From the ruined cities of the ancient Mayan Civilization to the Catholic churches of the Spanish, Guatemala represents a blend of Cultures. Today, more than half the people are direct descendants of the Mayan Indians and Live mainly in highland villages; the remainder of the population is part Indian and part Spanish. Many Mayans work for rich landowners who grow the coffee, sugar, and bananas that are the country’s main cash crops. Guatemala also exports fresh-cut flowers, mostly roses, which are grown in the valleys around Antigua.
Most Guatemalans are Roman Catholic, the religion the Spanish brought with them in the 16th century. However, many people are now becoming Protestant. Guatemalans also practice their own form of worship based on traditional beliefs. This procession in Antigua forms part of their celebration of Holy Week.
Markets such as this one in Chichicastenango, in the highlands near Lake Atitlán, are a feature of daily life. Many native Guatemalans farm small plots of land where they grow corn, beans, and squash, as well as fruit. They regularly walk long distances from outlying villages to a market to sell crops, flowers, and handcrafted goods such as pottery and baskets.
CITIES OF THE MAYA
Tourism is one of Guatemala’s fastest growing industries. Each year almost one million tourists visit the country to see its ancient sites. Spectacular ruins mark the site of Tikal, one of the great Mayan cities. Tikal was mysteriously abandoned in about AD 900. Today its ruined temples lie in a huge area of tropical forest.