Quick facts about Guatemala


Located 548km (341 miles) north of Guatemala City, the ancient site of Tikal was once home to an estimated 100,000 Maya. Unlike many other ancient Mayan sites, the wonders of Tikal are hidden deep within the rainforest. Every year, visitors come to gaze at its towering 70m- (230ft) high pyramid and ancient plazas to the accompaniment of jungle sounds. The site has more than 3000 structures including temples and palaces and is located in Tikal National Park, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to many species of wildlife. There is also an on-site museum, which contains a collection of objects found during excavations at the site. 

Photo Gallery

Museum visit
Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum visiting the Nobel Peace Center in September 2006.
Copyright © Nobel Peace Center 2006
Photo: Kirsti Svenning

Volcan Tajumulco (4,211 m) is the highest point in Guatemala. There are over thirty-three volcanoes in Guatemala. Pacaya and Fuego are active volcanoes near Guatemala City. Lake Izabal is Guatemala’s largest lake. The Maya people were early inhabitants of Guatemala. They also lived in southern Mexico, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras. Tikal was inhabited by the Maya from the sixth century BC to the tenth century AD. El Mirador, covering around sixteen square kilometers, is one of the largest known Maya sites. The Maya people were skilled in engineering, architecture and astronomy. Popul Vuh is the the history of the Quiche people, written in the sixteenth century. In 1524 Pedro de Alvarado defeated the Maya and Guatemala became a Spanish colony. Guatemala gained independence from Spain in 1821 but was annexed by Mexico. Following independence from Mexico, Guatemala joined Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua in the United Provinces of Central America. Guatemala became a fully independent country in 1839. Towards the end of the nineteenth century American businessmen invested in banana plantations in Guatemala. After the Second World War governments forced plantation owners to sell unused land back to Guatemala for redistribution to landless peasants. Land reform in Guatemala came to an end in 1954 following a military coup. A civil war, lasting thirty-six years, was formally ended in 1996. Rigoberta Menchu, a campaigner for Mayan rights, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

Pictures of Earthquakes
“Mole track” across the soccer field at Gualan consisting of en echelon fissures and connecting pressure ridges along the trace of the Motagua fault. Displacement at this locality is over 3 feet (93 centimeters) left lateral. 1976.

It is estimated that twenty-seven thousand people died in an earthquake in Guatemala in 1976. Around two hundred and seventy people in Guatemala were killed by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. In October 2005 hundreds of people were killed in landslides and floods caused by the tropical storm Stan.

Mayan Indians walk through the mud in Panabaj, Guatemala

The search for survivors 


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