Guatemala is a feast for the eyes and a mystery to the soul; drenched in rich traditions, a natural beauty famed for its imposing volcanoes and a fascinating history.
The colours of Guatemala will captivate you and the mystery of their ancient Mayan temples will astound. Guatemala is no make-believe tourist destination. Rituals are not performed for show; locals do not dress in traditional costume to satisfy the tourist. This is simply part of everyday Guatemala life.
- Location: Guatemala, Central America
- Size: 108,890 sq km
- Capital: Guatemala City
- Largest Cities: Mixco, Villa Nueva, Petapa
- Climate: Blessed with a generally tropical climate, the topography of Guatemala greatly influences its climate from one city to another depending on its location. The rainy season starts in the middle of May and end in November while the dry season the rest of the year. However, the dry season may not necessarily mean dry all throughout but with rainfall between 3 to 4 days a month.
- Population: Approximately 15,468,203 people
Language: K’iche’, Mam, Q’eqchi’, Spanish
Religion: Protestant, Roman Catholic, indigenous Mayan beliefs
Literacy Rate: 75.9%
Government Type: Unitary presidential republic
Head of State: President
Land Borders: Bordered by Mexico to the north and west, by the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, by Belize to the northeast, by the Caribbean and Honduras to the east and El Salvador to the southeast
- Currency: Quetzal (GTQ)
- Natural Resources: petroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, chicle, hydropower
- Main Agriculture: sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens
- Main Industry: sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism
- Electricity: 120V AC, 60Hz
- Time Zone: GMT -6
Country Tel. Code: + 502
- Visa/Passport: Australian visitors to Guatemala are granted up to a 90 day stay on arrival. A visa is not required.
- Airport: Guatemala’s main airport is the newly-renovated and modernized La Aurora International Airport about kilometers from the capital city. Other airports of primary use in the country include the Mundo Maya International Airport in Flores, as well as the city airports of Quetzaltenango Airport, Puerto Barrios Airport, and San José Airport.
- Departure Tax: International departure tax for flights leaving Guatemala is $30 included mostly in the air ticket, so one should check with their airline company or travel agent.
- Getting Around: In Guatemala, tourists can have the luxury of travelling by road, waterways and airports. Most travellers use the rented taxis, van, shuttles and buses for transport. However, a very interesting transport option is the ‘chicken bus’, which are colorfully-painted former school buses from the US.
- Credit Cards: Major credit cards are widely used in Guatemala especially in major hotels, restaurants and stores of major cities. ATM facilities are abundant including money-exchange shops.
- Drinking: The legal drinking age is 18 but not strictly imposed. All types of drinks can be found in liquor stores, convenience stores and large supermarkets.
- Shopping: Stores in Guatemala are generally open Monday until Saturday between 9am and 6pm (many which close for 1 hour at lunch). Stores in modern and bigger malls stay open until 8 or 9pm without lunch breaks. Most bars are open up until at least midnight. Banks are open from 9am to 4pm and offices from 8am to 5pm with one-hour lunch breaks.
- Tipping: There is a 12% VAT on all services and goods in Guatemala. Tipping is expected and customary usually pegged at 10% of the total bill.