Info Guatemala City


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 part of the country, nestled in a mountain valley called, in Spanish, Valle de la Ermita. Guatemala City metropolitan population is believed to have reached at least 4.5 million in 2013.

Guatemala City became the capital after Antigua Guatemala had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1773. Guatemala City is the largest and most modern city in Guatemala. Guatemala City has attractions and restaurants, often with few tourists. Sunday evenings' gatherings of hundreds of locals at the main plaza is certainly an unforgettable experience.

POPULATION :  City: 2,110,100 / Metro: 4,500,000
FOUNDED :   1776
TIME ZONE :  Central America (UTC-6)
LANGUAGE :  Spanish 60%, Amerindian languages 40%
RELIGION :  Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs
AREA :  692 km2 (267 sq mi)
ELEVATION :  1,500 m (4,900 ft)
COORDINATES :  14°36′48″N 90°32′7″W
SEX RATIO :  Male: 48.77%  
 Female: 51.23%
ETHNIC :  Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish - in local Spanish called Ladino) and European 59.4%, K'iche 9.1%, Kaqchikel 8.4%, Mam 7.9%, Q'eqchi 6.3%, other 8.9%
DIALING CODE :  +502 2


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. 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 theMotagua Fault, a left-lateral strike-slip fault that forms the boundary between the Caribbean Plate and theNorth American Plate. The 1976 event registered 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.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.


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.


Humans have long inhabited and settled in the areas in and around modern-day Guatemala City. Upon the advent of agriculture, some of these early Neolithic settlements grew to become large, stratified cities. Testimony of this can be seen in the western suburbs of Guatemala City, where the ruins of the central ceremonial center of the Preclassic Maya city of Kaminaljuyu are located.

Archeological evidence demonstrates that Kaminaljuyu was first occupied by the Maya around 1500 BC, with the site being continuously inhabited until around 1200 AD.

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. On September 27, 1775, King Charles III of Spain officiated at the moving of the capital. This move to a location at a significant distance from the volcanoes believed to have caused the earthquake dramatically increased the potential for expansion of the city. The new city was given the name Nueva Guatemala (New Guatemala).

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, with the towers being 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.


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. 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. 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.

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.

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.

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".