Lake Atitlán (Guatemala)

Lake Atitlán (Guatemala)

Fri, 08/23/2019 - 16:13

Lake Atitlán lies in a spectacular setting in the Guatemalan Highlands of the Sierra Madre mountain range in southwestern Guatemala. It is the deepest lake in Central America. Renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, it is Guatemala's most important tourist attraction.

Lake Atitlán (Lago de Atitlán) lies in a spectacular setting in the Guatemalan Highlands of the Sierra Madre mountain range. It is in the Sololá Department of southwestern Guatemala. It is the deepest lake in Central America.

Lake Atitlán is renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, and is Guatemala's most important national and international tourist attraction.

Occupying a valley dammed by volcanic ash, the lake sits approximately 5,128 ft (1,563 m) above sea level with a maximum depth of 1,049 ft (320 m) and is 12 mi (19 km) long and 6 mi (10 km) wide, with an area of 49.3 sq mi (127.7 sq km).

Atitlán is technically an endorheic lake, feeding into two nearby rivers rather than draining into the ocean. It is shaped by deep surrounding escarpments and three volcanoes on its southern flank. The lake basin is volcanic in origin, filling an enormous caldera formed by an eruption 84,000 years ago.

The lake is bordered by three cone-shaped volcanoes: Atitlán, Tolimán, and San Pedro. The main towns along the lake, including Panajachel, Atitlán, and San Lucas, are popular with anthropologists and tourists.

The culture of the towns and villages surrounding Lake Atitlán is influenced by the Maya people. The lake is surrounded by many villages in which Maya culture is still prevalent and traditional dress is worn. The Maya people of Atitlán are predominantly Tz'utujil and Kaqchikel (or Cakchiquel) and make up about 90% of the population in the surrounding area.

The area supports extensive coffee and avocado orchards and a variety of farm crops, most notably corn and onions. The lake itself is a significant food source for the largely indigenous population.

Several Mayan archeological sites have been found at the lake. Sambaj, located approximately 55 feet below the current lake level, appears to be from at least the pre-classic period.