General Information about Guatemala
Requirements to enter the country
The passport is the only identification document accepted by Guatemalan authorities. Based on the principle of reciprocity, there are different requirements in the case of each country. Tourist cards can be obtained from an airline serving
Guatemala, or can be purchased by the tourist on arrival in Guatemala at the airport. The cost of a tourist card is US$5.00.
Vaccinations are not required for visiting
Guatemala, as sanitary conditions in tourism areas are aceptable. Nevertheless, a malaria vaccination is recommended for trips into the jungle
The official language is Spanish. In the majority of Hotels, Restaurants, Commercial Centers, Markets and Tourist Centers English is spoken. In
Guatemala 28 Indian dialects are also spoken in different regions of the country. It is possible to contact tourist guides for different languages (German, French, Italian, Dutch, English).
The currency is called "Quetzal" named after the national bird. (1 Quetzal = 100 centavos). Its value fluctuates in relation to the dollar.
International credit cards are accepted throughout the country: American Express, Master Card, Visa, Diners.
The voltage is 110 volts. The sockets are American style.
Extension and Altitude
Guatemala has a territory of 131854 sq. kms. The topography is varied, with altitudes from 0 Mts. to 4220 Mts. a.s.l.
The mean annual temperature is 20x (68F). The coastal areas can reach temperatures of 37x (99x) while freezing temperatures often prevail in the highest mountains. The nights are usually fairly cool year round. The high central regions enjoy clear skies before and after heavy afternoon of evening rains during the rainy season (May to October).
There is a great variety of National and International food (American, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, French, Japanese and others). There is also a great variety of quality fruits and vegetables. Cattle has reached an excellent quality. Premium quality meat can be tasted in a variety of dishes.
Guatemala has 10 mills. inhabitants on its territory, from which 2,5 mills. belong to the Capital City. Parts of them are Indians, descendants from the Maya-Quiche race. Another one is a mixture between Indians and the Spaniards that arrived at the beginning of the 16th century, they are called "Mestizos". There are also ladinos, who are the descendants of mestizos mixed with other nationalities. The ethnic minorities are Black and Asiatic people.
The predominant religion is the Catholic. Each village has an annual celebration in honor of their patron saint.There is a mixture of beliefs between the catholic and the Indian ones. In many places one can observe very interesting religious rites characteristic of this phenomenon. Other Christian religions are also popular. Law guarantees the freedom of religion.
Political Structure
The political administration of the
Republic of Guatemala is divided in 22 departments, which are divided into 330 municipalities that are governed by Mayors.
The government is republican, democratic and representative. For its operation is divided in 3 organisms.
Executive: represented by the Constitutional President elected by all citizens for a 4 year period.
Legislative: resides in the Congress of the Republic, it is in charge of making laws.
Judicial: Presided by the Supreme Court of Justice, its function is to administer justice in accordance with the law.