Theme Week Guatemala – Cobán

Wednesday, 27 October 2021 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
Reading Time:  7 minutes

© flickr.com - Herny Aranjuez/cc-by-sa-2.0

© flickr.com – Herny Aranjuez/cc-by-sa-2.0

Cobán, fully Santo Domingo de 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. As of the 2018 census the population of the city of Cobán was at 212,047. The population of the municipality, which covers a total area of 1,974 km², was at 212,421, according to the 2018 census, but the rural area is in reality much, much more populated than the 374 person claimed by the census. Cobán, at a height of 1320 metres above sea level, is located at the center of a major coffee-growing area. The Cobán Airport is serving the city.

As of 1850, Cobán population was estimated to be at 12000. Ca. 1890, British archeologist Alfred Percival Maudslay and his wife moved to Guatemala, and visited Cobán. Around the time the Maudslays visited Verapaz, a German colony had settled in the area thanks to generous concessions granted by liberal presidents Manuel Lisandro Barillas Bercián, José María Reyna Barrios and Manuel Estrada Cabrera. The Germans had a very united and solid community and had several activities in the German Club (Deutsche Verein), in Cobán, which they had founded in 1888. Their main commercial activity was coffee plantations. Maudslay described the Germans like this: “There is a larger proportion of foreigners in Coban than in any other town in the Republic: they are almost exclusively Germans engaged in coffee-planting, and some few of them in cattle-ranching and other industries; although complaints of isolation and of housekeeping and labour troubles are not unheard of amongst them, they seemed to me to be fortunate from a business point of view in the high reputation that the Vera Paz coffee holds in the market, and the very considerable commercial importance which their industry and foresight has brought to the district; and, from a personal point of view, in the enjoyment of a delicious climate in which their rosy-cheeked children can be reared in health and strength, and in all the comforts which pertain to a life half European and half tropical. Hotels or fondas appear to be scarce; but the hospitality of the foreign residents is proverbial.” The city was developed by German coffee growers towards the end of the 19th century and was operated as a largely independent dominion until WWII. In 1888 a German club was founded and in 1935 a German school opened its doors in Cobán. Until 1930, about 2000 Germans populated the city. In 1941, all Germans were expelled by the Guatemalan government, led at the time by Jorge Ubico because of pressure from the United States; it has also been suggested Ubico’s motivation was to seize control of the vast amounts of land Germans owned in the area. Many ended up in internment camps in Texas and were later traded for American POW’s held in Germany. A sizable resident German population persists though most having been completely assimilated into the Guatemalan culture through intermarriage. Multiple German architectonic elements can still be appreciated throughout Cobán. The Germans also set up Ferrocarril Verapaz, a railway which connected Cobán with Lake Izabal, operated from 1895 until 1963 and was a symbol for the wealth in this coffee-growing region those days.

Central Park © Jorgelandrin122 © Nerdoguate/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Nerdoguate/cc-by-sa-4.0 © flickr.com - Herny Aranjuez/cc-by-sa-2.0 Iglesia del Calvario © Nerdoguate/cc-by-sa-4.0 Coban Cathedral © Nerdoguate/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Iglesia del Calvario © Nerdoguate/cc-by-sa-4.0
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.

Cobán is surrounded by mountains laden with orchids. The rare Monja blanca orchid is the departmental symbol. Nature reserves in or near Cobán include Las Victorias National Park, San José la Colonia National Park, Laguna Lachuá National Park, and Biotopo Mario Dary Rivera. There can be found multiple caves, waterfalls and forests which are home to the rare Quetzal. Thus, Cobán has become a popular spot for eco-tourism. Additional popular tourist spots in the city of Cobán include the El Calvario Church, the Dieseldorff coffee plantation, Plaza Magdalena Shopping Center and Coban’s central plaza.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Wikivoyage Cobán and Wikipedia Cobán. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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