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Welcome to... Guatemala
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2014-06-01 17:57:57 | Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepequez, Guatemala
Keywords: Welcome to
The territory occupied by current Guatemala was the heart of the Maya empire which dominated the whole area more than a thousand years ago. But way before that, there are traces of human presence dating back to about 18,000 BC! The Mayan civilization and its offsprings are still living in Guatemala (they represent more than 40% of the population!) despite the Spaniards invasion and more recently a brutal civil war.

The area was a Spanish colony from 1519 to 1821 when it declared its independence. It went through various alliances and federations before assuming total independence as a republic in 1847. Guatemala is the Western-most country of Central America, it's where this sub-continent begins. It is bordered at the West and North by Mexico and on the East side by Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. It has a small Atlantic coast and a Pacific coast that makes the length of the country. The roughly 109 000 sq km area

of the country is divided in 22 departments, grouped in 8 regions, including one for the capital itself. The terrain is pretty rough in the South part of the country where you can find many mountains and active volcanoes.

Shaken in more ways than one

The country was shook on many occasions not only by natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, floods) but by many political disturbances as well. For its first 150 years as a republic, it was the scene of numerous coups d'etat, was ruled by many dictators, had a revolution and went through a long terrible civil war from 1960 to 1996 which claimed the life of many people, especially the Mayas. Since 1996, it is enjoying democracy and a relative peace.

Today, there are over 15 millions people living in Guatemala, including a bit more than 2 millions living in the capital of Guatemala City. Probably due to the civil war and extreme poverty, the Guatemalan population is extremely young, with half of the population being under 21 years-old! Guatemala is truly a poor Third-World country and most of the population is below the poverty line. Officially, the unemployment rate is about 5% but the reality is much different.

The currency is the Quetzal, from the name of the national bird, which roughly trades at 8 Quetzals for a US dollar. The bank notes you see here come in the amounts of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Quetzals. The cost of living is usually pretty low in Guatemala. You can get for example a litre of milk (UHT), a dozen of eggs and a loaf of sliced bread for about 15 Quetzals (about US$2). But locals don't consume much of these industrial products... usually getting their tortillas locally and eat very few bread. The gasoline is relatively expensive at about Q33 for a gallon... thus a bit less than Q9 (US$1,10) per litre. Yes, it's still cheaper than Canada and US... but not by much.


Currency bills of Guatemala

Related posts:
Welcome to... Honduras
Welcome to... El Salvador
Welcome to... Belize!
Welcome to... Mexico!
Welcome to... USA

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