64 Interesting Facts About Guatemala

Last updated on October 25th, 2022

52. Funeral Traditions: when a person passes away in Guatemala, they are buried in a wooden coffin hours after their death. To prevent the soul of the dead from returning to haunt the village, Guatemalans place the treasured items of the deceased along with them.

53. It is a Guatemalan tradition to fire guns into the sky during the Christmas celebration. Sadly, every year between five and ten people die from falling bullets after the act. Seriously, this tradition is taking a toll.

54. Some famous people who were born in Guatemala include – Oscar Isaac (movie actor), Ricardo Arjona (World music singer), Marco Pappa (Soccer player), Rigoberta Menchu (Novelist), Soluna Somay (Rock singer), Cash Luna (Religious leader) and Hector-Neri Castaneda (Philosopher).

55. Guatemalans celebrate “Dia de los Muertos,” or the Day of the Dead, every November 1st. On this day, Guatemalans visit the local cemetery and fly kites in memory of their loved ones. People also paint the gravestones of their relatives with bright colors.

Some amazing facts about Guatemala

56. On May 30, 2010, an enormous hole, 60 feet wide and 30 stories deep, opened up in the middle of Guatemala City, swallowing a three-story building and a home. It also caused the death of a man. The reason for the formation of the sinkhole is thought to be the weak material the city is built on – volcano pumice.

60 feet wide and 30 stories deep sinkhole in Guatemala.
60 feet wide and 30 stories deep sinkhole in Guatemala. Image credit – Infrastructurist.com

57. There are two baths that are built directly over a volcanic vent. You could have a totally natural bath from the rising steam from the bowels of the earth. Are you ready? Note the location – they are in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

58. Maximón, a folk saint venerated in various forms by Maya people of several towns in the highlands of Western Guatemala, is worshiped with careful attention by the locals.

A statue of Maxim.
Interesting facts about Guatemala: A statue of Maximón. Image credit – John

Legend has it that when men left the village to work in the field, Maximón crept into town and slept with their wives.

Guatemalan food facts

59. Food in the region is a result of the Mayan and Spanish influence on the people.

60. Guatemalans consume a lot of corn, beans, and rice, which are served alongside meat and fish.

61. For breakfast, Guatemalans use eggs, spicy salsas and warm tortillas that are usually served with local cheeses.

62. Fruits also form a significant portion of the diets of Guatemalans. They eat fruits like papayas, mangoes, bananas, pineapples, and carambola.

Fried chicken in a guatemalan restaurant.
Fried chicken in a Guatemalan restaurant.

63. Guatemalans eat a meat-heavy diet. Pork and beef is very popular. In some rural regions, chicken is served with the feet still attached.

64. Guatemalans are fond of a spicy stew called ‘topado,’ which is made by combining fish, coconut, banana, and cilantro.

About the Flag of Guatemala

Flag of Guatemala
Flag of Guatemala

1. Design and Symbolism

Guatemala is a country with a colorful history, starting as the base of the Mayan civilization and becoming the site of a thriving Spanish colonial capital. Tourists flock to its archeological and historical sites.

It is also a land between two oceans, as reflected in its flag design. Two sky blue bands, representing the Pacific and the Atlantic, straddle a white bar with the Guatemalan coat of arms. It is a common theme among countries in Central America.

The coat of arms features a scroll of parchment with the date of independence from the Spanish colonizers: September 15, 1821. The word LIBERTAD (freedom) is also on the parchment.

The national bird, a Resplendent quetzal, sits at the top of the scroll to symbolize freedom and independence. It is a prominent figure in Mesoamerican mythology, associated with an Aztec deity named Quetzalcoatl or Feathered Serpent. He is the god of learning and knowledge. He also controls the sun and the wind.

At the back are two crossed Remington rifles signaling readiness to defend the homeland, if necessary. Two crossed swords reassert this resolve while representing justice and honor. A laurel wreath surrounds the arms to claim victory.

