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Guatemala City

Guatemala City
Ciudad de Guatemala
Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción[1]
View of Guatemala City with the Agua, Fuego and Acatenango volcanoes in the background.
View of Guatemala City with the Agua, Fuego and Acatenango volcanoes in the background.
Template:Infobox settlement/columns
Motto: "Todos somos la ciudad" (We all are the city), "Tú eres la ciudad" (You are the city)
Location within Guatemala

Coordinates: 14°36′48″N 90°32′7″W / 14.61333°N 90.53528°W / 14.61333; -90.53528Coordinates: 14°36′48″N 90°32′7″W / 14.61333°N 90.53528°W / 14.61333; -90.53528{{#coordinates:14|36|48|N|90|32|7|W|type:city_region:GT |primary |name=

Country 23x15px Guatemala
Department Guatemala
Established 1776
 • Type Municipality
 • Mayor Álvaro Arzú (PU. Partido Unionista)
 • City 692 km2 (267 sq mi)
 • Land 1,905 km2 (736 sq mi)
 • Water 0 km2 (0 sq mi)
Elevation 1,500 m (4,900 ft)
Population (2012 Estimate)
 • City 2,110,100[2]
 • Metro 4,500,000[2]
Time zone Central America (UTC-6)
Climate Cwb
Website Municipalidad de Guatemala

Guatemala City, locally known as Guatemala or Guate, is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala, and the most populous in Central America. The city is located in the south-central area of the country and has a large number of green areas. In 2009, it had a formal population of 1,075,000, but the metropolitan population is believed to be at least 4.5 million by 2013.[3][4] Guatemala City is also the capital city of the local Municipio de Guatemala, and Guatemala Department.

The city is located in a mountain valley called "Valle de la Ermita" in the south central part of the country Guatemala.


"Cerrito del Carmen" church. First construction ever built by the Spaniards in the valley that eventually became Guatemala City.
Map of Guatemala City in 1821.

Within the confines of modern Guatemala City is the ancient Maya city of Kaminaljuyu. Kaminaljuyu was first occupied between 1200 and 1000 BC and the city continued to be inhabited for about 2000 years before it was abandoned in the Late Classic Period of Mesoamerican chronology (600–900 AD).[5] It is one of America's most notable archaeological sites. The center of Kaminaljuyu was located a short distance from the oldest part of Guatemala City. However, in the late 20th century, the city grew around the ruins, and, in some cases, over some of the outlying ruins before they were protected.

Many of the several hundred temple mounds have been built over with freeways, shopping centers, commerce, luxury hotels and residential areas. The central ceremonial center of Kaminaljuyu was however protected by the Guatemalan government and is now a park within the city. There are also many ruins still in existence, protected by the government.

In Spanish colonial times, Guatemala City was a small town. It had a monastery called El Carmen, founded in 1628. The capital of the Spanish Captaincy General of Guatemala, covering most of modern Central America, was moved here after a series of earthquakes—the Santa Marta earthquakes that started on July 29, 1773—destroyed the old capital, Antigua.[6] On September 27, 1775, King Charles III of Spain officiated the moving of the capital. This dramatically increased the potential for expansion of the city, that involved the rebuilding at a significant distance from the volcanoes believed to have caused the earthquake. This new building gave way to the name Nueva Guatemala (New Guatemala).[7]

Central Square

Central Square was the civic and political center of Guatemala city from it foundation in 1776 until the beginning of democratic rule in 1985. Around the square were the main religious and political buildings of the country. The cathedral, on the east side, was built between 1782 and 1815 while the towers were completed in 1867. Its massive structure incorporates baroque and classical elements and has withstood numerous earthquakes. On the west side, the Royal Palace was the Executive branch headquarters for the Capitanía of Guatemala from the time the city was established in 1776 until the earthquakes of 1917 and 1918.

Guatemala City was the scene of the declaration of independence of Central America from Spain, and became the capital of the United Provinces of Central America in 1821.

Independence of Central America
15 September 1821
Signing of the declaration of Independence of Central America inside the Royal Palace in 1821. Rafael Beltranena painting.
Criollos celebrating their independence from Spain outside the Royal Palace in 1821. Rafael Beltranena painting.
Cathedral of Guatemala City in 1850. The very first lightning rods in use in Guatemala can be seen both on the Cathedral and on the Carlos III fountain in the middle of Central Park.[9]
Colonial City Hall in 1907.

Carrera Theater

Map of the city in 1868 showing the Carrera Theater.
José Batres Montúfar bust, placed in the newly remodeled Colón Theater in 1892.
File:Segundoescudoguate 2014-06-22 09-16.jpg
Coat of Arms of the Republic of Guatemala between 1858 and 1871. A replica was carved on the front side of the theater before it was remodeled in 1892.
File:1896 Guatemala collage.jpg
Collage of Guatemala City buildings in 1896. Most of the structures shown disappeared or were severely damaged and modified after the 1917-18 earthquakes.

