Coordinates: 14°50′N 91°31′W / 14.833°N 91.517°W / 14.833; -91.517
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Xelajú (K'iche')
Municipality and city
Historical buildings, Streets, Minerva Temple, Arch sixth state of Los Altos, Interior of Municipal Theater and Historical center.
Historical buildings, Streets, Minerva Temple, Arch sixth state of Los Altos, Interior of Municipal Theater and Historical center.
Flag of Quetzaltenango
Official seal of Quetzaltenango
Quetzaltenango is located in Guatemala
Location in Guatemala
Coordinates: 14°50′40″N 91°30′05″W / 14.84444°N 91.50139°W / 14.84444; -91.50139
Country Guatemala
Department Quetzaltenango
Spanish FoundationMay 15, 1524
 • TypeMunicipality
 • MayorJuan Fernando López, Partido Humanista
 • Municipality and city122 km2 (47 sq mi)
2,330 m (7,640 ft)
 (2018 census)[1]
 • Municipality and city180,706
 • Density1,500/km2 (3,800/sq mi)
 • Urban180,706
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central America)
ClimateOceanic climate: subtropical highland variety (Cwb)

Quetzaltenango (Spanish pronunciation: [ketsalteˈnaŋɡo], also known by its Maya name Xelajú [ʃelaˈχu] or Xela [ˈʃela]) is both the seat of the namesake Department and municipality, in Guatemala. The city is located in a mountain valley at an elevation of 2,330 meters (7,640 feet) above sea level at its lowest part. It may reach above 2,400 m (7,900 ft) within the city.

The Municipality of Quetzaltenango consists of an area of 122 km2 (47 sq mi). Municipalities abutting the municipality of Quetzaltenango include Salcajá, Cantel, Almolonga, Zunil, El Palmar, Concepción Chiquirichapa, San Mateo, La Esperanza, and Olintepeque in Quetzaltenango department and San Andrés Xecul in Totonicapán department.


Coat of arms of Los Altos, carved in stone on the grave of heroes in the Cemetery

In pre-Columbian times, Quetzaltenango was a city of the Mam Maya people called Xelajú, although by the time of the Spanish Conquest it had become part of the K'iche' Kingdom of Q'umarkaj[citation needed]. The name may be derived from xe laju' noj meaning "under ten mountains". The city was said to have already been over 300 years old when the Spanish first arrived. With the help of his allies, Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado defeated and killed the Maya ruler Tecún Umán here[citation needed].

When Alvarado conquered the city for Spain in the 1520s, he called it by the Nahuatl name used by his Central Mexican Indian allies, "Quetzaltenango", generally considered to mean "the place of the quetzal bird." Quetzaltenango became the city's official name in colonial times[citation needed]. However, many people (especially the indigenous population) continue to call the city "Xelajú" or more commonly "Xela" for short, and some proudly, but unofficially, consider it the "capital of the Mayas".[3]

Quetzaltenango central park c. 1894

From 1838 to 1840 Quetzaltenango was the capital of the state of Los Altos, one of the states or provinces of the Federal Republic of Central America. As the union broke up, the army of Rafael Carrera conquered Quetzaltenango making it part of Guatemala. In 1850, the city had a population of approximately 20,000.[4]

During the 19th century, coffee was introduced as a major crop in the area. As a result, the economy of Xela prospered[citation needed]. Much fine Belle Époque architecture can still be found in the city.[citation needed]

On October 24, 1902, at 5:00 pm, the Santa María Volcano erupted. Rocks and ash fell on Quetzaltenango at 6 PM, only one hour after the eruption.[citation needed]

In the 1920s, a young Romani woman named Vanushka Cardena Barajas died and was buried in the Xela city cemetery. An active legend has developed around her tomb that says those who bring flowers or write a request on her tomb will be reunited with their former romantic partners. The Guatemalan songwriter Alvaro Aguilar wrote a song based on this legend.[citation needed]

In 1930 the only electric railway in Guatemala, the Ferrocarril de Los Altos, was inaugurated. It was built by AEG and Krupp and had 14 train cars. The track connected Quetzaltenango with San Felipe, Retalhuleu. It was soon destroyed by mudslides and finally demolished in 1933. The people of Quetzaltenango are still very proud of the railway. A railway museum has been established in the city center.[citation needed]

Since the late 1990s Quetzaltenango has been having an economic boom, which makes it the city with the second-highest contribution to the Guatemalan economy[citation needed]. With its first high-rise buildings being built, it is expected by 2015[needs update] to have a more prominent skyline, with buildings up to 15 floors tall.

