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Official Name:
Republic of Guatemala

Area (Km2): 108,890

Coastline (Km.): 400

Location:
Borders with Mexico to the north and northwest; with El Salvador and Honduras on the southeast; with the Pacific Ocean on the west; with Belize on the northeast; and with the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea on the east. 

Capital:
Guatemala City

Population:
Approximately 12 million inhabitants


Languages:
The official language is Spanish.  In addition, 23 Mayan languages are spoken.

Climate:
The average temperature is 25°C (77°F).

Geography:
Guatemala is basically mountainous but in the northern department of the Petén, one finds lowland jungle with abundant precious hardwoods, rubber trees and petroleum.  Guatemala has numerous volcanoes of which the highest is Tajumulco (4,220 meters above sea level).  The Guatemalan rivers flow towards either the Pacific or the Atlantic Oceans.  Many of the lakes are of volcanic origin and are spectacular to view.  Lake Atitlán (15.62 meters above sea level) contains multiple islands and is the most famous of the country.  Annual precipitation averages 1,316 mm.  Due to its tropical location and mountainous terrain, Guatemala has a large variety of different climates but without extreme hot or cold. 

Currency:
The official currency is the Quetzal.
This is a country in which the economy favors tourists with American Dollars.  It is the easiest foreign currency to change in the banks.  The bills must be in clean and in good shape, without stains or tears.  There are exchange houses in the cities of Antigua, Panajachel, Quetzaltenango and Chichicastenango as well as the airports in Guatemala City and Flores.  It is also possible to change money in the banks and most large hotels.  Traveler’s checks and major credit cards are accepted in the majority of banks and large hotels, as well. ATM machines are common in the larger cities throughout the country.  

Banking Schedules: 
The Guatemalan banking system offers ample banking hours from 09:00 AM to 19:00 PM, Monday to Friday and from 10:00 AM to 13:00 PM on Saturday.  Banks are generally closed on Sundays. 

Guatemalan Cuisine:
Guatemalan cuisine is spicy and based on recipes handed down from generations ago.  Each one of the departments from the north, center, south, east and western regions of the country have their own special recipes steeped in the history and folklore of the area and with distinct cultural characteristics.  Many of these special dishes are still served during religious and other holidays when the large, extended families tend to gather. 

Dress:
During the summer months, light cotton clothing with a sweater for the evenings is sufficient.  From November to January during the slightly colder months of the year, light wool is recommended. 

Tips: In hotels, restaurants, bars, etc., 15% tip is customary when it is not automatically included in the bill.  A $2.00 per person per day tip is suggested for guides and $1.00 per person per day tip is suggested for drivers and other assistants. 

National Holidays:
January 1; Wednesday, Santo Domingo of the Resurrection (Easter Week); May 1; June 30; August 15; September 15; October 20; November 1; December 24, 25, and 31.

Official Documents:
Before arriving in Guatemala, each passenger should verify that their documents are in order and that they have the appropriate visas or tourist cards depending on their nationality.  Visas can only be obtained in Guatemalan Consulates outside of Guatemala.  Tourist cards are available for citizens from certain countries at the airline check-in counters. 

Electricity:
Guatemala uses 110 volt electricity throughout the country.  Visitors that bring electrical apparatus other than 110 volts should bring the appropriate voltage adaptor as well. 

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