Host Country: Guatemala

Guatemala spans an area of 108,890 km2, making it the third largest country of Central America (after Nicaragua and Honduras). The country is surrounded by Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador as well as by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

With not even 2% of its landmass urbanized, it’s not surprising that Guatemala offers some superb natural scenery. Two mountain chains enter Guatemala from west to east, dividing the country into three major regions: the highlands; the Pacific coast, and the Petén region. These three regions vary in climate, elevation, and landscape, providing dramatic contrasts between hot, humid tropical lowlands and colder, drier highland peaks. In fact, Guatemala's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems have elevated the country as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspot. The Volcan Tajumulco at 4,220 m, is the highest point of Central America.

Guatemala’s Capital and largest city, is located in the highlands at 1,500 m (about 5000 feet) above sea level.

Guatemala has an estimated population of over 15 million inhabitants, making it the most populous country of Central America.

Half of Guatemala’s population is under age 19, making it the youngest population in Latin America.

60% of the population in Guatemala speaks Spanish. The other 40% typically speaks one of the 23 indigenous languages of the country and some Spanish. In major cities like Guatemala City, many service providers and sellers also speak English.

The country is known for its rich culture, characterized by a fusion of Spanish and strong Mayan influences. The Guatemalan cuisine reflects this multicultural nature of Guatemala, in that it involves food that differs in taste depending on the region. Many traditional foods are based on Maya cuisine and prominently feature corn, chilis and beans as key ingredients.

As far as music, Guatemala's national instrument is the marimba, an idiophone from the family of the xylophones, which is played all over the country. On February 13, 2015, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, delivered the distinction "Cultural Heritage of the Americas" to the Guatemalan government, in honor of the marimba, during a ceremony held in the Hall of the Americas, at the headquarters of the institution in Washington, DC.

Regarding traditional costumes, Guatemalans and Mayans are known for their brightly colored yarn-based textiles, which are woven into capes, shirts, blouses, and dresses. Each village has its own distinctive pattern, making it possible to distinguish a person's home town on sight.

Guatemala is often referred to as “the land of eternal spring” since its mild climate which averages between 18 to 24 degrees Celsius all year-round. Guatemala only has two seasons: dry and rainy. The dry season runs from October through April and Rainy season from mid-May through mid-October.

The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 63%, followed by the industry sector at 23.8% and the agriculture sector at 13.2%. In recent years, the exporter sector of nontraditional products has grown dynamically, representing more than 53% of global exports. Some of the main products for export are organic coffee, sugar, textiles, and bananas are the country's main exports.

The currency is the Quetzal which oscillates between $1.00 USD = 7.7 to 8.0 Quetzales. The U.S. dollar is accepted in most stores, restaurants, etc.

The diverse history and the natural beauty of Guatemala makes it the perfect destination for tourists. In June 2012, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina introduced the National Policy for Sustainable Tourism Development in response to the country’s rapidly growing and evolving tourism industry. Indeed, the country reached 2.8 million visitors in 2013. Among the most popular touristic sites figure the Mayan ruin Tikal, the City of Antigua and the Atitlan Lake.