Guatemala City, Guatemala

Guatemala City, Guatemala

According to abbreviationfinder, Guatemala City is the economic and governmental capital of Guatemala. In 2020, its metropolitan area has a population of 3.7 million residents.


Despite its size, Guatemala has a great climatic and biological variety as a result of its mountainous relief that ranges from 0 meters to 4220 masl (meters above sea level). This encourages the country to have such varied ecosystems, ranging from the mangroves of the Pacific wetlands to the high mountain cloud forests.

It limits to the west and north with Mexico, to the east with Belize and the Gulf of Honduras, to the southeast with Honduras and El Salvador, and to the south with the Pacific Ocean.

The country has 108,889 km² (the Republic of Guatemala maintains a territorial difference with Belize, for 12,000 km²).

Its capital is Guatemala City, officially called Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción.

Its indigenous population makes up a third of the country’s population. The official language is Spanish, it also has 23 Mayan languages, the Xinka language and Garífuna, which is spoken by the Afro-descendant population.

Foundation and history

The city was founded in what was Iximché, the resistance of the Cackchiqueles to the Spanish mistreatment made enough weight to consider the transfer of the city, Almolonga.

The 22 of November of 1527 the city sits on Almolonga Valley in the foothills of the Volcan de Agua. This occurs just three years after the city was founded in Iximché.

The chronicles and stories of the time relate the surprise of the colonizers when they discovered this valley, with a pleasant climate, fertile land and nearby water sources, Pedro de Alvarado (who was in Spain) absent, the transfer was made by brother Jorge of Alvarado.

A storm that refused to leave rained for several days on the region, where the current of water from the Agua Volcano swept through the city on September 11, 1541.

Pedro de Alvarado had already been killed by the horse of an inexperienced Spaniard in full flight. Agonized for several days died 4 of July of 1541 (two months before the destruction of Almolonga).

The 16 of March of 1543 the city settled in the Valley of Panchoy, what is now La Antigua Guatemala.

The region appears in the chroniclers’ accounts as a noble place, of great beauty and surrounded by natural beauty with nearby drinking water sources. Once the city was built on the site, it was called “the most beautiful in America.”

Two hundred years the capital remained in the place until in 1773 the earthquakes of Santa Marta destroyed the city.

Between agreements, protests and resistance, after the city was destroyed in Panchoy, the city moved in 1776 to the Valley of the Virgin to form Guatemala de la Asunción. Panchoy, now La Antigua Guatemala, was a set of (beautiful) ruins witnesses of a proud past as a city.

Many neighbors, including entire religious orders, refused to move and tried to rebuild. For this reason some buildings were demolished by authorities to discourage their reconstruction and thus ensure the transfer.

The checkerboard urban layout is striking, following the tradition of all the country’s cities: Avenues from north to south, streets from east to west. At the beginning of the 20th century (1917 – 1918), Guatemala City was on the verge of disappearing due to a series of consecutive earthquakes.


The altitude exceeds 1,400 meters, so there is a great variety of microclimates in the most populated regions. In this region the rains are notably reduced, since the air masses have largely dried up as they rise.

The maximums are obtained from May to October. In the other months the rains are scarce. Temperatures vary enormously with altitude. Here the lowest values of the country are registered. The average temperature is 20º C.

The equatorial forest here is highly degraded and savanna-type formations appear.

Location and structure

It is the largest city in the country and in Central America, it is located on a plateau 1500 meters above sea level, about 80 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by valleys and ravines, and enjoys a quite pleasant climate, sometimes very warm.

Guatemala City attracts a constant flow of visitors not so much because of its tourist interest (it has lost almost all the vestiges of its past due to the constant earthquakes that the country periodically suffers), but because it is the administrative, industrial and of transportation in the country.

The city is subdivided into fifteen zones, each of which in turn has its own perfect grid organization. Although there are almost no colonial-style buildings left, the Plaza Mayor (Zone 1) is preserved, a paradigmatic example of the typical Spanish colonial city converted into a commercial and representative center of the capital.

Next to the Plaza are the National Palace (future museum of natural history) and the Metropolitan Cathedral, with two twin towers. After the 1976 earthquake, which destroyed the old market building, the current Central Market was built, a huge shopping center specialized in tourist objects.

Zone 1 lives the moment of splendor every Sunday, when overflowing with Guatemalans walking, listening to music, talking in the sun, or looking at stores. In this area you will find most of the cheapest hotels and hostels.

While the most elegant restaurants and nightlife are concentrated in the so-called Zona Viva, Zone 10 brings together the great hotels and the main museums of the city – such as the Popol Vuh Museum (with a private collection of Mayan art and Spanish colonial art) and the Ixchel Museum (dedicated to the artistic works of the indigenous peoples of the Guatemalan highlands)

Zone 13 houses the National Museum of Archeology and Ethnology and the admirable collection of Mayan objects, as well as the National Museum of Modern Art, which has a collection of national art from the 20th century.

Also noteworthy in Guatemala City are the beautiful and relaxing Minerva Park (north of Zone 1) and the ruins of Kaminaljuyú, west of the center, a vast Mayan site from the late pre-classic and early classic periods partially devoured by the growing city. In addition, the University of San Carlos, founded in 1676, is one of the oldest in America.


Guatemala City has an active cultural life. Most of the country’s museums are located here, in addition to galleries and exhibitions of paintings, photographs, prints, sculptures by Guatemalan artists, the theaters also present a wide range of works by Guatemalan playwrights. See population of Guatemala.

The so-called Live Zone is home to the main dance, music and entertainment venues, as well as restaurants and hotels in the city.


In the city, the patronal feast is on August 15 in honor of the Virgin of La Asunción, patron saint of the City.

Likewise, the celebration of Holy Week becomes relevant due to the processional steps of the Catholic churches.

Places of interest

Visitors with an interest in handicrafts will find them in the Central Market, located one block from the Cathedral. At the Central Market you will not only find unique Guatemalan handicrafts, but you will also see a colorful variety of local flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

The Relief Map of the Minerva Park is a good place to observe the extension of Guatemala. One point of interest in the city is the Reformer Tower, with a certain grotesque resemblance to the Eiffel Tower (in Paris).


Guatemala City was rebuilt according to new construction and urbanization models after a series of earthquakes that occurred between 1874 and 1918. The northern part of the city was again badly damaged during another major earthquake in 1976 and new buildings were erected in the southern part of the city.

Talking about the country where you were born is talking about its culture, traditions, folklore and the quality of its people. Guatemala is a country rich in languages, tourist places and with a story worth telling.

The capital city of Guatemala is the most modern and cosmopolitan city in Central America. Fast-paced and vibrant, Guatemala City (or Guate as it is known locally) is a mix of old and new and possesses a distinct Latin charm.

Today Guatemala City has two and a half million residents, its geographical location and the facilities of the international airport “La Aurora” make it the starting point for visits to the rest of Guatemala.

Guatemala City, Guatemala

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