A Multicultural Country in Central America
by Veronica Reyes, Apr 28, 2020
When we think about the multi-culti countries of the world, Guatemala probably won’t ever ring a bell. Would you believe me if I tell you that Guatemala is the home of four different type of cultures? Kind of hard to believe!
Besides its natural treasures and its captivating pre-Hispanic history, Guatemala hosts four different ethnical groups that represent the country’s cultural identity. The Maya (of course), the Garifuna (descendants from Africa), the Xinca (indigenous group different than the Maya) and the Mestizo (the mix of Maya with, mostly, European people).
You’ve probably just heard about the Maya and the Mestizo and that’s ok! Nowadays, almost 85% of the Guatemalan population belongs to one of these two groups. The Garifuna and the Xinca are hidden in remote areas of the country and, unfortunately, their traditions are endangered. Still, they all play an important role in the country’s cultural identity.
The Maya is the most important cultural group in Guatemala. They reached their peak in the lowlands of the country almost 1,400 years ago! Today, 45% of the Guatemalan population descent from the Maya. Several different Mayan languages are still spoken, and some women still weave and wear their traditional dresses. Even though most of the modern population won’t admit it, we all live under an indirect influence of the Maya.
The Garifuna or Garínagu is a small group of Afro descendant people that adapted to the Caribbean culture back in the 17th century. Seeking refuge from their rivals, a boat arrived on the coasts of Central America and the Garifuna established themselves on the seashores of Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Today, these Afro-Caribbean people are settled in Livingston, a small village located where the stunning Rio Dulce leads into the Caribbean Sea.
The Xinca, also known as mashtatudos, is the less known ethnical group of Guatemala. Their traditions and heritage are well hidden in Chiquimulilla, Eastern-Guatemala, where a reduced population still preserves their own language, traditional ways to dress and a distinctive cosmovision.
And finally, the Mestizo, a mix between Maya and people descendant from different parts of the world, especially from Europe. It all started back at the time of the conquest in 1524. Since then, we had adapted to foreign believes, traditions, agricultural products, festivities and even different languages! Today, the Mestizo group makes for the majority of the Guatemalan population and we are based mainly in the Urban cities of the country.
Despite the diversity of the ethnical groups, the amount of people who still have the real roots, different ways of dressing, unique cooking technics and even the languages that separate us from each other, we all are Guatemaltecos and have one thing in common: a warm smile that will greet you anytime you decide to #visitguatemala!
Arouse your curiosity and discover Guatemala’s cultural diversity! Contact us anytime for more details on how to experience the multi-culti side of our country 🙂