What We Do in Guatemala
In the year 2000, Freedom from Hunger and FUNDAP (Fundación Para el Desarrollo Integral de Programas Socioeconómicos) partnered to bring Credit with Education to poor families in the Totonicapan region of Guatemala. FUNDAP is a Guatemalan nonprofit private development organization that runs a village banking program called Mujer y Trabajo ('Women and Work'). Freedom from Hunger provides health and business education materials to the Mujer y Trabajo microcredit program. As of March 31, 2005, over 10,500 Guatemalan women and their families were benefiting from Credit with Education.
- Area: 108,889 square km (slightly smaller than Tennessee)
- Natural hazards: Guatemala has numerous volcanoes in mountains, with occasional violent earthquakes; its Caribbean coastal area is extremely susceptible to hurricanes and other tropical storms
- Agricultural products: sugarcane, corn, bananas, coffee, beans, cardamom; cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens
- Population: 13,824,463
- Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish—in local Spanish called Ladino) 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
- Languages: Spanish (official) 60%, Amerindian languages 40%
- Population below poverty line: 56.2%
- Infant mortality rate: 26.02 deaths/1,000 live births
- Unemployment rate: 3.2%
Guatemala is located in Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea) between Honduras and Belize. After their independence in 1821 as a Spanish colony, Guatemala experienced a variety of military and civilian governments, as well as a 36-year guerrilla war. In 1996, the government signed a peace agreement formally ending the conflict, which had left more than 100,000 people dead and had created, by some estimates, some 1 million refugees.
Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America, with a GDP per capita roughly one-half that of the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. The agricultural sector accounts for nearly 15% of GDP and half of the labor force. The distribution of income remains highly unequal, with the richest 10% of the population accounting for more than 40% of Guatemala's overall consumption.
Poverty in Guatemala is widespread and deeply entrenched, particularly among poor, rural people who account for 71 percent of the country’s poor population. The country's high rates of illiteracy, infant mortality and infant malnourishment are even higher among indigenous peoples, most of whom live in rural areas. The causes of poverty are primarily related to the lack of access to social and productive assets and resources such as land and water. Income distribution and land ownership are extremely uneven.