Puerto Barrios (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpweɾ.to ˈβa.rjos]) is a city in Guatemala, located within the Gulf of Honduras. The bay in which the harbour is located is called Bahia de Amatique. Puerto Barrios is the departmental seat of Izabal department and is the administrative seat of Puerto Barrios municipality.
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 297 kilometers (185 mi) northeast of Guatemala City. It is the terminus of Highway CA9 which begins at the Pacific port city of Puerto San José and traverses the country through Guatemala City.
The city's population 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 and coffee plantations with the shipping docks, all controlled by the International Railways of Central America and The Great White Fleet, both owned by the United Fruit Company.
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, and el estrecho. 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. In 1910, the United Fruit Company bought Quiriguá and all the land around the site for banana production; they set aside 75 acres (30 ha) around the ceremonial center as an archaeological park, leaving an island of jungle among the plantations. Nearby the Quirigua ruins is the Quirigua Hospital, established by United Fruit Company in 1910, and considered the finest tropical hospital in the America's at the time of its operation. On the grounds of the hospital is the Quirigua Hospital Cemetery, where some of the UFC and hospital workers that died in Guatemala are interred. The Castillo de San Felipe de Lara, an old Spanish fort in Río Dulce, guards the entrance to Lake Izabal. Another popular attraction is the lively town of Livingston where Garifuna culture can be experienced, with its Punta and Yankunu dances.