||The neutrality of the style of writing in this article is questioned. (July 2014)|
La Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción
|Ciudad de Guatemala|
From upper left: Grand Tikal Futura, skyline of the zone 14 or area of residential buildings, the National Palace of Culture in zone 1, skyline of the zona viva or zone 10, The Tower of the Reformer, buildings in the Zone 10 of day, underneath the current Museum of Post and Telegraph, Palace of the Ministry of the Interior of Guatemala, panorama of the zone 13 from the La Aurora International Airport, Paseo Cayalá in Zone 16, Plaza Fontabella, buildings "Zona Pradera", Centro Cultural Miguel Ángel Asturias, Metropolitan Cathedral of Guatemala City.
|Motto: "Todos somos la ciudad" (We all are the city), "Tú eres la ciudad" (You are the city)|
|• Mayor||Alvaro Arzu (PU. Partido Unionista)|
|• City||692 km2 (267 sq mi)|
|• Land||1,905 km2 (736 sq mi)|
|• Water||0 km2 (0 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,500 m (4,900 ft)|
|Population (2011 Estimate)|
|Time zone||Central America (UTC-6)|
|Website||Municipalidad de Guatemala|
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, and the most populous in Central America. The city is located in the south-central area of the country and has a large number of green areas. In 2009, it had a formal population of 1,075,000, but the metropolitan population is believed to be at least 2.3 million. Guatemala City is also the capital city of the local Municipio de Guatemala, and Guatemala Department.
The city is located at, in a mountain valley called Valle de la Ermita in the south central part of the country Guatemala.
- 1 History
- 2 Contemporary times
- 3 Climate
- 4 Structure and growth
- 5 Population
- 6 Communications
- 7 Economy and Finance
- 8 Places of interest by zones
- 9 Transportation
- 10 Universities and schools
- 11 Sports
- 12 Geological and Climactic Extremes
- 13 Panoramic views of Guatemala City
- 14 International relations
- 15 Notable residents
- 16 See also
- 17 Notes
- 18 References
- 19 External links
Within the confines of modern Guatemala City is the ancient Maya city of Kaminaljuyu. Kaminaljuyu was first occupied between 1200 and 1000 BC and the city continued to be inhabited for about 2000 years before it was abandoned in the Late Classic Period of Mesoamerican chronology (600–900 AD). It 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 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 Guatemala. 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, that involved the rebuilding at a significant distance from the volcanos believed to have caused the earthquake. This new building gave way to the name New Guatemala by Europeans.
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 serves as the economic, governmental, and cultural epicenter of the nation of Guatemala. The city also functions as Guatemala's main transportation hub, hosting an international airport, La Aurora International Airport, and serving as the origination or end points for most of Guatemala's major highways. The city, with its robust economy, attracts hundreds of thousands of rural migrants from Guatemala's interior hinterlands and serves as the main entry point for most foreign immigrants seeking to settle in Guatemala.
In addition to a wide variety of restaurants, hotels, shops, and a modern BRT transport system (Transmetro), the city is home to many art galleries, theaters, sports venues and museums (including some fine collections of Pre-Columbian art) and provides a growing number of cultural offerings. Guatemala City not only possesses a history and culture unique to the Central American region, it also furnishes all the modern amenities of a world class city, ranging from an IMAX Theater to the Ícaro film festival (Festival Ícaro), where independent films produced in Guatemala and Central America are debuted.
Despite its location in the tropics, Guatemala City’s relatively high altitude moderates average temperatures, which results in a subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb). Guatemala City is generally mild, almost springlike, throughout the course of the year. It occasionally gets warm during the dry season, but not as hot and humid as in the cities located at sea level. The hottest month is April. The rainy season extends from May to October, coinciding with the tropical storm and hurricane season in the western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, while the dry season extends from November to April. The city can at times be windy, which also leads to lower ambient temperatures.
The average annual temperature ranges from 22 to 28 °C (72 to 82 °F) during the day, and 12 to 17 °C (54 to 63 °F) at night.
|Climate data for Guatemala City (1990–2011)|
|Record high °C (°F)||30.0
|Average high °C (°F)||24.3
|Average low °C (°F)||13.2
|Record low °C (°F)||6.0
|Rainfall mm (inches)||2.8
|Avg. rainy days||1.68||1.45||2.00||4.73||12.36||21.14||18.59||19.04||20.82||14.59||6.18||2.64||135.5|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||248.4||236.2||245.6||237.9||184.4||155.3||183.4||191.8||159.0||178.0||211.7||209.2||2,441.2|
|Source: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia, e Hidrologia |
Structure and growth
Guatemala City is subdivided into 22 zones designed by the urban engineering of Raúl Aguilar Batres, each one with its own streets and avenues, making it pretty easy to find addresses in the city. Zones are numbered 1-25 with Zones 20, 22 and 23 not existing as they would have fallen in two other municipalities territory. Addresses are assigned according to the street or avenue number, followed by a dash and the number of meters it is away from the intersection further simplifying address location. The zones are assigned in a spiral form starting in downtown Guatemala city.
