Guatemala is Central America's westernmost country, bordering Mexico to the north and west, Belize to the northeast and Honduras and El Salvador to the east. Guatemala's volatile topography is a mountainous and forested jumble of volcanoes and jungle. The western highlands are home to over 30 volcanoes and the area experiences frequent earthquake activity. The intensively cultivated Pacific coastline is a vast expanse of mostly black-sand beaches, and the tiny Caribbean coastline also lacks beaches but is culturally rich. The vast jungle lowland of El Peten fills the interior, characterized by a mix of banana plantations and soils rich in dinosaur bones.
Guatemala was home to one of the most advanced civilizations of the ancient world: The Maya. Their cities flourished across Central America, complete with remarkable pyramids, temples, observatories and libraries, and their scholars produced works of literature, philosophy, art and architecture. Particularly skilled in mathematics and astronomy, Mayan scientists developed a calendar more precise than that used by NASA even today.
Today Guatemala remains as one of the most beautiful and cultural diverse countries in Latin America. Its mixture of Maya and European cultures can be greatly appreciated in its imposing Maya ruins, rich heritage, and colonial architecture present in most of the main cities. The main tourist regions in Guatemala are La Antigua, one of the most beautiful colonial cities in the Americas, Lake Atitlan, labeled by many as the most beautiful lake in the world, the Indian market of Chichicastenango and the pristine jungles of El Peten, where several Maya ruins, including the spectacular Tikal, are located.