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La Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción; locally knownas Guatemala or Guate), is the capital and largest city ofthe Republic of Guatemala and Central America.
Once the site of theimpressive ancient Mayancivilization, Guatemala wasconquered by Spanishconquistador Pedro deAlvarado in 1524 andbecame a republic in 1821after the United Provincesof Central Americacollapsed. From 1898 to1920, dictator ManuelEstrada Cabrera ran thecountry, and from 1931 to1944, Gen. Jorge UbicoCastañeda served asstrongman.
BLUEANDWHITEBLUEANDWHITEThe national flag of Guatemala with two separate bluestrips and a national coat of arms in the middle the stripsrepresent two bodies of water. The national coat of armsis in respect to the first official leaders of Guatemala.El blanco es por paz y pureza, el azul cielo es por losdos mares, el Océano Pacífico y el mar Caribe (Partedel Océano Atlántico) entre las dos masa de agua queestá el país, y por el cielo sobre el país. Sin embargo,puede deducirse del himno Nacional Guatemaltecoque estos colores representan una nube blanca en elcielo azul de Guatemala.
The Resplendent Quetzal, the brilliantbird found in the cloud forests ofCentral America, was sacred to theMayans and figures prominently in theirartwork and legends. Today theQuetzal is the national bird ofGuatemala, and name to theGuatemalan currency. Despite itslegendary history, the Quetzal; is indanger of extinction, partly due tohunting of the bird for food and trade,but mainly due to destruction of itselevated habitat to clear land forsubsistence agriculture. Somecountries, such as Costa Rica, havemanaged to preserve the Quetzals (aswell as other species) habitat bysetting aside land for national parks topromote eco-tourism. War-tornGuatemala, however, has not been sofortunate, nor as conservation-minded.The result is that the Quetzal, thenational symbol of freedom inGuatemala, is predicted to go extinctin Guatemala by the year 2000, orshortly thereafter, but It didn’t happenyet.
This orchid is a rare flower in the Verapaz district ofGuatemala, symbolizing peace, beauty and art. A decree by GeneralJorge 1, in 1934 made the white nun as the national flower. Since thenits commercialization has been prohibited.
The population of Guatemala is overfifteen million, half of the populationis under 18 and more then half ofthat age group live in squalor. Thehigh level of poverty in the countrycan be attributed to a number ofreasons one is the lack of socialprograms and the demand forcheap labor which results in childrenbeing taken advantage of. But,sometimes the children need towork if it means they are the solesupport for their family. Guatemalahas also one of the highestpercentages of street childrendiscarded like trash by their familiessince there is no means to supportthem. Capital: Guatemala City;more than one million people.
The official currency ofGuatemala is the Quetzal. Thereare many money exchangesthat you can get great dealsfrom as you cross the border.Also any major bank will tradefor local currency but the USdollar is accepted there. Quetzal, U.S. dollar, othersallowed The currency is named after theResplendent Quetzal, which is afragile and rare bird thathappens to be the national birdof Guatemala. Apparently, inthe time of the Mayan Empire,the birds tail feathers wereactually used as currency.
There are about 21 differentvarieties of original Mayanlanguages still spoken inGuatemala today. Withsuch a large language gapmany of the papersneeded for business aretranslated regularly.As well as several non-Mayan Amerindianlanguages are spokenhere, especially in the ruralareas.
Constitutionaldemocratic republic.Chief of State: President Otto PérezMolinaHead of Government: President OttoPérez MolinaThe president and vice president aredirectly elected through universalsuffrage and limited to one term. A vicepresident can run for president after 4years out of office. The Supreme Courtconsists of 13 justices who are electedby the Congress from a list of 26qualifying candidates submitted by thebar association, law school deans, auniversity rector, and appellate judges.The Supreme Court and local courtshandle civil and criminal cases. Therealso is a separate Constitutional Court.
The Mayan culture wasrich in mathematicalcomputations they firstcreated the concept ofZero. The concept ofzero was foreign to manyadvanced cultures inmathematics. Manyarcheologist think thatancient cultures shareda commonmathematical teacherand are still unsurewhere they get it.
