Santo Tomás de Castilla
, also known as Matías de Gálvez
is a port city
in Izabal Department
. It is located at around . It lies at Amatique Bay
off the Gulf of Honduras
and is administratively a part of Puerto Barrios
. Santo Tomás was settled originally by Belgians
in the 19th century.
of the city was built in 1976, after an earthquake had severely damaged the port of Puerto Barrios
. Today it is among the busiest in Central America
and currently expanding.
The port is located next to a free trade zone
, the Zona de Libre Industria y Comercio Santo Tomás de Castilla, called Zolic
. The port currently employs 2100 workers. In 2004, 4.56 million tons of trading goods went through the port from 1372 ships .
In 2004, Santo Tomás de Castilla
started receiving cruise ships. The cruise ship terminal is a tremendous boost for the Guatemalan tourism industry
. Two cruise ships a month, carrying 1500 passengers each make a stop here.
Cruise ship passengers visit Guatemala mostly for its Maya culture, spread throughout the country. Thus, Puerto Barrios Airport
is currently being refurbished to carry ship passengers for day trips to Tikal
or other places in Guatemala in the near future. Nearby attractions include Rio Dulce
, Lake Izabal
, the towns of Puerto Barrios
and San Felipe Castle
, and the Mayan
ruins of Quirigua