Guatemala Tourist Office
7th Ave. 1-17, Zone 4,
Guatemala C.A. Tel: (502-2) 33 11 333/47
Cable ONT Fax: (502-2) 33188 93/314416


Physical geography

Guatemala is Central America's third largest country, bordered on the north by Mexico, on the south by El Salvador and Honduras. The Pacific coast is to the southwest and the Caribbean sea to the northeast.

In the north there are huge forests with wild vegetation. Guatemala is traversed by Sierra Madre, which gives the region unexpected landscapes, valleys seem to be suspended between the mountains and numerous cone-shaped volcanoes add to the rich diversity. The highest volcano is the Tajumulco (4,200m or 12,000 feet). Lakes are numerous, unusually serene and fresh, some of volcanic origin, the best known is perhaps the Atitlan Lake at a distance of 130km from the capital. Other lakes are Izabal, Amatitlan and Chicabal, also very beautiful, and the lagoons Ayarza, Ipala, Peten Itza, Yaxha Macanche. Rivers are of great beauty like the Rio Dulce, the Polochic and the Motagua. The Usumacinta served as communication means for the old Maya civilisation.


Guatemala City's average year-round temperature is around 68°F (18ºC). At an altitude of 1,499 metres, Guatemala City enjoys a pleasant climate of warm, sunny days and cool starlit evenings. In November and December you can expect windy days and chilly evenings. Temperatures are cooler in the central highlands, averaging between 64-68°-F.

Guatemala's weather can be divided into two seasons. Winter from May through October and a dry season from November to April (summer).

Economic geography

The coffee from Guatemala ranks among the best in the world and represents the first staple of the economy. Beans, bananas, cotton, citronella, cacao, corn, sugar cane, flowers and fruit are also important. Guatemalan livestock and meats are exported the world over.


Over 9,744 600 inhabitants live in Guatemala's area. The majority live in small villages. Guatemala city has a population of l,114432. Forty-three per cent of its people are direct descendants of the Mayan race still practising different Indian dialects.

A brief history

Guatemala's history is divided into three different periods: Pre-Columbian, Colonial and Independent. The Pre-Columbian period is the prehistoric epoch up to the year 1524, when the Spaniards arrived under Captain Don Pedro de Alvarado. This period ended on 15 September 1821 when independence from Spain was declared.


A high percentage of Guatemalans are Roman Catholic, but Protestants and other religious groups are much in evidence. Many of the descendants of the Maya are still following very old pagan rites, especially in the mountains.

Languages spoken by nationals

Spanish is the official language, with native dialects spoken in the highlands by descendants of the Maya. English is spoken at most hotels, restaurants and shops.


Two hours behind Eastern standard time.


For many years the national currency has been on a par with the US dollar. Now this has changed slightly, a fact that can be regarded as another attraction for tourists, that will find Guatemala to be inexpensive. The Quetzal is divided into quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. US dollars are welcome in most places. The exchange rate is currently US$1 = 6.1.

Official holidays (offices and shops closed)

1 January, New Year's Day - Holy week, (a week in March or April) - 1 May, Labour Day - 30 June, Revolution Day - 15 August, Asuncion's, Virgin Day - 15 September, Independence Day, 20 October, Race Day - 1 November, All Saints Day - 24 and 25 December, Christmas - 31 December, New Year's Eve.

What one should not fail to see

Maya architecture with its hieroglyphs, waterways, channels and stelae is one of the most impressive that ever existed. Most popular are the ruins at Tikal and Huehuetenango, other important archaeological sites are Uaxactun, Mirador, Piedras Negras, Tavasal, Yaxha, Ceibal and others of the Mayan world.

In the centre of the country lies Kaminal Juyu and in the west Zaculeu. On the coast you can admire Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa and La Democracia with many fine pieces of sculpture from the very old to those from the end of the prehispanic period. The romantic old fort of San Felipe de Lara on the entrance of Lake Izabal formerly a bastion against pirates is well worth a visit. Lake Atitlan, also called the 'Lake of seven colours' is considered one of the world's most beautiful lakes by many foreign visitors. Chichicastenango is a world famous Indian village known for its colourful costumes and interesting customs, like the festive Sunday market. In the Ciudad Guatemala an altogether different world of most modern hotels night-clubs and all the amenities of a bustling modern clean city is alive night and day. For these and other reasons, we wish to invite you to share with us a privileged spot where you can live well and comfortably Guatemala.

