General Information

Climate
Clothes to Bring
Communications
Credit Cards
Currency
Customs
Departure Tax
Entry Requirements
Government
Holidays
Healthcare
Language
Market Days
Population
Taxes
Time Zone
Tipping
Topography

Climate
Weather conditions vary from season to season and region to region. The dry season is from October to early May and the rainy 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.
Clothes to Bring
While in Guatemala City and the highlands area wear spring clothing and a sweater at night. Comfortable walking shoes are suggested. While at archaeological sites and the lowlands, light-colored, lightweight, cotton clothing is recommended. Sunglasses and a hat are recommended while on tours or at the beach.
Communications
Direct dial service lo the U.S. is available throughout the country. Telex, fax, cable TV, radio, and Internet arc all easily found.
Credit Cards
Hotels, restaurants and shops in Guatemala and most of the tourism areas accept most major credit cards. Traveler's checks can be exchanged at most banks.
Currency
The local currency is the Quetzal, named for the national bird. The US dollar is now accepted as legal currency. Exchange rates fluctuate so check with your hotel for the current exchange rate.
Customs Requirements
These requirements change often without notice. Check with your travel agent or a local Guatemalan consulate.
Departure Tax
Air passengers pay US$30 or 237 quetzals, at the time of publishing. Land and sea departure taxes vary according to the area you are exiting.
Entry Requirements
These requirements change at times without public notice so check with your travel agent or a local Guatemalan consulate. Passports are required for visitors outside the Central American region.
Government
Guatemala has a democratically elected government with elections every four years.
Holidays
January 1st
May 1st
June 30th
August 15th
New Year's Day
Labour Day
Army Day
Virgin de La Asunción
September 15th
October 20th
November 1st
December 25th
Independence Day
Revolution of 1944
All Saint's Day
Christmas Day
January
On January 15, the day of the Black Christ is celebrated in Esquipulas.
February
Lent processions begin throughout Guatemala.
March/April
Lent and Easter week processions throughout Guatemala. The largest processions occur in Antiqua Guatemala on Good Friday.
May
On May 2and 3, the Day of the Cross is celebrated with colorful traditions at Lake Amatitlán near Guatemala City.
On May 9, Jueves de Ascención is celebrated with traditional music, flowers and prayers at Lake Chicabal. Please be very respectful of this tradition and do not take photographs.
July
July 25 is the town fair in Antigua Guatemala, with parades, music and other festivities.
On July 27 the annual Rabin Ajau beauty pageant is held in Cobán, with traditional dances and music.
August
On August 15, Guatemala City celebrates the day of our Lady of the Ascension.
September
September 15 is the national holiday to commemorate Guatemala's independence from Spain in 1821. The largest holiday fair is in Quetzaltenango.
October
On October 20, Guatemalans celebrate the overthrow of dictator Jorge Ubico in 1944 and the beginning of 10 years of revolutionary government known as the "10 Years of Spring."
November
All Saints Day, celebrated on November 1, is celebrated with unique traditions throughout Guatemala. Giant kites are flown in the cemeteries of Santiago Sacatepéquez and Sumpango near Antiqua Guatemala. Many Guatemalans feast on a traditional food know as fiambre. An unusual horse race is held in Todos Santos Cuchumatán.
December
The town fair in Chichicastenango culminates on December 21 with traditional dances and music.
Nativity scenes, hand-made Christmas ornaments and small processions known as "posadas" create a joyful atmosphere during December.
Healthcare
Modern, clean, and sanitary conditions and facilities can be found in most parts of the country.
Language
The official language is Spanish, but English is spoken in the popular tourism areas. Over 20 indigenous languages are still spoken.
Market Days
Most village markets are not open daily. The different towns have different days of the week to trade and shop. Some of the better known markets are provided below.
Sunday
Chichicastenango, El Quiché
Momostenango, Totonicapán
Nahualá, Sololá
Nebaj, El Quiché
Patzún, Chimaltenango
San Cristóbal, Totonicapán
La Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepéquez
Santa Maria Chiquimula, Totonicapán
Comalapa, Chimaltenango
San Mateo lxtatán, Huehuetenango
Todos Santos, Huehuetenango
Tecpán, Chimaltenango
San Lucas Tolimán, Sololá
Tactic, Alta Verapaz
Tamah, Alta Verapaz
Tucur, Alta Verapaz
San Cristóbal Verapaz, Alta Verapaz
San Martin Sacatepéquez, Quetzaltenango

Monday
La Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepéquez
Chimaltenango, Chimaltenenago
Zunil, Quetzaltenango

Tuesday
Comalapa, Chimaltenango
Patzún, Chimaltenango
San MartinJilotepeque, Chimaltenango
Sololá, Sololá
Olintepeque, Quetzaltenango

Wednesday
Chimaltenango, Chimaltenango
Patzicia, Chimaltenango

Thursday
La Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepéquez
Chichicastenango, El Quiché
Nebaj, El Quiché
Sacapulas, El Quiché
San Mateo Ixtatán, Huehuetenango
Todos Santos, Huehuetenango
San Sabastián, Huehuetenango
San Juan Atitlán, Sololá
San Martin Jilotepeque, Chimaltenango
Tecpán, Chimaltenango
Nahualá, Sololá
San Lucas Toliman, Sololá
Tactic, Alta Verapaz
Tamah, Alta Verapaz
Tucur, Alta Verapaz
San Cristóbal Verapaz, Alta Verapaz
San Martin Sacatepéquez, Quetzaltenango

Friday
Comalapa, Chimaltenango
Chimaltenango, Chimaltenango
Patzún, Chimaltenango
San Francisco El Alto, Totonicapán
Sololá, Sololá
Santiago Sacatepéquez, Sacatepéquez

Saturday
La Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepéquez
Patzicia, Chimaltenango
Totonicapán, Totonicapán

Population
The population is approximately 12 million. Guatemalans are a mix of indigenous, Ladinos and Garifunas. There is also a population of U.S., Canadian and European residents.
Taxes
Goods and services are subject to a 12% value-added tax (IVA). Hotels also have an additional 10% tourism tax.
Time Zone
Guatemala is in the Central Standard Time zone and does not observe daylight-savings time.
Tipping
Generally, a 10% tip is appropriate for restaurants. Ask if the trip is included since some establishments add it to the bill.
Topography
Guatemala covers 42,000 square miles and is at the northern end of the Central American isthmus (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.



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