About San Pedro la Laguna
San Pedro la Laguna is located on the shore of Lake Atitilan and at the base of Volcan San Pedro in Guatemala’s Central Highlands. The area surrounding San Pedro has been populated since pre-Hispanic times, when the Mayan Tzu’tujil Kingdom had its capital at Santiago Atitlan, a neighbouring town. The Tzutujiles were conquered by the Spaniards in 1524 when Pedro of Alvarado defeated King Tepepul. To this day, the majority of the people who live in and around San Pedro are of Tzu’tujil descent, speak Tzu’tujil, and continue to practice Mayan traditions.
Because of the high elevation, the climate in San Pedro is very temperate compared to other places in Central America. This, along with the stunning views of Volcan San Pedro and Lake Atitilan, makes it an ideal year-round destination. San Pedro rarely achieves the uncomfortably hot temperatures of other Central American destinations, yet it is warm enough to swim in the lake year-round.
About 13,000 people live in San Pedro. The majority of residents here are of Mayan descent, but there is also a fast-growing expatiate community and a thriving nightlife scene. The cultivation of corn and coffee, fishing, and raising small livestock are the main sources of income. Most of the coffee grown here is exported, while the other crops and livestock are consumed locally.
Catholicism and Protestantism are strongly represented in San Pedro, although they are often seen in conjunction with Mayan traditions. The largest fiesta in San Pedro is celebrated on June 29th when the Catholic Church commemorates San Pedro the apostle.
Poverty is common in San Pedro. There are schools ranging from elementary to high school levels, however, many children leave school at a young age to work, and many young adults do not finish their studies because of a lack of economic resources. This means that few local children have the opportunity to rise above the poverty that has marked the region for decades.
Guatemaya is involved in a project to help send local children to school. For more information about this endeavour, read about Trek for Kids.