2. Adoption

Guatemala adopted the flag design in 1871. However, the coat of arms at the center underwent a modern makeover in 1968.

3. Technical Details

The flag dimensions follow a ratio of 5:8. The arms occupy roughly one-third of the flag height, while the horizontal bands have the same width. The colors are 297 for Maya Blue and Safe White in the Pantone system. The HEX equivalents are 4997D0 and FFFFFF.

4. History

In the 1500s, Spain conquered the land and made it a colony. Spanish rule continued until the declaration of independence in 1821. Guatemala joined other Central American provinces in forming the Federal Republic. Its flag was a triband with horizontal stripes of blue and white.

The federation did not last long, but Guatemala continued to use its flag until 1851. A pro-Spanish faction took over and inserted red/yellow bands. In 1871, the country reverted to the original colors but changed two crucial elements.

First, the orientation of the bands shifted from horizontal to vertical. It made the flag easier to distinguish when grouped with regional banners. Second, they removed the coat of arms of the Central American republic and put a national coat of arms in its place. Guatemala still uses the design, although the emblem received a modern makeover.

5. Flag Facts

Feather Currency

Aside from appearing on the flag, the national bird also lends its name to the country’s modern currency: the Guatemalan quetzal. It comes from the ancient Mayan practice of using the bird’s impressive green feathers as currency.

Indigenous Flag

In 2008, Guatemala adopted a second official flag called the Bandera de Los Pueblos. It has diagonal quarters forming four triangles: white, black, yellow, and red. Each color represents a group of indigenous people. At the center is a circular Maya symbol called Q’anil, which means “seed.”

Guatemala – country at a glance

Independence15 September 1821 (from Spain)
Capital CityGuatemala City
(14°38′N 90°30′W)
Largest CityGuatemala City
(14°38′N 90°30′W)
Areatotal: 108,889 sq km

land: 107,159 sq km

water: 1,730 sq km
Population17,703,190 (2022 est.)
Population growth rate1.68% (2020 est.)
Government typepresidential republic
PresidentAlejandro Giammattei
Vice PresidentGuillermo Castillo
DemonymGuatemalan
Chapín (informal)
Literacy rate80.8% (2018)
Mean elevation759 m
Highest pointTajumulco Volcano, 4203 m
Lowest pointSea level
Suffrage18 years of age; universal; note - active duty members of the armed forces and police by law cannot vote and are restricted to their barracks on election day
National anthem"Himno Nacional de Guatemala" (National Anthem of Guatemala)
note: adopted 1897, modified lyrics adopted 1934; Cuban poet Jose Joaquin PALMA anonymously submitted lyrics to a public contest calling for a national anthem; his authorship was not discovered until 1911
National symbolquetzal (bird)
National colorsblue, white
Official LanguageSpanish
BordersBelize, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico
CurrencyQuetzal (GTQ)
Life expectancy72.91 years (2022)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Climatetropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands
Terrainmostly mountains with narrow coastal plains and rolling limestone plateau
Mean elevation759 m
Lowest point Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest pointVolcan Tajumulco (highest point in Central America) 4,220 m
Natural resourcespetroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, chicle, hydropower
Agricultural land41.2%
Birth rate22.34 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)
Death rate4.91 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)
Sex ratio0.98 male(s)/female (2022 est.)
Industriessugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism
Exports$13.12 billion
note: data are in current year dollars (2020 est.)
sugar, coffee, petroleum, apparel, bananas, fruits and vegetables, cardamom, manufacturing products, precious stones and metals, electricity
Imports$19.3 billion
note: data are in current year dollars (2020 est.)
fuels, machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity, mineral products, chemical products, plastic materials and products
GDP - per capita (PPP)$8,400
note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)
Time ZoneCST (UTC−6)
Internet country code.gt
Calling Code+502
Drives on theRight
Table last updatedJuly 31, 2022