The Central American flag was used in Guatemala until 1851, when a pro-Spanish faction took over and added the Spanish colors of red and yellow to the flag. The original colors were restored on August 17, 1871, but as vertical (rather than horizontal) stripes in order to distinguish it from other flags and with a new coat of arms.
The Resplendent Quetzal previously appeared in the 1830s in the flag of Los Altos, the sixth state in the Federal Republic.
On 3 May 2008, a flag called Bandera de Los Pueblos (Flag of indigenous peoples) was adopted by law and is shown together with the national flag of Guatemala in all events featuring the President of the Republic since then. The flag is divided in four parts, red, yellow, white and black, each colour representing Xinca people, Garifuna people, Maya peoples and Ladino people, respectively. These colours are also part of the Q'anil, a Maya symbol in which each colour represents a point of the compass, an element of nature and a part of the human being. Q'anil means "seed" in Maya script, and is also used for one of the 20 days of the Maya calendar. Aimed at promoting "interculturality" in Guatemala, the Bandera de los Pueblos was received with chiliness by the leaders of the peoples, who do not seem to have been consulted.