18 Guatemala Facts: Exploring the Heart of the Mayan World

Guatemala is one of the most attractive countries in the world. Famous as the largest country in Central America, this region is known for its hospitality and captivating landscapes.

Bordered by El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, and Belize, Guatemala has many interesting facts to offer to all nature lovers worldwide.

Officially known as the “Republic of Guatemala,” it is one of those American countries with a Spanish heritage.

Moreover, this country includes some interesting volcanos, rainforests, and ancient Mayan sites. So, in this article, we will discuss some unknown and interesting facts about this country, Guatemala.

Interesting Guatemala facts

Guatemala is the home of the Maya Civilization.

Maya Civilization

This country is regarded as the home to the Maya Civilization. Guatemala is considered one of the most attractive and advanced pre-Columbian civilizations. Also, this country is home to the most brilliant minds on earth.

The Mayan people were believed to be very creative and intelligent human beings. This was evident in their exceptional astronomical knowledge and their sophisticated pyramid-temple buildings.

They created different numerical systems and calendars. They even invented rubber and ballgame, which is believed to be the ancestor of soccer.

Independence in Guatemala

Although this country has evidence of people inhabiting the area for more than 5,000 years, it officially has just over 200 years. However, Guatemala celebrates its independence on the 15th of September every year. 

Before that, Spain colonized it in the 1520s. However, Guatemala gained independence in 1821, from Spain, with other countries, including El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Honduras.

The age of Guatemala is over 5000 years.

Guatemala Oldest Continent

There are some suggestions that Guatemala is the oldest nation on the continent; however, that topic has been hotly debated.

Depending on several archaeological facts about Guatemala, the first evidence of human habitation here can trace back as far as 12000 BC. 

According to some suggestions, this region has been habituated for a minimum of 6000 years before its discovery, around 18000 BC.

With evidence of obsidian arrowheads, historians conclude that the initial habitats were hunter-gatherers. Also, there were signs of agriculture in particular regions with pollen, indicating maize cultivation.

The past conquerors of Guatemala

Guatemala is one of those few American nations that is not credited to Christopher Columbus. Instead, in 1523, this country was invaded by Pedro de Alvarado, who became the governor of this country. He was in the company of his Tlaxcatecan warriors, today known as Mexico.

The warriors called the first capital “Quauhtemallan,” which was in the Nahuatl language; however, it sounded like “Guatemala” to the Spanish. The word Quauhteallan means “forested land” or “land of trees.”

One Guatemala, multiple climates

One Guatemala Multiple Climates

Usually, Guatemala is famous as a country with a temperate climate, but that’s just a small part of the story. It has a unique geography in comparison to other countries around the globe.

One interesting fact is that the different areas of this country have different climates.

Here mountains are misty; beaches are scorching; lowland jungles are dumped, etc. In Guatemala, some regions are drier, while some are colder.

Guatemala is a great location to experience varying climates. So, you can visit this country if you wish to enjoy its versatility.

The beautiful Lake Atitlan

One of the most interesting facts about Guatemala is that it is home to the deepest Lake in Central America, which is the famous Lake Atitlan, with a depth of 340 meters. 

This alluring lake ranks as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world; whether it is true or not is a matter of debate.

However, Lake Atitlan is one of the most popular tourist attractions and a famous landmark in Guatemala.

Also, according to Aldous Huxley and Alexander Von Humboldt, it is one of the most beautiful lakes on the planet.

Civil War of Guatemala

Civil War Of Guatemala

One of the vital historical facts about Guatemala is that it holds the title of having the longest civil war in the history of Latin America.

This brutal war lasted almost 36 years, from 1960 to 1996.  When this war ended, it had already claimed the lives of at least 200,000 citizens. 

This took place between several rebel groups and the Guatemalan government. Those rebel groups even included leftist and right-wing vigilante groups.

Also, the government was blamed for committing genocide against both the Mayan people and violating civilian human rights.

Tajumulco Volcano

A cool fact about this country is that it has the highest point in Central America. The Tajumulco volcano stands at a height of at least 4200 meters above sea level.

Its peak is thought to be a part of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, a mountain range that extends from southern Mexico to Guatemala. Some even say that Tajumulco has two peaks, making other older volcanos a foundation.

This volcano can be assessed through the city of San Marcos, which is on the southern part of the volcano and is around 14 km from the site.

Chocolate originated here


Guatemala can be referred to as the origin of chocolate. Although this fact is debatable, it is still true that the Mayan culture, dated as far as 600 A.D., has used chocolate.

