Is Guatemala a Third World Country?

brown concrete building near mountain

There’s no guessing to it — Guatemala is clearly a third-world country. With the massive gap between the rich and the poor in Guatemala, the situation leaves much to be desired, especially compared to other developing countries.

This article will discuss the features that make Guatemala a third-world country. With that, you can easily recognize another third-world country when you see same.

Why’s Guatemala Called a Third World Country?

From our previous articles, we made it clear that being a third-world country does not equate to being underdeveloped. During the Cold War, the categorization was only based on whether or not a country was part of the communist bloc, NATO, or USSR.

However, today, whether a country is a first world country, second world, or third world country is dependent on its level of development.

In this case, Guatemala falls under the third-world cadre, considering its backwardness in development.

Our previous article clearly discusses the characteristics of third-world countries. In line with those features, here are some major indicators that define Guatemala as a third-world country

1.   Non-Alignment

This is the primary definition of a third-world country. Countries aligned with NATO during the Cold War were called first-world countries.

Those countries aligned with Warsaw were called second-world countries. Non-aligned countries then fell into the third world category.

Though these realities no longer exist, categorization is still important in teaching history.

2.   High Rate of Poverty

In 2006, about 6 million people were said to be living in poverty. A major part of this population also struggles with extreme poverty. The rate of poverty in Guatemala has thus caused income inequality, social exclusion, and more foreign debt.

3.   Flagrant Abuse of Human Rights

A country where the rights of its citizens are not being protected is far from being a developed nation. The independence of the judiciary is also a mirage in Guatemala.

The 2020 Country Reports reflect significant abuse of citizens’ rights, including harsh treatment in custody, arbitrary, and extrajudicial killings arranged by government officials. All these impede any form of progress in Guatemala.

4.   Corruption is Rife

Guatemala has experienced long years of corrupt practices right from its leadership. Even with the election of a new president in August 2019, the situation still seems to lurk on.

In fact, 43% of its population still suffers some level of institutionalized exclusion. It’s no wonder that there’s been a great wave of migration of the young population to other countries.

5.   High Level of Food Insecurity

According to a recent analysis by the IPC, about 3.9 million Guatemalans have experienced severe food insecurity. The figure is said to skyrocket to 4.6 million by September 2022. This is another reality that has dampened any chances of Guatemala’s development.

Evolution of Guatemala’s Economy

The Guatemalan economy depends solely on agriculture. When in Guatemala, you’ll notice that the traditional crops are mainly bananas, coffee, and sugar. While Guatemala has been tagged as one of the poorest in the whole of Latin America, its economy remains the largest in all of Central America.

When the Guatemalan Civil War ended in 1996, there was a level of macroeconomic reforms and stabilization. Between 2000 and 2010, Guatemala experienced a commendable economic growth rate chiefly dominated by its private sector. In 2010, about 50% of the men in Guatemala were self-employed.

Over the last 3 decades, Guatemala has been the least volatile in its economic growth. In 2020, Guatemala recorded a GDP of US$77.6 billion and a population of 17 million residents.

Notwithstanding this reality, the poverty rate and level of inequality still remain unbending. In fact, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the poverty rate in Guatemala is approximately 80%.

With this, the country is still marked by unequal distribution of assets, wealth, and opportunities. This makes the country a predominantly poor one.

Chronic malnutrition has also engulfed all of Guatemala, ranking highest in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and fourth highest in the world. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic didn’t seem to help much — the poverty rate skyrocketed from 47.8% in 2019 to a whopping 52.4% in 2020.

In 2021, there was a fair recovery from the COVID-19 impact. Guatemala saw an 8% growth in 2021 in the expectancy of an added 3.4% growth in 2022.

Presently, Guatemala still suffers some developmental losses following the pandemic. However, there’s still an opportunity to foster a stronger economy.

Final Notes

If anything, there’s hope for Guatemala’s economy as there is for every other developing nation. When the right issues are combated and priority is laid on human capital development, the boom will be felt soon enough.

Frequently Asked Questions About Guatemala

What’s the most populated country in Central America?

Guatemala is the most populated of all countries in Central America. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the poorest.

What race is Guatemalan?

Guatemalans are people of Latin American origin. The country has strong Spaniard and Mexican communities. It’s also one of the most diverse countries in Central America. The Maya people are mostly indigenous to Central America, and over 40% of the Guatemalan population are of Maya ethnicity.

How do you say hello in Guatemala?

“Hola” is the way to go! That’s if you only want to say a simple “Hello.” If you want to go a bit further, say “Mucho Gusto,” which means “nice to meet you.” You can go even further to say good morning, good afternoon, or good evening. “Buenos días” means Good morning. “Buenas tardes” means Good afternoon, and “Buenas Noches” means Good evening.

Who is famous from Guatemala?

There are a lot of them! Here are some

  • Diplomat, Miguel Angel Asturias
  • Politician, Efraín Ríos Montt
  • Actor, Oscar Isaac
  • Soccer Player, Carlos Ruiz
  • Politician, Jacobo Árbenz
  • Soccer Midfielder, Marco Pappa
  • Computer Scientist, Luis von Ahn
  • Olympic Athlete, Erick

What is the nickname Guatemala?

The Land of the Eternal Spring — “La tierra de la eterna primavera”. This name flows from the all-year-round temperate climate reflected in its ever-blooming flowers.

What is Guatemala’s national dish?

Chicken Pepian is Guatemala’s national dish. It’s a perfect mix of sesame and pumpkin seeds, culminating in a spicy, delicious sauce. But that’s not the only traditional dish Guatemalans are known for. Chiles Rellenos and Kai’ik are the next best two.