The Republic of Guatemala is situated in Central America between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It is a Spanish-speaking country with an approximate population of 13 million inhabitants. The official currency is the Quetzal. It is a very beautiful country dotted by mountains and volcanoes and is visited by many visitors each year. There are around 30 active volcanoes in Guatemala. The surface of this country is slightly larger than the state of Tennessee but has the deepest lake in Central America. Lake Atitlan stand in the place of a former volcano than exploded and it is 300 meters deep.
The nature is very rich in this country. Vast misty forests are the perfect host for the abundant fauna. The Quetzal bird is one of the symbols of this country and ancient Maya believed that it was the incarnation of the god Quetzacoatl. These birds have amazing colours and their tail can be even 1-meter long. In ancient times the feather of this bird was used as currency. The forests also have the inhabitants of animals like jaguars, ocelots, mule deer, monkeys and tapirs.
The Maya civilization used to live in the territories of modern Guatemala. They very advanced in astronomy and mathematics and many believe that they were the inventors of zero. The Maya Empire collapsed in the 10th century from yet unknown reasons but the culture can still be seen. Women wear bright, vibrant colours and the textiles have specific traditional patterns.
Many people believe that the name of the state comes from Guhatezmalh that described a volcano near the old capital, Antigua. The name can be translated as the “Volcano that vomits water”. The modern capital of this state is Guatemala City. The economy of this state boomed in the late 19th century thanks to the export of coffee. Unfortunately, this led to massive deforestation and destruction of local communities. In modern days local traditions are preserved and coffee plantations are strictly regulated.
Ancient Maya temples can be found all over Guatemala. The temple of Tikal was built around 1300 years ago. Many temples were unfortunately destroyed during the Spanish invasion from the 16th century. The local communities were forced to work for the Spanish and the colony was named New Spain. Guatemala claimed independence from Spain in 1821. There are around 21 Maya languages that can be heard only in secluded mountain areas where descendants from the Maya still live.
The national flower of Guatemala is the White Nun Orchid. It can be found in the abundant tropical forests all around the country. A very large amount of the coffee around the world is produced in Guatemala. This country is also the birth place of instant coffee. Almost 50% of the population still works in the coffee industry. Chocolate was also produced in this country more than 1000 years ago by the Maya. The recipe was taken to Europe and extra flavours were added. Guatemala is also the world’s leading producer of jade, supplying jewelleries all around the globe.