Guatemala City (in full,
La Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción; locally known
as Guatemala or Guate), is the
capital and largest city of the
Republic of Guatemala. It is also the capital city of the local
Department and the largest city in Central America and the
The city is located at , in a mountain valley called Valle de la Ermita
in the south central
part of the country.
As of the 2002 census, the city had a population of 2.5 million.
However, it has grown in excessive amounts throughout recent years.
The current population estimates encompassing the city's metro area
are of 7.2 million. Guatemalans have a diversity of origins, with
Spanish and Mestizo descent being the most common. Guatemala City
also has a sizeable Indigenous population and minority groups such
as Germans and other Europeans, Jewish, Koreans, and many gruops
from other Latin American country origins.
Guatemala City's population has experienced drastic growth since
the 1970s with the influx of indigenous migrants from the outlying
departments as well as a large influx of foreign groups.
Despite its location in the tropics
many micro climates found within the country, Guatemala City's
elevation and the resulting moderating influence of the higher
altitude, enables Guatemala City to enjoy a subtropical highland climate
Guatemala City is generally mild, almost springlike, throughout the
course of the year. It occasionally gets warm during the dry
season, but it is nowhere near as hot as other sea-level cities
located in the tropics. The rainy season extends from May to
October while the dry season covers the remainder of the
Its average annual temperature is 19°C (67 °F): 23°C (74°F) during
the day and 15°C (59 °F) at night. Sleet and freezing temperatures
are practically nonexistent here.
Average morning relative humidity
82%, evening relative humidity: 58%. Average Dew Point is 13°C
confines of modern Guatemala City is the ancient Maya city of
Metropolitan Cultural Centre (old
National Post Office Building).
Kaminaljuyu dates back some 9,000 years and
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
In Spanish colonial times, Guatemala City was a small town. It had
a monastery called El Carmen
, founded in 1629.
capital of the Spanish Captaincy General of
Guatemala, covering most of modern Central America, was moved here after a
series of earthquakes - beginning on July 29, 1773 - destroyed the
old capital, Antigua
September 27, 1775, King
Charles III of Spain
officialized the moving of the capital.
This dramatically increased the potential for expansion of the
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
Guatemala City is the economic, governmental and cultural capital
of the Republic, and economic capital of Central America and the
Caribbean. The city also functions as the main port of
entry into the country, with Central America's largest
international airport, La Aurora International Airport.
In addition to a wide variety of
restaurants, hotels and shops, the city has a wide variety of art
galleries and museums (including some fine collections of Pre-Columbian
art) and continually offers an
increasing amount of cultural activities.
Structure and growth
Guatemala City from air.
Guatemala City is subdivided into 20 zones designed by the urban
engineering of Raúl Aguilar
, each one with its own streets and avenues, making it
very easy to find addresses in the city. Zones are number 1-19 and
then 21, with Zone 20 not yet existing. The city metro area
has grown so fast in the past years that it has absorbed most of
the neighboring municipalities, including Villa Nueva, Santa
Catarina Pinula, Mixco, and the
suburban area of Carretera a El
Salvador, currently a large commercial and residential focal
point of the city's metro area.
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.
In an attempt to control rapid growth of the city, the municipal
government (Municipalidad de Guatemala) headed by long time Mayor
, has implemented a
plan to control its growth based on transects along its important
arterial roads. 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.
Places of interest by zones
Catedral Metropolitana, Guatemala
- Mapa en Relieve (giant map of Guatemala) and
Main square with the National Palace
Monument to Pope John Paul II.
newly renovated and expanded La Aurora
International Airport lies in the southern part of the city and is the
main gateway to the country.
- Urban public transportation is provided mainly by bus and
recently supplemented with a BRT System. Guatemala City is the spot
where the 5 main highways of the country start. (Highway to the
Atlantic, to El Salvador, to the Coast, to the Altiplano and to
Peten.) The construction of freeways and underpasses by the
municipal government, the implementation of reversible lanes during
peak rush hour traffic flows, as well as the establishment of the
Department of Metropolitan Transit Police (PMT) has helped traffic
flow in the city, however, the Guatemalan metropolitan area still
faces a growing transportation problem. A new BRT (Bus Rapid
Transit) system called Transmetro,
consisting of special-purpose lanes for high-capacity buses, began
operating in 2007 and aims to improve traffic flow in the city
through the implementation of an efficient mass transit system. The
first line (Eje Sur) is proving to be a success and work has begun
on a second central line (Eje Central).  This
may also lay the base for the possibility of a light rail system in
the future. 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 trasit implementation in the city,
there is also a prepaid bus card system that is being implemented
in the metro area to limit cash handeling for the trasportation
Universities and Schools
There are 10 universities, Universidad Mariano Gálvez, Universidad
Panamericana, Universidad Mesoamericana, Universidad Rafael
, Universidad del Valle
Universidad del Istmo, Universidad
, Universidad Rural and Universidad de San
, the only public one and third oldest university in
America. The city also has 2 of the most expensive schools in
Central America, The American School of Guatemala and The Mayan
Estadio Mateo Flores.
