The third world is a term that was first used during the cold war. It was used to identify countries that were not aligned with the East or the west. It is now used differently. The term describes Latin American, Oceanic, and African countries. If you live in Guatemala, you may be wondering if it is a third world country.
Is Guatemala a third world country? Yes, it is. About 59% of the population lives in poverty. The country has a very high disparity between the poor and the rich. It is also one of the countries that weren’t aligned to the East or the West.
Whether you plan on moving to Guatemala or you are a citizen, you may be curious about the country’s economy. Even though the term ‘third world’ is outdated, it is often used to describe countries that are poor or underdeveloped.
Is Guatemala a Third World Country?
Third world countries may also have high rates of child mortality, low educational development, and poor use of natural resources. Keep reading to learn more about Guatemala and its economy.
The Republic of Guatemala is in Central America. It is bordered by Honduras, Mexico, Belize, the Pacific Ocean, and El Salvador. The population is approximately 17.2 million.
It is the most high-populated country in Central America. Guatemala’s economy is growing. It depends on agriculture. The biggest contributors include sugar, coffee, vegetables, and bananas.
The country’s income distribution is poor. There is economic inequality which means that there is a big gap between the rich and the poor. 12% of Guatemalans live below the poverty line.
The richest 10% earns half of all income in the country. The top 20% earns about two-thirds of all income. Most people earn less than $2 a day. Unfortunately, the country’s poor population is getting even poorer.
The private sector plays an important role in the economy. It makes up about 85% of the GDP. The private sector is mostly made up of food processing and manufacturing.
Over the past few years, there has been a significant improvement in the tourism and textile industries.
The country’s low spending habits have contributed to slow growth and poor infrastructure. The country has inadequate public investment and low levels of tax collections.
According to the CIA World Fact Book, the GDP collected and spent in Guatemala is ranked 204th out of 215 countries.
Even though the country has a good taxation policy, they don’t have effective systems to collect taxes owed. Collecting taxes is a challenge because most people have informal businesses.
The government in Guatemala is stable and democratic. However, it has its share of corruption cases. The present government is a major improvement from the 20th century’s military-oligarchy alliance. The president of Guatemala is the head of government and state.
Guatemala has the third-highest rate of femicide in the world. It was the first country to recognize femicide as a crime.
Even after the end of the civil war, there have been lots of death squads in the country. The rates of extrajudicial killings are still high.
Infant Mortality Rates
As of 2018, the infant mortality rate was 26.2 out of 1000 live births. The infant mortality rate has been declining steadily over the years.
According to UNICEF, Guatemala has the highest infant mortality rate in Central America. It also has one of the lowest average birth weights.
The country has the highest rates of malnutrition in the Caribbean and Latin America. About 46.5% of children below the age of five are stunted.
Many families rely on informal employment and can’t afford a balanced diet. Corn is the country’s staple diet. The country’s food security is the main cause of health complications.
The life expectancy is 70. 4 for males and 76.0 for females. The overall life expectancy is 73.2. According to WHO, it is ranked 94th in a World Life Expectancy ranking. The most common causes of death include; coronary heart disease, stroke, and violence.
Is Guatemala a Good Place to Live?
Guatemala endured a war that made it seem like an unsafe country.
However, things have changed and the country is now safe with lots of tourists.
The beautiful country has a diverse landscape filled with green fields, mountains, volcanoes, and rainforest. It has a rich history and a vibrant culture.
The country has a large population and a big consumer market. As a result, there are plenty of malls, markets, and supermarkets. The huge population makes it great for starting businesses.
You don’t have to be a citizen to experience life in Guatemala. The country allows most foreigners about 90 days to stay in the country as tourists. Those that consider changing their residency status can get 90 more days.
The traditions in Guatemala are exotic and interesting. There are lots of festivals and annual events. The locals honour some of their saints with strong liquor and cigars. Walking through the streets, you will meet people wearing their native clothes, women selling hand-made tortillas, and others carrying loads on their heads.
Even though it is a beautiful country, Guatemala still feels the effects of its long civil wars. In some parts of the country, safety may still be a concern. The country continues to implement strategies for developing the economy.
In some parts of the country, there is an insufficient supply of clean water. As a result, there is a widespread of waterborne diseases. However, efforts by NGOs have helped improve the situation significantly. Sanitation continues to be a major problem.
What attractions are in Guatemala?
There are lots of fun things to see and do in Guatemala. The country has plenty of cultural and historical gems. Guatemala is popular for its amazing hiking trails, hidden villages, beautiful volcano peaks, and pretty countrysides. Some of the most attractive destinations include;
This is the most attractive colonial city in Central America. It is close to various captivating volcanoes including; Acatenango, Pacaya, and Volcan de Agua. Eth small city has beautiful Spanish buildings and vibrant culture. Few cities can match the magnificence of Antigua.
- The Ixil Triangle
The Ixil Triangle is made up of three towns; San Juan Cotzal, Santa Maria Nebaj, and San Gaspar Chajul. Even though the towns are different, they all have beautiful mountains and greenery. The Ixil Triangle is a great destination for hikers.
- Semuc Champey
Semuc Champey is a great destination for nature lovers. It has beautiful pools of water, opportunities for adventure, and greenery. There are lots of bars and the nightlife is exciting. Semuc Champey is in the department of Alta Verapaz. The natural monument is close to captivating caves filled with bats and water that goes up to your knees.
This is the second-largest city in Guatemala. It is popularly known as Xela and is home to plenty of attractions. The town is surrounded by neoclassical buildings and there are lots of mountains nearby. The nightlife is vibrant and the people are friendly.
Other attractions include; Chichicastenango Market Monterrico and the Biotopo Monterrico-Hawaii (Nature Reserve), Livingston on the Caribbean Coast, Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena (Museum of Mayan Costumes), Guatemala City, and Museo Popol Vuh, Guatemala City.
Guatemala is a rare find for tourists. It has the right attractions to invite all types of people including culture seekers, adventurers, and beach lovers. The country has colonial architecture, active volcanoes, fishing villages, and beautiful tropical jungles.
What are the most popular jobs in Guatemala?
The most popular jobs in Guatemala include; project manager, software engineer, and project manager. They pay 36k Q to 496k Q per year.
The working conditions in Guatemala are not always desirable. Many employers fail to meet the requirements of the law.
In the country, the minimum daily wage is $3.00 for agricultural workers, $6.00 for specialized labourers, $3.38 for construction workers. A normal workweek has 36 hours for night shift workers and 44 hours for day workers.
If employees work overtime, they must be compensated with time and a half pay. The law requires employers to ensure that the working environment is safe and healthy.
Even though the law is clear, many industrial and agricultural sectors don’t meet the requirements. Over 80, 000 employees work in unsafe, illegal, and unhealthy conditions. Less than 15% of the workers belong to a union.
The biggest industries in Guatemala include; fuels, agriculture, construction, and tourism. Over half of the country’s economic activity is represented by four sectors; Private Service (14%), manufacturing (20%), agriculture (12%), and commerce (18%). In the country, ex-pats can get jobs as easily as locals.
In summary, Guatemala is a third world country. Even though it is a beautiful country with plenty of attractions, it continues to struggle with the effects of its long civil war. During the cold war, Guatemala was not a part of the east and west conflict.
Today, it struggles with problems associated with third-world countries. They include; high infant mortality rates, poverty, poor use of infrastructure, and under-development.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.