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Tikal National Park (World Heritage)

Tikal National Park (World Heritage)

The ruined city of the same name, located in the Tikal National Park, is one of the most famous Mayan sites with more than 3000 temples, palaces and residential buildings. The Maya left the place more than 1000 years ago. The national park covers an area of ​​575 km² and has the largest area of ​​tropical rainforest in Central America. Visit behealthybytomorrow.com for Guatemala travel package.

Tikal National Park: facts

Official title: Tikal National Park
Cultural and natural monument since 1955 national park with 576 km²; about 4,000 temples, palaces, multi-storey houses as an expression of urban prosperity and dynastic power; i.a. the central acropolis with five courtyards and the 9,300 m² “Great Square” with buildings that are on the axes of the cardinal points; one of the most important Central American ecosystems with more than 2000 plant species, including 300 tree species such as mahogany and chicozapote
continent America
country Guatemala, Peten
location northeast of Guatemala City
appointment 1979
meaning one of the most important Mayan sites and with 221 km² the largest area of ​​tropical rainforest in Guatemala and Central America

Tikal National Park: history

2nd century BC Chr.-9. Century AD Settlement under 39 generations of rulers, including 219-38 reign of Yax Moch Xoc
682 Ah Cacao (Ha Sawa Chaan K’awil) coming to power
1848 Report of the governor of the Péten province on Tikal
1881/82 Visit and research work by Maya researcher Alfred Percival Maudslay
1950-61 extensive exposures
1979-85 Uncovering »Mundo Perdido«
Flora and fauna: 54 species of mammals, including Predators such as puma, ocelot, jaguar, and jaguarundi; Mantled howler and Geoffrey spider monkeys, Central American tapirs, whiskered and collar peccaries, white-tailed deer; Nine-banded armadillo; Giant and pygmy anteater and three-toed sloth; 333 species of birds such as red macaws and 38 species of snakes such as the poisonous coral snake

Jungle concert in the Mayan cosmos

Morning haze rises and is driven away by the slowly rising sun. The jungle “sweats out” the night moisture, or so it seems. Birds start their morning concert, the hunters of the night retreat into the undergrowth. The first warming rays of the sun drive away the night coolness. A symphony of never-before-heard jungle noises mixes with the still life of the rainforest. Happy who managed to climb a Mayan pyramid at this early hour and watch the sunrise over Tikal. In the early morning, the visitor still has what was once the largest city of the Mayas to himself. From here the Mayan cosmos was ruled, here priests and princes sat high up in their temples and determined the fate of thousands of subjects. In the heyday, up to 55,000 people are said to have lived here. Certainly it took very careful planning to keep them all busy and fed. Possibly the lack of food in particular was the cause of the sudden demise of the Mayan culture, but that is still only a guess. Several thousand buildings – temples, palaces, pyramids, shrines and ball courts – were built by the Mayans of Tikal, but most of them are still hidden under the dense green of the jungle and can only be seen as earth-covered hills. After the residents suddenly gave up the city, it fell into disrepair and eventually became part of a rampant rainforest. Possibly the lack of food in particular was the cause of the sudden demise of the Mayan culture, but that is still only a guess. Several thousand buildings – temples, palaces, pyramids, shrines and ball courts – were built by the Mayans of Tikal, but most of them are still hidden under the dense green of the jungle and can only be seen as earth-covered hills. After the residents suddenly gave up the city, it fell into disrepair and eventually became part of a rampant rainforest. Possibly the lack of food in particular was the cause of the sudden demise of the Mayan culture, but that is still only a guess. Several thousand buildings – temples, palaces, pyramids, shrines and ball courts – were built by the Mayans of Tikal, but most of them are still hidden under the dense green of the jungle and can only be seen as earth-covered hills. After the residents suddenly gave up the city, it fell into disrepair and eventually became part of a rampant rainforest.

Just the sheer size of the ruins of Tikal over 16 square kilometers gives an idea of ​​its past size. No other Maya facility that has been researched to date offers anything like it. While other Mayan ruins have been completely exposed, the ruins of Tikal rise here and there from the green of the forest. Colorful feathered macaws screech in the lush green rainforest. Apparently forgetting the force of gravity, spider monkeys jump through the treetops with ease. Isolated jaguars roam largely unnoticed. In muggy weather, numerous visitors marvel at the impressive stoneware in the jungle – a real sweaty undertaking.