In 2008, the Central American Congress PARLACEN announced that every September 15, Quetzaltenango will be Central America's capital of culture.[5]

Quetzaltenango was supposed to host 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games but dropped out due to a lack of funding for the event.[6]

In March 2022, indigenous activists began blockading the central waste deposit near Valle de Palajunoj to protest a city development plan enacted by the municipal authorities in June 2017.[7]


Farming highlands

According to Köppen climate classification, Quetzaltenango features a subtropical highland climate (Cwb). In general, the climate in Quetzaltenango can go from mild to chilly, with occasional sporadic warm episodes. The daily high is usually reached around noon. From then on, temperatures decrease exceptionally fast. The city is quite dry, except during the rainy season. Quetzaltenango is the coolest major city in Guatemala.

There are two main seasons in Quetzaltenango (as in all of Guatemala); the rainy season, which generally runs from late May through late October, and the dry season, which runs from early November until April. During the rainy season, rain falls consistently, usually in the afternoons, but there are occasions in which it rains all day long or at least during the morning. During the dry season, the city frequently will not receive a single drop of rain for months on end.

The coldest months are November through February, with minimum temperatures averaging 4 °C or 39.2 °F, and maximum temperatures averaging 22 °C or 71.6 °F. The warmest months are March through July, with minimum temperatures averaging 8 °C or 46.4 °F and maximum temperatures averaging 23 °C or 73.4 °F. Yearly, the average low is 6.4 °C or 43.5 °F and the average high is 22.5 °C or 72.5 °F.

Climate data for Quetzaltenango - Labor Ovalle Weather Station (Temp.: 1991−2010 / Prec.: 1980−2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 28.4
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 22.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 12.9
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 2.3
Record low °C (°F) −11.5
Average rainfall mm (inches) 1.8
Average rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 0.8 0.9 2.3 5.9 16.8 21.9 18.0 17.5 22.8 14.5 5.7 2.1 129.2
Average relative humidity (%) 65.7 63.1 64.5 68.4 74.5 79.4 74.5 76.1 81.2 79.3 72.7 68.6 72.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 249.6 240.3 249.3 212.8 167.1 142.3 185.3 187.5 135.6 156.9 199.2 228.7 2,354.6
Source: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia, e Hidrologia[8]


Historically, the city produced wheat, maize, fruits, and vegetables. It also had a healthy livestock industry. Livestock was exported throughout the country and to El Salvador. As of 1850, wheat was the largest export, followed by cacao, sugar, wool and cotton.[4]


Quetzaltenango is home to the Club Xelajú MC soccer team. The team competes at Estadio Mario Camposeco which has a capacity of 13,500 and is the most successful non-capital team in the Liga Nacional de Fútbol de Guatemala.[9]

Due to the city's high altitude many athletes have prepared themselves here such as Olympic silver medalist Erick Barrondo and the 2004 Cuban volleyball team.[citation needed]

The swimming team has enjoyed success in national and international events.[citation needed]

Quetzaltenango withdrew from hosting the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games. It planned to build a 30,000-seat stadium by 2016, as well seven new facilities for indoor sports and aquatics.[10]


The Cuatro Caminos intersection is outside the city.

The city has a system of micro-buses for quick and cheap movement. A micro-bus is essentially a large van stuffed with seats. Micro-buses are numbered based on the route they take (e.g., "Ruta 7"). There is no government-run mass transport system in the city. The sole public means of transport is the bus or micro-buses. Transportation to other cities is provided by bus. Bicycling is a way to get around and to travel to (and in) rural areas. Quetzaltenango Airport provides air service to the city.


