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 avoiding
these Spanish at all costs. Unlike many countries in the region in which the indigenous
population was almost entirely killed, many people in Guatemala today are pure Mayan,
Kaqchikel, or K'iche and maintain their historic cultures, primarily in more
rural areas. These wholly indigenous 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).