Guatemala is a country in the Central America region of North America. It has borders to Mexico in the north/northwest, to Belize in the northeast, to Honduras in the southeast, to El Salvador in the south. It has a Pacific coastline to the southwest, and a tiny piece of Caribbean coastline to the east. It is common to bargain for most purchases in the open air market. Though you may be able to bargain in other places, be aware that chain-owned shops have fixed prices (you are no more likely to bargain in a Guatemalan Radio Shack than an American one) Popular Guatemalan beers are Gallo (lager, by far the most popular with Guatemalans), Victoria, Brahva (a light pilsner style), Moza (dark bock), Cabro, Monte Carlo (premium), and Dorada. Don't be surprised if you get salt and lemon with your beer. It's a custom to put some salt on the toes of the bottle, and screw out the lemon in the beer. Sometimes it is mixed with V8 vegetable juice, and the concoction is called michelada. Guatemala produces a number of rums, including the superb Ron Zacapa Centenario which is aged up to 30 years. Tequila is a very popular drink and cheap and available. Guatemalans usually dress down when they go out. If you order a bottled drink, you will normally get a tissue to clean the bottle. Coca-Cola and Pepsi-type products are available, plus many from local soft drink manufacturers. You will likely find cheap hotels in every town or village in Guatemala. In the main tourist areas, there are also many high quality hotels.

Guatemala has one of the highest violent crime rates in Latin America with around 40 murders a week in Guatemala City alone and a total of 98 per week in the whole country. Although the majority of serious crime involves local gangs, incidents are usually indiscriminate and can also occur in tourist areas. There are no “safe areas” in Guatemala City, including Zone 10 (Zona Viva), which is popular with tourists and foreign residents. On 17 October 2010, three people were killed as the result of a shooting inside a restaurant in this area. Although the Guatemalan authorities have increased their presence in Zone 10, the risk of further violent attacks remains. Elsewhere in Guatemala, violent attacks on tourists, including car-jacking, assault, armed robbery, murder, kidnapping and rape have increased in the past few months and can happen anywhere and at any time of day. Guns are commonly used, and there is a low arrest and conviction rate for perpetrators. You should take your personal security seriously and be aware of your surroundings at all times. The risk of violent crime, such as armed attacks, muggings and sexual assault is real. There continue to be armed attacks on tourists and foreign residents travelling to/from and around major tourist sites such as Antigua, Tikal, Peten and Lake Atitlan. Tourists have been attacked on minor roads around Lake Atitlan, and in particular the road between Santiago Atitlan and San Pedro. There are frequent boat services between the towns and the lakeshore, which may be a safer alternative.