Guatemalan Culture

Guatemala is slightly smaller than the state of Tennessee. About two-thirds of the country is mountainous and volcanic, several of which are active. Guatemalan culture is rich and distinct, characterized by a fusion of Spanish and Indigenous influences.

Guatemalans value honesty, family, honor, work, and education. Most Guatemalans are gracious and eager to find humor in most situations. In Guatemalan culture, visiting friends and relatives is important. People who live close by in rural areas will often drop by unannounced.

Host a Guatemalan Student in the U.S.

Guatemalan People and Community

Guatemalan families like to spend time together during meals and at family gatherings. Parents are usually very protective of their children, especially girls. In smaller towns, people might greet each other on the street, even if they don’t know them. A simple “buenos días” is a great sign of hospitality.

Extended families spend a lot of time together. Rural extended families often share a single home or live next to each other. Families in more urban settings are slightly different, although grandparents may be present. In Guatemalan families, the father is generally the head. Women are typically considered the core of the family. In order to marry, many women are required to have domestic and culinary skills, especially in more rural areas. A woman’s social standing is based largely upon her marriage.

Language and Communication Styles

Spanish is Guatemala’s official language.


Guatemalan market

Traditional Guatemalan dishes are usually based on Maya cuisine. You can expect to taste lots of maize, chilies and black beans. It is customary to eat certain foods on certain days of the week, such as paches (a kind of potato tamale) on Thursdays, or fiambre (a special kind of salad) for All Saints’ Day, or tamales and ponche (fruit punch), around Christmas.