Lake Amatitlán

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Lake Amatitlán
The lake under Pacaya volcano
(in background right)
Location south-central Guatemala
Coordinates 14°28′16″N 90°34′54″W / 14.47111°N 90.58167°W / 14.47111; -90.58167Coordinates: 14°28′16″N 90°34′54″W / 14.47111°N 90.58167°W / 14.47111; -90.58167
Primary inflows Villalobos River
Primary outflows Michatoya River
Catchment area 368 km2 (100 sq mi)[1]
Basin countries Guatemala
Max. length 11 km (6.8 mi)
Max. width 3 km (1.9 mi)
Surface area 15.2 km2 (5.9 sq mi)[1]
Max. depth 33 m (108.3 ft)[1]
Water volume 0.286 km3 (0.1 cu mi)[1]
Surface elevation 1,188 m (3,897.6 ft)[1]
Frozen Never[1]
Settlements Amatitlán, Villa Canales, Villa Nueva
References [1]
2010.05.15.131950 Vista Lago Amatitlán Guatemala.jpg

Lake Amatitlán (Lago Amatitlán, Spanish pronunciation: [laɣo amatiˈtlan]) is a volcanic lake in south-central Guatemala, fairly close to Guatemala City. It lies in the central highlands, 1,186 m (3890 feet) above sea level.[2] Its maximum depth is 33 m (108 feet) and an average of 18 m (59 feet). The lake is 11 km (7 miles) long and 3 km (2 miles) wide; with an area of 15.2 square kilometers (5.9 sq mi) and a water volume of 0.286 cubic kilometers.

The lake's primary inflow is the Villalobos River, and the lake is drained by the Michatoya River, an important tributary of the María Linda River. The town of Amatitlán is situated at the head of the Michatoya river. A dam with a railway on top was constructed at the narrowest point, thus effectively dividing the lake into two water bodies with different physical, chemical and biological characteristics: a north-western and a south-eastern basin.

The lake is used as a water source, for navigation and transportation, sightseeing and tourism (10,000 visitors annually), recreation (swimming, sport-fishing, water skiing, yachting) and fisheries.


As of 1850, the lake was used as a bathing lake and a resort area in the spring. Nearby hot springs were also popular with visitors.[3]


In the mid 19th century, the lake was plentiful with crawfish, sardines, and other seafood. The seafood was captured and sold for the local region, as seafood was rarely imported into the area.[3]


Amatitlán lake's catchment area includes Guatemala City. Each year large quantities of untreated sewage, industrial waste and a staggering 500,000 tons of sediment are carried into the lake through the Villalobos River.[4] This has contributed to high levels of pollution of the lake's water, and an accelerated eutrophication and siltation.[1][5] This has seriously affected the lake's former function as a source of drinking water and irrigation, and reduced its recreational functions.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Data Summary: Lago de Amatitilan". International Lake Environment Committee Foundation - ILEC. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  2. ^ INSIVUMEH. "Indice de lagos". Retrieved 2008. 
  3. ^ a b Baily, John (1850). Central America; Describing Each of the States of Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. London: Trelawney Saunders. p. 60. 
  4. ^ Reyna, Evelyn Irene. "Integrated Management of the Lake Amatitlan Basin: Authority for the Sustainable Management of Lake Amatitlan and its Basin". Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  5. ^ Global Nature Fund. "Lake Amatitlan - Guatemala". Retrieved 2008. 


Anton, Danilo J. (1993). Thirsty Cities: Urban Environments and Water Supply in Latin America. Ottawa, Ont.: International Development Research Centre (IDRC). ISBN 0-88936-666-7. 
Muñoz, c.; Velasquez, E.; Aragon, Y.R. (1978). Estudio de aguas subterráneas en el Valle de la Ciudad de Guatemala. Guatemala City: Ministerio de Comunicaciones y Obras Publicas, Instituto Nacional de Sismología, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrológica. 

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