Livingston, Guatemala

Livingston on the map of Guatemala

Livingston is a small town on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala. It is the administrative seat of the greater community ( municipality ) in the department of Izabal.


Livingston is located on the north side of the estuary of the Río Dulce at the Gulf of Honduras. The village with its 16,000 inhabitants, is accessible only by sea. Puerto Barrios, the capital of the department of Izabal, located about 20 kilometers southeast of Bahía de Amatique. Approximately 30 km north of Livingston is Punta Gorda, the southernmost port city of Belize. The Río Dulce connects the 30 km landward El Relleno and the Lake Izabal with the Caribbean. Of these three places there are regular boat connections to Livingston.

The 1940 km ² large municipality comprises the area between the Río Sarstún ( Sarstoon River ) in the north, which forms the border with Belize, the Sierra de Santa Cruz and the Lake Izabal in the west and southwest, the Montañas del Mico in the south and the Caribbean coast in the northeast. In the middle of the National Park Río Dulce lies with the Golfete and the Biotopo Chacón Machaca. The municipality is almost entirely covered by tropical rainforest. Political and administrative borders in the north on Livingston Belize ( Toledo District ), on the northwest by the Department of Petén (San Luis ), to the southwest by El Estor, to the south by Morales and east to Puerto Barrios.


Livingston is known for its eclectic mix of various ethnic groups and cultures as Garifuna, Kekchi and Ladino. The city shape the Garifuna, the only dark-skinned Afro-Caribbean ethnic groups of Guatemala. The municipality has a total of more than 50,000 inhabitants. Of these, 48% Kekchi, 42 % Ladinos, 9% Garífuna and 1% are other.


The estuary of the Río Dulce had during the colonial period and even before that particular strategic and economic importance. Both the Río Dulce and the Lake Izabal offered the Marine protected anchorages. On the banks of the lake to set up a larger warehouse, which were also easy to reach from the other parts of the country. In the pre-colonial era of the Late Classic the Kekchi built just to the west of present-day Livingston the trade center Nito. The invading Spaniards founded in 1524 on the south side of the mouth of the San Gil de Buena Vista, which was soon laid. In the centuries after the estuary degenerated into a hotbed of anarchy and piracy.

In 1802 a brigantine reached under the command of Marcos Sánchez Díaz with a number of Afro-Caribbean refugees from Roatan the estuary of the Río Dulce. Some of these people settled there and founded in 1806 a place called La Buga ( Garifuna for " Boca ," meaning " mouth "). Another part moved ( at least temporarily ) to Punta Gorda in Belize today on. Some of the old-established families and some newcomers pirates retreated into the countryside and there built new houses; soon they were joined by others, and the thus formed villages were eventually given the name of each first family based there, including Tatin and Baltimore. The additional influx of Afro-Caribbeans to Livingston led the authorities in 1831 for the formal establishment of a community that was named Livingston in 1837. The name comes from the U.S. lawyers and politicians Edward Livingston who wrote the Livingston Codes. These served as the basis for the laws of the liberal government of the Central American confederation in the early 19th century. The town grew relatively quickly to the most important seaport on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala. In the 19th century shifted the administrative headquarters of the department of Izabal from the same place on the southern shore of the lake several times back to Livingston and again. With the establishment of achievable also by land port city of Puerto Barrios in 1895 the decline Livingston, who after the inauguration of the railway line from Guatemala City to Puerto Barrios in 1908 still increased began. However, Livingston remained until 1920 capital of Izabal, then it had to cede his political position to Puerto Barrios. In the following years many Garifuna emigrated to the United States, which Livingston lost much of its original cultural character. In the 1960s and 1970s, Livingston was a destination and meeting place of the North American hippie movement. In the recent past, Livingston has become a tourist attraction because of its cultural identity, its scenic beauty and low traffic.


Most important economic activities are fishing and the cultivation of bananas, cassava, maize and beans. From tourism to benefit only a few businessmen. A subordinate role the timber industry and the manufacture of basketry and items made ​​from coconut must. The majority of the population lives in subsistence farming or doing odd jobs. A major employer in the region is traditionally the port of Puerto Barrios and Santo Tomás de Castilla from. The tendency to emigrate to the United States continues.


Top attractions include in Livingston the festivals in honor of the patron saint Virgen del Rosario (October 7 ), the Garifuna festival on 25 and 26 November, and the big Christmas and New Year's Eve between 24 December and 1 January. The rest of the municipality is especially true because of the Río Dulce and Lake Izabal is one of the most important tourist destinations in Guatemala. The Caribbean beaches can not compare with those of Belize.