The city's metro area has recently grown very rapidly and has absorbed most of the neighboring municipalities of Villa Nueva, San Miguel Petapa, Mixco, San Juan Sacatepequez, San José Pinula, Santa Catarina Pinula, Fraijanes, San Pedro Ayampuc, Amatitlán, Villa Canales, Palencia and Chinautla forming what is now known as the Guatemala City Metropolitan 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 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 longtime Mayor Álvaro Arzú, has implemented a plan to control its growth based on transects along its important arterial roads and exhibitting Transit-oriented development (TOD) characteristics. 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. It is also worth mentioning, that due to the Airport being in the city, to the south, many Aeronautic Height Limits have been applied to the construction code. This limits the maximum height for a building, at 60 Meters in Zone 10, up to 95 Meters in Zone 1. The city is located in the South-Central area of the country and has a lot of green areas.
The city offers a portfolio of entertainment in the region, focused on the so-called Zona Viva and the Calzada Roosevelt as well as four degrees North. The activity of Casinos is great and possesses several located in different parts of the Zona Viva, although East market is still in the stage of initiation, although the date has been restructuring this area and is becoming more modern. There are many shopping malls, a few of which are: Galerías Miraflores, Oakland Mall, Portales, Pradera Concepción, Metrocentro of Villa Nueva; Shopping malls; Plaza Fontabella, The Village, Majadas, Los Próceres, Bonus Galleries, Via Majadas, Mall of zone 4, Tikal Futura, Galerías Primma, Metronorte, Korea Center, Geminis 10, Unicentro, Plaza del Naranjo, Galerías Pradera, Pacific Center, Metrosur, Century Plaza, Los Manantiales, Peri-Roosevelt, Gran Via Roosevelt, Santander Commercial Plaza, Quinta Samayoa, Gran Via, Eskala Roosevelt, Megacentro among others.
One of the most outstanding mayors was the engineer Martin Prado Vélez, who took over in 1949, and ruled the city during the reformist Presidents Arevalo and Arbenz. Of cobanero origin, married with Marta Cobos, he studied at the University of San Carlos. Under his tenure, among other modernist works of the city, it was built or started the El Incienso bridge, the construction of the Roosevelt Avenue, the main road axis from East to West of the city, the town hall building, and numerous road works which meant the widening of the colonial city, its order in the cardinal points and the generation of a ring road with the first Shamrock in the main city of Central America.
In the financial district are the tallest buildings in the country including: Club Premier, Tinttorento, Atlantis building, Atrium, Tikal Futura, Building of Finances, Towers Building Batteries, Torres Botticelli, Tadeus, building of the INTECAP, Royal Towers, Towers Geminis, Industrial Bank towers, Holiday Inn Hotel, Premier of the Americas, among many others to be used for offices, apartments etc. Also include projects such as Zona Pradera and Interamerica´s World Financial Center http://www.interamericaswfc.com. The location of the La Aurora international airport within the city limits the construction of skyscrapers, changing the limits permitted directly by its location within the urban area.
According to the 2002 census, the Guatemala City metropolitan area had a population of 2.3 million, making it the most populous urban agglomeration in Central America. The growth of the city's population has been robust since then, abetted by the mass migration of Guatemalans from the rural hinterlands to the largest and most vibrant regional economy in Guatemala. The inhabitants of Guatemala City are incredibly diverse given the size of the city, with those of Spanish and Mestizo descent being the most numerous. Guatemala City also has sizable indigenous populations, divided among the 23 distinct Mayan groups present in Guatemala. The numerous Mayan languages are now spoken in certain quarters of Guatemala City, making the city a linguistically rich area. Foreigners and foreign immigrants comprise the final distinct group of Guatemala City inhabitants, representing a very small and privileged minority among the city's denizens..
Due to mass migration from impoverished rural districts wracked with political instability, Guatemala City's population has exploded since the 1970s, severely straining the existing bureaucratic and physical infrastructure of the city. As a result chronic traffic congestion, shortages of safe potable water in some areas of the city, and a sudden and prolonged surge in crime have become perennial problems. The infrastructure, although continuing to grow and improve, at times appears to be lagging in relation to the ballooning population. Guatemala City is not unique in facing and tackling problems all too common among rapidly expanding cities around the world.