The most impressive buildings are around the Gran Plaza, the former center of power. Two large, steep pyramids rise on the east and west sides. The 45 meter high “Temple of the Great Jaguar”, also known as “Temple I”, is a majestic sight. The ruler Ah Cacao was immortalized in it around 700 AD. After his death he was buried in a ruler’s crypt under the pyramid, which contained valuable grave goods such as a jade mask that was only discovered in 1963.

Ah Cacao also had the “Temple of the Masks” opposite, “Temple II” built. Two masks that adorn the steep staircase gave the building its name. There is a kind of temple attachment at the top. A mural showing the execution of a prisoner could once be admired here. The north side of the large square is bounded by the “Acrópolis del Norte”, the northern acropolis, which was originally formed by 16 temples. The pictorial characters on several steles, which have been damaged by the dampness of the jungle, are barely recognizable.

Behind the “Temple of Masks” a 300 meter long path leads through the jungle to the “Lost World” – “Mundo Perdido”. The oldest, restored pyramid, the “Gran Pirámide”, with its 35 meters, only slightly towers over the foliage roof of the jungle. Steep stairs lead up on each side of this square structure. After the efforts of the ascent, you will be rewarded with a wonderful view over the former center of power of the Maya. The eye wanders over isolated gray spots of color that stand out against the omnipresent green. The panoramic view from the much higher »Temple IV« remains even more lasting. This almost 65 meter high “Temple of the Two-Headed Serpent” (“Serpiente Bicéfala”) is today the tallest “ancient building” in Central America.

Tikal National Park (World Heritage)

Guatemala Business

Guatemala Business

According to abbreviationfinder, GT is the 2 letter abbreviation for the country of Guatemala.


For a long time, agriculture was the basis of the country’s business, but in the 2000s, the service and service industries and industry became increasingly important. Clothes and coffee are the country’s largest export products.

In the 1970s and 1980s, a longer period of economic stagnation was initiated, partly because of unfavorable price developments in the world market. The industry, which has held a leading position in Central America, has stagnated. Private investment fell sharply and capital flight from the country was enormous. The largest investor in banking and communications was the military. The tourism industry was exposed to international boycotts in the early 1980s, but increased again at the end of the decade, making it one of the most important sources of income during the 1990s. When the military left power in 1986, economic crisis prevailed in the country, and the first democratic government failed to improve the economy. GDP per inhabitant fell by 20 percent during the 1980s.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Guatemala

When the civil war ended with a peace treaty in 1996, an economic recovery led by increased foreign investment began. Growth was stable, although the country was temporarily hit hard by the financial crisis in 2008 when many investors left Guatemala. Thanks to continued good prices for raw materials that the country produces, growth was able to rebound quickly.

Some Guatemalan companies grew large both regionally and globally by adapting to global economic trends and conditions. But at the same time, large parts of the business community are still dependent on a corrupt interaction with the political elite and government institutions.

Parallel to the country’s economic growth, social indicators have turned downwards. Guatemala is one of the few countries that showed a negative trend for some of the Millennium Development Goals, such as increasing extreme poverty and child malnutrition.

The corrupt economic model has been favorable for some selected companies and sectors, but has made the business sector largely weak in terms of competitiveness and preparedness to meet international competition. The uneven distribution of resources, poor infrastructure and low educational attainment among the majority of the population also impedes long-term sustainable growth.


Land ownership is among the most uneven in Latin America, with 2 percent of the population owning more than 70 percent of the arable land. On the large goods, the export products are grown coffee, cotton, sugar and bananas.

During the latter part of the 20th century, the growth of export agriculture was more than twice the rate of food cultivation. Domestic food production has not kept pace with population growth during the same period. Although more than half the population is employed in agriculture, Guatemalan imports food and receives grain assistance from the United States.

The small farmers grow maize and beans, which is the basic food in Guatemala. Of the country’s land plots, 90 percent are too small to support a family, and the proportion of landless farm workers’ families has grown. The export products coffee, sugar and cotton are grown mainly on the fertile Pacific coast, while bananas are grown on the Atlantic coast. Since the 1980s, Guatemala also exports vegetables, cut flowers, nuts and plants.


Guatemala has large unspoilt lands, and more than a third of the country’s area is covered with forest. The rainforest in the north (in the province of Petén) is larger than neighboring El Salvador. As a result of the demand for cedar and mahogany, this forest is seriously threatened. Guatemalan environmental interests have tried to protect the forest, but so far without much success. The rainforest is also threatened by the many poor Swede farmers. Guatemala exports raw rubber from the balata tree to chewing gum factories in the United States. There is a great demand for wood throughout the country, which accelerates deforestation.


