Guatemala's nickname is "La tierra de la eterna primavera" (The Land of the Eternal Spring) as the climate stays temperate all year long and flowers bloom all year round.
The capital of Guatemala is Guatemala City.
Guatemaltecos (Guatemalans) refer to themselves as "chapines".
Guatemala is one of the largest breeding grounds for Pacific sailfish. It is among the finest sailfishing destinations in the world and is considered “The Sailfish Capital of the World.” Guatemala holds both the conventional and fly fishing records for most sailfish released in one day.
The longest sawdust carpet measured 2,329.2 meters or 7,641 feet 7 inches. It was achieved by the Municipality of Guatemala City on April 2015. 3,000 volunteers were involved. These carpets are a traditional feature during the Easter celebrations.
Guatemala produces more jade than any other country in the world. Jade occurs in a variety of colors. The most prized being lavender or lilac (lila in Spanish), and blue. The most commonly seen are the green jade and the black jade. There is a less common, the rainbow jade, in which a variety of colors show up in the stone. The Mayans believed jade was their holy stone and that it could cure kidney disease.
In 2013, the World Record of how many people you can fit in a bus was broken at Jocotenango, Sacatepéquez in Guatemala with 221 people inside the bus. Previous record was 209 held by Poland.
Other Interesting Facts
Guatemala City's legal name is "Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción", but it was shortened to Guatemala City.
The official language of Guatemala is Spanish, but 21 different Mayan languages and several non-Mayan Amerindian languages are also spoken, mainly in the rural areas.
The name Guatemala actually means "land of the trees" in the Maya-Toltec language.
Volcán Tajumulco is the highest point in Guatemala at 4,220 meters.
Guatemala is home to 37 volcanoes, of which 3 are active: Volcán de Fuego, Volcán Pacaya, and Santiaguito. Not all of the others are extinct, some are merely dormant.
People roast marshmallows on volcanoes.
There are 3 volcanoes that watch over the colonial town of Antigua Guatemala-- Volcán de Agua (water), Volcán de Fuego (fire) and Volcán Acatenango. People go to these volcanoes to hike, to mountain bike and to bird watch.
Guatemala is proud of its 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites: The beautiful colonial town of Antigua Guatemala, the ancient Maya archaeological site of Quiriguá, and Tikal National Park in northern Guatemala.
Coffee, bananas and sugar are the largest industries in Guatemala. Guatemala is the 5th largest exporter of bananas in the world.
Chocolate originated in Guatemala! It was used in Mayan culture as early as the 6th century AD. The word "chocolate" comes from the Maya word "xocoatl" which means bitter water (cocoa at the time was a thick, cold, unsweetened drink). As sugar was not yet discovered, spices were used to add flavor, including chilli peppers which are still used today in the production of gourmet chocolate. The Maya called chocolate "The food of the gods".
The McDonalds' Happy Meal was invented in Guatemala. In the 1970's, Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño came up with the idea to make a kid sized meal. She was awarded the "Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World" recognition in Paris, France. The Happy Meal is sold in over 35,000 restaurants and has sold about 100 million Happy Meals in one week.
El quetzal is Guatemala's national bird and the name of its currency. El quetzal is depicted both in the flag and in the currency.
Eating traditional food in Guatemala is delicious and relatively inexpensive. Guatemala's food is influenced by its Mayan and Spanish cultures and the climated that enables them to grow abundant tropical fruit. Breakfast consists of a mix of eggs, tortillas, beans and plantains, with fruit (papaya, bananas, mangoes and avocado). Coffee is a must! Lunch and dinner usually includes corn, beans, rice, cheese and tortillas, with soups, and stews. Nachos, stuffed peppers, tamales, chuchitos, and enchiladas are also popular.
Lago Atitlán (Lake Atitlan) is famous for its natural beauty. This lake is the deepest lake in Central America. It is surrounded by 3 gorgeous volcanoes and 12 colorful Mayan towns bearing the names of the 12 apostles. Also, there are many small villages surrounding the lake. Maya culture is predominant in these towns and villages. Traditional dress is still worn by the Mayan population.
Chichi, short for Chichicastenango, is home to one of the largest outdoor markets in Latin America. It is the biggest market in Guatemala as well as the most historic. It is the Quiché Maya cultural center.
Next to the Chichicastenango market there is a 400 year old church -- Iglesia Santo Tomás (St. Thomas Church). Quiché Maya priests still use the church for their rituals, burning incense and candles.
Tikal is Guatemala's most famous and popular with tourists. Tikal was the capital city of the Mayan classic period and it is one of the largest archaelogical sites in Mesoamerica. The Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope movie was filmed in Tikal.
Guatemalan actor Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada is Poe Dameron, the dashing pilot, in the new Star Wars trilogy.
In the rainforest of Tikal, you can find jaguars, howler and spider monkeys, leaf cutter ants, toucans and other birds, coatimundis (from racoon family), wild turkeys, agouti (sort of a squirrel with long legs), tarantulas, crocodiles, fer-de-lance (the only poisonous snake in Tikal know as "barba amarilla"), and other exotic animals.
The Pacific Coast of Guatemala is the nesting site for 3 species of endangered sea turtles. It is one of the few places in the world that receives so many species. These turtles are considered extremely important as they help to preserve the marine habitats.
Guatemala has beautiful beaches both in the Pacific Ocean and in the Caribbean sea. People like to surf, to relax in the black sand beaches, and to go deep-sea fishing.
IRTRA is the third largest amusement park in Latin America and known as the best amusement park Central America. They have several properties; but the biggest, Xetulul, is considered to be the Disney of Central America.
Antigua Guatemala's magestic and colorful Easter carpets are know around the world. People come from all over to see the elaboration and beauty of these carpets.
In the towns of Sumpango and Santiago Sacatepequez, locals spend all year constructing huge colorful kites for El día de los muertos (The Day of the Dead) celebrations. The kites soar through the skies over the people gathered in the cemeteries to honor their loved ones. Even though the holiday is on November 1st and 2nd, the kites are raised on the 1st in honor of All Saints Day. The kites are made from tissue paper stretched over a bamboo frame. Some kites can be up to 40 feet in diameter (12 meters). Flower, including the marigold, are used to decorate the graves.
Guatemalan Luis Von Ahn saw how expensive it was for people in his community to learn English. He co-founded Duolingo with Swiss Severin Hacker. They believe that by providing a free education in languages they could change the world.
A huipil is a traditional blouse worn by the indigenous women and girls in Guatemala. It is decorated with colorful and intricate designs. It takes 3 to 12 months to make a huipil. Each region of the country uses different colors and patterns, which helps identify from which town the person belongs to.