Guatemala City (in full, La Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción; locally known as Guatemala or Guate), is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala and Central America. It is also the capital city of the local Municipio de Guatemala, and Guatemala Department.
Within the confines of modern Guatemala City is the ancient Maya city of Kaminaljuyú. Kaminaljuyú was first occupied between 1200 and 1000 BC and the city continued to be inhabited for about 2000 years before it was abandoned in the Late Classic Period of Mesoamerican Chronology (600–900 AD). It is one of America's most notable archaeological sites. The center of Kaminaljuyú was located a short distance from the oldest part of Guatemala City. However, in the late 20th century, the city grew around the ruins, and, in some cases, over some of the outlying ruins before they were protected.
Many of the several hundred temple mounds have been built over with freeways, shopping centers, commerce, luxury hotels and residential areas. The central ceremonial center of Kaminaljuyú was however protected by the Guatemalan government and is now a park within the city. There are also many ruins still in existence, protected by the government.
In Spanish colonial times, Guatemala City was a small town. It had a monastery called El Carmen, founded in 1628. The capital of the Spanish General Captaincy of Guatemala, which used to cover most of modern Central America, was moved here after a series of earthquakes - the Santa Marta earthquake that started on July 29, 1773 - destroyed the old capital, Antigua Guatemala. On September 27, 1775, King Charles III of Spain officialized the moving of the capital.
Guatemala City is the economic, governmental, and cultural capital of the Republic. The city also functions as the main port of entry into the country with La Aurora International Airport and most major highways in the country originating from or leading to the city. The city continues to be a pole for the attraction of immigrants from the country's rural areas as well as foreign immigrants.
In addition to a wide variety of restaurants, hotels, shops, and a modern BRT transport system (Transmetro), the city has a wide variety of art galleries, theaters, sports venues and museums (including some fine collections of Pre-Columbian art) and continually offers an increasing amount of cultural activities. Guatemala City offers all the modern amenities along with important historic sites that a world class city can be expected to have ranging from an IMAX theater to the Ícaro Film Festival (Festival Ícaro) featuring films produced in Guatemala and Central America.