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Alta Verapaz

Alta Verapaz is a department in the north central part of Guatemala.

The capital and chief city of the department is Cobán. Verapaz is bordered to thre north by Peten, to the east by Izabal, to the south by Zacapa, El Progresso, and Baja Verapaz, and to the west by El Quiché.

Alta Verapaz houses the Mario Dary Biotope Preserve, preserving the native flora and fauna of the region, especially the endangered national bird of Guatemala, the Quetzal. Also in Alta Verapaz are the towns of San Pedro Charcá and San Cristobal Verapaz.


In Pre-Columbian times this area was part of the Maya civilization. When the Spanish Conquistadores came in the 1520s they conquered the central and southern highlands of Guatemala, but were driven back from this region by fierce native resistance. Spanish friars asked for a chance to peacefully convert the land to Christianity, which they succeeded in, giving the area the name "Verapaz" meaning "True Peace" since it was brought to Christianity and control of the King of Spain without warfare.

In the 19th century this became an important coffee producing region.