Puerto Barrios

Puerto Barrios

[pwer-taw vahr-ryaws]
Puerto Barrios, city (1994 est. pop. 29,095) and port, E Guatemala, capital of Izabal dept., on the Bay of Amatique, an arm of the Caribbean Sea. It was named after the Guatemalan politician Justo Rufino Barrios. Until the early 1970s the foreign-dominated deepwater port handled more trade than any other in Guatemala. An additional cargo port was later built, and solely operated, by the Guatamalan government at nearby Santo Tomás de Castilla. Bananas and coffee are the leading exports. In 1976 a hurricane severely damaged Puerto Barrios.

Puerto Barrios is a city in Guatemala, located within the Gulf of Honduras at . The bay in which the harbour is located is called Bahia de Amatique. Puerto Barrios is the departmental seat of Izabal department and the administrative seat of Puerto Barrios municipality.

Puerto Barrios was named after President Justo Rufino Barrios. It is Guatemala's main Caribbean Sea port, together with its more modern twin port town just to the southwest, Santo Tomás de Castilla. In 2003 the estimated population of Puerto Barrios was 40,900 people.

Puerto Barrios is located northeast of Guatemala City. It is the terminus of Highway CA9 which begins at the Pacific port city of Puerto San Jose and traverses the country through Guatemala City. The earthquake on February 4th of 1976, one of the worst in the history of the country, destroyed most of the port facilities of Puerto Barrios, and most modern cargo traffic moved to its twin port in Santo Tomás de Castilla. Today, Puerto Barrios remains an important hub for Dole and Del Monte industries.

Puerto Barrios is a mix of mostly Afro-Guatemalans, Maya, Afro-Caribbean (such as Afro-Jamaicans), and other West Indian groups. Its heyday was in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries, following the construction of a railroad connecting large banana plantations with the shipping docks.

In a strange twist of history, the harbor was partly built by Theodore Roosevelt's Corps of Engineers in 1906-1908. Puerto Barrios is also the terminus for the United Fruit Company's railway, UFCO. UFCO still operates out of these two harbors.

Puerto Barrios is divided by many neighborhoods or Barrios such as El rastro, las champas, los tanques, la veinte, la veintedos, la catorce, la trece, el estrecho, etc. Although the town is small, due to its harbor nature, many of its visitors are ship workers who frequent the night entertainment centers throughout the town.

Puerto Barrios is starting to get more visitors in the new century as the nearby town of Santo Tomás de Castilla has started receiving cruise ships. Puerto Barrios Airport is currently being refurbished in order to receive scheduled flights in the near future.

Among the many nearby tourist attractions are: The Mayan ruins of Quirigua. The San Felipe de Lara Castle, an old Spanish fort guarding the entrance to the Izabal Lake. Another popular attraction is the lively town of Livingston where Garifuna culture can be experienced first hand with its Punta and Yankunu dances.

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