Location in Guatemala
|Coordinates: 14°50′40″N 91°30′05″W / 14.84444°N 91.50139°W|
|Foundation||May 7, 1524|
|• Mayor||Luis Grijalva Minera, Encuentro por Guatemala|
|• City||120 km2 (50 sq mi)|
|Elevation||2,330 m (7,640 ft)|
|Population (2011 Estimate)|
|Time zone||Central America (UTC-6)|
Quetzaltenango, also known by its Maya name, Xelajú [ʃelaˈχu] or Xela [ˈʃela], is the second largest city of Guatemala. It is both the capital of Quetzaltenango Department and the municipal seat of Quetzaltenango municipality.
It has an estimated population of 224,703. The population is about 61% indigenous or Amerindian, 34% Mestizo or ladino and 5% white Latin American. Quetzaltenango 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 meters within the city.
The Municipality of Quetzaltenango consists of an area of 127 square kilometres (49 sq mi). Municipalities abutting the municipality of Quetzaltenango include Salcajá, Cantel, Almolonga, Zunil, El Palmar, Concepción Chiquirichapa, San Mateo, La Esperanza, Olintepeque, and San Andrés Xecul. All these municipalities are part of the Department of Quetzaltenango, except San Andrés Xecul which is a part of the Department of Totonicapán.
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. 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. 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. However, many people (especially the indigenous population) continue to call the city "Xelajú" (pronounced shay-lah-WHO) or more commonly "Xela" for short, and some proudly, but unofficially, consider it the "capital of the Mayas".
From 1838 to 1840 Quetzaltenango was 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 Guatemala under Rafael Carrera conquered Quetzaltenango making it again part of Guatemala. In 1850, the city had a population of approximately 20,000.
On October 24, 1902, at 5:00 pm, the Santa María Volcano erupted. Rocks and ash fell on Quetzaltenango at 6:00 pm, only one hour after the eruption.
In the 1920s, a young Gypsy 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.
In 1930 the only electric railway in Guatemala, the Ferrocarril de Los Altos, was inaugurated. It was soon destroyed by mudslides and finally demolished in 1933. It had been built by AEG and Krupp, and was travelled by 14 train cars. The track connected Quetzaltenango with San Felipe, Retalhuleu. The people of Quetzaltenango are still very proud of the railway. A railway museum has been established in the city centre.
Since the late 1990s Quetzaltenango has been having an economic boom, which makes it the city with the second-highest contribution to Guatemalan economy. With its first high-rise buildings being built, it is expected by 2015 to have a more prominent skyline, with buildings up to 15 floors tall.
Quetzaltenango was supposed to host the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games, but dropped out due to lack of funding for the event.
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 chilliest 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.
Coldest months are November through February, with minimum temperatures averaging 4 °C, and Maximum temperatures averaging 22 °C.
Warmest months are March through July, with minimum temperatures averaging 8 °C and Maximum temperatures averaging 23 °C.
Yearly, average low is 6 °C, and average high is 22 °C.
Below, is a chart for better comprehension.
|Climate data for Quetzaltenango - Labor Ovalle Weather Station (Temp.: 1991−2010 / Prec.: 1980−2010|
|Record high °C (°F)|| 28.4
|Average high °C (°F)|| 22.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)|| 12.9
|Average low °C (°F)|| 2.3
|Record low °C (°F)|| −11.5
|Average rainfall mm (inches)|| 1.80
|Average rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm)||0.8||0.93||2.33||5.87||16.8||21.93||18.0||17.53||22.8||14.47||5.67||2.13||129.26|
|Average relative humidity (%)||65.68||63.05||64.5||68.4||74.5||79.37||74.47||76.05||81.16||79.32||72.65||68.63||72.315|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||249.57||240.27||249.33||212.77||167.14||142.32||185.27||187.51||135.61||156.94||199.15||228.69||2,354.57|
|Source: Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meteorologia, e Hidrologia|
Historically, the city produced wheat, maize, fruits, and vegetables. It also had a healthy livestock industry. They exported throughout the country and with El Salvador. As of 1850, wheat was their largest export, followed by cacao, sugar, wool and cotton.
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. It is also home to a rugby team in the newly formed Guatemalan rugby union and has enjoyed moderate success in the competition.
Due to the city's high altitude many athletes have prepared themselves here such as olympic silver medallist Erick Barrondo and the 2004 Cuban volleyball team.
The swimming team has enjoyed success in national and international events.
Quetzaltenango will be hosting the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games and it plans to build a new 30,000 seat stadium by 2016, as well 7 new facilities for indoor sports and aquatics.
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.
- Manuel Barillas, President of Guatemala, born in 1845
- Rodolfo Robles, physician and philanthropist, born in 1878
- Manuel Estrada Cabrera, President of Guatemala, born 1898
- Rodolfo Galeotti Torres, sculptor, born in 1912
- Efraín Recinos, engineer, architect, sculptor, painter, born in 1928
- Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán, President of Guatemala, born in Xelajú in 1913.
- Alberto Fuentes Mohr, economist, finance minister, foreign minister, social-democratic leaders, born in 1927
- Comandante Rolando Morán (1929-1998), one of the guerrilla leaders in Guatemalan Civil War.
- Carlos Navarrete Cáceres (b. 1931), anthropologist and writer
- Otto René Castillo, poet and revolutionary, born in 1934
- Juan Arturo Gutierrez, founder of international fast-food chain Pollo Campero
- Luis Rolando Ixquiac Xicara, artist, born in 1947
- Maria Vicenta Rosal, religious leader, born in 1820
Twin towns – Sister cities
Quetzaltenango is twinned with:
- Luna de Xelajú
- 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games
- Club Xelajú MC, pro football team
- History of Guatemala
- History of Central America
- Tromsø, Norway, Quetzaltenango's twin city
- Livermore, California, also Quetzaltenango's twin city
- About Quetzaltenango, Xelaju
- Baily, John (1850). Central America; Describing Each of the States of Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. London: Trelawney Saunders. pp. 84–85.
- GuateLog - Historia de Quetzaltenango
- notisistema.com; Ciudad guatemalteca, candidata para Juegos Centroamericanos y del Caribe 2018.
- "Ministerio de comunicaciones Infraestructura y Vivienda". August 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-04.
- noticias.emisorasunidas.com; Xela presenta candidatura para realizar Juegos Centroamericanos y del Caribe 2018. Radio Emisoras Unidas - en línea desde Guatemala.
- xelapages.com Archived June 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- Pessotto, Lorenzo. "International Affairs - Twinnings and Agreements". International Affairs Service in cooperation with Servizio Telematico Pubblico. City of Torino. Archived from the original on 2013-06-18. Retrieved 2013-08-06.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Quetzaltenango.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Quetzaltenango.|
- "Quezaltenango". Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 (11th ed.). 1911. p. 747.
- http://www.xelamaponline.com - map & guide to Xela, tourist information, Guatemalan slang, events, shopping in xela, etc.
- http://www.xelawho.com - nightlife magazine about Xela
- http://larutamayaonline.com/map.html, map of Quetzaltenango
- http://www.lademocracia.net - Spanish language school
- http://tripedia.info/ - Things To Do In Quetzaltenango Guatemala