Chocolate, coffee, Mayan history, impressive volcanoes and wildlife all come together in the wonderful country of Guatemala. Improve your listening and learn about Guatemala in this episode.
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Email from Lisset from Guatemala
I’ve noticed that you like to podcast about countries so I would love to hear you guys talking about my country, Guatemala. Thanks so much for all your knowledge that you share with us in every episode.
Have a wonderful Sunday!
The Republic of Guatemala is bordered by Mexico to the north and west, Belize and the Caribbean to the northeast, Honduras to the east, El Salvador to the southeast and the Pacific Ocean to the south.
The estimated population (2018) is just over 17 million. The capital is Guatemala City.
The current flag is a blue-white-blue vertically striped tricolour, though it used to be horizontally striped to simulate the flag of then newly independent Argentina, like other flags of the region. The two blue sections represent the two oceans bordering Guatemala. The quetzal bird is on the coat of arms in the middle along with a scroll dated, 15 September 1821 – independence from Spain day. There are two crossed rifles representing the defence of the fatherland, a laurel crown for victory, and cross swords representing the honour of the nation.
Following a brief rule by Mexico (1821-23), the Central American provinces united as a federation.
Spanish is the official language and it’s spoken by about 90% of the population, though other indigenous languages include K’iche, Q’eqchi, Kaqchikel, Mam, Poqomchi. Tz’utujil, Jakaltek, Q’anjob’al, Achi, Akaltek and Sipapakense, among others.
The name Guatemala translates into ‘land of trees’ in the Mayan language.
The Quetzal is both the national bird and the currency.
The Maya people worship the cacao tree and chocolate is ‘the food of the Gods’. There are nearly 10,000 cacao farms in Guatemala and the first chocolate bar was made there.
There are more than 30 volcanoes in Guatemala. Tajumulco volcano is 4,202 metres, the highest peak in Central America. Only three of the thirty volcanoes are active: Fuego, Pacaya and Santiaguito.
Guatemala had a civil war from 1960 to 1996 ( 36 years – the longest in Latin American history). It is estimated that 200,000 people were killed.
There are impressive Mayan ruins in the jungle in the Tikal National Park.
Great Guatemalan food to try includes:
“kak’ik” – a Mayan soup made with turkey, coriander and chilli.
“chiles rellenos” – sweet peppers stuffed with rice, meat, cheese and herbs.
“chicken pepian” – chicken and spicy pumpkin smothered in sesame sauce.
Coffee is Guatemala’s biggest export. Guatemala is the world’s second largest exporter.
Guatemalans fly kites to honour their dead on November 1st (All Saint’s Day).
At cemeteries, graves and headstones are cleaned and decorated and then kites are flown.
The kite-flying ritual dates back more than 3000 years.
…and now it’s your turn to practise your English.
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On next week’s episode: Present perfect, past simple, gerunds and infinitives
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