Retalhuleu Department

Retalhuleu is one of 22 departments in Guatemala and is located in the southwest of the country on the Pacific (Region VI). It covers 1856 km ² and has 290,000 inhabitants. Capital is the city of Retalhuleu.

The department of Retalhuleu (often referred to as " Re -u" ) is bounded on the north by the department of Quetzaltenango, on the east by Suchitepéquez, to the south and southwest by the Pacific Ocean, on the west by San Marcos.

Provincial nature

Retalhuleu has only in the far north a small proportion of the Sierra Madre, the majority located in the south-west to the Pacific coast gently sloping lowlands. In this direction it is crossed by numerous rivers, of which the Rio Samala is the most significant. The fertile volcanic soils of the lowlands bring forth a luxuriant tropical vegetation, but has to give way to the majority of agriculture. Volcanic in origin, the black sand beaches, behind which there are more wetlands. Located in the far west of swamps Manchón with their criss-crossed by numerous rivers and canals, mangrove forests that provide refuge among other water birds and turtles were put under protection. The marsh at El Tulate can be practically achieved only over the adjacent Suchitepéquez.

With the exception of some smaller temperate areas in the north the climate is tropical, hot in Retalhuleu during the rainy season (May to October), this category also have high humidity. The temperatures are generally 20-32 ° C.


The population is concentrated in the north of the department. In addition to the Spanish colonial language the Maya Quiché language is still spoken - mainly in the municipalities of San Andrés Villa Seca, San Felipe Retalhuleu, San Martín Zapotitlán, San Sebastian and Santa Cruz Mulua. The approximately 285,000 inhabitants of the department are living in a total of nine 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 ( rural communities ) and in Caseríos, Parajes, Estates, Rancherias ( hamlets and farms ).

Economy and Transport

Retalhuleu is today one of the most important economic regions in Guatemala. Due to the very fertile soil, agriculture is traditionally the strongest sector. After the end of the coffee boom provided the landowner their production mostly to sugar cane. Bananas, corn, beans and other fruits and vegetables as well as livestock have only a secondary importance. For the processing of agricultural products, particularly sugar cane, have settled around the capital, many industrial businesses. A major contribution to the relative prosperity of the department also make the craft and the service sector.

Due to its location at the crossroads of important routes Retalhuleu takes in the western Pacific lowlands economically similar important position as Escuintla in the east. North of the capital city of Retalhuleu is coming from Mexico and El Salvador highway CA 2 and the Quetzaltenango meet in the highlands with Champerico on the Pacific connecting National Highway 9 more or less parallel to these highways extending railway lines were closed down some time ago and partially degraded. They were once used mainly to transport agricultural products, as well as the former port of Champerico whose facilities were destroyed in 1982 by a storm. The setting of rail transport has led to a chronic congestion of major roads through the heavy traffic. This was countered in recent years by the four-lane expansion of the Pacific Highway in part. The rest of the road network is well developed only in the north and in the center. The city of Retalhuleu has an airfield for general aviation.

The tourism benefits from a few sites such as the Mayan ruins of Takalik Abaj and San Juan Noj, but especially from through traffic. Many of Guatemala City to Quetzaltenango travelers give the well-developed routes in the lowlands in preference to the curvy Interamericana in the highlands. The water park and theme park Xocomil Xetulul welfare organization IRTRA have national importance for tourism. The facilities are located in San Martín Zapotitlán on the road to Quetzaltenango.


Already in the Präklassik benefited the area now departments of trade between the highlands and the coast. In Takalik Abaj and other trading centers Olmec met Maya, who dominated the area alike. At the time of the Spanish conquest, the area of Retalhuleu between the rival Mam and K'iche ' was controversial. The Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado said to have drawn between the two warring parties with the sword in Retalhuleu a boundary line in the ground. From this incident, the name of the city and the department infers that means " sign on the ground." During the colonial period Retalhuleu formed with Suchitepéquez the County Corregimiento de Suchitepéquez. After independence from Spain, this area belonged 1838-1849 repeated for Estado de Los Altos, the sixth State of the Central American confederation called. The County Suchitepéquez was divided on 16 October 1877 in the two existing departments.