Guatemala City is headquarters to many communications and telecom companies, among them Tigo, Claro-Telgua, and Movistar-Telefónica. These companies also offer cable television, internet services and telephone access. In direct consequence of Guatemala City's large and concentrated consumer base in comparison to the rest of the country, these telecom and communications companies provide most of their services and offerings within the confines of the city. There are also seven local television channels, in addition to numerous international channels. The international channels range from children's programming channels like Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel to more adult offerings such as E! and HBO. While most international programming is dominated by entertainment offerings from the United States, most domestic programming is dominated by entertainment offerings from Mexico. Due to its small and relatively income-restricted domestic market, Guatemala City produces very little in the way of its own programming outside of local news and sports.
Economy and Finance
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.
Places of interest by zones
Guatemala City is divided into 22 zones in accordance with the urban layout plan designed by Raúl Aguilar Batres. Each zone has its own streets and avenues, facilitating navigation within the city. Zones are numbered 1 through 25. However, numbers 20, 22 and 23 have not been designated to zones, thus these zones do not exist within the city proper.
- Museos de Guatemala 
- Centro Histórico Site in spanish.
- Paseo de la Sexta Avenida es:Paseo de la Sexta
- National Palace of Culture
- Metropolitan Cathedral
- Mercado Central (central market)
- Biblioteca Nacional (national library)
- Teatro Abril 
- Centro Cultural Miguel Ángel Asturias
- Hogar Rafael Ayau Orthodox Orphanage 
- Mapa en Relieve (giant map of Guatemala, unique in the world) and surrounding parks 
- General Cemetery
- Safe Passage/Camino Seguro - a nonprofit organisation that educates the children from Zone 3
- Centro Cultural Miguel Ángel Asturias
- Cuatro Grados Norte revitalized pedestrian area and cultural district
- Visa Immigration Office for all foreigners
- Torre del Reformador (Tower of the Reformer).
- Parque de la Industria, fairgrounds 
- Avenida Reforma and El Obelisco, a parklike boulevard
Along with serving as the city's financial district, Zone 10 is known for its sophisticated cultural offerings, high-end shopping and plentiful entertainment. An area within Zone 10, known colloquially as Zona Viva, is home to many of the city's most expensive and exclusive hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other luxurious venues. Numerous embassies are also located in Zone 10.
- Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena (Mayan dress museum) 
- Museo Popol Vuh
- Zona Viva entertainment district
- Botanical garden 
- Plaza Fontabella
- Oakland Mall
- Museo Miraflores , Miraflores one of the biggest malls in the city and Central America.
- Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología 
- Museo de Arte Moderno (Art Museum)
- Museo de los Niños (Children's Museum)
- Museo Nacional de Historia Natural (Natural History Museum)
- La Aurora Zoo 
- La Aurora International Airport
- Avenida de las Américas
- Domo Polideportivo Indoor Sports Stadium
- Mercado de Artesanías, Artscrafts and handicrafts Market
- Reloj de Flores (Landscaped Floral Clock)
- Antiguo Aqueducto (Remains of the Historical Aqueduct)
- Justo Rufino Barrios Monument (Monument of one of Guatemala's much acclaimed past President, responsible for the introduction of the railroads among other services to the country.)
- Tecún Úman Monument (Monument to a famed Mayan leader and warrior in Guatemala's History)
- Velodromo Nacional (Nacional Velodrome)
- Newly renovated and expanded, La Aurora International Airport lies to the south of the city center. La Aurora serves as Guatemala's principal air hub.
- Public transport is provided by buses and supplemented by a BRT system. The three main highways that bisect and serve Guatemala start in the city. (CA9 Transoceanic Highway - Puerto San Jose to Puerto Santo Tomas de Castilla-, CA1 Panamerican Highway - from the Mexican border to Salvadorian border - and to Peten.) Construction of freeways and underpasses by the municipal government, the implementation of reversible lanes during peak rush-hour traffic, as well as the establishment of the Department of Metropolitan Transit Police (PMT), has helped improve traffic flow in the city. Despite these municipal efforts, the Guatemala City metropolitan area still faces growing traffic congestion.
- A BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system called Transmetro, consisting of special-purpose lanes for high-capacity buses, began operating in 2007, and aimed (since its impact has been huge, it can be considered a success) to improve traffic flow in the city through the implementation of an efficient mass transit system. The system currently consists of two lines. In the future, it is expected to be made up of around 10 lines, with some over-capacity expected lines considered to be made Light Metro or Heavy Metro.
 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 transit implementation in the city, there is also a prepaid bus card system called Transurbano that is being implemented in the metro area to limit cash handling for the transportation system. A new fleet of buses tailored for this system has been purchased from a Brazilian firm.
