A map of Guatemala Home to nearly 14 million people, Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country. Apart from lowlands along the coasts and in the north, nearly all of its land is mountainous. The northern region, called the Petén, is a land of lush tropical rainforests. Further south the land rises steeply to the grassy central highlands where most of Guatemala’s cities are situated. These highlands are part of the Sierra Madre, a mountain range that includes the towering volcano Tajumulco. Guatemala often suffers from severe earthquakes. In the past, some have devastated whole areas of cities. The lowlands of Guatemala have a hot, humid climate. Most people live in the mountains where it is cooler.
Guatemala has a higher population of Native Americans than any other Central American country. Peoples such as the K'iche, Mam and Kaqchikel are all Maya—descendants of those who founded a great ancient civilization. Many of these people still live a traditional way of life in mountain villages.
The name "Guatemala" comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word Cuauhtemallan, meaning "land of many trees".
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