Guatemala covers 42,000 square miles and is at the northern end of the Central American cape. It is approximately the size of the state of Kentucky. It is bordered by Mexico to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea and Belize to the east and El Salvador and Honduras to the southeast.
The country is comprised of towering mountains and majestic volcanoes, temperate plateaus, tropical lowlands, desert-like river valleys, lowland jungles and swamps. The total population is approximately 12,639,939 (July 2000 est.). There is a population of U.S., Canadian and European residents, as well as Guatemalans. Ethnic groups include Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish), approximately 56%, and Amerindian the remaining 44%. Religions range from Roman Catholic, Protestant, to indigenous Mayan beliefs.
Guatemala was freed of Spanish colonial rule in 1821. During the second half of the 20th century, it experienced a variety of military and civilian governments as well as a 36-year guerrilla war. In 1996, the government signed a peace agreement formally ending the conflict, which had led to the death of more than 100,000 people and had created some 1 million refugees.
Guatemala has modern, clean, and sanitary conditions and facilities that can be found in most parts of the country. The official language is Spanish, but English is spoken in the popular tourism areas. Over 20 indigenous languages are still spoken. The Spanish language is spoken by 60% of the population, and Amerindian by 40% of the remaining population.
Weather conditions vary from season to season and region to region. The dry season is from October to early May, and the rainy season is from late May until the end of September. Temperatures vary little during the year. The average high temperature is 77 °F and the low 55 °F in the highlands.
Direct dial service to the U.S. is available throughout the country