There are many Central American countries that pique our interest, but none are as interesting as Guatemala. Guatemala’s reputation as the birthplace of the Mayan civilization, its natural beauty, and unique culture make it an incredible location to explore.
Besides its history and natural endowment, Guatemala has many interesting things to offer. The Central American country is full of hidden treasures, and there are many facets of its history that aren’t all too common. From its culture and economy to its amazing geography and food, this article explores fascinating Guatemala facts that you may not have known.
Fascinating Guatemala Facts You Didn’t Know
Guatemala has a rich history, and the country is known for its unique traditions and culture. Keep reading to discover Guatemala facts that will prove just how wonderful this Central American gem really is!
1. Guatemala Has Three UNESCO World Heritage Sites
While most people know about the popular Tikal temples and Tikal’s distinction as a World Heritage Site in Guatemala, it’s not the only one of its kind in the country. Guatemala has two other UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the ruins of Quirigua and the city of Antigua. Both make for great visits for anyone traveling to this fascinating country.
2. Guatemalans Have a Rich Linguistic History
While the official language of Guatemala is Spanish, a little-known Guatemalan fact is that their rich linguistic history. Because of the region’s Mayan, Garifuna, and Xinca roots, there are more than 21 different dialects that are still spoken today.
3. Guatemala Is Home to the Deepest Lake in Central America
Another fascinating Guatemala fact relates to the beautiful Lake Atitlan in the Guatemalan Highlands. In addition to being beautiful and providing amazing volcano views, it’s also extremely deep. In fact, it’s the deepest lake in all of Central America with an estimated maximum depth of 1,120 ft or 340 m. This is still an estimate because the lake is too deep to be tested properly.
4. The First Chocolate Bar Was Invented in Guatemala
If you’re a chocolate lover, this will be one of your favorite Guatemala facts. The Mayans worshipped the cacao tree and invented the first-ever chocolate bar. This was known as “the food of the Gods” and was believed to have many nutritional benefits. Today, Guatemala is one of the world’s biggest chocolate producers and exporters and is known for its high-quality chocolate. In fact, tourists in Antigua shop for chocolate when they visit the city and even visit the ChocoMuseo, a museum dedicated to chocolate production and its history.
5. Guatemala Is Known for Producing This Beautiful Precious Stone
Are you a fan of precious stones? If yes, you’ll love this Guatemala fact. The country is one of the biggest jade producers in the world. The beautiful, green gemstone was used by the Maya people for rituals and is admired by many around the world. For years, scientists and historians didn’t know where the Maya people accessed these precious stones. A hurricane in 1998 resulted in landslides and revealed a deposit of Jade roughly the size of Rhode Island (2500 square kilometers).
6. Many Guatemalans Worship a Saint Called Maximón
One of the most interesting Guatemalan facts is one surrounding Maximón or San Simón. This folk saint is an extremely revered one and has an intriguing history. Unlike other saints, Maximón enjoyed alcohol and smoked cigars. Some legends suggest that he also slept with villagers’ wives when the men were at work, resulting in the men cutting off Maximón’s arms. This is why effigies of the deity are usually seen without arms.
7. Guatemala Is Home to the First Mixed UNESCO World Heritage Site
Tikal National Park in Guatemala is the first mixed UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for being a cultural and architectural wonder. It’s one of the major architectural sites of the Mayans and consists of palaces, temples, and public squares. Inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D., it’s definitely a fascinating visit. In addition to the Mayan ruins, visitors can enjoy the breathtaking view of the jungle and the luscious greenery of the landscape surrounding the temples.
8. Do You Know How Guatemalans Honor Their Dead?
Guatemalans have a special way of honoring their dead. An interesting Guatemala fact is that they do this by flying kites. This takes place annually on November 1st and is known as the All Saints Day Kite Festival. The ritual has been around for thousands of years, and Guatemalans all over the country gather to clean and decorate their loved ones’ graves and fly beautifully decorated kites in their honor.
