Guatemala is the most populated country in Central America at over 13 million people, but it also has more of its population living below the poverty line than any other Central American country.

In stark contrast to most Latin American countries, Guatemala has a populace that is concentrated mainly in rural areas. Only 39 percent of its population is urban. The sizeable rural population is linked to the large indigenous (Amerindian) presence in Guatemala; persons descended from the Mayan Indians account for 56 percent of the nation's total population, making Guatemala the Latin American nation with the largest indigenous population relative to total population.

Despite the concentration of the population in rural areas, close to 80 percent of physicians are located in the metropolitan area, making health care difficult to access for rural inhabitants. 

El Petén is the northernmost department of Guatemala, as well as the largest in size. At 12,960 square miles, it accounts for about one third of Guatemala's land area, but only about 4% of the total population. The Peten region remains rural and relatively isolated with the first paved road into Peten not built until 1982. The capital is Flores. The Mundo Maya International Airport, in neighboring Santa Elena, is only the second "modern" airport in the country. Since the 1990's the Peten region has seen many new settlers as well as increasing "eco-tourism" and "archeo-tourism" industries, but any resulting economic benefits have been isolated to the greater Flores area. The remainder of the region remains home to some of the poorest and most isolated jungle villages in Central America with essentially no infrastructure (roads, electrical power, etc.) and little or no access to medical care.



Population (2009): 13,002,206
Per capita Income Average: $4,060
Population below poverty line ($1/day): 56%
Healthy Life Expectancy: 54 years (lowest in C.A.)
Infant Mortality Rate (per 1000): 28 (worst in C.A.)
Mortality prior to Age 5 (per 1000): 45 (1 in 22)

MAG in Guatemala