Your guide to being an expatriate in Guatemala

Caffeinate Your Guatemala Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today!

Nestled between Mexico, Belize, and El Salvador, Guatemala is a culturally rich Central American nation. Colonial-era architecture and ancient Mayan ruins blend with natural beauty, including volcanoes and lakes. Spanish is the official language, and the population is predominantly mestizo (mixed indigenous and European). The economy is driven by remittances, agriculture, and manufacturing.


Expat destinations in Guatemala

Demographics of Guatemala:

Ethnic groups

Mestizo (54.1%), K'iche' (8.4%), Mam (7.8%), Q'eqchi' (6.7%), Kaqchikel (4.4%), Kaqchik (3.5%), Lacandon (1.2%), Other Mayan (29.2%)


Spanish (official) 66.2%, K'iche' 8.9%, Mam 7.4%, Q'eqchi' 6.2%, Kaqchikel 4.6%, Kaqchik 3.5%, Lacandon 1.6%, Other (unspecified) Mayan languages 11.3%

Religion Overview

Guatemala's Catholic heritage is deeply ingrained, attributed to Spanish colonizers. The religion has various denominations, including Roman Catholicism and Seventh-Day Adventist. According to recent estimates, over 70% of the population identifies as Catholic.

Major Religions


Tropical highland (1800 to 3000 meters above sea level) and tropical lowland (less than 1800 meters above sea level).

Economy Overview

Guatemala's economy recovered from a brutal civil war that lasted 36 years, with a GDP growth rate of 4.4% in 2019. Approximately 40% of its GDP is from the service sector, 35% from the agricultural sector, and 25% from the industrial sector. Remittances from Guatemalans working abroad, primarily the United States, are a significant contributor to the GDP.

Key Industries

  • Agriculture (bananas, coffee, sugar, maize, fruits, vegetables)
  • Textiles
  • Mining

Major Companies

  • Banco Santander Guatemala
  • Banco Agrícola y Comercial
  • Banco Crédito F familiar de Cartago

Culture and Language Overview

Mayan artifacts, colorful costumes, and vibrant festivities all contribute to Guatemala's rich culture. The Day of the Dead, All Saints' Day, and Christmas are significant traditional festivals in the country.

Cultural Highlights

  • Chiapas Highlands Maya Culture
  • Mayan Cloth
  • GarcíÑ diet (vegetable and corn-based diet with very little meat)
  • Playa Popoluceña, Izabal

Geography and Landmarks Overview

Guatemala is bordered by Mexico, Belize, and El Salvador, encompassing 108,210 square kilometers (41,822 square miles). Major geographical features include Lake Atitlan - a deep crater lake nestled in the highlands, and the Tajumulco volcano, the highest point in Central America - 4,220 meters (13,849 feet) above sea level.

Notable Landmarks

  • Hawaii, Quetzaltenango (Xela) (third-largest city)
  • Tikal
  • Flores, Petén (island city on Lake Petén Itzá)
  • Rio Dulce

National Holidays

  • January 1 - New Year's Day
  • January 19 - Our Lady of Candelaria (Patron Saint)

Political Stability

Guatemala ratings from internationally recognized sources: Freedom of the Press (Freedom House): Partly Free. Corruption Perceptions Index (Transparency International): Ranked 133 out of 180 countries in 2021.

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