Guatemala has 252 listed wetlands, including five lakes, 61 lagoons, 100 rivers, and four swamps. It has some 1,246 known species of animal life. Of these, 6.7% are endemic and 8.1% are threatened. Guatemala is home to at least 8,681 species of vascular plants, of which 13.5% are endemic. Evidence of human habitation in Guatemala reaches back to 12,000 BCE. Guatemala became the heart of the Mayan Empire and by 250 BCE, great temple cities of pyramids and plazas rose such as Tikal, the country’s most priceless gem. It ranks among the great ancient cities of the world. This epic site’s towering pyramids loom out of the thick jungle canopy. This UNESCO Heritage of Humanity Site includes a staggering 3,000 that encompasses palaces, temples, plazas, ceremonial platforms and ball courts. A wealth of other sites includes Iximche, Peten, El Mirador and Uaxatun. In addition to the remarkable architecture, the Maya also developed a complex calendar, a hieroglyphic writing system, and an impressive amount of scientific knowledge before the civilization collapsed about 900 CE. The Spanish started expeditions to Guatemala in 1519. Today, Guatemala offers a blend also offers vibrant Spanish colonial towns and stylish cities with art galleries, museums, shops, restaurants and quaint cafes. Nature activities run the gamut from trekking the jungle, to snorkeling, to climbing volcanoes. Fascinating landscapes and flourishing cultures and plenty of adventures make Guatemala a stand-out destination.
The ancient Maya settled the highlands of Guatemala as early as 2000 BCE, leaving behind archeological wonders such as the two spectacular ancient Mayan cities of El Mirador and Tikal, and the vibrant living cultural heritage of today’s diverse Maya communities. Coupled with stunning volcanoes, lush jungle, and black-sand beaches, as well as vibrant Spanish colonial towns like Antigua, this small and accessible country is also part of a project - Caribe Maya - to promote sustainable tourism. Learn more about the galapagos.com values.Why the Finch Ranking?