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The Beautiful Guatemala You Have to Visit to Appreciate

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Guatemala is still trying to come to terms with a 36-year-long civil war.

The conflict, which ended in 1996, pitted leftist, mostly Mayan insurgents against the state, which – backed by the US – waged a vicious campaign to eliminate the guerrillas.

More than 200,000 people – most of them civilians – were killed or disappeared.

Despite an official finding that most atrocities were committed by the security forces, moves to bring those responsible to account have been slow.

Guatemala is a country of striking features and a strong indigenous culture. Mountainous, heavily forested and dotted with Mayan ruins, lakes, volcanoes, orchids and exotic birds, Guatemala is one of the most beautiful countries in Central America.

The indigenous Maya make up about half of the population but human rights campaigners say they face extreme inequality and exclusion.

The country is a major corridor for smuggling drugs.

  • The Republic of Guatemala
  • Capital: Guatemala City
  • Population: 15 million
  • Major languages: Spanish, more than 20 indigenous languages
  • Major religions: Christianity, indigenous Mayan beliefs
  • Life expectancy: 68 years (men), 75 years (women)
  • Currency: Quetzal