Guatemala is one of the bigger countries in Central America. It borders Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. The estimated population of Guatemala is around 13.4 million people from which around 4.4 million live in the metro of the capital Guatemala City. The border with Mexico is rough and full with mountains and jungle forest, near the northeast close to Belize and Mexico the jungle is still undiscovered. In Guatemala the main currency is the Quetzal or Quetzales. The name of this coin is based on a magical bird of the Maya’s that lived in the Guatemala area. The main language in Guatemala is Spanish but you will also see older local Maya languages. Just like El Salvador it gained its independence from the Spanish Empire in 1821.
Map of Guatemala
The capital Guatemala City
Guatemala has made Guatemala City as its capital since 1776 and is locally referred at as Guate. The old city dates back till 1000 BC because the Maya’s established an ancient city that lived for about 2000 years. While the city itself has around 1.1 million inhabitants the metropolis around it consists of about 4.2 million. Since Guatemala City is the only major city all the traffic routes and international airlines fly on this city. The city is dived by 22 zones and each zone has its own streets and avenues, this makes navigation in the city really easy. From Guatemala City you can see four volcanoes of which two of them are active. There was one recent eruption of the Pacaya volcano near Guatemala City in 2012.
Popular tourist destinations in Guatemala
Probably the most known place outside Guatemala for tourist is the ancient traditional city of Antigua. This old city full of small streets, bars, squares and building from the colonial age is famous for its wines, banana cake and local food. The place is an absolute must visit if you enjoy culture and fun. You can also visit some working volcanoes and climb them, one of them is the Pacaya. On a close second place for tourist to visit is the old Maya city Tikal. This is one of the biggest Maya cities know to Central America and you will see why because the area is huge. It is about 25 square miles big with over 50 temples of which a few of them are so big that they even rise above the jungle canopy.
Guatemala food is one of the best in Central America. It has many traditional dishes that consist of corn, chili and beans that are also used in other Central American countries. The basis of corn, chili, and beans is still a part of the history of the Mayas left. One of the most popular Guatemalan food dishes is the Tamale, which is made from corn and filled with meats, fish, cheeses, fruits, vegetables or chillies. The Tamale originates back to 8000 BC so this is one of the oldest dishes in the world. Next to the tamales the Guatemalans serve you Chuchitos, Paches and chipilins. Some main Dishes are Tapado, Chiles rellenos, Gallo Chicha, Pollo en crema, Carne adobada, Pulique and Pollo Guisado.
Dutch people can find more information about traveling in Guatemala on selvatravel.nl/guatemala-reizen.