8 Things You Didn’t Know About Guatemala


Tikal in Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala.

  1. It once formed the core of the Maya Civilization. 

Southern Mexico gets all the fame, but the Mayan Civilization is thought to have originated in areas of present-day Guatemala. From there it spread to present-day Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize.

  1. It endured a civil war from 1960-1996.

A civil war ensued in Guatemala between the US-backed government and leftist rebels, which is why a lot of the population migrated to other countries. There are over one million Guatemalans in the United States and they’re the 6th largest Hispanic group in the country.

  1. Besides Spanish, 21 Mayan languages are spoken in Guatemala.

93% of the population speaks Spanish as their first or second language, but 21 Mayan languages are still spoken. Itza is the most endangered one with only 12 native speakers.

  1. Miguel Ángel Asturias won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1967...

The Guatemalan author is one of the many Spanish-speaking authors to win the Nobel for Literature. One of his most famous books is El Señor Presidente, about real-life president Manuel Estrada Cabrera.

  1. … But the national anthem was written by a Cuban.

The Guatemalan National Anthem's lyrics were written by José Joaquín Palama, who was Cuban and a contemporary of president Cabrera. He submitted the lyrics anonymously to a national contest of which he was a member of the  jury.

  1. The marimba is the national instrument.

The marimba is a percussion instrument whose keys are arranged like a piano’s. It was first developed in Central America by African slaves. It is thought to be a descent of the African balafon.

  1. The national bird of Guatemala is the Quetzal.

The Quetzal is a bright-colored, small bird native to Central America. It’s also the namesake for the national currency: the Guatemalan Quetzal.


blue denim guatemala

  1. Blue Denim was invented in Guatemala!

We bet you didn’t expect this one, or did you? There are claims that Guatemala was the birthplace of the very first chocolate bar and of instant coffee too.