Most favourable seasons-for sojourns and touring

Any time of the year.

Main holiday resorts

Lake Atitlan, Rio Dulce, Pacific coast Chichicastenango, Tikal, Antigua Guatemala.

Main holiday sports

Water sports, fishing, hunting, golf, tennis, horseback riding, soccer, baseball, football, mountain climbing (all the volcanoes can be climbed, some require great skill, numerous excursions are possible).

What to eat and drink

International cuisine is available throughout the country, and the level of service is equal to any in the world. The prices are reasonable and there are many excellent and economical smaller restaurants and coffee shops throughout the city, local food is based on corn.

Guatemalan meat, vegetables and fruit are exported to the USA and meet the highest standards. The superb seafood is also exported the world over.

What to buy

Besides the native industries of weaving, pottery and cordage, famous throughout the world, Guatemala has large iron working shops, electronic assembly industries, furniture, canned goods, glass a great variety of textile, and many other enterprises.

Frontier formalities

You will need a passport, or a tourist card available from your airline or any Guatemalan consulate. Simply present proof of citizenship (passport, voters registration, birth or naturalisation certificate) and pay a fee of five dollars. The card is valid for six months after your arrival, and children under 12 can travel on their parents' card. Smallpox vaccination is not required.

Main travel routes

By air: Guatemala is serviced by its own national airline, Aviateca, as well as by Iberia, KLM, Taca, Copa, Mexicana, SAM, Lacsa, American Airlines, United Airlines Aviacsa, Continental Airlines. A direct service from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans, Miami, Washington and New York, is being offered by these airlines.

By bus: connections are available through Mexican and Central American companies. Ask your travel agent. Greyhound has daily departures from Guatemala to all main Central American cities.


Guatemala, enchanting sub-tropical, Central American country rich in history, rare in beauty and rewarding in delightful resorts and unspoiled native life, exciting places to visit and friendly people to help make every moment of your stay a happy one. Here, in this lovely land lying half-way between North and South America, you will find a wonderful panorama of the intriguing past of the romantic Spanish colonial area and the mysterious Maya... the stunning beauty of the colourful simplicity of a warm native way of life... The birds, fish, trees, flowers that are so varied that specialists in these fields come to study them... Excitement awaits you everywhere in Guatemala... from the cleanliness of pleasant modern Guatemala City to the exotic sights and sounds of colourful Chichicastenango and the native market... from the calm beauty of Lake Atitlan with its ring of volcanoes to the murmur of the surf on the Pacific beaches...

Guatemala, a delightful country.

List of representatives abroad

France: Office National du Tourisme du Guatemala, 11, rue de Cronstadt, 75015 Paris. Tel: (33) (1) 4530 1866. Fax: (33) (1) 42501878.

Italy: Ente Nazionale del Turismo de Guatemala, Viale Prassilla 152, 00124 Roma. Tel: (39) (6) 509 12740. Fax: (39) (6) 505 3406.

Mexico: Instituto Guatelmateco de Turismo, Rio Nilo No 55 Mezzanine 1, Colonia Cuauhtemoc. C.P. 06500 Mexico. D.F. Tel and Fax: (52) (5) 208 1991.

Republica Dominicana and Puerto RICO: Instituto Guatelmateco de Turismo, Pedro Henriquez Urena 136-A. Santo-Domingo, D.N. Republica Dominicana. Tel. (809) 5631792. Fax: (809) 567-0115.

Switzerland/Germany: Guatemala Tourist Commission, P.O. Box 447 CH-4104 Oberwil-Basle. Tel: (41) (61) 4015032. Fax: (41) (61 401 5 1 57.

USA: Guatemala Tourist Commission, 299 Alhambra Circle, Suite 510 Coral Gables, Florida 33134. Tel: (305) 442-0651/442-0412. Fax: (305) 4421013. Toll Free l-800-742-4529.

For other countries please apply to the nearest diplomatic mission.

We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Guatemala thanks to the co-operation of the Instituto Guatemalateco de Turismo in Guatemala.