The lake is surrounded by many villages, where the Mayan culture is still very present. The traditional dress culture is still very common. In the Maya people of Atitlán Tz’utujil dominated culture and Kaqchikel. During the Spanish conquest of the Americas, the Kaqchikel initially allied with the invaders to defeat their historic enemies and Maya Quiche Tz’utujil, but they were conquered and subjected them when they refused to pay tribute to the Spanish.
Santiago Atitlán is the largest community and is characterized by its worship Maximon, an idol formed by the fusion of traditional Mayan beliefs, legends of Catholic saints and conquistadors. Institutionalized belief Maximon is under the control of a local religious brotherhood and resides in the homes of several of its members during the course of a year, the most ceremonially moved in a procession during Holy Week. Several cities in Guatemala made similar cults, especially the cult of San Simón in Zunil.
While the Mayan culture is predominant in most surrounding communities, the largest city on the coast, Panajachel, has been overwhelmed in recent years by tourists. It attracted many hippies in the 1960s, and although the war caused the abandonment of Panajachel for many foreigners, in 1996 at the end of this, boomed again with a larger number of visitors. The city’s economy is almost totally dependent on tourism today.