Antigua, Guatemala, was once the capital of Guatemala under Spanish rule. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its architecture and the ruins of colonial churches destroyed by earthquakes. It is also well-known for its Spanish-language schools and the religious processions held during Lent.
The Peten rainforest in northern Guatemala, the second-largest rainforest in the western hemisphere, has been declared a protected biosphere by UNESCO (known as the “Maya Biosphere Reserve”), but it is in danger of being destroyed by cattle ranchers, lumber companies, oil and mining companies, the drug cartels, etc.
Guatemala City is the capital of Guatemala and the largest city in Central America, with a population of over 2 million. It became the capital of Guatemala in 1775, after the previous capital, Antigua, was destroyed in a series of earthquakes. The full name of the city is La Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción.
“La Huelga de Dolores” is a tradition established by students at the University of San Carlos in 1898, as a means to criticize and satirize the government, the church and other authorities. At various times it has been banned outright or restricted to the university campus, and during the civil war, some of its organizers were kidnapped, assassinated, or “disappeared” by the army, police or paramilitaries.
Las Lisas is a small town on the Pacific coast of Guatemala, close to the border with El Salvador. A popular tourist attraction for Guatemalans and surfers, it has basic tourist accommodations. Located on a small island that runs parallel to the coast, you need to hire a boat to get there, which will take you past some mangrove swamps.
Tikal, located in the Peten jungle, is one of the largest and most important Mayan archeological sites. At its height, it had an estimated population of between 100,000 and 200,000 people.
Yaxhá was another major Mayan centre, located near Tikal in the Peten jungle. Although not as large as Tikal, it is situated on the beautiful Lake Yaxhá (which means “Emerald Water”).
The University of San Carlos was one of the first universities to be established in the Americas, in 1676 by King Charles II of Spain. Located in Guatemala City, it also has campuses in several other cities in Guatemala.
The Nuevo Horizonte (“New Horizon”) Co-operative was established in 1998 by ex-combatants and their families after the signing of the Peace Accords, which ended a two-decade long civil war. Their goal was to develop an ecological, sustainable and communal way of life that would also provide a decent standard of living for themselves and their families.
Throughout Easter Holy Week (“Semana Santa”), churches in Guatemala hold processions in the streets, in which participants carry ornate floats, some weighing over one ton, on their shoulders, walking on “carpets” made of coloured sawdust, pine needles, flowers, fruits, vegetables, etc.