Guatemala city

Geography and Landscape


Guatemala is located in Central America between Mexico and Belize to the north and Honduras and El Salvador to the south. Guatemala borders the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. The coastline is 400 kilometres long. The surface area of Guatemala is 108,890 square kilometres.

Guatemala Satellite PhotoGuatemala Satellite PhotoPhoto: Public domain


The landscape of Guatemala can be divided into four parts. 1,The highlands 2. The slopes on both sides of the highlands 3. The Petén region with mainly grassland and tropical forests 4. The coastal plains and large lakes.

The highlands

The highlands range from 1500 to 4000 metres. Most people live in the valleys between 1500 and 2500 metres and cultivate amongst others corn and beans. The landscape is characterised by mountains and deforested slopes. The mountains in the central part of Guatemala are foothills of the Andes. Chains bear exotic names such as Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, Sierra de Chamá and Sierra de Santa Cruz. The Sierra Madre in the south is surrounded by volcanoes.

The slopes on both sides

The slopes on both sides of the highlands are between 600 and 1500 metres. The volcanic soil in this area is fertile and people grow coffee, maize and other crops. Volcán Tajamulco, at 4420 metres, is the highest peak in the country and in Central America. Some of the volcanoes are still active and there are many earthquakes in this area. At night, the volcanoes give the area a brilliant red glow.

Volcán Tajamulco, highest mountain in GuatemalaVolcán Tajamulco, highest mountain in GuatemalaPhoto: Simon Burchell, CC BY-SA 3.0 no changes made

The Petén region

In the sparsely populated Petén region, you will find mainly grasslands and tropical rainforest. This region covers about one third of the country. Unfortunately, in the south and east, trees are cut down on a large scale, causing plants and animals to disappear for good or even to become extinct.

The coastal plains (and lakes)

Few Indians live on the coastal plains. On the Caribbean coastal plain, mainly bananas are grown and on the Pacific coast plantations have been established (rubber, cotton, sugar cane, etc.). The three main rivers - the Rio Polchic, the Rio Motagua and the Rio Dulce - all flow into the Gulf of Honduras. The Rio Usumacinta flows northwards to the Gulf of Mexico. Some of the large lakes for which Guatemala is famous are Lake Petén Itza, Lake Atilán and Lake Izabal.


Elmar Landeninformatie

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated April 2022
Copyright: Team Landenweb