NATIONAL SYMBOLS

Flag
Coat of Arms
National Bird
National Flower
National Anthem
National Tree
National Hero


Flag:


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Coat of Arms:

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National Bird:

Quetzal (photos courtesy of Mason Fischer, Susan Fogden)
When the quetzal flies, it’s long tail streams behind it’s blue/green body, making a motion that is almost serpentine. This observation by the Maya and Aztec lead to the creation of the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl who represents light, love, happiness and all which is good in life. The quetzal makes appearances in many Maya Legends. For example, the red breast of the quetzal came from landing on the wounds of slain Quiche prince Tecun Uman after the prince was killed by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado.

Today the quetzal has become the nation symbol of Guatemala. Images of the quetzal are everywhere, including the basic unit of currency. None the less, as a result of habitat degradation quetzals themselves are becoming increasingly scarce. The quetzal resides within the misty depths of high altitude cloud forest and is known to shy away from the prying presence of visitors. Unfortunately, as in other parts of the world, habitat loss is the main reason behind a decrease in the population of this species. Still, while sightings are rare and the bird is threatened, like many aspects of Guatemala's culture, the Quetzal is holding on.

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National Flower:

White Nun Orchid
or Monja Blanca

Guatemala's national flower, Lycaste Skinneri Alba (also known as the White Nun Orchid), is a rare flower in the Verapaz distict of Guatemala, symbolizing peace, beauty and art. A degree by General Jorge 1, in 1934 made the white nun the national flower. Since then its commercialization has been prohibited.
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National Anthem:


Rafael Alvarez Ovalle

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Guatemala's national anthem was written by Rafael Alvarez Ovalle.

¡Guatemala feliz que tus aras!
no profane jamás el verdugo
ni haya esclavos que laman el yugo
ni tiranos que escupan tu faz.
Si mañana tu suelo sagrado
lo amenaza invasión extranjera
libre al viento tu hermosa bandera
a vencer o a morir llamará.

CORO-
Libre al viento tu hermosa bandera
a vencer o a morir llamará
que tu pueblo con anima fiera
antes muerto que esclavo será.
De tus viejas y duras cadenas
tu forjaste con mano iracunda
el arado que el suelo fecunda
y la espada que salva el honor.
Nuestros padres lucharon un día
encendidos en patrio ardimiento
y lograron sin choque sangriento
colocarte en un trono de amor.

Y lograron sin choque sangriento
colocarte en un trono de amor
que dé patria en enérgico acento
dieron vida al ideal redentor.
Es tu enseña pedazo de cielo
en que prende una nube su albura
y ay de aquel que con ciega locura
sus colores pretenda manchar.
Pues tus hijos valientes y altivos
que veneran la paz cual presea
nunca esquivan la ruda pelea
si defienden su tierra y su hogar.

CORO

Nunca esquivan la ruda pelea
si defienden su tierra y su hogar
que es tan solo el honor su alma idea
y el altar de la patria su altar.
Recostada en el ande soberbio
de dos mares al ruido sonoro
bajo el ala de grana y de oro
te adormeces del bello quetzal.
Ave indiana que vive en tu escudo
paladión que protege tu suelo
ojalá que remonte su vuelo
más que el cóndor y el Aguila Real.

CORO

¡Ojala que remonte su vuelo
más que el cóndor y el águila real
y en sus alas levante hasta el cielo
Guatemala, tu nombre inmortal!

Fortunate Guatemala! May your altars
Never be profaned by cruel men.
May there never be slaves who submit to their yoke, Nor tyrants who deride you.
If tomorrow your sacred soil
should be threatened by foreign invasion,
your fair flag, flying freely in the wind,
will call to you: conquer or die.

CHORUS
Your fair flag, flying freely in the wind,
Will call to you: Conquer or die;
For your people, with heart and soul,
Would prefer death to slavery.

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National Tree:


Ceiba tree

The Ceiba

Guatemala's national tree, the Ceiba, Ceiba Pentandra Gaertin, is one of the greatest trees of tropical America and is common in almost all tropical regions of America.

FYI: "Guatemala" is derived from the Aztec name Quauhtlemallan, meaning "Land of many trees."

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National Hero:


Statue of Tecún Umán

Tecún Umán (1499? - 1524)

Quiché Tecún Umán, Guatemala's national hero faced an army of Spanish conquistadors in the battle of Pinal in 1534. According to the legend, although he didn't have armor Tecun Uman fought for his land and his people when they were about to lose their sovereignty. The brave prince gave his life in defense of his beliefs and principles when he was mortally wounded on the battlefield by Spanish conquistador Don Pedro de Alvarado.

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