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Izabal (ēsäbälˈ) [key], lake, c.30 mi (48 km) long and 15 mi (24 km) wide, E Guatemala, largest lake in the country. Known also as the Golfo Dulce, it drains to the Caribbean Sea through the Golfete Dulce, a small adjacent lake, and the Rio Dulce, a broad tropical river. In Spanish colonial times Lake Izabal was the scene of lively trading between the seacoast and the highlands, and the small town of Izabal on its south shore was a thriving port, constantly subjected to raids in the 17th cent. by English and Dutch buccaneers. Today shipping is negligible, although Lívingston, at the mouth of the Rio Dulce, is of some importance. Nearby are many pre-Columbian ruins, the most outstanding being at Quiriguá.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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