Guatemala is a stunningly beautiful country where lowland

plains and coasts meet rising highlands that characterize

most of the terrain. The Guatemala culture is famous for

its indigenous Maya influence,

and nowhere else in Central America will you find such

an indigenous presence. The Ancient Mayans left behind

once great cities, whose ruins will both amaze and astound

the fortunate witness. Guatemala tourism offers visitors

an experience that is hard to match. With 37 volcanoes

spread throughout the highlands, it seems there is always

at least one volcano to be seen either up close or in

the distance. With beaches that rarely, if ever get crowded,

a Guatemala vacation can see you splashing in the Pacific

Ocean one day and touring a mountain village the next.

Guatemala tourism is definitely on the rise as the country

continues to distance itself from its ugly 36-year Civil

War, which ended in 1996. The rich Guatemala culture and

the warmth of its people is sure to make for an unforgettable

Guatemala vacation.

Guatemala tourism definitely benefits from the presence of the enduring

Maya people. Ancient Mayans flourished in Guatemala prior to the

arrival of the Spaniards in the 1500's. The ruins of their astounding

cities of El Mirador and Tikal

in Guatemala’s northern Petén region are among the best examples of

Mayan ruins. Tikal is often the destination of choice for those

arranging a Guatemala tour, and the nearby tourist-friendly city of Flores

serves as the ideal base for any trips into Petén. Many people plan a

Guatemala vacation just for the chance to see the surviving Maya, who

are known for their withstanding traditions, colorful dress, and

coveted hand made wares. Throughout the Guatemala highlands, the Maya

continue their largest presence, but they can be found throughout the

country. In the village of Chichicastenango,

the Thursday and Sunday market gives visitors one of the best chances

to gain insight into Guatemala culture, as indigenous groups come from

around the country to sell their coveted goods in a colorfully charged


Past Spanish occupation also characterizes much

of Guatemala culture and throughout the country some of the best

examples of Spanish colonial architecture can be found. In cities like Antigua and Quetzaltenango,

old churches and cathedrals compliment the surrounding mountains to

present a most picturesque setting. Antigua is a UNESCO World Heritage

Site, and it is the most popular city to visit in Guatemala. You will

know why once you get there, and you just might not ever want to leave.

Antigua and Guatemala City lie in close proximity and both cities are ideal for visits to Lake Atitlan.

Lake Atitlan is arguably the country’s most prized scenic location, and

along its shores can be found the ultra-tourist friendly town of Panajachel.

From eco-tourists to fishermen, Panajachel serves as the comfortable

and friendly base for tourism-related activities in and around Lake

Atitlan. Climbing the nearby Pacaya

volcano for a glimpse inside its cone is an adventure you are sure to

never forget. Eco-tourism is becoming an ever more popular part of

Guatemala tourism as a whole, and being a predominantly lush country

with mountains and jungles, the opportunities to get outside and

explore are numerous.The Guatemalan people are comprised mostly of

“Ladinos” and European ethnicities. Ladinos are of mixed

Amerindian-Spanish ancestry. The Mayan peoples, the most prevalent

being the Quiché, comprise the bulk of the remaining population.

Guatemala culture and Guatemala music, both of which receive influence

from the Mayan and Spanish cultures, benefit also from the Garifuna

people who can be found along the country’s eastern shore near Santo

Tomás and Livingston. The Garifuna are ethnic descendants of Amerindian

and African people, and they maintain their own language and many of

their traditional customs. For the most part, Guatemala music includes

the marimba, which is the country’s national instrument. A member of

the xylophone family, the marimba is played throughout the country,

often accompanied by percussion bands. Especially during village

festivals and Lent and Easter processions, these marimba and percussion

bands fill the air with music. The Guatemala music scene boasts an

array of performing organizations, especially in the capital of

Guatemala City, where you will find a range of music performances.

Often upon arrival to a Guatemala destination, you will encounter a

welcoming marimba and percussion band, whose typical Guatemala music

will fill your Guatemala vacation with an appropriate soundtrack.