city of Cobán is the capital of the department of Alta Verapaz in central Guatemala.
It also serves as the administrative center
for the surrounding Cobán municipality. It is located
219 km from Guatemala
In 2005 the city's estimated population was 86,202. The population
of the municipality, which covers a total terrain of 1312 km²,
was 94,000 people. Cobán, at a height of 1320 m above sea level
, is located at the center of a major
The city was founded by Dominican
in 1543. It received the
title of an imperial city by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
The name Cobán originates from the Q'eqchi'
. There are several
interpretations, one of which is Cob An
(foggy place). In
1599 Cobán became bishop's see. The Ferrocarril Verapaz, a railway
which connected Cobán with Lake Izabal, operated from 1895 until 1963 and was a symbol for
the wealth in this coffee-growing region those days.
Germans in Cobán
"Rabin Ahau" festival 1979
The city was developed by German
growers towards the end of the 19th century and was operated as a
largely independent dominion until WWII
. In 1888 a German club was founded
and in 1935 a German school opened its
doors in Cobán. Until 1930, about 2000 Germans populated the city
. In 1941, all Germans were expelled by the
government, lead at the time by Jorge
Ubico. Some say the reason was pressure from the
It has been suggested Ubico's motivation
was to seize control of the vast amounts of land Germans owned in
the area. . Many ended up in internment camps in Texas and were
later traded for American POW's held in Germany.
sizable resident German population persists though most having been
completely assimilated into the Guatemalan culture through
intermarriage. Multiple German architectonical elements can still
be appreciated throughout Cobán.
Each year at the end of July, a festival of Guatemala's native
peoples is held here, La Fiesta Nacional Indígena de
(Festival Folklórico). The festivities include a
women, the winner of which is crowned with the title "Rabin Ahau",
which means "the Daughter of the King" in Q'eqchi'. The dominant
ethnicity here is Q'eqchi
mayan and the
language of Q'eqchi
is widely spoken in
town, especially in an around the markets where farmers from the
surrounding hills sell their products.The departmental fair is held
in Cobán and begins on the last Sunday in July and continues for a
week. Every year the International
of Cobán is held during the
month of May, 4,000 runners gather in Cobán to take part of the
event that has become the landmark event for the region.
religious festival (fiesta titular) is on August 4 and dedicated to Santo Domingo de
Cobán is surrounded by mountains laden with orchids
, the rare Monja
orchid is the departmental symbol. Nature reserves in or near Cobán include
National Park, San José la Colonia National
Park, Laguna Lachuá National Park, and Biotopo Mario Dary Rivera.
There can be found multiple caves, waterfalls and forests which are
home to the rare Quetzal
. Thus, Cobán has
become a popular spot for eco-tourism.
Attractions in town
Popular tourist spots in the city of Cobán include the El Calvario Church
, the Dieseldorff coffee plantation
the Principe Maya
, and Coban's central plaza.
- Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala