Guatemala, known as "the land of eternal springtime," is the heart of Central America. With ancient Mayan temples deep in jungles, tall volcanoes and the beaches of the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, it offers a variety of economic opportunity, geography and culture that draws tourists, businesspeople, scholars and missionaries.

The weather in Guatemala is cool year-round in the highlands and always warm on both coasts. Guatemala's rainy season is May to October, with sunny mornings and showers almost every afternoon and evening. November-April, rain is rarely seen. The sun is very strong, especially in the highlands.

Maya Indians form the majority of Guatemala's population and are the source of the country's culture. After a 30-year civil war which saw the death of over 200,000 Maya, peace finally returned to Guatemala in 1996, re-opening the country to business and tourism. Spanish is the official language, but many Maya in the highlands speak one of the 23 indigenous languages.

The communications infrastructure of Guatemala is modern, with international direct dialing available. However, the number of telephone lines available in cities and towns outside the capital may be quite limited. Cell phone service is available.

The primary point of entry into Guatemala is the international airport in Guatemala City. Travel domestically, however, is best done by road. Although the roads in Guatemala have been greatly improved in recent years, there are no Western style divided highways. Two-lane blacktop with narrow shoulders and sometimes heavy traffic is the norm. Overland travel through Guatemala, however, is very dangerous. Assaults on travelers in cars and buses are very common on all major highways. Carjackings in urban areas are also common. Driving at night is particularly hazardous; drive on the right.

Crime is a problem in Guatemala, especially in large cities and in remote areas, with both petty and violent crime a possibility. Tourists and Foreigners are often victims. Natural hazards include the possibility of earthquakes, though the last large one was a quarter century ago. Cities have modern amenities. Western currency will go far, especially outside the capital.

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