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Lake Atitlan Guatemala

 

Lake Atitlan is a large endorheic lake (one that does not flow to the sea) in the Guatemalan Highlands. Atitlan is recognized to be the deepest lake in Central America with maximum depth about 340 meters. The lake is shaped by deep escarpments which surround it and by three volcanoes on its southern flank. Lake Atitlan is further characterized by towns and villages of the Maya people. Lake Atitlan is about 50 kilometres (31 mi) west-northwest of Antigua. Lake Atitlan should not be confused with Lake Amatitlán. Lake Amatitlan is located about 65 kilometres (40 mi) southeast of Lake Atitlan and 16 kilometres (10 mi) southeast of Antigua. Lake Atitlan is much larger than Lake Amatitlan.

“At the water” is the meaning of “Atitlan”. It is a fusion of simple Nahuatl words that belies the complexity of the entity it identifies. German explorer Alexander von Humboldt is the earliest prominent foreigner generally quoted as calling it “the most beautiful lake in the world.” [2]

The lake is volcanic in origin, filling an enormous caldera formed in an eruption 84,000 years ago. It is renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, and Aldous Huxley famously wrote of it: “Lake Como, it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlán is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing.

The lake basin supports extensive coffee growth and a variety of farm crops, most notably corn. Other significant agricultural products include onions, beans, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, chile verde, strawberries, avocados and pitahaya fruit. The lake itself is rich in animal life which provides a significant food source for the largely indigenous population.

 

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