Located in northern Central America, Guatemala borders with Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize. It is the most populous Central American country with over 15 million inhabitants, 60% of which have indigenous roots. The Guatemalan culture is rooted deep in ancient Mayan and Spanish influences. The official language is Spanish, although there are 22 Mayan languages officially recognized by the state.
Guatemala is a country of vast natural beauty: a designated biodiversity “hotspot”. There are 14 distinct eco-regions made up of volcanos, lakes, rivers, beaches and jungles. The country’s fertile land makes it an agriculturally driven country, with 30% of the labor force and 13.5% of the GDP coming from the agricultural sector (CIA World Factbook https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gt.html) .
Despite the richness of the culture, the land and the environment, the country suffers from a high level of inequality and poverty, ranking among the poorest countries in Latin America. More than half the population of Guatemala lives below the poverty line. Many families are barely able to provide the basic necessities for their families such as food and clothes, and often times can’t afford the expenses associated with sending their children to school, resulting in high illiteracy rates throughout the country. Inadequate health care and housing are prevalent. Many impoverished families live in houses made of adobe or cane walls, scrap metal roofs, dirt floors and without access to running water, sanitation and drainage.