There are many interesting facts about Guatemala. It is a popular tourist destination in Central America, with a turbulent and rich history. The country has been greatly shaped by Mayan civilization, Spanish colonial rule and a 36-year civil war. The name Guatemala means "land of trees."
The Mayans originally populated Guatemala and greatly thrived from 300 to 900 CE. Spanish conquerors arrived in Guatemala in the 16th century and ruled the country until the 1820s. After gaining independence from Spain, Guatemala was largely ruled by authoritarian leaders and military regimes. The country experienced a bloody civil war from 1960 to 1996 that cost 200,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Since 1996, Guatemala has been under democratic rule, although the government still faces problems with crime and poverty.
The country's economy has grown in recent years due to a shift from agriculture to manufacturing and tourism. While country-wide infrastructure is basic, there are many tourist-friendly spots, including beaches, rainforests and historic sites. The Mayan civilization and Spanish colonial rule have left a lasting mark on the country's architecture and culture, with thousands of Mayan buildings and Spanish baroque churches remaining today. Spanish is the official language, and the locals are known for their hospitality and courteous nature.