Tourism became one of the main drivers of the economy, an industry that reported more than $1.8 billion in 2008. Guatemala receives about two million tourists annually.
In recent years it has led to the visit of many cruise ships that touch important seaports in Guatemala, leading to more tourists visiting the country.
In its territory there are Mayan archaeological sites (Tikal in the Petén, Quiriguá in Izabal, Iximche in Tecpan Chimaltenango, and in the City of Guatemala). Destinations visited for their natural environment include Lake Atitlán and Semuc Champey. Historical tourism destinations include the colonial city of Antigua Guatemala, which is recognized by UNESCO Cultural Heritage.
Tikal is the ruin of an ancient city, which was likely to have been called Yax Mutal, found in a rainforest in Guatemala. It is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. It is located in the archaeological region of the Petén Basin in what is now northern Guatemala. Situated in the department of El Petén, the site is part of Guatemala's Tikal National Park and in 1979 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Petén is a department of the Republic of Guatemala. It is geographically the northernmost department of Guatemala, as well as the largest by area — at 13,843 sq mi (35,854 km2) it accounts for about one third of Guatemala's area. The capital is Flores. The population at the 2002 Census was 366,735; the latest official estimate as of mid-2012 was 662,779.
Quiriguá is an ancient Maya archaeological site in the department of Izabal in south-eastern Guatemala. It is a medium-sized site covering approximately 3 square kilometres (1.2 sq mi) along the lower Motagua River, with the ceremonial center about 1 km (0.6 mi) from the north bank. During the Maya Classic Period (AD 200–900), Quiriguá was situated at the juncture of several important trade routes. The site was occupied by 200, construction on the acropolis had begun by about 550, and an explosion of grander construction started in the 8th century. All construction had halted by about 850, except for a brief period of reoccupation in the Early Postclassic. Quiriguá shares its architectural and sculptural styles with the nearby Classic Period city of Copán, with whose history it is closely entwined.
Tourism in Guatemala has grown gradually, is an attractive destination because of the abundant and varied natural environment and its long beaches of white sand and dark sand, coral reefs, flora and fauna, and archaeological sites, its colonial history, plus its culture expressed in their customs and traditional foods.[ citation needed ]
There is a strong interest of the international community for archaeological sites like the city of Tikal was built and occupied in a period where the Mayan culture had its most literal and artistic expression, was ruled by a dynasty of 16 kings, the Mayas of Tikal built many temples, a ball park, altars and steles in high and low relief.
Guatemala is very popular for its archaeological sites, pre-Hispanic cities as well as tourist-religious centers like Basilica of Esquipulas and City of Esquipulas and also the beaches on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Guatemala. Other tourist destinations are the National Parks and others Protected Areas such as the Maya Biosphere Reserve.
Esquipulas, officially Municipality of Esquipulas, whose original name was Yzquipulas, is the largest city located in the department of Chiquimula, in eastern Guatemala. Esquipulas' main attraction is the beautiful Black Christ located in the Basilica of Esquipulas, making the city an important place of Catholic pilgrimage for Central America. It is also one of the most important cities of the country and one that has had the most economic and cultural growth.
The Maya Biosphere Reserve is a nature reserve in Guatemala managed by Guatemala's National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP). The Maya Biosphere Reserve covers an area of 21,602 km2.
Guatemala City, locally known as Guatemala or Guate, officially Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, is the capital and largest city of Guatemala, and the most populous city in Central America. The city is located in the south-central part of the country, nestled in a mountain valley called Valle de la Ermita. It is estimated that its population is about 1 million. Guatemala City is also the capital of the Municipality of Guatemala and of the Guatemala Department.
Guatemala is one of the 22 departments of Guatemala. The capital is Guatemala City, which also serves as the national capital. The department consists of Guatemala City and several of its suburbs.
Lake Atitlán is a lake in the Guatemalan Highlands of the Sierra Madre mountain range. It is in the Sololá Department of southwestern Guatemala. It is the deepest lake in Central America.
Regarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Guatemala has several protected declarations by the State, among which include: the Huelga de Dolores from the University of San Carlos of Guatemala, according to Ministerial Agreement 275-2010, the Treat of December 8 of municipality of Chichicastenango, according 347-2010 Agreement and the Cofradía de San Marcos Evangelista, under Ministerial Agreement 532-2010.
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Livingston is the name of a town in Izabal Department, eastern Guatemala, at the mouth of the Río Dulce at the Gulf of Honduras. The town serves as the municipal seat of the municipality of the same name. It was Guatemala's main port on the Caribbean Sea before the construction of nearby Puerto Barrios.
Puerto Barrios is a city in Guatemala, located within the Gulf of Honduras. The bay in which the harbour is located is called Bahia de Amatique. Puerto Barrios is the departmental seat of Izabal department and is the administrative seat of Puerto Barrios municipality.
Chimaltenango is a department of Guatemala. The capital is Chimaltenango.
Sololá is a city in Guatemala. It is the capital of the department of Sololá and the administrative seat of Sololá municipality. It is located close to Lake Atitlan.
Panajachel is a town in the southwestern Guatemalan Highlands, less than 90 miles from Guatemala City, in the department of Sololá. It serves as the administrative centre for the surrounding municipality of the same name. The elevation is 1,597 metres (5,240 ft). Population was 11 thousand in the 2000 census, estimated as 15,000 now (Insituto Nacional de Estadística de Guatemala), and has approximately doubled each of the last few decades. The town of Panajachel is located on the Northeast shore of Lake Atitlán, and has become a centre for the tourist trade of the area as it provides a base for visitors crossing the lake to visit other towns and villages.
