Huehuetenango is located along the ridges of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, the highest mountain chain of Central America, with altitudes that 4,000 meters. It has a varying climate that ranges from deep cold to hot and humid. Several rivers originate in the area here, like the rivers Selegua, Cuilco, Chixoy and Salinas. Huehuetenango is among one of the 8 most important coffee growing regions also and coffee is cultivated up to 6,500 feet (2,000 meters). The remoteness of Huehuetenango virtually requires producers to process their own coffee.
A large number of the inhabitants of Huehuetenango are of Mayan descent, mainly from the ethnic group of the Mam. Along with the Mam, the Chuje, Kanjobal and Jacalteca Indians share the territory around Huehuetenango. The State of Huehuetenango is politically divided into 31 municipal districts that differ especially in how people dress. In Huehuetenango people are generally farmers, shepherds or artisans who manufacture textiles, guitars, fireworks, pottery and baskets. They also cultivate corn, potatoes, wheat, barley, coffee and sugar cane. The main religion is a mixture between the ancient Mayan religion and some Christian elements.
During the Classic period (250 – 900 AD), Huehuetenango was part of the Mam Kingdom, which ruled most of the western highlands until the Quiches forced them into Huehuetenango, where the Mam were attacked in 1525. The region of Huehuetenango has a background of liberalism and rebellion and it proclaimed its independence before it became an official matter. Zaculeu, the ancient capital of the Mam Maya group, lies on the banks of a stream in the Cuchumatan Mountains. The site contains a ball court and several temples that show the architectural influence of the Mexican highlands. The buildings seen today, date back to the Maya Post-classic Period, although the original settlement goes back to the 5th Century A.D.