Quetzaltenango (ketsalteˈnaŋɡo, also known by its Maya name Xelajú ʃelaˈχu or Xela [ˈʃela]) is both the seat of the namesake Department and municipality, in Guatemala. The city is located in a mountain valley at an elevation of above sea level at its lowest part. It may reach above within the city.
The Municipality of Quetzaltenango consists of an area of . Municipalities abutting the municipality of Quetzaltenango include Salcajá, Cantel, Almolonga, Zunil, El Palmar, Concepción Chiquirichapa, San Mateo, La Esperanza, and Olintepeque in Quetzaltenango department and San Andrés Xecul in Totonicapán department.
In pre-Columbian times, Quetzaltenango was a city of the Mam Maya people called Xelajú, although by the time of the Spanish Conquest it had become part of the K'iche' Kingdom of Q'umarkaj. The name may be derived from xe laju' noj meaning "under ten mountains". The city was said to have already been over 300 years old when the Spanish first arrived. With the