The Spanish conquest of Guatemala was a protracted conflict during the Spanish colonization of the Americas, in which Spanish colonisers gradually incorporated the territory that became the modern country of Guatemala into the colonial Viceroyalty of New Spain. Before the conquest, this territory contained a number of competing Mesoamerican kingdoms, the majority of which were Maya. Many conquistadors viewed the Maya as "infidels" who needed to be forcefully converted and pacified, disregarding the achievements of their civilization. The first contact between the Maya and European explorers came in the early 16th century when a Spanish ship sailing from Panama to Santo Domingo was wrecked on the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in 1511. Several Spanish expeditions followed in 1517 and 1519, making landfall on various parts of the Yucatán coast. The Spanish conquest of the Maya was a prolonged affair; the Maya kingdoms resisted integration into the Spanish Empire with such tenacity that their defeat took almost two centuries.
San Agustín Lanquín, often referred to simply as Lanquín, is a municipality in the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz. It is situated at 380 m above sea level. It has a population of about 16,500 people, many of Q'eqchi' Maya descent. It covers an area of 208 km².
The Tzʼutujil are a Native American people, one of the 21 Maya ethnic groups that dwell in Guatemala. Together with the Xinca, Garífunas and the Ladinos, they make up the 24 ethnic groups in this relatively small country. Approximately 100,000 Tzʼutujil live in the area around Lake Atitlán. Their pre-Columbian capital, near Santiago Atitlán, was Chuitinamit. In pre-Columbian times, the Tzʼutujil nation was a part of the ancient Maya civilization.
Tecpán Guatemala is a municipality in the department of Chimaltenango, in Guatemala, on the Inter-American Highway CA-1.
Los Amates is a municipality in the Izabal department of Guatemala. The population is about 56,000. The mayor is currently Marco Tulio Ramirez Estrada. Los Amates is located on the Motagua River, 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the ruins of the ancient Maya city of Quiriguá.
San Antonio Palopó is a municipality in the Sololá Department of Guatemala. The village is on the eastern shore of Lake Atitlán. The lowest elevation is 1,562 metres (5,125 ft) at the shoreline. The people of the region are Cakchiquel Maya with a distinctive style of clothing. The patron saint of the village is St. Anthony of Padua. The annual festival takes place on 13 June.
San Lucas Tolimán is a municipality in the Sololá department of Guatemala. The town of 17,000 people sits on the southeastern shore of Lago de Atitlán. The population is 90–95% Highland Maya. There is a population of about the same size living in the surrounding villages.
Jungle tourism is a subcategory of adventure travel defined by active multifaceted physical means of travel in the jungle regions of the earth. Although similar in many respects to adventure travel, jungle tourism pertains specifically to the context of region, culture and activity. According to the Glossary of Tourism Terms, jungle tours have become a major component of green tourism in tropical destinations and are a relatively recent phenomenon of Western international tourism.
The Gringo Trail refers to a string of the places most frequently visited by "gringos", Canadians, Americans, other budget travelers, vice tourists, backpackers, Anglo-European, Dutch, German heritage foreigners in Latin America.
The Cultural Triangle Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo National Park is a multidisciplinary project involving archaeologists, architects, restaurateurs, and biologists. It is situated in Peten, Guatemala. The project does not only work in one archaeological site, but in a region of 1,200 square kilometres (460 sq mi) including three gigantic sites and 14 sub enters – the most populated area of the Mayan Classic.
Juan Pedro Laporte Molina was a prominent Guatemalan archaeologist best known for his work on the ancient Maya civilization. He studied in the United States at the University of Arizona, in which he enrolled at the age of nineteen. After just one year he transferred to the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia in Mexico. He continued his studies at the Universidad Autónoma de México from 1972 to 1976, from which he graduated with a doctorate in archaeology. He worked as a research assistant at the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City from 1967 through to 1976. Laporte worked at various archaeological sites while he was in Mexico, including Tlatilco, Chichen Itza and Dainzú. He first began working as an archaeologist in Guatemala in the 1970s, and was the head of the School of History of the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC) for more than thirty years. He first entered USAC in 1977, soon after returning from Mexico. In 1974 he carried out investigations at the Maya archaeological site of Uaxactun in the northern Petén Department of Guatemala. Between 1974 and 1976 he carried out archaeological investigations in Antigua Guatemala, which has since been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and around Lake Izabal.
Centro Educativo Pavarotti is a junior high school for children aged 12–16 located near Lake Atitlán in San Lucas Tolimán, Sololá Departement, Guatemala. The center is an initiative of the Rigoberta Menchú Foundation, which is an institution accredited for its contributions to the defense of human rights especially of indigenous peoples which impels educational programs, citizen participation, community development and combating impunity. The Utzilal Tijonikel program, which translated from Kaqchikel into English means “teaching to do the good thing”, offers also education complemented by a basic work orientation. The center serves approximately 150 Guatemalan children with 10 professors educating them. The majority of children attending this school live in poor circumstances, so that they receive financial support in order to attend this school. Without these benefits they would probably work on fields, like many of their parents do.
Guatemala is divided in 22 departments that are organized in 8 development regions declared by the Guatemalan government.