The department of Zacapa is bordered on the north by the departments of Alta Verapaz and Izabal, to the east by Honduras, on the south by Chiquimula and Jalapa and to the west of El Progreso.
The northern part Zacapas located in the Sierra de las Minas, whose up to 3,000 m high summit also runs the border of the department. From there, the criss-crossed by numerous rivers and streams land falls away to the valley of the Río Motagua, which crosses the department from southwest to northeast. This longest river in Guatemala drained large parts of the central highlands and the entire department of Zacapa and Izabal opens in the adjacent to the Caribbean. The south of the river location Highland only reaches heights of about 1,700 meters. The Motagua Valley is one of the hottest and driest regions of Guatemala. However, the Motagua and its various tributaries allow the irrigation of large parts of the valley. In the higher elevations, the climate is more temperate. The mountainous area of the Sierra de las Minas trying to preserve through comprehensive conservation measures numerous animal species from extinction since 1990.
The original indigenous population has been greatly mixed with Spaniards during the colonial period. However, there is still smaller Chortí communities. The population lives in ten 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 ( rural communities ) and Caseríos, Parajes or fincas ( hamlets and farms ).
Traditionally most important economic sector is agriculture. That usually irrigated agricultural land is mainly large landowners who grow corn, cereals, fruits and vegetables. Zacapa is mainly known for his tobacco and his rum. It also depends on the livestock and the dairy industry. A large part of these agricultural products is also exported abroad for a long time. Thanks to the running along the Motagua highway from Guatemala City to Puerto Barrios (CA 9) Zacapa could develop into a commercial center. As early as 1898 the capital of the department became a railway junction at which the connection from the Atlantic to the Pacific met with El Salvador. Since the rail has now been set, the freight traffic is now focused on the congested highway CA 9, which connects the Caribbean ports of Guatemala City.
In the department of Zacapa is mined on a small scale jadeite and marble.
Zacapa is not regarded as one of the major tourist destinations in Guatemala. In Palaeontological Museum of Estanzuela there are sculptures and tools from the Mayan time and prehistoric finds from the Motagua Valley to visit. About a similar device has the La located at Teculutan Vega del Coban, and Río Hondo and Sunzapote. Between Teculutan and Río Hondo is the Balneario Pasabién, one located at a wild water rapids pool and recreation area. A little further down the river provides the water park with its slides Valle Dorado additional bathing and entertainment opportunities. Also on Motagua, but almost on the border of Izabal, are the caves of Doña María. In the Nature Reserve of the Biosphere Reserve Sierra de las Minas live about 500 different species of mammals and about 75 species of birds including the Quetzal.
After independence from Spain, the region of Zacapa and the area of Acasaguastlán (El Progreso ) 1825-1871 for the department Chiquimula belonged. Zacapa was collected on 10 November 1871 the department. The valley of the administrative headquarters received city rights in 1896.
The name of the department is probably derived from the Nahuatl words zacalt ( "straw" ) and pan ( Ortsnamenssuffix ) from, which means " Strohort ". The name probably derives from Mexican mercenaries who were in the service of Spain.