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Motagua river
Motagua.km.jpg
The Motagua River during the dry season
Origin Guatemala (El Quiché, Baja Verapaz)
Mouth Atlantic Ocean (near Puerto Barrios)
Basin countries Guatemala, Honduras
Length 486 km (302 mi)
Source elevation 1,800 m (5,900 ft) (El Quiché)
14°56′56″N 91°00′32″W / 14.949022°N 91.008897°W / 14.949022; -91.008897 (Sources Río Motagua)
Mouth elevation 0 m (Gulf of Honduras)
15°43′28″N 88°13′18″W / 15.724534°N 88.221588°W / 15.724534; -88.221588 (Mouth of Río Motagua)
Avg. discharge 208.7 m³/s [1]
The Motagua River, showing Mesoamerican jade sources and nearby Preclassic archaeological sites

The Motagua River is a 486 km (302 mi) long river in Guatemala.[2] It rises in the western highlands of Guatemala where its also called Río Grande, and runs in an easterly direction to the Gulf of Honduras. The final few kilometres of the river form part of the Guatemala/Honduras border. The Motagua River basin covers an area of 12,670 km2 (4,890 sq mi) and is the largest in Guatemala.

The river runs in a valley that has the only known source of jadeitite (jade) in Mesoamerica, and was an important commerce route during the Pre-Columbian era. The important Maya site of Quirigua, is near the river's north bank, as well as several smaller sites with jade quarries and workshops.

The Motagua river valley also marks the Motagua Fault, the tectonic boundary between the North American and the Caribbean Plates. The Motagua fault has been the source of several major earthquakes in Guatemala. Much like lake Amatitlán, the river is highly polluted with untreated sewage, industrial waste, tons of sediment (garbage) and blackwater from Guatemala City.

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