For Educators

Where in God’s World is Guatemala?

Fascinating Facts about Guatemala

This central American country is bordered by Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador and has coastlines along the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Honduras.There are three climate zones: tropical in the coastal areas, cool in the mountain regions, and mild in the rest of the country. From May through October it rains nearly every afternoon. There are also several active volcanoes here.

Guatemala is home to the ruins of Tikal, built centuries ago by the ancient Mayans. The ruins, including temples, are located in northern Guatemala’s jungles. These ruins are among the largest and most beautiful historical sites in the Americas.

The climate here allows people to play many outdoor sports. The most popular is football (soccer), but Guatemalans also enjoy baseball, mountain biking, swimming, and triathlons.

Animals you might see here include jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, crocodiles, scarlet macaws, pelicans, storks, and porpoises.

Corn tortillas, black beans, and white rice are part of nearly every meal in Guatemala. Fried plantains, stews, tamales, empanadas, and fruits from the rainforest are widely enjoyed.

“Chicken buses” are Guatemala’s major form of public transportation. These are old school buses from the U.S. that are rebuilt and painted in vivid colors. The colorful buses can be found all over the country.

In small towns, Guatemalan women continue to dress in native, hand-woven costumes. The design depends on the town and the person’s ancestry, but the clothing is typically brightly colored and includes beautiful flowers and other patterns.

Some important holidays here include Army Day, the Feast of the Assumption, and Fiestas Elenas. Army Day  (June 30 or July 1) honors those who served or died in wars. In August, the Feast of the Assumption honors the Virgin Mary. In the town of Santa Cruz del Quiché, it is combined with Fiestas Elenas, a nearly weeklong celebration of native Guatemalan traditions. Some people participate in the Snake Dance—dancing while snakes slither on the ground or wrap themselves around the dancers’ limbs!


Learn the Language

Much of Guatemala’s population is descended from the ancient Mayans, and many Guatemalans speak versions of Mayan as their first language. But Spanish is the country’s first language. Try these Spanish phrases:

Can you come over to play this afternoon? — ¿Puedes venir a jugar esta tarde?

The weather is beautiful here. — El clima es hermoso aquí.

I like looking at the monkeys. — Me gusta mirar a los monos.

Let’s go to the festival! — ¡Vayamos al festival!

Welcome back. — Dar una buena acogida.



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