It is claimed that the term ‘chocolate’ comes from the Mayan language with the source word “xocoatl,” which is translated as bitter water. Those times the basic ingredient for cold, thick, and unsweetened drinks was cocoa.

There was no sugar then, so various spices were used to add flavor. One of those spices is chili peppers, which are now common in gourmet chocolate today.

It is a diverse country.

Guatemala is one of the countries with an excellent diversity of interesting cultures. There are a minimum of 20 ethnic groups in this region, which makes it a captivating destination to experience different ethnic cultures.

Another interesting fact about this country is that it is the birthplace of the Maya civilization.

In addition, this country has impressive cultural diversity, like there are 21 languages spoken in Guatemala. Although Spanish is the official language in this nation and is used by almost 90% of this country’s citizens, there are also 20 more languages in Guatemala.

Agriculture is important here.

Agriculture in Guatemala

Agriculture is very important in Guatemala. Though it sounds like a cliché, agriculture is still an irreplaceable part of the culture in Guatemala.

The significant cash crops in this country include bananas, coffee, cotton hemp, sugar, and also cacao. 

Another vital economic fact about Guatemala is that the agricultural sector usually generates around 25% of the GDP of this country. More interestingly, the agricultural sector employs around 50% of Guatemala’s labor force.

The national dish, Pepian

Many people argue that this country doesn’t have a national dish, while some believe pepian is the national dish of Guatemala, as it is a traditional food of this country. It is one of the most popular and oldest dishes in Guatemala.

Most cuisines of Guatemala combine the Spanish and Mayan cultures, which produce extraordinary delicacy, and pepsin is no different.

Chicken is the main ingredient of this dish, and hence, some call it chicken pepian; however, beef and pork can also be used. Some other ingredients are pear, carrots, corn, etc.

Christmas in Guatemala

Christmas In Guatemala

Celebrating Christmas is a vital part of Puerto Rico culture ad is well adopted in this country. Similar to Puerto Rico, Guatemala has a minimum of 80% Catholics or Christians.

In Guatemala, families spend Christmas Eve together and enjoy the main Christmas meal. The traditional dish of this festival depends on the family;

however, some ever-present food includes tamales. These delicacies are made of different ingredients, according to the region, and some of those ingredients can be rice, corn, or potatoes.

The family sticks together and celebrates the birth of Jesus by lighting fireworks and saying prayers.

Dressing in Guatemala

One of the most colorful facts about Guatemala is that every village has its unique pattern when it comes to clothes.

The Mayan people are known as lovers of bright colors, which is reflected in their dresses; blouses, capes, and shirts are mostly vibrant colors.

These unique patterns can identify people, depending on the villages. Poorer Guatemalans wear traditional clothes, whereas Ladinos like to dress in the Western style.

Guatemala’s capital

Guatemalas Capital

Guatemala City is Guatemala’s capital and the center of this country’s economy. Although this place is popular for its high altitude, its proximity to volcanos, and ancient Mayan ruins, it is integral to the economy of this country.

The labor force of this country is divided into three by percentage. Tourism employs 35%, agriculture employs 50%, while commercial and industrial centers in the capital city employ the remaining 15% of Guatemala’s labor force.

Guatemala is a country where you will find over 30 volcanoes, including both extinct ones and active ones.

Guatemala is divided into three geographic regions

Two vital mountain chains run across this country from West to East. Also, this country has three geographic regions, such as:

  • The Pacific Coast region, to the South.
  • The mountainous area is known as the highlands.
  • The Peten region, in the North.

Guatemala is bordered by two oceans and four countries

Green Gold of Guatemala

Surrounding this country are the countries of Belize, Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras. Also, on the east coast, you will see the Caribbean Sea, which is part of the Atlantic Ocean, and on the west coast is on the Pacific Ocean.

Also, Guatemala is the largest exporter of cardamom in the world. In fact, it is known as the “Green Gold of Guatemala.”

Some other goods exported by this country are palm oil, sugar cane, vegetables, fruits, flowers, and handicrafts.

Here you can find three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In Guatemala, you can see three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as Antigua, once the capital of Guatemala, Tikal National Park, and the Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua.

So, Guatemala is an interesting country with a captivating history, culture, cuisine, landscapes, and many more.

At the end of this article, we have learned 18 interesting facts about Guatemala that clearly show this unique country. To get some additional amazing facts, you can see our website.

Guatemala Facts
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