9. “Guatemala” Comes From an Ancient Maya Word
One of the most interesting facts about Guatemala is the origin of the country’s name. It comes from the Maya word, “Guhatezmalh” which was used to describe a volcano near the city of Antigua. This translated to “The Mountain That Vomits Water.” However, today, the same mountain is known as the Volcan de Agua, or “The Volcano of Water.”
10. However, It Could Also Come From a Nahuatl Word
While some are strong believers that the country’s name comes from the Maya word, “Guhatezmalh” this is one of the most debated Guatemala facts. Others believe that the name comes from the Nahuatl word, “Quahtlemallan,” which translates to “The Land of Many Trees.” Since Guatemala is known for its lush greenery and swathes of forests, this is definitely a possibility.
11. Guatemala Has More Than 30 Volcanoes
One of the most interesting Guatemala facts we’ve come across is the number of volcanoes in the country. The country has more than 30 volcanoes, with three of them still active. These are Pacaya, Santiaguito, and Pacaya. Despite not being active, the most popular and well-known Guatemalan volcano is Tajumulco. This is because it’s the highest point in all of Central America. In fact, its peak is an astounding 4,202 meters!
12. Its Currency Is Named After the National Bird
One of the craziest Guatemala facts we’ve heard is about its currency. The Guatemalan currency, the quetzal, is named after the country’s national bird. The quetzal is famous for its long tail and is known to live in Guatemala’s humid forests. While these birds aren’t commonly seen in the wild, they can be found on all Guatemalan currency, which is named in honor of them.
13. Guatemala Is Divided Into Three Main Regions
We’re used to thinking of Guatemala as one big country, but geographically, it can be divided into three distinct regions. The first part consists of the northern plains of Guatemala, which aren’t very populated. The second is the high-populated volcanic area in the central highlands. Lastly, the nation brands the Pacific lowlands are known for agricultural output. This last region is called “the land of the eternal spring” because of its tropical climate.
14. Guatemala Is Known for Its Delicious Food
If you’re a foodie, you’ll enjoy this next Guatemala fact. Their cuisine is rich and flavorful since it is influenced by Mayan and Spanish roots. Because of the country’s tropical climate, their cuisine also consists of tropical fruits such as mangoes, avocados, and papayas. A typical Guatemalan breakfast consists of beans, eggs, tortillas, and plantains, with the world-famous Guatemalan coffee on the side. Beans, tortillas, rice, and corn are all lunch and dinner staples, as are enchiladas, tamales, soups, stews, nachos, and stuffed peppers.
15. Coffee Is a Major Guatemalan Export
Guatemala is known for exporting many goods, including bananas, spices, and clothes. However, many are surprised to learn this interesting Guatemala fact: the county’s biggest export is coffee. In fact, coffee makes up 12% of total Guatemalan exports and is one of the country’s main sources of income. If you’ve never had Guatemalan coffee, you should try it. It’s distinct from other coffees and is known for its strong cocoa and chocolate flavor profile.
Top 10 Crazy Facts About Guatemala 2021 | WhatsBuzzing
This video contains the top 10 crazy facts about Guatemala that you didn’t know. If you are interested in how to travel to Guatemala, you should check this one out. From Antigua Guatemala to Lake Atitlan, this Guatemala guide is everything that you need to know more about the culture. It’s one of the best places to travel in Central America in 2021.
Guatemala may be renowned for its Mayan history and ancient ruins, but that’s not all it has to offer. In addition to its rich culture, Guatemala offers us amazing exports such as chocolate and coffee and has many fascinating geographical features for visitors to explore.
One of our favorite Guatemala facts is the presence of the national bird on Guatemalan currency and the fact that the currency is named after their national bird. We hope this piqued your interest in this fascinating nation as well.
I’m Natalie Garcia and I started this website to share my love of trivia, facts and fun knowledge tidbits. We cover things like celebrity gossip, historical facts, tv shows, world leaders and just odd and random fun things. I started this site to have some fun with my hobby and share some useful information with you, our community. Please feel to send me your suggestions and feedback through the contact form. And if you have suggestions for things to write about, please shoot me a message!