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Town Overview

Quetzaltenango, more commonly known as Xela (Sheh-lah,) is the second biggest city in Guatemala with a population of 300,000. 200 kilometers (125 mi) west of Guatemala City, Xela is the center of the Quiche Maya population. At an elevation of 2,330 meters (7,644 ft) in the breathtaking Sierra Madre, the city is surrounded by mountains, volcanoes, natural hot springs and indigenous villages.


The city itself is a blend of the new alongside the old, with many colonial buildings and cobblestone streets. Not too big and not too small, it has a wide range of hotels and restaurants for all budgets, and an active night life with a varitey of clubs and bars. As a center of commerce and culture, Xela attracts travelers who want to stick around for a few weeks to learn Spanish and get involved in volunteer projects.

By Claire Bourgin
I have traveled around the world since I'm a kid. Traveling is now part of my everyday life in Guatemala. I have been living in Quetzaltenango for 3...
02 Sep 2009

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