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Lake Profile

Atitlan, Lago

General Information

Description Lago AtitlŠn is surrounded by three 10,000-foot volcanoes, and lies within a large volcanic caldera. The lake is famous to international tourism due to its extraordinary landscape, crystal clear water, and cultural diversity of indigenous Maya people. Water pollution, litter, introduction of foreign species and shore development threatens the health of beautiful Lake AtitlŠn.
Country Guatemala
Latitude 14° 41' 0" (14.6833)
Longitude -91° 11' 0" (-91.1833)

Maps

 Atitlan - Central America location map
 Latin America & Mexico Biodiversity Conservation Priorities
 Atitlan Watershed Map

Physical Characteristics

Description AtitlŠn is a deep lake reaching 342 meters with an average depth of 220 meters. Formed by a volcanic explosion with a further collapse of 200 square kilometers of volcanic landscape, resulting in a boiling caldera that became extinct by cooling to form the bottom of the lake and growing volcanoes inside. A 300-meter cliff dominates the northern shore and eight volcanic buildings emerge from the lake on its southern shore, creating the shallow bays of Santiago, San Lucas and San Juan. Itís an oligothrophic lake with very little fish habitat, except in the shallow bays. The lake has excellent water quality, reaching and average of 11 meters of water transparency measured with an all-white Secchi disk. Most of the lake has drinking water quality except for some of the shore-town beaches.
Surface Area 130.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 220.0 m
Maximum depth: 342.0 m
Age 10,000 - 99,999 years before present
Origin Volcanic
Trophic State Oligotrophic
Type Fresh
Permanent
Natural

Socio-Political

Economic Value Largest national and international tourist attraction of Guatemala.
Major Cities Panajachel, Santiago AtitlŠn, San Pedro la Laguna, SololŠ

Watershed Management

Description A divided government institutional framework within forestry, protected areas, and public health institutions hampers integrated watershed management.
Watershed Action Plan In development
Sub-basin Action Plan Not applicable
Issues Lack of solid waste and wastewater management in most human settlements, and landscape protection policies.
Other Issues Invasive Species
Point source pollution
Polluted runoff
Monitoring

Biodiversity Conservation

Description The lake has been designated as a Multiple Use Protected Area.
Designations National Designation
Species of Concern Scirpus californicus
Podilymbus gigas

Organizations

Lake Atitlan Sustainable Management Authority
Lake AtitlŠn Environmental Protection Society

LakeNet Programs

Sustainable Management of Lake AtitlŠn, Guatemala

Documents

Resources

ILEC Database

News

10/8/2005 - 500 Dead, 337 Missing in Mudslides from Hurricane Stan (Lake Atitlan, Guatemala)
6/21/2004 - Coffee Farmers on Guatemalaís Lake AtitlŠn Go Organic
4/20/2003 - Lago de AtitlŠn es reconocido
3/2/2003 - Piezas Mayas bajo el agua

Additional Data Sources

Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
International Lake Environment Committee, the United Nations Environment Program and Environment Agency, Government of Japan. 1997. World Lakes Database.

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