An enthusiastic fan of Opera, and following his mistress -Josefa Silva's advice[Note 1]-, president for life of Guatemala Rafael Carrera started the construction of a massive National Theater that was called "Carrera Theater" in his honor, and was located in the old Central Square.[10] The Old Central Square was located to the northeast side of Guatemala City –then not larger than a tiny village– and in 1776 was used to place the first block of the Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción after the 1773 earthquakes destroy Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala.[11] The place had been chosen as the new city Central Square, saving the surroundings for the new Cathedral, Palace and houses for the richest families of the time, the Aycinena family, given that the family leader, Fermín de Aycinena, had contributed considerably to the move of the city from its old place.[12] However, the design approved by the Spanish crown had the Central Square in a different location, and this one became the Old Central Square.[11]

Years later it became a commercial site and on 6 August 1832, then State of Guatemala Governor, Dr. Mariano Galvez, issued a decree to build a theater in the Old Central Square site. However, political climate was very tense in the country and when the civil war between liberal and conservative parties escalated, Galvez was overthrown and the theater could not be built.[11]

The project was revisited in 1852, when Juan Matheu and Manuel Francisco Pavón Aycinena present Rafael Carrera with a new plan. Once approved, Carrera commissioned Matheu himself and Miguel Ruiz de Santisteban to build the theater. Initially it was in charge of engineer Miguel Rivera Maestre, but he quit after a few months and was replaced by German expert José Beckers, who built the Greek façades and added a lobby. This was the first monumental building ever built in the Republican era of Guatemala,[11] given that in the 1850s the country finally was enjoying some peace and prosperity.[13]

Appleton's Guide to México and Guatemala of 1884 describes the theater as follows: "In the middle of the square is the Theater, similar in size and elegance to any of the rest of Spanish America. Lines of orange trees and other nice trees of brilliant flowers and delicious fragances surround the building while the statues and fountains placed at certain intervals enhance even more the beauty of the place.[14]

After the Liberal reform from 1871, the theater was called National Theater. In 1892, it was refurbished, removing the conservative Coat of Arms from its façade and substituting it with a sculpture and inscriptions. The orange trees, fountains and sculptures were removed, and in their place modern gardens were planted and a bust of José Batres Montúfar was erected.[15]

During the government of general Manuel Lisandro Barillas Bercián, the theater was remodeled to celebrate the Discovery of America fourth centennial anniversary; the Italian community in Guatemala donated a statue of Christopher Columbus -Cristóbal Colón, in Spanish- which was placed next to the theater. Since then, the place was called "Colón Theater".[11]

Liberal regimes

File:Guatemala 1870.jpg
Guatemala City in the 1870s.
File:Parque antiguo a.jpg
Royal Palace at the turn of the 20th century.
Palace of La Reforma. Built by Reyna Barrios between 1892 and 1898. It was destroyed by the 1917 Guatemala earthquake.

General José María Reyna Barrios built several monuments to embellish the Capital City. Among them, the "30 de Junio" Boulevard to celebrate the Liberal Reform from 1871 and the Presidential Palace. In 1895, general Reyna Barrios hired architect José de Bustamante, who came to Guatemala from Spain to build the Presidential Palace and Presidential residence. The contract was approved on 8 February 1895, and it was built in a garden that was on the southwest corner of the colonial Royal Palace on the 8a. street and it cost around four thousand Guatemalan pesos. Construction began on 1 January 1895 and it was finished on 24 December 1896.[16]

Unfortunately, most of the infrastructure from those years was lost due to the earthquakes from 1917-1918.

Reyna Barrios Presidential Palace and residence
Royal Palace in 1907.
Palace exterior as seen from south to north
Reception Hall
Palace exterior as seen from north to south
Palace location as shown in a map published in 1915

20th century

"30 de junio" Boulevard

"La Reforma Palace", on the "30 de Junio" Boulevard. It was built by general José María Reyna Barrios administration between 1892 and 1898 and later destroyed by the 1917-18 earthquakes.
"30 de Junio" Boulevard in 1910.

Conservative elite members from the time of Rafael Carrera and the new coffee elite that was formed during Justo Rufino Barrios presidency moved their homes to the area around "30 de junio" Boulevard, on the south side of the city; also, certain native settlements were forcibly moved from Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala and relocated on the southeast section of the city forming the "San Pedrito", "Ciudad Vieja" and "Villa de Guadalupe" neighborhoods. Guatemala City also expanded a little bit to the north side, especially along "Simeón Cañas" avenue, at the end o which was the Temple of Minerva, where president Manuel Estrada Cabrera celebrated the Student parades in honor of Greek goddess Minerva,[17] and the Guatemala Relief Map was built in 1905. President Estrada Cabrera moved his residence to "La Palma", located where in 1955 the "Teodoro Palacios Flores" national gym was built. Towards the end of Estrada Cabrera presidency in 1920, Guatemala City population was around one hundrend twenty thousand inhabitants.

