Spanish is the official language in Guatemala. Spanish is the most spoken language, with 93% of the population speaking it. There are also 22 Mayan languages and two other indegenous languages. The two indigenous languages are Garífuna and Xinca.
Phrases in Guatemala:
- Chapín/Chapina Male/female from Guatemala
- ¡Aguas! Look out!
- Pisto Money
- Clavo Big problem
- Boquitos Snack
- Canche Term of endearment for someone who is blonde
- Casaca Charm – used to charm someone you like
- Chilero/a Awesome
- Chivas Stuff
- Peluche A polite way to say you’ve been completely unproductive
- ¡Sanigua! Wow! (can be used sarcastically or as encouragement)
Tikal National Park
The Tikal National Park is a biosphere reserve that protects the rainforest and wildlife habitat and is one of the major sites of the Mayan civilization. In 1979, it was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Mayans occupied this site from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. Here tourists will find more than 3,000 structures. They will also spot spider monkeys and possibly howler monkeys. At the very least you will hear the infamous howler monkeys while visiting!
In 1979, this city was also named an UNESCO World Heritage Site! It is surrounded by three volcanoes and was the former capital of Guatemala. It was built in an earthquake-prone region and one actually destroyed a lot of this city in 1773. The monuments today are preserved as ruins. Antigua is one of the most beautiful cities in Central America, with cobblestone streets, old colonial buildings, and incredible churches and convents.
El Lago de Atitlán is the deepest lake in Central America and often described as the most beautiful lake in the world. It is located in the high country and is surrounded by hills, volcanoes, and Mayan towns and villages, many of which are only accessible by boat. Each village is known for something different and most have local crafts and markets. There are also spiritual or new age centers that attract experts who are interested in alternative lifestyles. It is a beautiful place to visit!
Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quiriguá
In 1981, this archeological site was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It dates back to the Classic Maya period and includes amazing monuments, carved stelae and sculpted calendars from the 8th century. The tallest Maya stelae is located in Quiriguá. The Great Plaza was the largest known public space in the entire Maya area. The Ceremonial Plaza and the Plaza of the Temple are monumental complexes located around the Great Plaza. The complexes contain a highly elaborate system of staircases, terraces, and pyramids.
- Guatemala derives from the indigenous Nahuatl word “Quahtlemallan” which means “land of many trees.”
- Guatemala has had three different capital cities. Ciudad Vieja was the first capital and was destroyed by earthquakes and floods. The second one, Antigua, was also destroyed by earthquakes. The third and present one was founded in 1776 and is called Guatemala City.
- On May 30, 2010, a 60 feet wide and 30 stories deep sinkhole opened up in the middle of Guatemala City. It formed a perfectly round circle and swallowed a three-story building, a home, and one man who lost his life during this event.
- La Camioneta is a chicken bus! These are old school buses that have been remodeled into public buses.
- The Guatemalan Civil War took place from 1960-1996, making it the longest war in Latin American history.
- There are more than 30 volcanoes in the country. The three active ones are Fuego, Pacaya, and Santiaguito. Guatemala is also home to the tallest volcano in Central America. Tajumulco reaches 4,203 metres above sea level.
- The Quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala and is famous for its long tail. The currency is named after the bird and the Guatemalan flag has these birds on it as well.
- Blue denim originated in Guatemala!
- In Guatemala, putting your thumb between your index and middle finger while making a fist is considered an obscene gesture. Additionally, speaking loudly is looked down upon.
- When someone passes away, Guatemalans place the person’s treasured items with them to prevent the soul of the dead from returning to haunt the village.
- Chickenpox (Varicella)
- Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (TDAP)
- Flu (influenza)
- Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
- Hepatitis A & B
- Yellow Fever