History: The most populous nation in Central America, Guatemala is a representative democracy with its capital at Guatemala City. Although the nation has been relatively stable since 1996, Guatemala's recent history has been plagued by civil war and military coups, which have slowed the nation's development. Large portions of Guatemala's interior remain wholly undeveloped, including the nation's many rainforests and wetlands. Guatemala's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contribute to Mesoamerica's designation as an important biodiversity hotspot.
Location: Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea) between Honduras and Belize
Size: slightly smaller than Tennessee
Population: 12,728,111 (July 2007 est.)
Most populous country in central America
Climate: tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands; has seven different climates
Ethinic Group: Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish) and European 59.4%, K'iche 9.1%, Kaqchikel 8.4%, Mam 7.9%, Q'eqchi 6.3%, other Mayan 8.6%, indigenous non-Mayan 0.2%, other 0.1%
Language: Spanish 60%, Amerindian languages 40%
Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs
Literacy: total population: 69.1% male: 75.4% female: 63.3%
More than two million children do not attend school, most of them indigenous girls in rural areas. Only three of ten children graduate from sixth grade and only one of 20 enter high school.
Unemployment rate: 3.2%
Population below poverty line: 56.2%
Government: constitutional democratic republic
Economy (Agriculture & Industry):
Economy: sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism
Industry: sugar, textiles and clothing, furniture, chemicals, petroleum, metals, rubber, tourism
Currency: Quetzal (7.5Q=1 USD)
• Family is very important aspect of the culture. Family members are dependent on one another, which is why being orphaned is looked at as such a sad and hard life.
• Guatemalan society can be characterized as a patriarchal society. Relations between men and women are unequal, even if, in the city, the journey toward equality is progressing little by little.
• Children remain in the home usually until they are married. They usually commute to the university from home.
• Chicken, turkey, and beef (roasted, grilled, or fried) are the country's most popular meats and are normally accompanied by beans and rice
• Corn is a staple food. It is most often eaten in the form of a tortilla.
• Black beans are eaten at almost every meal.
• Other popular dishes are bistec (grilled or fried beef), guacamole, mosh (porridge), churrasco (charcoal-grilled steak), and chiles rellenos (chiles stuffed with meat and vegetables).
• Guatemalan coffee, which is most often exported, is considered some of the best in the world.
Sports: “Futbol” (soccer) is the main sport in Guatemala.
Arts: Guatemala has a large variety of handicrafts. Weaving is the most common, other include wood-carving, ceramics, and painting.
• September 15—Independence Day
• November 1—All Saints Day
• Guatemalans refer to themselves as “chapin”
• They refer to a younger kids as “patoja” or “patojo”
• Pollo Campero (Country Chicken) is the local chicken chain
• Guatemalans generally touch when speaking with one another; women even more so.
• Upon meeting someone, greet the person by shaking hands (man or woman). Those who have attained a good level of trust may occasionally kiss each other on the cheek, which is more common between women and somewhat less between men and women. Between men, trust is displayed by a hug.
• Guatemalans at times use their lips to point somewhere
• Guatemala has a public bus system with buses called chicken bus, instead of numbers the routes and buses are named after women.
Orphans and at-risk children
More than 370,000 children are orphans in Guatemala with countless more at-risk.
• 5,000 street children between the ages of 5-14 are in Guatemala City alone.
• There are only 4 government- run orphanages in the country.
• Violence, corruption, abuse, malnutrition are leadings problems affecting children.
Buckner in Guatemala
In 2001, Buckner was given the opportunity to partner with the Guatemalan government to meet the need of foster care program development. Buckner was able to introduce successful models of care from the United States to Guatemalan culture to assist orphaned children within the country.
Buckner services and country support include:
• Training numerous Guatemalan-nationals that work in the government orphanages in the areas of foster care, preventive health care, childcare, residential care and social services.
• Supporting the Orphan Graduate Sponsorship Program which provides girls and boys who have aged out of the orphanages the opportunity to continue their education.
• Operating four Buckner-owned facilities: a Girl’s Transitional Home, a Baby and a Single-Parent Home in Guatemala City and a Baby Home in Xela.
• Sponsoring mission trips throughout the year to minister to the children in government and privately-owned orphanages.
• Providing on-going humanitarian aid such as shoes, socks, medicine, diapers and toiletries.
Typical mission trips include
• Church Trips—VBS Ministry, Sports Camps, Life Skills Training
• Medical Mission Trips
• Dental Mission Trips
• Construction Ministry
• School Group Trips