Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala

Santiago Atitlán is a Tz’utujil Mayan community on the picturesque shores of Lake Atitlán, high in the mountains of western Guatemala. The Tz’utujil Mayan people occupied this region for many generations before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. Today, their primary sources of income are coffee exports, canoe construction, and artisan crafts for tourists. Recent history has not been kind to the community. In the 1980s, the Guatemalan army killed or disappeared hundreds of villagers because of the presence of left-wing guerrillas in the area. The fierce violence of the civil war (1960-1996) and the landslides caused by Hurricane Stan in 2005 have left deep psychological and economic scars.

Located in this geographically beautiful but troubled setting, our programs are a reflection of the indomitable spirit of the Atitecos as they work tirelessly to transform generations of painful history.

Natik’s partners support students from early education through high school and work to generate an entrepreneurial spirit in Santiago. The school, library, scholarship program, artisans, and language and cultural immersion project work together for economic and educational empowerment within the community.

Natik’s partners in Santiago Atitlán

Getting to know the area

Population of Sololá, state where Santiago Atitlán is located (2010): 424,100
Population of Santiago Atitlán (2010): 43,600
Percent of the Sololá population that is indigenous (2010): 94%
Literacy rate (2010): Guatemala: 82%; Santiago Atitlán: 56%
Enrollment in pre-primary education: 38%
Enrollment in primary school: 74%
Enrollment in junior high school: 24%
Enrollment in senior high school: 5%

In Guatemala, the wealthiest 10% of the population holds 42% of the wealth, while the poorest 10% holds 1% of the wealth (2006).