1917-1918 earthquakes

What is left of the Catedral of Guatemala City.
Painting of Guatemala City in 1915. From Libro Azul de Guatemala.[18]

During the government of Manuel Estrada Cabrera -1898-1920- several important government buildings were constructed along "30 de Junio" Boulevard, like the maternity house "Joaquina"[Note 2][19]

It can be assured that the beginning of the end for Estrada Cabrera's long regime was the earthquakes, which began on 17 November 1917 and lasted until 24 January 1918. They destroyed a number of public and religious structures, and particular homes both in ciudad de Guatemala and Antigua Guatemala. Among the destroyed public buildings were the Palace of La Reforma built by Reyna Barrios and the maternity house "Joaquina"; because of this, a lot of the infrastructure of these years has been forgotten by new generations of Guatemalans.

Temples in ruins
Masonic Temple of Guatemala
La Recolección[20]
Parroquia Vieja Church
Santurario de Guadalupe Church

Jorge Ubico regime

Main article: Jorge Ubico

The "Hipódromo del Sur" -South Horse Track- was officially inaugurated in 1923 by then president general José María Orellana, and it was a very popular recreation place in "La Aurora" National Park. the track was 1600 m long and 30 m wide and the bleachers could seat 1500 spectators. Back in those days one could enjoy horse manoeuvers, rodeos and horse races. In 1926, president general Lázaro Chacón ordered to build new facilities and improve the horse track to increase event diversity, fairs and other shows, keeping the site under constant improvement and expansion.[21]

In the early days of general Jorge Ubico term in office (1931-1934) the news facilities were completed; a presidential suite, and field referee quarters were added. In 1935 an outdoor concert hall was added near the track and an yearly international fair was established. For such fair, the government rented mechanical attractions such as roller coasters and there were cultural and social events; the fair was in honor of general Ubico's birthday -November 10-.

On the next years of Ubico's regime, the city expand towars the South, with the construction of "La Aurora" International Airport and exposition halls for the "November Fair" The seventh avenue was extended and the "Torre del Reformador" and the "Charles the Fifth fountain" was moved from the Main Square to the "Spain Plazuela". Ubico also built several palaces: National Palace, Police headquarters, Post Office headquarters, Central Custom office, and the Supreme Court.[22] The elite homes were placed along "Avenida Reforma" -Reform Avenue-, and were built of wood, American style, to resist earthquakes; there were a lot of empty spaces along that area, as well which contributed to the peace and quiet of the zone.[23]

File:Guatemala City, National Post Office Building.JPG
Post Office Headquarters, Guatemala (1979).

In those days, Ubico designated the city major whom was in charge of modernizing the utilities of downtown and the south area, since the elite has started relocating there; besides, the palace buildings took 35% of the cement production of the country.[24] On the other hand, peripheral poor neighborhoods that formed after the 1917-18 earthquakes lacked attention; these neighborhoods were "La Parroquia", "Ermita", "Candelaria", "La Reformita", "El Gallito", "Gerona" and "Palmita", among others. The population in these areas was formed by extremely poor families who lived in precarious conditions.[Note 3]

Civil war in the city

Main article: Guatemalan Civil War

"Beheaded corpses hanging from their legs in between what is left from blown up cars, shapeless bodies among glass shards and tree branches all over the place is what a terrorist attack caused yesterday at 9:35 am. El Gráfico reporters were able to get to exact place where the bomb went off, only seconds after the horrific explosion, and found a truly infernal scene in the corner of the 6th avenue and 6th street -where the Presidential Office is located- which had turned into a huge oven -but the solid building where the president worked was safe-. The reporters witnessed the dramatic rescue of the wounded, some of them critical, like the man that completely lost a leg and had only stripes of skin instead."

El Gráfico, 6 September 1980[25]

On 31 January 1980, Guatemala got worldwide attention when the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City was burnt down, resulting in 37 deaths, including embassy personnel and high ranked Guatemalan former government officials.[26] A group of native people from El Quiché occupied the embassy in a desperate attempt to bring attention to the issues they were having with the Army in that region of the country, which was rich in oil and had been recently populated as part of the "Franja Transversal del Norte" agricultural program.[27] In the end, thirty seven people died after a fire started within the embassy after the police force tried to occupy the building; after that, Spain broke its diplomatic relationships with Guatemala.[26]

File:Corporacion Banco Industrial Guatemala.jpg
Finance Center in 2011. In 1981, a powerful bomb exploded in the basement of the building, leaving it without windows for several years. The owners – Industrial Bank – decided to keep it open to the public to defy the leftist guerilla.

