The official language of Guatemala is Spanish, although it is not universally spoken. There are still 21 Mayan languages used in rural areas, as well as two Amerindian languages and a dialect called Garifuna, which is spoken on the Caribbean coast. However, most Guatemalans are able to communicate in Spanish, which is understood by 97 percent of the population.
The currency of Guatemala is the quetzal, which is named after the national bird, whose tail feathers were at one time the currency. The quetzal is divided into 100 cents, called centavos in Spanish, or you may hear them being referred to by their slang name of lenes. In some tourist spots like hotels, US dollars are accepted for large transactions; otherwise, you can exchange currency in most banks. When paying for meals, it is a good idea to have small denominations as many traders find it difficult to provide change from large banknotes.
Guatemala only has one time zone, which is GMT -6.
Electrical sockets and power outage in Guatemala are similar to those in the US, at 110-120V, so it is possible to use appliances with North American plugs in many cases. However, if your plug has a third pin, you will need an adaptor.
The dialing code for Guatemala is +502. Cell phone coverage is available in large cities and at the beach in Monterrito, but if traveling to the central highlands or visiting nature reserves, it is unreliable. You will find many internet cafés in the tourist areas and wireless internet at large hotels, although this is not yet standard.
Duty-free alcohol, perfume and tobacco products are available for purchase at La Aurora International Airport. Passengers entering the country are allowed to import 1.5 liters of alcohol, 80 cigarettes, and two bottles of perfume without paying taxes.
Instituto Guatemalteco de Turismo (INGUAT), Guatemala City: +11-502-2421-2800 or http://www.visitguatemala.com.
Consulates in Guatemala
US Embassy, Guatemala City: +11-502-2326-4000 UK Embassy, Guatemala City: +11-502-2367-5425 Spanish Embassy, Guatemala City: +11-502-2379-3530 Canadian Embassy, Guatemala City: +11-502-2363-4348 New Zealand Consulate, Guatemala City: +11-502-2431-3742
Police: 110 Medical: 120 Fire: 123