Due the ecological diversity of Guatemala there are normallyearthquakes and an eventful of natural calamities that strikethis small Latin American country regularly. But there is onecity that has withstood the test of time and these disasters it isAntigua. This place is a historians dream with old churches,cobble stone streets and wonderful architectural designs ofthe old world. The northernmost of the Central American nations,Guatemala is the size of Tennessee. Its neighbors are Mexicoon the north and west, and Belize, Honduras, and El Salvadoron the east. The country consists of three main regions—thecool highlands with the heaviest population, the tropical areaalong the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, and the tropicaljungle in the northern lowlands (known as the Petén).
The most destructive earthquake since 1917 struck Guatemala onFebruary 4. The magnitude 7.5 quake was centered about 160 kmnortheast of Guatemala City. The death toll has reached more than23,000, and thousands have been injured. Damage was extensive. Mostadobe type structures in the outlying areas of Guatemala City werecompletely destroyed, leaving thousands homeless.
The highest mountain in Guatemala is theTajumulco volcano it has an altitude above4500 meters or 14000 ft.
Guatemala, meaning land of trees, is a heavilyforested and mountainous nation—and themost populous in Central America. The Pacificcoast lowlands in the south rise to the volcanicSierra Madre and other highlands, then theland descends to the forested northernlowlands, including the narrow Caribbeancoast. The highlands, where mostGuatemalans live, are temperate in climatecompared to the tropical lowlands. There are252 listed wetlands in Guatemala. The countryis recorded to have 100 rivers, 61 lagoons, 5lakes and 3 swamps.
On November 7, 2012, a magnitude 7.4earthquake rocks Guatemala. At least 48people were killed. With at least 150seriously injured and 23 people missing,government officials said the death tollwould likely rise. Houses were destroyed.Schools, roads, and government buildingswere damaged. When a prison wallcollapsed, 98 inmates had to be transferredto another jail. At a news conference,President Molina said, "This is the largestearthquake we have had since the one in1976."
Guatemala s one of the premier destinations to visit when you arevisiting central and south America.. Guatemala is very famous for itbio diversity and ecological diversity within the region. It is home tohundreds of thousand of species of plants and animals. So if youhave never been to Guatemala a or you are coming back again fora second visit don’t miss out on some of the most fascinating sitesthat you should enjoy while you are there here is a top 10 list ofthem. Guatemalas wildlife is contained in nearly 20 different ecosystemsthroughout the country. This wildlife fauna includes some 250species of mammals, 200 species of reptiles and amphibiouscreatures, and many different species of butterflies and otherinsects. Additionally, these ecosystems are home to some 600 birdspecies including the national Quetzal, which can be seen all overthe country. Also included in this list are parrots, toucans,hummingbirds, oriols, and motmots to name only a few.
Much like the regions diverse fauna, Guatemala hasmany species of impressive flora as well. In fact,the nearly 20 ecosystems in Guatemala housesome 8,000 plant species residing in the manymangrove forests, dry forests, tropical rainforests,wetlands, cloud forests, and pine forests. OfGuatemalas complete area, over 36% is said to beforested. Of that over 36%, just under 50% isclassified as primary forest. Primary forest meansthat the growth is extremely old and has neverbeen clear cut. Forest growth after a clear-cut orburning is known as secondary growth andgenerally less diverse in this area. This is because aprimary forest has experienced less severedisturbance allowing for a more rich mix of plantsand animals dependant on this age old habitat.Guatemalas national flower, the monja blanca, isone of 600 species of orchids existing in thecountrys vast forests.
The country has a hottropical climate, moretemperate in the highlandsand drier in theeasternmost areas.Guatemala experiences avariation in temperatures,owing to the differences inaltitudes. Climate: tropical; hot,humid in lowlands; coolerin highlandsGuatemala City is generally mild, almost spring like, throughout the course ofthe year. It occasionally gets warm during the dry season, but not as hot as othersea-level cities located in the tropic.
This museum houses a vast collection ofexquisite Maya artifacts displayed in thedifferent halls: the archaeology sectionhas objects from the Preclassic Period,The Classic Period, The Post-Classic andan ethnology section that showslinguistic Maya groups, textiles andtraditions. Valuable treasures, such asthe Piedras Negras throne, are found atthis museum.