On 5 September 1980 a terror attack by Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres (EGP) took place right in front of the Guatemalan National Palace, the headquarters of the Guatemalan government at the time. The intention was to prevent the Guatemalan people from supporting a huge demonstration that the government of general Lucas Garcia had prepared for on Sunday 7 September 1980. In the attack, six adults and a little boy died after two bombs inside a vehicle went off.[28]

There was an undetermined number of wounded and heavy material losses, not only from art pieces from the National Palace, but from all the surrounding buildings, particularly in the Lucky Building, which was right across the Presidential Office.[29][Note 4]

The attacks against private financial, commercial, and agricultural targets increased in the Lucas Garcia years, as the leftist Marxist groups saw those institutions as "reactionaries" and "millionaire exploiters" that were collaborating with the "genocidal government".[30] The following is a non-exhaustive list of the terrorist attacks that occurred in Guatemala city and are presented in the UN Commission report:

Date Perpetrator Target Result
15 September 1981 Rebel Army Forces Corporación Financiera Nacional (CORFINA) Car bomb damaged the building and neighbor Guatemalan and international financial institutions; there were more than Q300k in losses.[31]
19 October 1981 EGP Urban guerilla Industrial Bank Financial Center Building sabotage.[32]
21 December 1981 EGP "Otto René Castillo" commando Bombs against newly built structures: Chamber of Industry, Torre Panamericana (Bank of Coffee headquarters) and Industrial Bank Financial Center Car bombs completely destroyed the buildings windows.[32]
28 December de 1981 EGP "Otto René Castillo" commando Industrial Bank Financial Center Car bomb against the building which virtually destroyed one of the bank towers.[Note 5]

Overpass constructions

Guatemala City started growing uncontrollably after the 1976 earthquake, which led to serious transit problems, especially at rush hour. To help with this situation, City Hall started building overpasses; the first ever was the Tecún Umán overpass, that connects zones 8, 9 and 13. The structure has four concrete bridges and a freeway exchange transit system. The overpass was built in three phases, beginning in October 1991 and completing on 31 August 1993.[33]

21st century

Tropical storm Agatha

In 2010 Guatemala City was impacted by tropical storm Agatha, which cause an extreme amount of rain over a very short period. The sewage system collapse creating a large sinkhole that practically swallowed a complete house, killing its three occupants.[34] The piping feature, of larger dimensions than a street intersection, engulfed a three story building and a house (14°39′7.50″N 90°30′21.5″W / 14.6520833°N 90.505972°W / 14.6520833; -90.505972{{#coordinates:14|39|7.50|N|90|30|21.5|W| | |name= }}).[35] This 2010 piping feature was at least 18 m (60 ft) wide and 60 m (200 ft) deep.[36] The distance between the 2010 piping feature and the 2007 piping feature is about Script error: No such module "convert".. Geologists Sam Bonis and T. Waltham argue that the recurring piping features in Guatemala City are caused by sewer leaks eroding the soft volcanic deposits that form the floor of the Valle de la Ermita.[37][38]

Pacaya volcano eruption of 2010

Four volcanoes are visible from Guatemala City, and two of them are active. The closest and most active is Pacaya volcano, which often expels large amounts of ash and rocks, the others are Volcán de Fuego, Volcán Acatenango and Volcán de Agua. On the night of 27 May 2010, Pacaya volcano erupted; the ash column reached 1500 m above the crater and severely impact the city and three adjacent regions. The International Airport had to remain closed for five days due to the falling ash, rain and poor visibility conditions.[39] The Guatemalan Emergency and Disaster response team declared a red alert for those communities nead the volcano and urged them to evacuate.[39]

The eruption caused two deaths, [40] being Guatemalan news channel Noti-7 reporter Aníbal Archila one of them; Archila was one of the first reporters to arrive to the scene. President Álvaro Colom declared State of Emergency and the Secretary of Education suspended classes in the affected regions: Guatemala, Escuintla and Sacatepéquez. The Congress ratified the State Emergency on 1 June 2010.[40]

Contemporary times

File:Guatemala City (663).jpg
Guatemala City from Carretera an El Salvador

Guatemala City serves as the economic, governmental, and cultural epicenter of the nation of Guatemala. The city also functions as Guatemala's main transportation hub, hosting an international airport, La Aurora International Airport, and serving as the origination or end points for most of Guatemala's major highways. The city, with its robust economy, attracts hundreds of thousands of rural migrants from Guatemala's interior hinterlands and serves as the main entry point for most foreign immigrants seeking to settle in Guatemala.

In addition to a wide variety of restaurants, hotels, shops, and a modern BRT transport system (Transmetro), the city is home to many art galleries, theaters, sports venues and museums (including some fine collections of Pre-Columbian art) and provides a growing number of cultural offerings. Guatemala City not only possesses a history and culture unique to the Central American region, it also furnishes all the modern amenities of a world class city, ranging from an IMAX Theater to the Ícaro film festival (Festival Ícaro), where independent films produced in Guatemala and Central America are debuted.


