • "The President" by Miguel Ángel Asturias - Novel by the Nobel laureate
    • "A Mayan Life" by Gaspar Pedro González - Memoir providing perspective on the civil war
  • Films:

    • "When the Mountains Tremble" (1983) - Documentary about the Guatemalan civil war
    • "La Llorona" (2019) - Horror film based on Guatemalan folklore
    • "Ixcanul" (2015) - Drama film set in indigenous Guatemala