Guatemala is one of the Latin American countries with the largest proportion of indigenous people. Almost half of Guatemalans belong to the Maya, which is divided into 22 different ethnic groups. The remainder is mainly of mixed origin.
Those of mixed descent from Central America and Europe are officially called Ladinos in Guatemala, a term that also includes indigenous peoples who do not speak Native American language or practice traditional culture. The group also often includes descendants of Europeans and Arabs. The whites (of European descent) are estimated to represent only one percent of the population. On the Caribbean coast, there are tens of thousands of blacks, garífa, who are descendants of Caribbean urinals and black slaves. At the border with El Salvador lives another minority, xinka, which belongs to the indigenous peoples but is not maya.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Guatemala, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
The population is strongly segregated with major differences in lifestyle and living conditions. Maya and other indigenous people live mainly in the countryside, where they live in great poverty and lack political influence. Ladinos are to a greater extent found in cities, on the Pacific coast and in the southeast. They are generally more well-off and well-represented in society. The small group of whites is over-represented in the top layer.
During the 1960–1996 civil war, hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans fled the countryside. Many ended up in urban slums, others crossed the border into Mexico. Most returned from the neighboring country during the 1990s.
The emigration to the United States has long been great. Up to 1.5 million Guatemalans are estimated to live in the United States, many of them born in the country. A large proportion are paperless. From 2018, pressure has increased with large groups of Guatemalans – as well as Hondurans and Salvadorans – traveling the country road through Mexico towards the US border. They seek refuge from poverty and violence in their home country. According to the US Embassy, more than a quarter of a million Guatemalans were arrested between October 2018 and July 2019 as they attempted to enter the United States. This corresponds to 1.5 percent of Guatemalan population.
Spanish is the official language and first language for just over half the population. Since 2003, 22 Mayan languages and Garifuna and Xinka have been recognized as national languages. It should mean rights to community service in the languages in areas where they dominate, although little has happened in practice.
The largest Mayan languages are k’iche ‘, mam, q’eqchi’ and kaqchiquel. Other Mayan languages as well as xinka and garífa, which is mainly a Caribbean language, few speak.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
maya and ladino are largest groups of people, minorities of white, black and xinka
Number of residents
16 913 503 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
50.7 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
25.3 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
4.8 per 1000 residents (2016)
2.0 percent (2017)
3.0 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
50.8 percent (2017)
73 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
77 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
70 years (2016)
Spanish is the official language 1
- 22 Mayan languages as well as garifuna and xinka are national languagesSources
Congress refuses to approve the budget
Congress refuses to approve the 2010 budget on time, ie before the end of November. This means that the budget for 2009 may also apply for 2010. This is expected to lead to problems as tax revenues have fallen during the economic crisis.
A severe food crisis is affecting Guatemala. Colom announces disaster status and appeals for food assistance. Nearly half a million people are reported to be threatened by famine and nearly 500 people have already starved to death.
Breakout party is formed in Congress
UNE loses mandate in Congress when outbreaks from the party form a new independent bloc: Renewed Democratic Freedom (Líder). Later, other members also join the bloc, which after six months has grown into the largest opposition party.
Homicide charges trigger crisis
The government is in serious crisis due to a bizarre murder history. Accusations of murder are being made against President Colom and several people related to him in a video recording made by the murder victim himself and published after the victim’s death. In the video recording, the (later) murdered lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg also accuses the president of murdering a businessman and his daughter a month earlier. The purpose would be to hide dusk stores. The protests against Colom become loud and the opposition demands his departure. Colom denies all involvement and his supporters accuse right-wing forces of trying to convince the president to stop his fight against organized crime and social reform. The UN-supported Commission Cicig finds after an investigation published in early 2010 that Rosenberg himself ordered the murder. It should have happened by tricking relatives who did not know who the victim was to use contract killer. Media speculated that the purpose would have been that Rosenberg wanted to topple the government, because he was upset over its alleged involvement in murder and corruption.
UN-supported commission in place
The UN-sponsored International Commission on Crime (Cicig) begins its work to investigate, among other things, links between organized crime and secret death patrols in the state apparatus (see Political system).
Ex-President is extradited from Mexico
Former President Alfonso Portillo is extradited from Mexico, where he moved in 2004 (see Modern History) on charges of misappropriation of public funds. Back in the homeland, Portillo is released to the castle.
Military reinforcement against crime
President Colom, who said he would like to reduce the army’s participation in police work, announces that the army should instead be expanded by 25,000 soldiers to support the police in law enforcement.
Colom takes office
The new left-leaning government takes office. New President Álvaro Colom, who says he wants to build a Social Democratic Guatemala with a “Mayan face”, for cash grants to poor families. However, he, like past presidents, fails to raise taxes, despite being among the lowest in the world. The proposals for tax increases are stopped in Congress.