Despite its location in the tropics, Guatemala City’s relatively high altitude moderates average temperatures, which results in a subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb). Guatemala City is generally mild, almost springlike, throughout the course of the year. It occasionally gets warm during the dry season, but not as hot and humid as in the cities located at sea level. The hottest month is April. The rainy season extends from May to October, coinciding with the tropical storm and hurricane season in the western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, while the dry season extends from November to April. The city can at times be windy, which also leads to lower ambient temperatures.

The average annual temperature ranges from Script error: No such module "convert". during the day, and Script error: No such module "convert". at night.

Average morning relative humidity: 82%, evening relative humidity: 58%. Average dew point is Script error: No such module "convert"..[41]

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This page is a soft redirect. Climate data for Guatemala City (1990–2011)
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This page is a soft redirect.Source: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia, e Hidrologia [42]

Structure and growth

File:Guatemala city aerial night b.JPG
Evening view from a plane

Guatemala City is subdivided into 22 zones designed by the urban engineering of Raúl Aguilar Batres, each one with its own streets and avenues, making it pretty easy to find addresses in the city. Zones are numbered 1-25 with Zones 20, 22 and 23 not existing as they would have fallen in two other municipalities territory.[43] Addresses are assigned according to the street or avenue number, followed by a dash and the number of meters it is away from the intersection further simplifying address location. The zones are assigned in a spiral form starting in downtown Guatemala city.

The city's metro area has recently grown very rapidly and has absorbed most of the neighboring municipalities of Villa Nueva, San Miguel Petapa, Mixco, San Juan Sacatepequez, San José Pinula, Santa Catarina Pinula, Fraijanes, San Pedro Ayampuc, Amatitlán, Villa Canales, Palencia and Chinautla forming what is now known as the Guatemala City Metropolitan Area.

Zone One is the Historic Center, (Centro Histórico), lying in the very heart of the city, the location of many important historic buildings including the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura (National Palace of Culture), the Metropolitan Cathedral, the National Congress, the Casa Presidencial (Presidential House), the National Library and Plaza de la Constitución (Constitution Plaza, old Central Park). Efforts to revitalize this important part of the city have been undertaken by the municipal government and have been very successful thus far.

C.C. Miraflores

In an attempt to control rapid growth of the city, the municipal government (Municipalidad de Guatemala) headed by longtime Mayor Álvaro Arzú, has implemented a plan to control its growth based on transects along its important arterial roads and exhibitting Transit-oriented development (TOD) characteristics. This plan denominated POT (Plan de Ordenamiento Territorial) aims to allow taller building structures of mixed uses to be built next to large arterial roads and gradually decline in height and density as you move away from such. It is also worth mentioning, that due to the Airport being in the city, to the south, many Aeronautic Height Limits have been applied to the construction code. This limits the maximum height for a building, at 60 Meters in Zone 10, up to 95 Meters in Zone 1.[43]

The city is located in the South-Central area of the country and has a lot of green areas.[1] Besides the parks, the city offers a portfolio of entertainment in the region, focused on the so-called Zona Viva and the Calzada Roosevelt as well as four degrees North. The activity of Casinos is considerable and possesses several located in different parts of the Zona Viva, although East market is still in the stage of initiation, although the date has been restructuring this area and is becoming more modern.

One of the most outstanding mayors was the engineer Martin Prado Vélez, who took over in 1949, and ruled the city during the reformist Presidents Juan José Arévalo and Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, although he was not a member of the ruling party at the time and was elected due his well known capabilities. Of cobanero origin, married with Marta Cobos, he studied at the University of San Carlos; under his tenure, among other modernist works of the city, it was planned the El Incienso bridge, the construction of the Roosevelt Avenue, the main road axis from East to West of the city, the town hall building, and numerous road works which meant the widening of the colonial city, its order in the cardinal points and the generation of a ring road with the first Shamrock in the main city of Central America.[17]

In the financial district are the tallest buildings in the country including: Club Premier, Tinttorento, Atlantis building, Atrium, Tikal Futura, Building of Finances, Towers Building Batteries, Torres Botticelli, Tadeus, building of the INTECAP, Royal Towers, Towers Geminis, Industrial Bank towers, Holiday Inn Hotel, Premier of the Americas, among many others to be used for offices, apartments etc. Also include projects such as Zona Pradera and Interamerica´s World Financial Center The location of the La Aurora international airport within the city limits the construction of skyscrapers, changing the limits permitted directly by its location within the urban area.

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Skyline of the zone 14 or residential buildings zone.