Quetzaltenango,(Xela) is the center of many schools and Universities that provide Education to locals and many thousands of students from the surrounding cities and departments (states) and international students from North America and Europe, that's the reason it's a very important city for the south-west/north-west region of the Country of Guatemala, for many decades Quetzaltenango has produced distinguished Citizens through all Educational establishments, among those we can mention:

People born in Quetzaltenango[edit]

Consular representations[edit]

  • Mobile Consulate of El Salvador[14]
  • Consulate of Italy (Closed) [15]
  • Consulate of Mexico[16]
  • Honorary Consulate of Spain[17]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Quetzaltenango is twinned with:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Citypopulation.de Population of departments and municipalities in Guatemala
  2. ^ Citypopulation.de Population of the major cities in Guatemala
  3. ^ "Quetzaltenango –Xela o Xelajú, Quetzaltenango | Lugares turísticos, Historia y Cómo Llegar". www.guatevalley.com. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  4. ^ a b Baily, John (1850). Central America; Describing Each of the States of Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. London: Trelawney Saunders. pp. 84–85.
  5. ^ "GuateLog - Historia de Quetzaltenango". Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  6. ^ notisistema.com; Ciudad guatemalteca, candidata para Juegos Centroamericanos y del Caribe 2018.
  7. ^ Escobar, Gilberto (9 April 2022). "Guatemala: Ein Tag bei den Blockaden im Valle de Palajunoj". amerika21 (in German). Translated by Austen, Thorben. Mondial21 e. V. Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  8. ^ "Ministerio de comunicaciones Infraestructura y Vivienda". August 2011. Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  9. ^ "La historia de un grande del fútbol nacional". mixelajumc.com. Archived from the original on 14 May 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ noticias.emisorasunidas.com Archived 2012-03-23 at the Wayback Machine; Xela presenta candidatura para realizar Juegos Centroamericanos y del Caribe 2018. Radio Emisoras Unidas - en línea desde Guatemala.
  11. ^ "Jesús Castillo". HMdb.org – The Historical Marker Database.
  12. ^ "Quetzalteco cruza el Canal de la Mancha en 1965". 20 September 2015.
  13. ^ "Julio Serrano". www.literaturaguatemalteca.org. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  14. ^ "Por primera vez Consulado Móvil a la Ciudad de Quetzaltenango, llevará el Consulado General de Guatemala". Comunidad en Accion. Archived from the original on 8 November 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  15. ^ "Consulados de Italia en Guatemala".
  16. ^ "Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores | Gobierno | gob.mx".
  17. ^ "Orden AEC/2996/2007, de 1 de octubre, por la que se crea una Oficina Consular Honoraria de España en Quetzaltenango (Guatemala)". Lexur Editorial. Archived from the original on 17 June 2008. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  18. ^ "Acuerdos interinstitucionales registrados por dependencias y municipios de Campeche". sre.gob.mx (in Spanish). Secretaría de relaciones exteriores. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  19. ^ a b "Acuerdos interinstitucionales registrados por dependencias y municipios de Chiapas". sre.gob.mx (in Spanish). Secretaría de relaciones exteriores. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Sister Cities". cityoflivermore.net. City of Livermore. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  21. ^ "Capitulaciones de Santa Fe" (PDF). santafe.es (in Spanish). Granada Hoy. April 2012. p. 7. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  22. ^ "Acuerdos interinstitucionales registrados por dependencias y municipios de Oaxaca". sre.gob.mx (in Spanish). Secretaría de relaciones exteriores. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  23. ^ "Reactivación económica: primer encuentro virtual Xela – Tapachula". lavozdexela.com (in Spanish). La Voz de Xela. 16 July 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  24. ^ "Fakta om Tromsø: Tromsøs vennskapsbyer". tromso.kommune.no (in Norwegian). Tromsø Kommune. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  25. ^ "Municipalidad se pronuncia sobre viaje de concejal a Turín". lavozdexela.com (in Spanish). La Voz de Xela. 14 June 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  26. ^ "Acuerdos interinstitucionales registrados por dependencias y municipios de Veracruz". sre.gob.mx (in Spanish). Secretaría de relaciones exteriores. Retrieved 26 January 2021.

External links[edit]

14°50′N 91°31′W / 14.833°N 91.517°W / 14.833; -91.517