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Guatemala's Altos de Chiantla: Changes on the High Frontier

Michael Steinberg and Matthew Taylor
Mountain Research and Development
Vol. 28, No. 3/4 (Aug. - Nov., 2008), pp. 255-262
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25578201
Page Count: 8
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Abstract

The Altos de Chiantla in the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes represents an economic and environmental anomaly compared with areas surrounding it in highland Guatemala and Mesoamerica in general. For example, this cold and remote plateau region is dominated by sheep and potato production instead of maize, with maize being synonymous with surrounding Maya ethnolinguistic groups. Floristically, the area is also unique compared with surrounding areas. The Altos de Chiantla plateau is dominated by páramo grasslands and scattered groves of juniper, pines, and fir forests. Therefore, economically and environmentally, this area resembles Andean South America more than northern Central America. And while long-standing activities such as sheep ranching persist in this region, cultural, economic, and environmental changes are also taking place. The present article discusses general landscape changes in this region, with an emphasis on the various impacts that modernization such as remittances and agricultural development projects have brought.

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