San Marcos Department

San Marcos is a department of Guatemala and is located in the southwest of the country ( region VI). San Marcos covers just under 3,800 square kilometers and has about 800,000 inhabitants. The capital of the department is the same San Marcos.

The San Marcos department is bordered to the north by the department of Huehuetenango, in the east and southeast of Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu and on the south by the Pacific Ocean and on the west by Mexico.

Provincial nature

The San Marcos department, located on the border with Mexico includes almost all climatic and vegetation zones of Guatemala. The majority of the department is located in the mountain ranges of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, Guatemala, here with the volcanoes Tajumulco ( 4,220 m) and Tacaná ( 4,092 m) has its highest peak. Only the southernmost parts lie in a narrow lowland strip, the numerous rivers draining large parts of the highlands and empty into the Pacific Ocean. In an average of over 2,000 m high mountain country, temperatures ( November-February ) in the dry season can fall below freezing, on the coast, the climate and the vegetation is tropical.


A large part of the population speaks Spanish and Mam, Tacaneco (around Tacaná ) or Sipacapeno. The approximately 800,000 inhabitants of the department of San Marcos live in 29 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 ).


Traditionally most important economic activities are agriculture, livestock and craft. Main agricultural products are wheat, oats, barley, potatoes, coffee, beans, corn, rice, bananas, sugar cane and cocoa. In addition, the cattle and horse breeding plays a special role. The products of the numerous small craft businesses include furniture, roof tiles, bricks, basketry, traditional ceramics and textiles. It is also important trade and transit traffic with Mexico. San Marcos suffers because of its location on the border with Mexico and due to the major routes among the activities of drug and human trafficking. This applies especially to the border crossings to Mexico, while the security situation in the central regions of the highlands is relatively good in comparison to other departments. Tourism is developing only slowly. San Marcos is connected via the running in the highlands Interamericana (CA -1) Guatemala City. About Malacatán in the west and in the east of Quetzaltenango, the running in the lowland Pacific route ( CA-2 ) and thus the major ports in Champerico and Puerto San José can be achieved. In Quetzaltenango is the nearest airport.


San Marcos reached from Guatemala City coming tourists usually the well-maintained, but curvy and up to 3,670 m high Interamericana. The 250- km-long bus ride takes less than five hours. South of the city of San Marcos are the Balneario and the Grutas La Castalia, natural thermal baths with views of waterfalls and the mountains of San Cristóbal cucho. North of the capital of the department is San Lorenzo, the birthplace of the first liberal Guatemalan President Justo Rufino Barrios Auyón, with a museum dedicated to him. Northwest is close to the highest volcanoes in Guatemala, the Tajumulco and Tacaná. On the way to the lowlands there is rafting opportunities on the Río Naranjo. The nature reserve of La Chorrera Manchón Guamuchal is located on the coast of Playa de Tilapa, a beach, but it is known more for its flora and fauna than for its quality of bathing. Other beaches ( dark sand ) are at Ocós, Tilapa and Isla del Tular.


During the colonial period, the area of San Marcos was one of Quetzaltenango. After independence from Spain, it first belonged to the Estado de Los Altos, the sixth State of the Central American confederation called. On May 8, 1849, this area officially joined the Guatemalan State. San Marcos was collected on May 8, 1866 for the department.