Guatemala has a wide variety of attractions to offer. In addition to the species-rich flora and fauna, the visitor will find many ancient sites from the Mayan culture. The most famous of these are Tikal and Quirigua. But Guatemala also has many special features in terms of landscape. These include the cloud forest, the numerous volcanoes or the primeval forest. These conditions make a trip to this country a real dream vacation.
Among the sports activities that can be done in Guatemala, include trekking, hiking through the fantastic nature or snorkeling or diving on the dream beaches on the coast.
Guatemala is particularly popular with individual travelers, as there are inexpensive overnight accommodations in almost every place. The vacationer finds the more upscale accommodations in the larger cities.
Many visitors who return from Guatemala rave about the diversity of nature, the varied landscapes and the impressive cultures. Indeed, Guatemala is a country that can offer a rich natural diversity. While the north of Guatemala has a fascinatingly beautiful tropical rainforest, the interior is more of a pine savannah. This is due to the very dry climate in the central part of the country. The mountains, on the other hand, are covered with tropical mountain and cloud forests.
The wildlife is most species-rich in the forested and humid regions of Guatemala. Some deer can even be found in the lowlands. Monkeys and tapirs also live in Guatemala. You can also see jaguars and umbilical pigs. Different species of snakes and crocodiles share the rainforest with iguanas and other reptiles.
The symbol and heraldic animal of Guatemala is the quetzal. This is a bird about 35 cm tall with extremely brightly colored feathers that can grow up to a meter in length.
Guatemala – important information for your trip
Area: 108,889 km² (land: 107,159 km², water: 1,730 km²)
Population: 13.8 million (July 2011, CIA).
Population density: 127 residents per km²
Population growth: 1.986% per year (2011, CIA)
Highest point: Tajumulco volcano, 4,211 m
Lowest point: Pacific Ocean, 0 m
Capital: Guatemala City (1.01 million residents, 2006)
Form of government: Guatemala has been a presidential republic since 1986, the constitution dates from the same year. The last constitutional amendment was made in 1993. The parliament consists of 158 members who, like the head of state, are elected every 4 years. Guatemala has been independent from Spain since 1821, and in 1839 the country left the Central American Confederation.
Administrative division: 22 departamentos: Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Chimaltenango, Chiquimula, El Progreso, Escuintla, Guatemala, Huehuetenango, Izabal, Jalapa, Jutiapa, Peten, Quetzaltenango, Quiche, Retalhuleu, Sacatepequit, San Marcos, Totonicapan and Zacapa
Head of State and Government: Otto Pérez Molina, since January 14, 2012
Language: The official language in Guatemala, Spanish, is spoken by around 60% of the population, 40% speak one or more of a total of 23 Mayan languages. English is understood in tourist areas and in larger restaurants and hotels.
Religion: The vast majority of the population is Roman Catholic. There is also a minority of Protestants and followers of the Mayan religion in Guatemala.
Local time: CET – 7 h. There is no change from summer to winter time in Guatemala.
The time difference to Central Europe is -7 h in winter and -8 h in summer.
International phone code: +502
Mains voltage: 110 V, 60 Hz. However, there are differences between the regions in the country.
Guatemala – Map and Geography
According to 800zipcodes, Guatemala is located on the Central American Land Bridge, approximately between 14 ° and 18 ° north latitude and shares its borders in the northeast with Belize, in the southeast with Honduras and El Salvador and in the west and north with Mexico. In the east Guatemala has a narrow access to the Caribbean, in the southwest a long coast to the Pacific Ocean. The extension is 350 – 400 km both in the west-east direction and in the north-south direction.
Here is a detailed topographic map of Guatemala.
A volcanic chain rises on the plateau on the Pacific coast, in which three volcanoes are still active. At 4,211 m, the Tajumulco is one of the highest volcanoes in Central America. In this volcanic region there are fertile, river-rich valleys where a large part of the population lives. To the west of the capital is Lake Atitlán, which is surrounded by volcanoes.
About a fifth of Guatemala is mountainous, with wide hills and lowlands in the north, but also in the south. Geologically, the northern part still belongs to the Yucatan Peninsula. Their flat limestone layers are heavily cased.
The central mountain country has a complicated geological structure. its bottom floor consists mainly of crystalline rocks from the ancient times, above that are rocks from the Middle Ages, which are also folded. The rocks from the ancient times and the Middle Ages come to light in the 2,000 to 3,500 m high mountain ranges and high plateaus of the north-eastern mountainous region.
The further you go to the southwest, near the Pacific coast, the thicker the blanket of volcanic rocks that spread over the older subsoil in the New Age. About 60 km from the coast, several dozen high volcanic cones, including the Tajumulco, are lined up across a fracture zone in the earth’s crust, through which liquid lava can rise. Seven of them are still active today. Earthquakes usually occur at the same time as volcanic eruptions.
In the tropical climate in Guatemala, the rock weathers very quickly. The red or reddish yellow soils of the country are therefore mostly deep, depleted and agriculturally not very productive. Only the clay- and humus-rich soils in the northern lowlands and the soils on slightly weathered volcanic ashes in the mountainous region have larger nutrient reserves.
The El Peten lowland in the northeastern part of the country is almost completely covered by tropical rainforest. In the savannahs on the drier Pacific coast, on the other hand, trees only thrive in places where they can reach the groundwater. The basin landscapes in the mountains are particularly dry. Here the natural vegetation consists mainly of thorn bushes and cacti.