File:Guatemala City, Guatemala.JPG
Aerial View of Guatemala City

According to the 2002 census, the Guatemala City metropolitan area had a population of 2.3 million, making it the most populous urban agglomeration in Central America.[44] The growth of the city's population has been robust since then, abetted by the mass migration of Guatemalans from the rural hinterlands to the largest and most vibrant regional economy in Guatemala.[3] The inhabitants of Guatemala City are incredibly diverse given the size of the city, with those of Spanish and Mestizo descent being the most numerous.[3] Guatemala City also has sizable indigenous populations, divided among the 23 distinct Mayan groups present in Guatemala. The numerous Mayan languages are now spoken in certain quarters of Guatemala City, making the city a linguistically rich area. Foreigners and foreign immigrants comprise the final distinct group of Guatemala City inhabitants, representing a very small minority among the city's citizens.[3]

Due to mass migration from impoverished rural districts wracked with political instability, Guatemala City's population has exploded since the 1970s, severely straining the existing bureaucratic and physical infrastructure of the city. As a result chronic traffic congestion, shortages of safe potable water in some areas of the city, and a sudden and prolonged surge in crime have become perennial problems. The infrastructure, although continuing to grow and improve in some areas,[45] it is lagging in relation to the increasing population of those less fortunate.[46] Guatemala City is not unique in facing and tackling problems all too common among rapidly expanding cities around the world.


Guatemala City is headquarters to many communications and telecom companies, among them Tigo, Claro-Telgua, and Movistar-Telefónica. These companies also offer cable television, internet services and telephone access. In direct consequence of Guatemala City's large and concentrated consumer base in comparison to the rest of the country, these telecom and communications companies provide most of their services and offerings within the confines of the city. There are also seven local television channels, in addition to numerous international channels. The international channels range from children's programming channels like Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel to more adult offerings such as E! and HBO. While most international programming is dominated by entertainment offerings from the United States, most domestic programming is dominated by entertainment offerings from Mexico. Due to its small and relatively income-restricted domestic market, Guatemala City produces very little in the way of its own programming outside of local news and sports.

Economy and Finance

Guatemala City, as the capital, is home to Guatemala's central bank, from which Guatemala's monetary and fiscal policies are formulated and promulgated. Guatemala City is also headquarters to numerous regional private banks, among them CitiBank, Banco Agromercantil, Banco Promerica, Banco Industrial, Banco GyT Continental, Banco de Antigua, Banco Reformador, Banrural, Grupo Financiero de Occidente, BAC Credomatic, and Banco Internacional. By far the richest and most powerful regional economy within Guatemala, Guatemala City is the largest market for goods and services, which provides the greatest number of investment opportunities for public and private investors in all of Guatemala. Financing for these investments is provided by the regional private banks, as well as by foreign direct and capital investment, mostly from the United States. Guatemala City's ample consumer base and sophisticated service sector is represented by the large department store chains present in the city, among them Siman, Hiper Paiz & Paiz (Walmart), Price Smart, ClubCo, Cemaco, Sears, and Office Depot.

Places of interest by zones

Guatemala City is divided into 22 zones in accordance with the urban layout plan designed by Raúl Aguilar Batres. Each zone has its own streets and avenues, facilitating navigation within the city. Zones are numbered 1 through 25. However, numbers 20, 22 and 23 have not been designated to zones, thus these zones do not exist within the city proper.[43]

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Zone Main places Pictures
Zone 1
File:Teatro Nacional Guatemala.jpg
Guatemala National Theater.
Zone 2
  • Guatemala Relief Map[47]
  • "Hipódromo del Norte" park
  • "Simeón Cañas" Avenue
  • "Enrique Torrebiarte" Baseball Stadium
Relief Map of Guatemala.
Zone 3
  • Guatemala City General cemetery
Zone 4
  • "La Terminal" market
  • "El Triángulo" building
Zone 5
Zone 6
Zone 7
  • Sitio arqueológico de Kaminaljuyú
  • Parque deportivo "Erick Barrondo" (La Democracia)
  • Peri-Roosevelt mall′
  • Megacentro mall
Zona 9
Zona 10
Zona 11
File:Grand Tikal Futura Hotel.jpg
Hotel Tikal Futura, zona 11.
Zona 12
File:Rectoria USAC.jpg
University of San Carlos Central Campus.
Zona 13
Zona 14
  • Centro Recreativo Universitario Los Arcos
  • Las Américas Avenue
  • La Canada park
  • La Pradera mall
  • Gerentes de Guatemala Association (AGG)
Zona 15
Zona 16
File:Edificios URL.JPG
Universidad Rafael Landívar


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Zona 14 skyline -also known as Zone of apartment buildings-.


  • Public transport is provided by buses and supplemented by a BRT system. The three main highways that bisect and serve Guatemala start in the city. (CA9 Transoceanic Highway - Puerto San Jose to Puerto Santo Tomas de Castilla-, CA1 Panamerican Highway - from the Mexican border to Salvadorian border - and to Peten.) Construction of freeways and underpasses by the municipal government, the implementation of reversible lanes during peak rush-hour traffic, as well as the establishment of the Department of Metropolitan Transit Police (PMT), has helped improve traffic flow in the city. Despite these municipal efforts, the Guatemala City metropolitan area still faces growing traffic congestion.
  • A BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system called Transmetro, consisting of special-purpose lanes for high-capacity buses, began operating in 2007, and aimed to improve traffic flow in the city through the implementation of an efficient mass transit system. The system currently consists of two lines. In the future, it is expected to be made up of around 10 lines, with some over-capacity expected lines considered to be made Light Metro or Heavy Metro.

