Situated south of Mexico, Guatemala has more people than any other Central American country. Most of Guatemala's people live in the rugged mountains in the central part of the country. There, on a high plateau, lies Guatemala City, the capital and industrial centre of the country, and the largest city in Central America.

Almost half the people are Indians whose way of life differs greatly from that of other Guatemalans. Their ancestors, the Maya Indians, built a highly developed civilisation hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus landed in America.

Rich culture lives on in the market towns of the highlands. Shopping for medicinal roots, and embroidered waistcoats at Chichicastenango is well worth the vertiginous bus ride.

Know before you go

CAPITAL: Guatemala City

LANGUAGE: Spanish

COUNTRY CODE: GT

ELECTRICITY: 115/125V, 60Hz
To power any electrical item an international adapter or a two pin plug is required

POPULATION: 17.92 million

CURRENCY: Quetzal

DIALLING CODE: +502

TIME ZONE: GMT/UTC -6

Guatemala Climate

The country has a tropical climate. Temperatures vary greatly from area to area because of differences in altitude. The plains and lowlands have an average yearly temperature of about 80°F (27°C), with little seasonal change.

The mountain valleys are usually comfortably mild. They have a yearly average temperatures of 60°F to 70°F (16°C to 21°C). The higher valleys sometimes have frost, and an average 40°F (4°C).

The rainy season across the country generally lasts from June to November, coinciding with the hurricane season in the Caribbean. Daily showers fall during most of this period.

Travel Warning

The country has one of the highest violent crime rates in Latin America. Although the majority of serious crime involves local gangs, incidents are usually indiscriminate and can occur in tourist areas. Despite the high levels of crime, most visits to Guatemala are trouble-free and unaffected by crime. Take care in all parts of the country, including Guatemala City.

Car-jacking and armed hold-ups are common on the main road ‘Carretera Salvador’ leading from Guatemala City to the border with El Salvador. The crossroads at Fraijanes, San Jose Pinula and Las Luces are also focal points for express kidnappings.

No parts of the city are free from crime; this includes Zone 10 (Zona Viva) - popular with tourists and foreign residents. Take care in Zone 1 (historical centre) where the cheaper hotels are situated and several bus routes terminate.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism across the country, attacks can’t be ruled out.

Information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK www.fco.gov.uk

Things to do in Guatemala

Guatemala in depth

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