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Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Guatemala


From an ethnic perspective, Guatemala is quite diverse as numerous Native American Indian groups maintain pure ethnic make ups. However, the majority of people are still "mestizo," or a combination of American Indian and European (generally Spanish). Among the minority native groups, most are distinct ethnic groups that are a part of the larger Mayan ethnic family; these groups combined make up nearly 40% of the population.


The only official language in Guatemala is Spanish, as about 60% of the people speak this language natively. There are also 23 officially recognized regional languages, all of which are American Indian languages as most of the rest of the population speaks one of these languages. No matter a person's native language, nearly everyone speaks Spanish, which is the language of communication between linguistic groups.

Spanish is a Romance language also spoken in Spain; it is closely related to other Romance languages, including Portuguese, Italian, French, Romanian, others. The dialect of Spanish in Guatemala is quite distinct in comparison to that of Spain and there are also many minor differences in the language across Latin America.


Guatemalan Architecture - La Merced Church
La Merced Church

Nearly everyone in Guatemala is an adherent of Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, or traditional Mayan beliefs. Although Catholicism is the largest of these religions, it is not uncommon to see aspects of traditional Mayan beliefs incorporated into the local version of Catholicism or Protestantism.

Catholicism is a Christian religion that is one of the first Christian religions (founded after the death of Jesus in about 30-33 AD). Catholicism believes that there is a single God who created everything, a savior, the son of God, Jesus Christ who is the forgiver of sins, and there is the Holy Spirit, which makes up the last part of the Holy Trinity. Catholics follow the teachings of the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments. Much of the faith is based on the life and teachings of Jesus, which is found in the gospels (in the New Testament).

Continue reading on Safari the Globe to Learn the Catholic Church's doctrines, liturgy, symbolism, traditions, & hierarchy

This page was last updated: May, 2014