Baja Verapaz Department

Baja Verapaz is a department of Guatemala, and together with the Alta Verapaz region II in the center and north of the country. The department covers 3,124 square kilometers and has about 250,000 inhabitants. The capital of Baja Verapaz is Salamá.

Baja Verapaz is bordered to the north by Alta Verapaz, in the west of El Quiché, in the south of the department of Guatemala and to the southeast by El Progreso.

Provincial nature

Baja Verapaz is located in a geographical and climatic transition zone between the cool highlands of Guatemala in the south west and the warm humid lowlands to the east and north. Quite the West Baja Verapaz has share of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas. The eastern foothills continue in the Sierra de Chuacús, which crosses the department in west-east direction and then passes into the Sierra de las Minas. North of the Sierra de Chuacús the country is drained by numerous rivers that flow into the Chixoy reservoir. In the south, a number of smaller rivers flow into the Río Motagua. In the center of the department is a broad, dry valley landscape. The North and East is moist and green. Here larger contiguous cloud forests are still preserved. The average annual rainfall is 750 mm, the day temperatures are usually 17-27 Grand Celsius, in some drier areas they can also rise up to 38 degrees. As for flora and fauna, have the quetzal, and the orchid Monja Blanca ( Lycaste skinneri ), two National symbols of Guatemala, of particular importance.


The proportion of the Maya in the total population is about 57 percent. The Achí are concentrated in the west of Baja Verapaz, in the south there are some Cakchiquel communities, otherwise prevail in the country, the Pocomchí, in the cities and larger towns of the mestizos called " Ladinos ". The total of about 250,000 inhabitants in the department of Alta Verapaz live in eight municipios ( large municipalities or counties ):

The Department as state administrative district is headed by a delegated by the central government governor. The Municipalities are autonomous local authorities with elected mayors and elected assemblies and are divided into Aldeas and pueblos (villages ) and in Caseríos, Parajes, Estates, Rancherias ( hamlets and farms ).

Economy and Transport

Traditionally most important economic activities are agriculture (sugar cane, corn, maize, vegetables) and the craft sector ( textiles, ceramics, basketry ). Located in the north of the department of water power plant Chixoy covers about half of the national energy demand, if the water level allows. From the flow of tourists to Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz benefited along the well-developed highway CA 14, which connects the Departamento about El Rancho and the CA 8 with Guatemala City.


On the trunk road to Alta Verapaz is located south of Purulhá the nature reserve " Mario Dary Rivera Biotopo ( Biotopo del Quetzal ) ", which was established to protect the native flora and fauna, particularly the Quetzal. Southeast of the quetzal biotope are the waterfalls of Chilascó.


During the " classical period " was today's Baja Verapaz of Pocom Maya dominated. The spreading south and east Quiché submitted later Pocom who either emigrated or mingled with the Quiché. In this way the Pocomam and Pocomchí formed. A certain amount of independence, the military had kept Achí.

Especially at the Achí, the attempt of the Spaniards to conquer the region by military means. That's why they came to be known Tezulutlán (also Tucurutlán, Tuzulutrán or Tesulutlán ) which means " war zone ". It was not until 1537 succeeded the Dominican Bartolomé de Las Casas with some monks who peacefully to Christianize resident Indians and thus to dominate. It soon changed the name of the region, which also includes Petén, Belize and parts Izabals belonged at that time, in Verapaz, ie " true peace ". Even during the long colonial period shaped the Dominican region in social and economic terms.

The Republic of Guatemala taught 1825 Departamento Verapaz one whose administrative headquarters then was initially located in Coban, from 1833 in Salamá. On 4 May 1877, the final division took place in the two departments of Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz. The incipient at this time immigration of Germans to Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz also resulted in a certain economic modernization, but integration into the neo-colonial economic structure of the neighboring departments did not take place.

To suffer heavy Baja Verapaz had in the 1960 and 1996 raging Guatemalan civil war.