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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 Guatemalamarker. It is also the capital city of the local Guatemala Departmentmarker and the largest city in Central America and the Caribbean.

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 and the 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 year.

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 (57°F)


Metropolitan Cultural Centre (old National Post Office Building).
Within the confines of modern Guatemala City is the ancient Maya city of Kaminaljuyumarker. 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 the government.

In Spanish colonial times, Guatemala City was a small town. It had a monastery called El Carmen, founded in 1629. The 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 Guatemalamarker. On September 27, 1775, King Charles III of Spain officialized the moving of the capital. This dramatically increased the potential for expansion of the city.

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.


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 Airportmarker. 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 Batres, 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, Mixcomarker, and the suburban area of Carretera a El Salvador, currently a large commercial and residential focal point of the city's metro 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 Culturamarker (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 Álvaro Arzú, 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 City.

Zone 1

Zone 2

  • Mapa en Relieve (giant map of Guatemala) and surrounding parks

Zone 4

Main square with the National Palace opposite.

Zone 5

Zone 7

Zone 9

Zone 10

Monument to Pope John Paul II.
  • Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena (Mayan dress museum)
  • Museo Popol Vuh
  • Zona Viva entertainment district
  • Botanical garden

Zone 13


  • The newly renovated and expanded La Aurora International Airportmarker 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). [1455] 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 system.

Universities and Schools

There are 10 universities, Universidad Mariano Gálvez, Universidad Panamericana, Universidad Mesoamericana, Universidad Rafael Landivar, Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Universidad del Valle, Universidad del Istmo, Universidad Galileo, Universidad Rural and Universidad de San Carlos, 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 International School.


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

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 Championship. On July 4, 2007 the International Olympic Committeemarker gathered in Guatemala City and voted Sochimarker to become the host for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Guatemala City was announced in November 2007 to host the 2008 edition of the CONCACAF Futsal Championship, played at the Domo Polideportivo from June 2 to June 8 2008.


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.

Natural disasters

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 1976marker.

Volcanic activity

Four volcanoes are visible from the city, two of them active. The nearest and most active is Pacayamarker, which at times expels a considerable amount of ash, resulting in the closure of La Aurora International Airportmarker 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 opened in 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.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Guatemala City is twinned with:

Sons and daughters of the city

See also


External links

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