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Guatemala. World Factbook, 2005


Guatemala, located in Central America, is bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize and the Caribbean Sea to the northeast, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast. The nation is mountainous except for the south coastal area and the vast northern lowlands of Petén department. The total area is 108,890 km2 (42,042 square miles).

In July 2009 the estimated population was 13,276,517. Europeans and those of mixed Amerindian-Spanish background, called Mestizos or Ladino, make up just under 60% of the population, while the vast majority of the remainder of the population is composed of various indigenous Maya people including the K'iche, Kaqchikel, Mam and Q'eqchi.

Guatemala, like the rest of Central America, was colonized by the Spanish, beginning in 1518. The nation gained independence from Spain in 1821. The Guatemalan Civil War, running from 1960 until 1996, resulted in the death of approximately 200,000 civilians, mostly Mayan. Various military governments were responsible for the vast majority of these deaths.

Approximately 50-60% of the population is Roman Catholic, while around 40% are Protestant. Protestant groups have grown dramatically in the last several decades.

1990 Article

Mennonite involvement in Guatemala began in 1964 when the Conservative Mennonite Fellowship began work among villagers in Chimaltenango, leading eventually to the Conservative Mennonite Fellowship, Guatemala. In 1968 the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities (MC) and the Washington-Franklin Mennonite Conference (later continued by the Franklin Mennonite Conference) began work with Spanish-speaking (Iglesia Menonita de Guatemala) and Kekchi-speaking (Iglesia Nacional Evangélica Menonita Guatemalteca) people. The Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church carries on mission work in Quetzaltenango. Mennonite Air Missions was organized in 1972.

In 1977 the Church of God in Christ Mennonite (CGC), began mission work in Guatemala, where they had participated in reconstruction following the 1976 earthquake. The first missionaries were Alvin and Mildred Koehn and Vada Unruh. In 1988 four couples and three single women served the three congregations (Progreso, Sanarate and Jutialpa) and seven outposts located one to two hours north and east of Guatemala City. There were 19 baptized members and no ordained Guatemalan national leaders. A close relationship was maintained with the Church of God in Christ mission work in Mexico where the mission has published in Spanish the CGC hymnal and several booklets.

2010 Update

Membership in the four Mennonite-related groups in Guatemala plus independent and unaffiliated congregations totaled 14,301 in 2009, worshiping in 156 congregations. The four groups include the following:

Denomination Members in
Congregations in
Members in
Congregations in
Church of God in Christ, Mennonite 18 1
Conservative Mennonite Fellowship 133 5
Iglesia Evangelica Menonita de Guatemala 1,320 9 1,700 11
Iglesia Nacional Evangélica Menonita Guatemalteca 5,000 98 12,000 115
Independent & Unaffiliated 221 6 321 12
Mennonite Air Missions 292 17 262 17
Total 6,966 135 14,301 156


Mennonite World Conference. "Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Churches Worldwide, 2009: Latin America & The Caribbean." 2010. Web. 28 October 2010. 2009/Latin America & the Caribbean Summary.doc.

Mennonite World Conference. "MWC - 2006 Caribbean, Central and South American Mennonite & Brethren in Christ Churches." Web. 19 October 2008.

Wikipedia. "Guatamala." Web. 31 October 2010.

Author(s) Amzie Yoder
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published October 2010

Cite This Article

MLA style

Yoder, Amzie and Richard D. Thiessen. "Guatemala." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2010. Web. 20 May 2019.

APA style

Yoder, Amzie and Richard D. Thiessen. (October 2010). Guatemala. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 May 2019, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 358. All rights reserved.

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