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Ladinos who grow up in an Indian area may learn the local language, but bilingualism among Ladinos is rare.
In the cities, especially the capital, there are private primary and secondary schools where foreign languages are taught and used along with Spanish, especially English, German, and French. Independence Day (15 September) and 15 August, the day of the national patron saint, María, are the most important national holidays, and together reflect the European origin of the nation–state, as does the national anthem, "Guatemala Felíz" ("Happy Guatemala").
"Summer" denotes the period between February and May, when the temperature during the day in Guatemala City often reaches into the 80s.
The Spanish conquerors preferred the highlands, despite a difficult journey from the Atlantic coast, and that is where they placed their primary settlements.
The pejorative terms indio and natural have been replaced in polite conversation and publication by Indígena .
Persons of mixed or non-indigenous race and heritage may be called Ladino , a term that today indicates adherence to Western, as opposed to indigenous, culture patterns, and may be applied to acculturated Indians, as well as others.
Thus, estimates of the size of the Indian population vary from 35 percent to more than 50 percent—the latter figure probably being more reliable.
The three principal regions are the northern lowland plains of the Petén and the adjacent Atlantic littoral; the volcanic highlands of the Sierra Madre, cutting across the country from northwest to southeast; and the Pacific lowlands, a coastal plain stretching along the entire southern boundary.
The country has a total of 205 miles (330 kilometers) of coastline.
Constitutional amendments are being considered to recognize some of those languages for official purposes.
Many Indians, especially women and those in the most remote areas of the western highlands, speak no Spanish, yet many Indian families are abandoning their own language to ensure that their children become fluent in Spanish, which is recognized as a necessity for living in the modern world, and even for travel outside one's village.