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The most populated country in Central America, Guatemala is located south of Mexico and borders Honduras, El Salvador, and Belize. Mountains, active volcanoes, and coastal plains fill the landscape.
Guatemala has a low unemployment rate at just over three percent; however, about 56 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line.
Children and adolescents remain vulnerable to high incidences of violent crimes.
Almost half of children under the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition.
Despite high school enrollment rates, many children do not finish school and many remain illiterate.
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Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2012.
Trained farmers in improved agricultural techniques and crop storage methods to increase the supply of food.
Taught families how to purify water and distributed water filters to households and schools, working to decrease waterborne illness.
Helped build household and school latrines to improve environmental sanitation.
Operated child development centers where children can play and learn in a safe environment.
Formed youth groups called "Sowers of Hope," which provide leadership opportunities for young people and strengthen their self-esteem.
Provided vocational training for young people.
Supported local business groups with supplies and training, working to increase economic opportunities for community members.
Organized parenting groups to promote positive parenting techniques and strengthen communication in families.
Provided age-appropriate HIV-prevention education for young people.
Worked with health agencies to immunize and deworm children under age 5 and distribute vitamin supplements.
Helped malnourished children recover their health by teaching their mothers about nutrition and meal preparation and providing food supplements.
Coordinated the distribution of energy-efficient, clean-burning stoves to reduce respiratory illness among children caused by smoke in the kitchen.
World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Guatemala to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 26,200 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Guatemala. Highlights include:
World Vision assistance to Guatemala dates back to 1962. Sponsorship began in 1974. Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments include:
Geography and people
The most populated country in Central America, Guatemala is located south of Mexico and borders Honduras, El Salvador, and Belize. Mountains, active volcanoes, and coastal plains fill the landscape. Guatemala is highly susceptible to hurricanes and subsequent flooding and mudslides.
Natural resources include petroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, and hydropower.
Over half of Guatemala’s population is either mestizo—a mixture of Amerindian and Spanish descent—or of European heritage. Indigenous Amerindians make up the rest of the population. Spanish is the official language, but Amerindians speak 23 native dialects.
Guatemala declared independence in September 1821 after nearly 300 years of Spanish rule. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the country experienced relative stability under a series of dictators. In 1944, a group known as the October Revolutionaries instituted several reforms popular with rural indigenous peoples. A military coup in 1954 disrupted the reforms. By 1960, a group of rebels revolted, beginning a 36-year war—the longest civil war in Latin American history.
The government signed a peace agreement in 1996, formally ending the conflict that had left more than 100,000 people dead, and nearly 1 million people displaced.
In recent years, the elected administration has focused efforts on government and social reforms.