Measurement system in Guatemala

MeasuresIn order to give you insight into the measurement system, in fact, I want to help you to find your way in shops, but also to inform you about some basic things that can be very useful in business.

Guatemalans use the metric system, but also some traditional units of measurement (that come from Spain) and influence from US English units. You buy gas by the gallon, drive stretches of road in kilometers, and you plant corn by the cuerda. Simple? Definitely not.

Brief history: in May 1910 most of Central America adopted a common system of measurements, and in May 1921 Guatemala became officially metric. Therefore, all road distances are in km; Guatemalan specific is that ALL roads have their distances measured from a spot that is located at the entrance of the former presidential palace, now called National palace.

Among the Guatemalan units of measurement, some are based on old Spanish units; they include the vara and cuadra linear measurements; the vara cuadrada, the manzana and the cuerda units of area; and the libra, arroba, quintal and garrafón units of weight and volume.

The vara cuadrada or square vara is commonly used in land transactions in Guatemala and 10,000 square varas equal one manzana. One square vara equals 0.6987 square meters (7.521 sq ft), while one manzana equals 6,987 square meters (1.727 acres). A Spanish pound (libra) is 460 grams.

Some United States customary units are also used. These include inches, feet, miles, gallons, pounds (note the Spanish pound is also used) and ounces. In shops, you will find the mixture of almost all measures, and you have to be careful when estimating the relation between price and amount that you get.

To make things more complicated, Guatemalans use also measures like spoons and cups, and sometimes if very hard to make some recipes. So, to make it easier I urge you to use online conversion tools.

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