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name Guatemala comes from the Nahuatl language word cuauhtemallan, which
means "place of many trees."
Guatemala is a land of mountains and forests, making
sustainable agriculture somewhat difficult. None-the-less, the Mayans found these
forests ideal for their city of Tikal with an ample water supply and the
Spanish found the land rich in natural resources, so people have always
called the region home.
As the Spanish settled the region,
Guatemala became a center of power for the Spanish. This led to some harsh
battles with the locals, destroying many of the local cultures and people. It also
led to numerous indigenous groups maintaining solitude and today many people in
Guatemala are pure Mayan, Cakchiquel, K'iche, or something else and maintain
their historic cultures, primarily in more rural areas. These people, who make up
nearly 40% of the population, continue to wear traditional clothing, partake in
historic traditions and rituals, continue to eat their historic foods, and speak
their local languages (there are 23 recognized regional languages in Guatemala).
The flag of Guatemala is somewhat
based on the former flag of Central America, which also consisted of blue and white
stripes. In both flags the blue strips represent the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean
Sea, while the white stripe symbolizes the land of Central America and in this case
it also represents peace and purity. In the middle of the flag is the country's
coat of arms, which includes a red quetzal, the national bird, the inscription Libertad
15 de Septiembre de 1821, the country's date of independence (September
15, 1821), rifles representing the people's willingness to defend their
country, swords symbolizing honor, and a laurel wreath for victory.
Name: Republic of Guatemala
Independence: September 15, 1821
Capital: Guatemala City
Population: 14,373,472 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Mestizo, European, K'iche, Kaqchikel,
& other Mayan
Religion: Roman Catholic & Protestant
However, many other locals also intermarried the Spanish
and today much of the population is a mix of these people, often referred to as
"mestizo." These people make up 60% of the population and hold on to a
mix of local and Spanish traditions. Spanish language, religion, and customs dominate
the lives of these people as they are more urbanized and tend to focus more on economic
prosperity rather than historic traditions.
One commonality among all the people is that nearly everyone in
Guatemala is Catholic. The version of Catholicism among the people varies
as Mayan beliefs are often incorporated into the Catholic Church in Guatemala.
Another commonality is the recent history and economic trends that have altered
the people's way of life in Guatemala. The economy
has shifted more towards coffee and fruit exports as a large percentage of the population
works in these industries. However, the unity among the people and among the country's
largest trading partners has led to regular conflicts as these items have been exploited.
The differing groups of people, divided by ethnicity, social standing, and political
ideologies, have struggled to work together as the government seems overcome with
corruption, coups, and general disagreements. These arguments have led to instability,
which is a trend that sadly has dictated much of the daily life in Guatemala in
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