Quetzaltenango is a department in Guatemala that is in the western part of the country. The capital is the city of Quetzaltenango, which is the second-largest city in the country. The department is made up of 24 cities and towns. The people who live there speak Spanish, as well as the K'iche' and Mam Maya groups, both of which speak their own Maya language. The department is made up of mountains, with the Samala River as its main river. The department is prone to both earthquakes and volcanic activity.
Before the Spanish came, the K'iche' Kingdom of Q'umarkaj had a lot of land in the modern department. A number of important battles took place near the city of Quetzaltenango, which was then known as Xelaju. The Spanish under Pedro de Alvarado won the battles and took over the kingdom. In the 19th century, the land that is now the department of Los Altos was part of a short-lived Central American state called Los Altos. When the fledgling state was crushed by Rafael Carrera in 1844, the government made this department, which is now called the Department of Public Works.
The department has a lot of different climates because of the big differences in altitude in different parts of it. During the wet season, which lasts from July to September and lasts from December to February, there is a lot of rain. The department has a wide range of climates, which allows for a wide range of agricultural products to be grown. These include temperate fruits, vegetables, and cereals in the highlands, as well as coffee on the lower slopes.
Several Guatemalan presidents have come from the Quetzaltenango department, as well as a lot of well-known musicians.
The department's name comes from the city of Quetzaltenango, which is the department's capital and where most of the people live. City: Xelaju was known as Xelaju by the original K'iche' people. The Nahuatl-speaking allies of the Spanish Conquistadors called the city Quetzaltenango, which means "land of the quetzal birds."