Guatemala has oil deposits in the country’s northern and northwestern parts. The deposit area is called Tranversal Norte and is a vast and pathless jungle. The military’s attempt to exploit the oil became one of the conflict causes during the 1970s. Today, extraction and refining take place to a small extent; the country imports twice as much oil as it exports. Guatemala also contains copper, zinc, lead and antimony.


Wood is the major source of energy with over 50 percent of total energy consumption. In the countryside, but also in the cities, wood is used for cooking as well as for heating and lighting. In the highlands there is small-scale charcoal production. Large hydropower plants were built in the 1980s to replace oil-based energy production, and hydropower contributes 85 percent of Guatemala’s electricity generation. About 60 percent of electricity consumers are in the capital. Guatemala was severely affected by the oil crisis in the 1970s and has since begun to produce oil but is dependent on imports from mainly Mexico and Venezuela.


Guatemala’s industry, which expanded during the 1960s, is the most developed in Central America. The country was favored by the Central American Common Market and was therefore also affected by its collapse in the late 1970s. Decreased exports to neighboring countries were replaced by exports to the United States. However, since the late 1980s, exports to neighboring countries have increased again. The industry is hampered by the fact that the indigenous population is weak.

As in several of its neighboring countries, so-called maquiladoras have been established in Guatemala. These are assembly plants for simpler manufacture of mainly clothing, household appliances and electronic components. The factories are usually located in special economic zones. Other industries are concentrated in the metropolitan area, producing food, clothing, textiles, consumables, medicine and cement.

Foreign trade

According to Countryaah, trade with the United States dominates and accounts for more than a third of exports and imports. In recent years, import spending has exceeded export earnings. During the 1960s and 1970s, Guatemala was favored by the Central American Common Market (CACM), which subsequently collapsed due to wars in the region. During the latter part of the 1980s, Guatemala worked to restore the CACM. In 1991, the presidents of Mexico and Central America signed a free trade agreement, which is valid from 1996.

Important export products are textiles, coffee, sugar, oil, bananas, cotton and cardamom. Important import products are oil, workshop products, building materials, telecommunications and electrical materials, fertilizers, insecticides, medicine and cereals. Guatemala’s trading partners are primarily the United States, El Salvador and Mexico.

Tourism and gastronomy

The external conditions for the tourism industry are good in Guatemala. The country offers visitors a varied and grand nature as well as opportunities to get acquainted with Native American cultures from both the time and modern times. Tourism has also been a significant source of income for the country at times, but the industry has occasionally declined due to the troubled political situation, including during parts of the 1980s. In the 2000s, tourism has increased sharply, and in 2012, the country was visited by 2 million tourists. Despite the large increase in tourism during the 2000s, there is a great concern within the tourism industry that the many violent crimes in the country should scare away tourists.

In the Quezaltenango area and east towards Guatemala City are a series of volcanoes. There is also the lake Atitlán with both tourist resorts and Indian villages, surrounded by 3,000 m high volcanoes. Another interesting lake area is Petén Itzá in the department of El Petén in the north, whose capital, Flores, located on a small island, was the last Native American city-state to be conquered by the Spaniards. It was first conquered in 1697. Northeast of the lake lies Tikal, the largest excavated ruin area (about 3,000 buildings) from the Maya era and one of Guatemala’s most important tourist destinations. Other ancient Mayan cities in El Petén are Uaxactún(north of Tikal) and Piedras Negras (at the border with Mexico), but also in other parts of the country there are ruin areas from past Native American cultures. Those who would rather get to know the colonial era and its architecture seek first and foremost the ancient capital of Antigua. Native American crafts, not least textile products, such as fabrics, can be admired in the Indian villages and purchased in one of the many markets.

The influence of the Mayan culture and especially the Spanish conquerors’ kitchen is noticeable in Guatemala. The corn and the yellow-orange dye from the fruits of the Annata tree, used to color the food, are traits that remain from the Mayan culture; the rice and pig farming are Spanish imports. Pork meat is common in Guatemala, preferably in pots with bananas. Otherwise, the diversity of fresh vegetables is a hallmark of the country’s cuisine, which shows considerable similarities to Mexican cuisine.

Carne a jocon, a beef stew with green and red tomatoes, a variety of hot spices and a rescue of masa harina (cornmeal), is something of a national dish. It is often served with arroz Guatemalteco (rice cooked with vegetables). Stuffed peppers with pacido de rabano (salad on radishes), fish pots and shrimp sauces for rice, fresh mango and papaya are other very common elements on the dining table. In the larger cities, international cuisine has come through.