Guatemala

Guatemala City

Meaning of Flag

  • The blue stands for the two oceans that wash Guatemala's shores (Pacific Ocean and the the Atlantic Ocean (Caribbean sea)) and sky

  • White symbolizes peace and purity

  • Resplendent Quetzal symbolizes liberty

  • The bay laurel crown symbolizes victory

  • Parchment scroll indicates Central America's independence from Spain (15 September 1821)

  • Crossed rifles stands for Guatemala's willingness to defend itself by force if need be

  • Crossed swords symbolize honor

Geography

  • Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea) between Honduras and Belize
  • tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands
  • mostly mountains with narrow coastal plains and rolling limestone plateau
  • petroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, chicle, hydropower
  • Population: 14,647,083 (July 2014 est.)

Government

  • constitutional democratic republic
  • chief of state: President Otto Fernando PEREZ MOLINA (since 14 January 2012); Vice President Ingrid Roxana BALDETTI Elias (since 14 January 2012); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
  • head of government: President Otto Fernando PEREZ MOLINA (since 14 January 2012); Vice President Ingrid Roxana BALDETTI Elias (since 14 January 2012)
  • cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
  • elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a four-year term (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held on 11 September 2011; runoff held on 6 November 2011 (next to be held in September 2015)
  • election results: Otto Fernando PEREZ MOLINA elected president in a runoff election; percent of vote - Otto Fernando PEREZ MOLINA 53.7%, Manuel BALDIZON 46.3%

Currency

  • Quetzal
  • 1 US Dollar = 7 Quetzals

Culture

The culture of Guatemala reflects strong Mayan and Spanish influences and continues to be defined as a contrast between poor Mayan villagers in the rural highlands, and the urbanized and relatively wealthy mestizos population (known in Guatemala as ladinos) who occupy the cities and surrounding agricultural plains.

Those expecting Guatemalan marimba music to sound in any way picturesquely primitive, or even folky in any meaningful sense, might be shocked by this disc, which features the locally prominent ensemble Marimba Chapinlandia playing a variety of compositions from throughout the 20th century, focusing on the marimba ensemble style that came into its own at around the turn of that century.

Common Foods & Cuisine

Many traditional foods in Guatemalan cuisine are based on Maya cuisine and prominently feature corn, chilies and beans as key ingredients. There are also foods that are commonly eaten on certain days of the week. For example, it is a popular custom to eat paches on Thursday. Certain dishes are also associated with special occasions, such as fiambre for All Saints Day on November 1 and tamales, which are common around Christmas.

Tourist Attractions