Guatemala City possesses several sportsgrounds and is home to many
sports clubs. Football
most popular sport, with CSD
, Aurora FC
being the main clubs.
Flores, located in the Zone 5 of the city, is the largest
stadium in the country, followed in capacity by the Estadio
Cementos Progreso and the Estadio del Ejército. An important multi-functional hall is the
Polideportivo de la CDAG.
The city has hosted several international sports events: in 1950 it
hosted the VI
Central American and Caribbean Games
, and in 2000 the FIFA Futsal World
. On July 4, 2007 the International Olympic
Committee gathered in Guatemala City and voted Sochi to become
the host for the 2014 Winter
Guatemala City was announced in November 2007 to host the 2008 edition
, played at the Domo Polideportivo from
to June 8
In 2008, Approximately 40 murders a week were reported in Guatemala
City alone. While the vast majority of murders do not involve
foreigners, the sheer volume of activity and the limited resources
makes local officials and police, who are inexperienced and
underpaid, unable to cope with the problem. The judicial system is
weak, overworked, and inefficient further compounding the crime
problem.There have been proposals to create a criminal justice
program in the country and require police officers to have such
studies. Higher studies would also be coupled with higher pay. This
has only remained in the discussion stage without any advances
despite the increased criminal wave that has plagued the city and
country in the past decade or so.
View of Guatemala City with the Agua,
Fuego and Acatenango volcanoes in the background.
Guatemala City has been affected several times by earthquakes
. The worst quakes were registered in
1917/1918 and 1976.
are visible from the city,
two of them active. The nearest and most active is Pacaya, which at
times expels a considerable amount of ash, resulting in the closure
of La Aurora International
Airport and subsequent flight delays.
Due to heavy rainfalls some of the humble neighborhoods built at
the edge of steep valleys are frequently washed away and buried
under mudslides, as in October 2005.
In February 2007 a large sinkhole
a poor neighborhood in northeast Guatemala city, killing three
people. The sinkhole was 100.5 m (330 ft) deep, and apparently
was created by fluid from a sewer dissolving the rock underneath.
As a result, one thousand people have been evacuated from the area.
The sink hole has since been mitigated and plans to develop on the
site have been proposed.
Zona Ten and Zona Viva
Zone Ten along with being the financial district of the city is
among the most popular areas for pop culture, shopping and
entertainment. A district within Zone Ten, known as Zona Viva,
contains many of the city's most popular hotels, restaurants, bars,
discothèques, and other entertainment venues for the urban elite.
Also, many of the embassies are located in Zone Ten.
Twin towns — Sister cities
Guatemala City is twinned
Sons and daughters of the city
- Raúl Aguilar Batres,
Engineer, creator of Guatemala City's system of avenue/street
- Miguel Ángel
Asturias, writer and diplomat, Nobel Prize Laureate
- Manuel Colom Argueta,
Former mayor of Guatemala City and renowed politician
- Carlos Mérida, painter
- Carlos Peña, singer,
Winner of Latin American Idol 2007
- Fernando Quevedo, Theoretical
Physicist, currently a professor of High Energy Psysics at the
university of Cambridge
- Rodolfo Robles, Physician,
discovered onchocercosis "Robles' Disease"
- Fabiola Rodas, Winner of The Third
TV Azteca's Desafio de
Estrellas 2nd Place in The Last Generation of La Academia
- Carlos Ruíz, football/soccer
- Shery, singer / songwriter
- Jaime Viñals, Mountaineer
(Scaled seven highest peaks in the world)
- Luis von Ahn,
Computer Scientist, CAPTCHA's creator and
Researcher at Carnegie Mellon University
- Ted Hendricks, Oakland Raiders NFL Hall Of Fame Linebacker.
5-Time Super Bowl Champion
- Ricardo Arjona, Singer