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Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala

Guatemala’s new Caribbean port on the Gulf of Honduras was developed I 1976 following an earthquake. The town was originally a Belgian commercial effort that failed. Today the streets are a lasting clue to its European background. The interior is rich in cultural interest. Lake Izabal was an Spanish staging area for goods to be shipped from the coast. It was protected from pirate attacks by the fortified, 16th century Castillo de San Felipe. Guatemala is the heartland of the Mayan empire, and nearby Quirigua is an excellent example and a UNESCO World Heritage Site with numerous monuments and, most unusually, a river running right through it. The community if Livingston is a treasury of the unique Garifuna culture that grew out of a blend of African and indigenous Guatemalan people.