Geography of Guatemala
Get Geography of Guatemala essential facts below. View Videos or join the Geography of Guatemala discussion. Add Geography of Guatemala to your topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Geography of Guatemala
Geography of Guatemala
Guatemala geopolitical.jpg
ContinentNorth America
RegionCentral America
Coordinates15°30?N 90°15?W / 15.500°N 90.250°W / 15.500; -90.250
AreaRanked 105th
 o Total108,889 km2 (42,042 sq mi)
 o Land98.41%
 o Water1.59%
Coastline400 km (250 mi)
Borderstotal: 1,667 km (1,036 mi)
Highest pointTajumulco Volcano
4,220 m or 13,845 ft}
Lowest pointPacific Ocean
0 m
Longest riverMotagua River
486 km (302 mi)
Largest lakeLake Izabal
589.6 km2 (227.6 sq mi)
Exclusive economic zone114,170 km2 (44,080 sq mi)
A map of Guatemala

Guatemala is mountainous, except for the south coastal area and the vast northern lowlands of Petén department. The country is located in Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Honduras and Belize and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico. Two mountain chains enter Guatemala from west to east, dividing the country into three major regions: the highlands, where the mountains are located; the Pacific coast, south of the mountains; and the limestone plateau of the Petén region, north of the mountains. These areas vary in climate, elevation, and landscape, providing dramatic contrasts between hot and humid tropical lowlands and highland peaks and valleys.


The southern edge of the western highlands is marked by the Sierra Madre, which stretches from the Mexican border south and east, and continues at lower elevations toward El Salvador. The mountain chain is characterized by steep volcanic cones, including Tajumulco Volcano 4,220 m or 13,845 ft, the highest point in the country and Central America. All of Guatemala's 37 volcanoes (3 of them active: Pacaya, Santiaguito and Fuego), are in this mountain chain, and are abundant in the highlands.

The northern chain of mountains begins near the Mexican border with the Cuchumatanes range, then stretches east through the Chuacús and Chamá sierras, down to the Santa Cruz and Minas sierras, near the Caribbean Sea. The northern and southern mountains are separated by the Motagua valley, where the Motagua river and its tributaries drains from the highlands into the Caribbean being navigable in its lower end, where it forms the boundary with Honduras.

The rivers are short and shallow in the Pacific vertient, larger and deeper, such as the Polochic which drains in Lake Izabal, Río Dulce, Motagua and Sarstún that forms the boundary with Belize in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico vertient (Usumacinta, which forms the boundary between Chiapas, Mexico and Petén and its tributaries such as La Pasión and San Pedro.

Most of the major cities are located in the Highlands. Major cities are the capital Guatemala City, elevation 1,500 m (Central Highlands), Antigua Guatemala, elevation 1,530 m (Central Highlands), Quetzaltenango elevation 2,350 m (Western Highlands) and Puerto Barrios on the Caribbean coast. The largest lake Lago de Izabal (589.6 km²), is close to the Caribbean coast. Volcán Tajumulco, 4,220 m, the highest point in Central America, is located in the western department of San Marcos.

The last major earthquake was on February 4, 1976, killing more than 23,000 in the Central Highlands.


Guatemala map of Köppen climate classification zones

Climate is hot and humid in the Pacific and Petén Lowlands. It is more temperate in the highlands, to freezing cold at the high of the Cuchumatanes range, and hot/drier in the easternmost departments.

Guatemala's location on the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean makes it a target for hurricanes, including Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and Hurricane Stan in October 2005, which killed more than 1,500 people. The damage was not wind related, but caused by flooding and landslides.

Climate change

Climate change in Guatemala is a serious issue because Guatemala is considered one of the 10 nations which is most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.[1] In 2010, Guatemala "ranked second in the world on the Global Climate Risk Index, which indicates the level of exposure and vulnerability to extreme events."[2] Both commercial agricultural production and subsistence farming have declined, and thus subsistence farmers find it more difficult to find work as day laborers when their own harvests fail.[3] About 300,000 subsistence farmers reported crop loss due to drought in 2018.[4] About half of Guatemala's workforce is in the agricultural sector.[5] Poor crop yields due to climate change have been identified as a factor in migration to the United States.[6][7]

Geographic data

Guatemala's topography.
Geographic coordinates
15°30?N 90°15?W / 15.500°N 90.250°W / 15.500; -90.250
Map references
Central America and the Caribbean
  • Total: 108,889 km²
  • Land: 107,159 km²
Land boundaries
  • Total: 1,667 km
  • Border countries: Belize 266 km, El Salvador 199 km, Honduras 244 km, Mexico 958 km
400 km
Maritime claims
  • Territorial sea: 12 nmi (22 km)
  • Exclusive economic zone: 114,170 km2 (44,080 sq mi) and 200 nmi (370 km)
  • Continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Extreme points
Natural resources
Petroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, chicle, hydropower
Land use
  • Arable land: 14.32%
  • Permanent crops: 8.82%
  • Other: 76.87% (2012 est.)
Irrigated land
3,121 km² (2003)
Total renewable water resources
111.3 km3 (2011)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
  • total: 3.46 km3/yr (15%/31%/54%)
  • per capita: 259.1 m3/yr (2006)
Natural hazards
Several active volcanoes, occasional violent earthquakes; Caribbean coast subject to hurricanes and other tropical storms, causing flooding, mudflows and landslides
Environment--current issues
Deforestation; soil erosion; water pollution
Environment--international agreements
No natural harbors on west coast

See also


  1. ^ "Guatemala | Global Climate Change". Climate Links. USAID. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "Guatemala". Research Program on Agriculture, Climate Change, and Food Security. 2015-11-27. Retrieved .
  3. ^ "Changing climate forces desperate Guatemalans to migrate". National Geographic. 2018-10-23. Retrieved .
  4. ^ Walsh, Conor. "Conor Walsh: Immigration and climate change in Central America". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved .
  5. ^ Blitzer, Jonathan; Lima, Mauricio (2019-04-03). "How Climate Change Is Fuelling the U.S. Border Crisis". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved .
  6. ^ Shapiro, Ari; Blitzer, Jonathan (April 10, 2019). "Climate Change Is Forcing Farmers In Guatemala To Leave Their Land For The U.S." NPR. Retrieved .
  7. ^ Padgett, Tim (Apr 8, 2019). "Guatemalan Climate Change Refugees Pouring Over U.S. Border - And Into South Florida". WLRN. Retrieved .

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes