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The Republic of Guatemala lies in Central America, sharing borders with Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. Most estimates suggest that between 50 and 70% of Guatemala’s 14.92 million people are of indigenous Mayan ancestry, making it one of the culturally richest countries in the region. Spanish is spoken alongside over 20 indigenous languages.

The following is an excerpt from a 2010 Oxfam International report on Guatemala:

Following decades of indigenous repression and foreign economic and political control and an agrarian economy, Guatemala went through a series of leftist reforms from 1944 to 1954, followed by a CIA-sponsored coup. Corruption and economic repression led to the military seizing power in 1960 and essentially taking over the country, at times officially, during a civil war with leftist guerrillas that ended with the 1996 peace accords between the Guatemalan government and guerilla factions. Hundreds of thousands of largely indigenous Guatemalans died violently during the war. Over 400,000 Guatemalans fled the repression and conflict. Although the country is now at peace, emigration continues at a rapid pace due to lack of economic opportunity. In 2005, an estimated 140,000 more people left the country than returned (Organización Internacional para las Migraciones, 2009.).

Natural disasters have also affected Guatemala. According to the United Nations’ World Food Programme, Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean (Espindola et al., 2005). Chronic -malnutrition affects about half of the nation’s children under the age of five, and among indigenous children in the highlands, seven of 10 children under age five are malnourished. The World Bank stated that 75% of Guatemalans cannot afford to purchase basic goods and services and live below the poverty line, and 58% cannot purchase a “basic basket of food” and live in severe poverty (, 2009). (Oxfam, E-Tech International, 2010).

The statistical information below is taken from the websites of UNICEF, CIA’s worldfactbook and the German office for statistical information. Some figures are not 100% up to date as they are not updated regularly.

In comparison to previous years we can see that the educational situation has gotten slightly better. The illiteracy rate in Guatemala is around 19%, a little bit more than 21% of the children suffer from child labour. Just 2/3 of all children manage to finish primary school.

General information
Area 2 108.889 square km
agriculturally used 2 30,4 %
Land ownership 2 2,2 % of the population own 65 % of agricultural usable land
population (2015) 1 ca. 14,92 Million
age structure(2015) 1
0 – 14 years:
15 – 24 years:
25 – 54 years:
55 – 64 years:
über 65 years:
ca. 36 %
ca. 22 %
ca. 33 %
ca. 5 %
ca. 4 %
average number of children/women (2015) 1 2,9
infant mortality at birth (2015)1 2,27 %
life expectancy at birth(2015)1 72 years
child mortality until 5 yeras (2012) 3 ca. 4,2 %
population below poverty line (2011) 1 ca. 54 %
GDP spending for education1 2,8 (# 139 worldwide)
iliteracy rate (2015) 1 18,5 %
child labour(2015) 1 21 %
Primary school participation, net enrolment ratio (2013) 3 male: 99 %
female: 98 %
Primary school participation, survival rate to last primary grade (2013) 3 ca. 96,2 %

Information sources:
1 CIA – Worldfactbook Guatemala, bzw. CIA – Worldfachtbook Germany
2 Statistisches Bundesamt, Länderbericht Guatemala 1995, ISBN 3-8246-0484-1
3 Unicef – At a glance: Guatemala, bzw. Unicef – At a glance: Germany,