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Hooray For Guatemala!

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Hooray For Guatemala!

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Guatemala is one of the Central American country, with its capital being  Guatemala City.  It has an estimated population of 13,677,000 people and is divided into 22 departments, which are in turn divided into 340 municipalities. Guatemala’s area size is 42,043 square miles (108,890 square kilometers). It is also  a country of volcanoes, mountains, and beaches on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. With  countless beaches, mountain ranges and volcanoes, this small country is marked by all it’s contrasts. Three of Guatemala’s 30 volcanoes are still active. Pacaya volcano located near Guatemala City, is the most active volcano.   When a volcano exploded over 84,000 years ago and collapsed to form a caldera, Lake Atitlan was formed.  The lake is the deepest lake in Central America and is believed to be 900 feet (300 meters) deep and covers 48 square miles (125 square kilometers). Only slightly larger than the U.S. state of Tennessee, Guatemala is a mountainous country with one-third of the population living in cool highland villages. The coastal lowlands have very tropical, warm, humid weather. The country is bordered by Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Belize.  

Before modern day, and the fall of their development, Guatemala was filled with the Mayan civilization. The Mayans were very advanced in math and astronomy and it has been predicted that the mayans developed the concept of the number zero. While many historians are not sure why their empire collapsed, the Mayan society became to diminish in the 10th century.  Numerous people believe that the name Guatemala comes from the Maya word, “Guhatezmalh,” that described the volcano near the old capital in Antigua, the “Mountain That Vomits Water.” As of right now,  the volcano is simply called the Volcan de Agua, “Volcano of Water.”

Guatemala’s economy boomed in the 1870’s because of their coffee exports. Many wealthy landowners pushed Mayan communities off their land to make more space for coffee plantations. In the 20th century, hundreds of thousands Guatemalans of people were killed because of decades of civil war and repression. In 1996, Alvaro Arzu, a new president, signed a peace agreement with rebels and ended the 36-year old civil war. In 1986, a new constitution  established three branches of government. The president serves for only one term and is assisted by a vice president and the Council of Ministers. New laws are passed by Congress. President Alvaro Colom Caballeros was sworn in January 2008.

Archaeologists believe that the earliest settlers crossed the Bering Strait from Asia, 14,000 years ago and evidence of human settlements date to around 9000 B.C. People began to farm and form villages around 1000 B.C. and some of them went as far as to become  the Maya, who dominated Guatemala history from  250 to 900 A.D. The Maya temple at Tikal was built over 1,300 years ago as a tomb to honor the Maya ruler, Ah Cacaw. Tikal, once an expansive city and home to 100,000 people, began to decline in 850 A.D., and was abandoned about 50 years later. The ruins were not discovered until 1695. In the 16th century, the Spanish invaded and fought the largest remaining group called the Quiché. The Quiché were overpowered and forced to work on vast estates in the newly established colony of New Spain. In 1821, Guatemala claimed independence from Spain.

 

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Hooray For Guatemala!