Universities and schools
Guatemala City is home to ten universities, among them the oldest institution of higher education in Central America, the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. Founded in 1676, the Universidad de San Carlos is older than all North American universities save for Harvard University. The other nine institutions of higher education to be found in Guatemala City include the Universidad Mariano Gálvez, the Universidad Panamericana, the Universidad Mesoamericana, the Universidad Rafael Landivar, the Universidad Francisco Marroquín, the Universidad del Valle, the Universidad del Istmo, Universidad Galileo, and the Universidad Rural. Whereas these nine named universities are private, the Universidad de San Carlos remains the only public institution of higher learning. Guatemala City also hosts some of the most expensive private schools in Central America, The American School of Guatemala and The Mayan International School.
Guatemala City possesses several sportsgrounds and is home to many sports clubs. Association football is the most popular sport, with CSD Municipal, Aurora FC and Comunicaciones being the main clubs. The Estadio Mateo Flores, located in the Zone 5 of the city, is the largest stadium in the country, followed in capacity by the Estadio Cementos Progreso, Estadio del Ejército & Estadio El Trébol . An important multi-functional hall is the Domo Polideportivo de la CDAG.
The city has hosted several promotional functions and some 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 Committee gathered in Guatemala City and voted Sochi to become the host for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. In April 2010, it hosted the XIVth Pan-American Mountain Bike Championships.
Geological and Climactic Extremes
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 the Motagua Fault, a left-lateral strike-slip fault that forms the boundary between the Caribbean Plate and the North American Plate. The 1976 event registered a 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.
In February 2007, a very large, deep circular hole with vertical walls opened in northeastern Guatemala city (piping feature" or "piping pseudokarst", was 100 metres (330 ft) deep, and apparently was created by fluid from a sewer eroding the lose volcanic ash, limestone, and other pyroclastic deposits that underlie Guatemala City. As a result, one thousand people were evacuated from the area. The piping feature has since been mitigated[how?] and plans to develop on the site have been proposed. However, critics believe municipal authorities have neglected needed maintenance on the city's aging sewerage system, and have speculated that more piping features are likely to develop unless action is taken.), killing five people. This hole, which is classified by geologists as either a "
In May 2010, another piping feature, of larger dimensions than a street intersection, developed after Tropical Storm Agatha passed through the region. It engulfed a three story building and a house ( ). This 2010 piping feature is at least 18 m (60 ft) wide and 60 m (200 ft) deep. The distance between the 2010 piping feature and the 2007 piping feature is about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi). Geologists Sam Bonis and T. Waltham argue that the recurring piping features in Guatemala City are caused by sewer leaks eroding the soft volcanic deposits that form the floor of the Valle de la Ermita.
Panoramic views of Guatemala City
International organizations with headquarters in Guatemala City
Twin towns — sister cities
Guatemala City is twinned with:
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (June 2011)|
- Raúl Aguilar Batres, Engineer, creator of Guatemala City's system of avenue/street notation
- Miguel Ángel Asturias, Writer and diplomat, Nobel Prize Laureate
- Manuel Colom Argueta, Former mayor of Guatemala City and politician
- Jorge de León, performance artist
- 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 player
- 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 /songwriter
- Gaby Moreno, Singer/ Songwriter
- Eli Menendez, Petroleum Engineer, Singer/Songwriter
- Manolo Gallardo, Sculptor and painter.
- Juan José Gutiérrez, CEO of Pollo Campero and on the board of directors of Corporación Multi Inversiones. Has been featured on the cover of Newsweek as Super CEO and named one of the Ten Big Thinkers for Big Business.
- 2007 Guatemala earthquake
- La Aurora International Airport
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- Waltham, T., 2008, Sinkhole hazard case histories in karst terrains. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology. vol. 41 no. 3, pp.. 291-300.
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- Walker, Peter (2010-06-01). "Tropical Storm Agatha blows a hole in Guatemala City". The Guardian (London).
- Hole that swallowed a three-story building, Sydney Morning Herald, June 2, 2010
- Michael Reilly (2010-06-02). "Don't Call the Guatemala Sinkhole a Sinkhole". Discovery News. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
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- "Taipei - International Sister Cities". Taipei City Council. Archived from the original on 2012-11-02. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- Estey, Myles. "A generation of young artists is gaining recognition for their gritty depictions of the modern realities of the Central American nation." Global Post. 15 Aug 2011. Retrieved 11 Feb 2012.
- "10 Big Thinkers for Big Business - The Daily Beast". Newsweek.com. 2005-06-19. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
- Sharer, Robert J.; Loa P. Traxler (2006). The Ancient Maya (6th (fully revised) ed.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-4817-9. OCLC 57577446.
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