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Destination Details

Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

The city of Cobán is the capital of the department of Alta Verapaz in central Guatemala. It also serves as the administrative center for the surrounding Cobán municipality. It is located 219 km from Guatemala City.

In 2014 the estimation of population is 250,675 inhabitants. The population of the municipality, which covers a total terrain of 1312 km², was 94,000 people in 2005. Cobán, at a height of 1320 m above sea level, is located at the center of a major coffee-growing area.

Between 1530 and 1531, captain Alonso de Ávila on his way to Ciudad Real accidentally discovered the lagoon and hill of Lacam-Tún. People of that place had historically traded with all the people that the Spaniards had conquered and knowing what was coming, seek refuge in the jungle. The Spaniards tried in vain to conquer the lacandones: from Nueva España Juan Enríquez de Guzman tried; from the Yucatán Peninsula tried Francisco de Montejo; Pedro de Alvarado attempted it from Guatemala along with captain Francisco Gil Zapata and, finally, Pedro Solórzano from Chiapas. That is when the Order of Preachers tried to convert the Tezulutlán "War Zone" into a peaceful region.

There is a large demand within Guatemala and some of its neighbors for edible oils and fats, which would explain how the African oil palm became so prevalent in the country in detriment of other oils, and which has allowed new companies associated to large capitals in a new investment phase that can be found particularly in some territories that form the Northern Transversal Strip of Guatemala.[18] The investors are trying to turn Guatemala into one of the main palm oil exporters, in spite of the decline on its international price. The most active region is found in Chisec and Cobán, in Alta Verapaz Department; Ixcán in Quiché Department, and Sayaxché, Petén Department, where Palmas del Ixcán, S.A. (PALIX) is located, both with its own plantation and those of subcontractors. Another active region is that of Fray Bartolomé de las Casas and Chahal in Alta Verapaz Department; El Estor and Livingston, Izabal Department; and San Luis, Petén, where Naturaceites operates.

Each year at the end of July, a festival of Guatemala's native peoples is held here, La Fiesta Nacional Indígena de Guatemala (Festival Folklórico). The festivities include a beauty contest for Guatemala's Native American women, the winner of which is crowned with the title "Rabin Ahau", which means "the Daughter of the King" in Q'eqchi'. The dominant ethnicity here is Q'eqchi' mayan and the language of Q'eqchi' is widely spoken in town, especially in and around the markets where farmers from the surrounding hills sell their products. The departmental fair is held in Cobán and begins on the last Sunday in July and continues for a week. Every year, the international half-marathon of Cobán is held during the month of May; 4,000 runners gather in Cobán to take part of the event that has become the landmark event for the region. The annual religious festival (fiesta titular) is on August 4 and dedicated to Santo Domingo de Guzman.

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