Traditional buses are now required to discharge passengers at central stations at the city's edge to board the Transmetro. This is being implemented as new Transmetro lines become established. In conjunction with the new mass transit implementation in the city, there is also a prepaid bus card system called Transurbano that is being implemented in the metro area to limit cash handling for the transportation system. A new fleet of buses tailored for this system has been purchased from a Brazilian firm.

Universities and schools

Guatemala City is home to ten universities, among them the oldest institution of higher education in Central America, the University of San Carlos of Guatemala. Founded in 1676, the Universidad de San Carlos is older than all North American universities save for Harvard University.

The other nine institutions of higher education to be found in Guatemala City includethe Universidad Mariano Gálvez, the Universidad Panamericana, the Universidad Mesoamericana, the Universidad Rafael Landivar, the Universidad Francisco Marroquín, the Universidad del Valle, the Universidad del Istmo, Universidad Galileo, and the Universidad Rural. Whereas these nine named universities are private, the Universidad de San Carlos remains the only public institution of higher learning.


Guatemala City possesses several sportsgrounds and is home to many sports clubs. Association football is the most popular sport, with CSD Municipal, Aurora FC and Comunicaciones being the main clubs. The Estadio Mateo Flores, located in the Zone 5 of the city, is the largest stadium in the country, followed in capacity by the Estadio Cementos Progreso, Estadio del Ejército & Estadio El Trébol . An important multi-functional hall is the Domo Polideportivo de la CDAG.

The city has hosted several promotional functions and some international sports events: in 1950 it hosted the VI Central American and Caribbean Games, and in 2000 the FIFA Futsal World Championship. On July 4, 2007 the International Olympic Committee gathered in Guatemala City and voted Sochi to become the host for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.[52] In April 2010, it hosted the XIVth Pan-American Mountain Bike Championships.[53]

Guatemala City hosted the 2008 edition of the CONCACAF Futsal Championship, played at the Domo Polideportivo from June 2 to June 8, 2008.[54]

Geological and Climactic Extremes

Volcanic activity

Four stratovolcanoes are visible from the city, two of them active. The nearest and most active is Pacaya, which at times erupts a considerable amount of ash.[55] These volcanoes lie to the south of the Valle de la Ermita, providing a natural barrier between Guatemala City and the Pacific lowlands that define the southern regions of Guatemala. Agua, Fuego, Pacaya and Acatenango comprise a line of 33 stratovolcanoes that stretches across the breadth of Guatemala, from the Salvadorian border to the Mexican border.


Lying on the Ring of Fire, the Guatemalan highlands and the Valle de la Ermita are frequently shaken by large earthquakes. The last large tremor to hit the Guatemala City region occurred in the 1976, on the Motagua Fault, a left-lateral strike-slip fault that forms the boundary between the Caribbean Plate and the North American Plate. The 1976 event registered a 7.5 on the moment magnitude scale. Smaller, less severe tremors are frequently felt in Guatemala City and environs.


Torrential downpours, similar to the more famous monsoons, occur frequently in the Valle de la Ermita during the rainy season, leading to flash floods that sometimes inundate the city. Due to these heavy rainfalls, some of the slums perched on the steep edges of the canyons that criss-cross the Valle de la Ermita are washed away and buried under mudslides, as in October 2005.[56] Tropical waves, tropical storms and hurricanes sometimes strike the Guatemalan highlands, which also bring torrential rains to the Guatemala City region and trigger these deadly mudslides.

Piping pseudokarst

File:Guatemala City 2010 sinkhole 1.jpg
The 2010 sinkhole in Zona 2

In February 2007, a very large, deep circular hole with vertical walls opened in northeastern Guatemala city (14°39′1.40″N 90°29′25″W / 14.6503889°N 90.49028°W / 14.6503889; -90.49028{{#coordinates:14|39|1.40|N|90|29|25|W| | |name= }}), killing five people. This hole, which is classified by geologists as either a "piping feature" or "piping pseudokarst", was Script error: No such module "convert". deep, and apparently was created by fluid from a sewer eroding the lose volcanic ash, limestone, and other pyroclastic deposits that underlie Guatemala City.[37][57] As a result, one thousand people were evacuated from the area.[58] The piping feature has since been mitigated by City Hall by giving proper maintenance to the collection system[1] and plans to develop the site have been proposed. However, critics believe municipal authorities have neglected needed maintenance on the city's aging sewerage system, and have speculated that more piping features are likely to develop unless action is taken.[59]

Panoramic views of Guatemala City

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Panoramic view of Guatemala City.

