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.

  • Population: 15,082,800
  • Life Expectancy: 72 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 94%
  • School Enrollment: 98%
  • Land Mass: 42,042 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 76%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 32/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 3,120

Facts about Guatemala

Economic Development

In Guatemala, 51 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and 15 percent live in extreme poverty. The country also has a high level of income inequality.

Child Protection

Children and adolescents remain vulnerable to high incidences of violent crimes. Drug trafficking is prominent in Guatemala, which generates an unstable atmosphere.

Food & Agriculture

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Guatemala has the sixth-highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world.

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Progress in Guatemala

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2014.

  • To improve community food security, we increased the number of families who planted gardens and raised livestock and taught them about crop diversification and the proper use of pesticides.

  • To increase economic development in the community, we trained families in how to start small businesses and market their products to generate more income for their children's education and healthcare needs.

  • We helped communities prepare for emergencies by training parents, leaders, children, and teachers on warning systems and disaster management.

  • Parents, children, and community leaders took part in a series of meetings that educated them about child rights and equipped them to report child rights violations.

  • Our training workshops about early stimulation and school readiness taught parents how to support their children's language development and socialization in order to help them thrive in preschool.

  • To support the development of youth, we provided them with leadership training, empowered them to participate in decision-making processes in their communities, and offered vocational education that helped them get jobs.

  • Pregnant women learned how to reduce illness and malnutrition in young children by practicing exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and were provided with iron supplements, and Vitamin A for infants.

  • We partnered with local churches to improve the lives of children and their families and to teach about responsibility, leadership, self-esteem, and the surpassing love of Jesus Christ.

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    World Vision in Guatemala Today

    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 23,500 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Guatemala. Highlights include:

    • Training more than 2,000 community leaders to respond to emergencies and natural disasters.
    • Helping more than 1,400 children recover from malnutrition through various initiatives.

    World Vision History in Guatemala

    World Vision assistance to Guatemala dates back to 1962. Sponsorship began in 1974. Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments include:

    • Helping children attend school by providing them with transportation during the 1960s.
    • Providing food, nutrition information, and education to families struggling with poverty in the 1970s.
    • Improving lives by teaching women how to raise poultry, training farmers in soil improvement, and building sanitary latrines during the 1980s.
    • Assisting children’s education by providing school supplies and teachers’ salaries during the 1990s.
    • Helping communities increase economic development and raising HIV and AIDS awareness since the beginning of the 21st century.

    Geography & People

    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.

    Prayer Requests for Guatemala

    • Please pray for efforts to fight malnutrition, which affects 50 percent of children in Guatemala.
    • Pray also for preschools seeking to provide an early education to thousands of young boys and girls.