Hernán Cortés, who had led the Spanish conquest of Mexico, granted a permit to Captains Gonzalo de Alvarado and his brother, Pedro de Alvarado, to conquer this land.
In 1944, authoritarian leader Jorge Ubico was overthrown by a pro-democratic military coup, initiating a decade-long revolution that led to sweeping social and economic reforms. S.-backed military coup in 1954 ended the revolution and installed a dictatorship.
From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala endured a bloody civil war fought between the US-backed government and leftist rebels, including genocidal massacres of the Maya population perpetrated by the military.
Until recently, the Preclassic was regarded as a formative period, with small villages of farmers who lived in huts, and few permanent buildings.
However, this notion has been challenged by recent discoveries of monumental architecture from that period, such as an altar in La Blanca, San Marcos, from 1000 BC; ceremonial sites at Miraflores and Naranjo from 801 BC; the earliest monumental masks; and the Mirador Basin cities of Nakbé, Xulnal, El Tintal, Wakná and El Mirador.
After they arrived in the New World, the Spanish started several expeditions to Guatemala, beginning in 1519.
Before long, Spanish contact resulted in an epidemic that devastated native populations.Sites dating back to 6500 BC have been found in the Quiché region in the Highlands, and Sipacate and Escuintla on the central Pacific coast.Archaeologists divide the pre-Columbian history of Mesoamerica into the Preclassic period (2999 BC to 250 BC), the Classic period (250 to 900 AD), and the Postclassic period (900 to 1500 AD).The first evidence of human habitation in Guatemala dates back to 12,000 BC.Evidence, such as obsidian arrowheads found in various parts of the country, suggests a human presence as early as 18,000 BC.A representative democracy, Guatemala's capital and largest city is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City.