The Guatemalan Forensic AnthropologyFoundation (Spanish: Fundacion de AntropologíaForense de Guatemala, or FAFG) is an autonomous,non-profit, technical and scientific non-governmentalorganization. Its aim is to strengthen theadministration of justice and respect for humanrights by investigating, documenting, and raisingawareness about past instances of human rightsviolations, particularly unresolved murders, thatoccurred during Guatemalas 30-year-long Civil War.Its main tool in pursuing this goal is the applicationof forensic anthropology techniques in exhumationsof clandestine mass graves. Its endeavors in thisregard allow the relatives of the disappeared torecuperate the remains of their missing familymembers and to proceed with burials in accordancewith their beliefs, and enable criminal prosecutions tobe brought against the perpetrators.
Water ActivitiesThe diverse group of water activities that you can enjoy in Guatemalacomes by being surrounded by hundreds of natural lakes and rivers thatcross the country. There are numerous snorkeling and scubaopportunities in the areas. You can go rapid rafting in some of the riversthat flow past El Chiquibil or La Pasion.Boat ridesOne of the best ways to enjoy some ofthe ecological and biodiversity thatGuatemala has to offer is one of theextensive boat rides that are available.From lakes, rivers, and lagoons you saildown or row your way through miles ofmangrove trees and rough nature. Ifyour real lucky you might be able topick out some of the native monkeysflying through the trees. Or just enjoythe of beauty of its waters is to take aboat ride down Rio Dulce
Another drawback to the poverty crises inGuatemala is that among Guatemala’schildren it is very high. Most children under 5 inthis country are mal nourished more so in therural areas but it effects the over all mortalityrate whether it is in the city or rural areas.Malnutrition mirrors the geographic and ethnicpatterns of poverty, being higher among ruralchildren than urban (51% vs. 32%). The poor arehighly dependent on agriculture, some 87percent, as small scale subsistence farmers oragricultural day laborers. Non Spanishspeakers also face lower incomes
With extreme poverty there alsocomes consequences, one ofwhich is the low life expectancyage in the country. Guatemalaranks as one of the worst with theaverage age of 65 and a 40 out ofevery 100 births do not survivepast a few weeks. Thegovernment only spends a smallamount of money in socialprograms such as health carewhich result in the poor health of alot of Guatemalan families. Thepoor do not have easy access togood health care as facilities arefocused in the metropolitan areas.Then with the use of pesticides, thelow availability of drinking waterand waste disposal services inrural areas there has also raisedthe occurrence of healthproblems.
The government must alsofocus on another issue thelack of proper educationfor the populous. Educationis not a great priority forpoor Guatemalans aschildren are needed towork to contribute to thefamily income. Only 44percent of school agechildren attend classes andonly 55.6 percent of thetotal population is literate.Child labor significantlyinhibits the ability to attendschool.
Lake AtitlanA lot of visitors who have had theopportunity to sail some of the watershere agree the beauty of it will take yourbreath away. Here, you will experiencethe serenity of its neighboring Mayansettlements. So, you will definitely wantto include this in your itinerary. Whichagain is a must see for any visitor goingto Guatemala.
The greatest locations in Guatemala arefrom the old culture that use to roam islands. One of the greatest feats of oldarchitecture design you will stand inamazement and greatness of thesebehemoth structures. The Mayan structuresare great triangular temples. These ruins area great way to really get a feel full theculture you are experiencing how theirroots dwell into today’s friendly people.
Semana Santa ProcessionsGuatemala is not only diverse in its ecological and bi diversity it isalso very unique in its culture. A portion of Guatemala culture isrooted into religion. It is very important in the lives of the people thatlive there. There is always some type of local or national celebrationgoing on and the tributes that the locals provide is a great sight toexperience. There will be a procession of religious icons, and peopledressed in purple frocks and dresses walk the streets as a testamentof their faith to their religion. It is a wonderful side of Guatemalaculture.Dead-ly festivitiesDuring October there is a special celebration in October that weknow as Halloween, the Guatemalans hold festivals for the deadknown as Day of The Dead. The start of the celebration is onNovember 1st. They flock to cemeteries with flowers and candles,donning skeleton costumes, presents and even skulls.
The indigenous people from the Highlands inGuatemala created Worry Dolls many generationsago as a remedy for worrying. According to theMayan legend, when worrying keeps a personawake, he or she tells a worry to as many dolls asnecessary. Then the worrier places the dolls underhis or her pillow. The dolls take over the worryingfor the person who then sleeps peacefully throughthe night. When morning breaks, the personawakens without the worries that the dolls tookaway during the night.