International organizations with headquarters in Guatemala City

International relations

Twin towns — sister cities

Guatemala City is twinned with:

  1. REDIRECT Template:Country data Honduras San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Notable residents

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Municipalidad de Guatemala 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 INE 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 INE 2013, p. 13.
  4. Population data 2013.
  5. Sharer & Traxler 2006, p. 194-195.
  6. Moncada Maya n.d..
  7. Baily 1850, p. 72.
  8. Meléndez Chaverri 2000, pp. 235-237.
  9. Rosales Flores 2015.
  10. González Davison 2008.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Guateantaño 17 October 2011.
  12. González Davison 2008, p. 430.
  13. González Davison 2008, p. 432.
  14. Conkling 1884, p. 343.
  15. Guateantaño 17 October.
  16. Álvarez Arévalo 2015.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Morán Mérida 1994, p. 9.
  18. Bascome Jones, Scoullar & Soto Hall 1915.
  19. Almengor 1994, p. 3.
  20. Barrios Vital 2006, p. 38.
  21. Mundo Chapín 2013.
  22. Morán Mérida 1994, p. 11.
  23. Dary Fuentes 1994.
  24. Morán Mérida 1994, p. 10.
  25. Figueroa 2011.
  26. 26.0 26.1 El Periódico 2012.
  27. La Hora 2013.
  28. La otra memoria histórica 2011.
  29. Prensa Libre 1980.
  30. Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico: Vol. IV 1999, p. Sección 256.
  31. Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico: Vol. IV 1999, p. Sección 253.
  32. 32.0 32.1 Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico: Vol. IV 1999, p. Sección 252.
  33. Municipalidad de Guatemala August 2008.
  34. El País 2010.
  35. Walker 2010.
  36. Sydney Morning Herald 2010.
  37. 37.0 37.1 Waltham 2008, p. 291-300.
  38. Reilly 2 June 2010.
  39. 39.0 39.1 Assardo 2010.
  40. 40.0 40.1 Diario de Navarra 2010.
  41. Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Guatemala City, Guatemala
  42. "Ministerio de comunicaciones Infraestructura y Vivienda". Retrieved 25 December 2012. 
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 Municipalidad de Guatemala 2008.
  44. "Guatemala: metropolitan areas". World Gazeteer. Archived from the original on 5 Jan 2013. Retrieved 2010-02-24. 
  45. Morán Mérida 1994, p. 14.
  46. Morán Mérida 1994, p. 14-17.
  47. FUNTEC n.d..
  48. Museo Ixchel 2008.
  49. Nature Reserse 2005.
  50. De Guate n.d..
  51. Zoológico La Aurora n.d..
  52. rga-online, Remscheid, Germany. "Topnews - Sport - Remscheid: Remscheider General-Anzeiger / rga-online ...weil wir hier zu Hause sind!". Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  53. XIVth Pan-American Mountain Bike Championships
  54. [1]
  55. "MTU-VP Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala". 1995-06-01. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  56. Carlos, Juan (2005-10-07). "Mudslide in Guatemala kills dozens | The San Diego Union-Tribune". Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  57. Halliday 2007, p. 103-113.
  58. David L Miller (2009-07-04). "Massive Guatemala Sinkhole Kills 2 Teens". CBS News. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  59. Constantino Diaz-Duran (2010-06-01). "Sinkhole in Guatemala City Might Not Be the Last". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  60. "Mapa Mundi de las ciudades hermanadas". Ayuntamiento de Madrid. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  61. "Taipei - International Sister Cities". Taipei City Council. Archived from the original on 2012-11-02. Retrieved 2013-08-23. 
  62. Estey, Myles. "A generation of young artists is gaining recognition for their gritty depictions of the modern realities of the Central American nation." Global Post. 15 Aug 2011. Retrieved 11 Feb 2012.
  63. Newsweek 2005, p. 4.


External links


  1. González Davison (2008). op.cit. Ms. Silva was a professional actreess and singer who had taught Rafael Carrera how to behave, write, read and sing. 
  2. Named after Joaquina Cabrera, the late President's mother.
  3. Meza, César (1944). Guatemala y el seguro social obligatorio (Estudio Médicosocial) (in Spanish). Guatemala: Tesis de la Facultad de Ciencias Médicas de la Universidad Nacional. 75% of the houses were made out of wood, and 67% of them had no floor; 97.8% had deficient zinc roofing while 90.6% had no running water, 21.5% lacked a sanitary system and 71.1% lacked any kind of underground sewage. 
  4. Among the deceased was Domingo Sánchez, Secretary of Agriculture drive; Joaquín Díaz y Díaz, car washer; and Amilcar de Paz, security guard.
  5. In a sign of defiance, the bank did not repair the windows immediately and continued operating as normally as it could.
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