Guatemala has a rich and distinctive culture from Spanish elements and the native Maya people. Its diverse history and the natural beauty of the land has created a destination rich in interesting and scenic sites. From the awe-inspiring monuments of the mysterious Maya civilization to the breathtaking scenery of mountains and lakes; the thriving and colorful culture of the actual indigenous peoples with their markets and unique lifestyle; there is no country in the world to our knowledge that has so much to offer the visitor in so small an area. You can go from the depths of steaming tropical jungles to cool frigid mountain peaks, from the Atlantic Ocean coral beaches to the Pacific volcanic black beaches in just a matter of hours.

Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize and the Caribbean to the northeast, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast. Since 1996, Guatemala has been in a state of continuous development and economic growth. Its abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contribute to Mesoamerica's designation as a biodiversity hotspot. Guatemala is divided into 22 departments (departamentos) and sub-divided into about 332 municipalities (municipios). Transportation, communications, business, politics, and the most relevant urban activity takes place in Guatemala City. Guatemala City has about 2 million inhabitants within the city limits and more than 5 million within the urban area. This is a significant percentage of Guatemala's total population of 13 million.

Guatemala is mountainous, except for the south coastal area and the vast northern lowlands of Petén department. Two mountain chains enter Guatemala from west to east, dividing the country into three major regions: the highlands, where the mountains are located; the Pacific coast, south of the mountains; and the Petén region, north of the mountains. All major cities are located in the highlands and Pacific coast regions; by comparison, Petén is sparsely populated. Volcán Tajumulco, at 4,220 meters, is the highest point in the Central American states. If you visit from December to February, expect some cool nights and mornings. Weather-wise this can be the best time to visit El Petén. March and April are the hottest and driest months. The rains begin in May or June, and with them come the mosquitoes - bring rain gear, repellent and, if you plan on slinging a hammock, a mosquito net. July to September is muggy and buggy. October and November see the end of the occasional rains and a - return to cooler temperatures.

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