Guatemalan Culture

Author: Caroline Slack
May 16, 2017

Culture in Guatemala is a mixture of Mayan and Spanish influences. It has many Spanish influences in some of their foods and in the predominantly Christian side of the religion, but it also has very strong Mayan influences that have survived hundreds of years, such as the language and some of their natural medicines. Guatemala has one of the largest relative populations of indigenous peoples and those of predominantly decent (among other cultures) : A little over 30%, with Bolivia having the largest relative population of over 60%.

The name ‘Guatemala’ means land of forests in one of the native Mayan dialects. It is 42,000 square miles and squared in by Mexico, El Salvador, the Pacific Ocean, Belize, Honduras, and the Caribbean sea. Spanish influences are seen mainly on the coast while more Mayan influences are based deeper within Guatemala.

Religion-wise, Catholicism and Protestantism make up a large portion of the religious population. Indigenous peoples believe primarily in spirits of nature, sometimes of very specific places such as certain caves or bodies of water, and ceremonies are performed to keep a connection with these places. Connected with these ceremonies is a connection with natural surroundings, and these often include the use of traditional medicines and ceremonies, such as the use of chamomile or cinnamon to help with minor ailments (headache, muscle soreness, etc.) Both sides of the culture are deeply ingrained in Guatemala's history, and in many cases the two sides correspond and mix in both the people and the overall culture.


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