Guatemala is a small nation in Central America, a small strip of several nations that connects North and South America. On one side is the Pacific Ocean and on the other side is the Caribbean. Though Guatemala is a relatively small nation, it is full of volcanoes — 30 are still active. The most active is Pacaya, and it is located near the capital city. Volcanoes have been shaping the nation for thousands of years. Eighty-four thousand years ago, a volcano exploded and then collapsed creating Lake Atitlan. The lake is the deepest in Central America at 900 feet deep
and covering 48 square miles. The high mountains are covered in forests and misty clouds that act as water for the trees. The lowlands are much warmer and lack the cloudy mists.

• The country’s official name is the Republic of Guatemala.
• The capital is Guatemala City.
• The official language is Spanish, which 60 percent of the population speaks.
• The currency is called the Quetzal.
• Guatemala is a little smaller than Tennessee.
• The highest point in the country is Volcan Tajumulco.
• The country’s name comes from the word Cuauhtemallan. It means “place of many trees.”
• The bordering nations are Belize, Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras.
• The most popular religions are Roman Catholic, Protestant and indigenous Mayan beliefs.
• Guatemala is known for its coffee exports.
• It is the most populous nation in Central America.
• The Mayan Temple Tikal was built 1,300 years ago. This temple is a tomb and
was discovered in 1695.
• In the 16th century, the country of Spain conquered the nation.
• Guatemala became independent from Spain in 1821.

For tourists and archeologists, one of the most amazing parts of Guatemala is the ancient Mayan ruins tucked away in the forests. The Maya civilization began in 2000 BC. It started small with farmers and villages but eventually grew into huge stone cities that are located all over the country. Many of the modern citizens can trace their ancestry back to these original Mayans. The Mayans are known for their advanced knowledge of math, astronomy and building.

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