Geographic map of Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America, with a population (in 2019) of approximately 17,500,000 inhabitants.
The capital is Guatemala City, with just under 5 million inhabitants.
Guatemala is a presidential republic. For some years the political situation has been quite stable, but in the recent past there have been several coups d’état and periods of civil war. From 2012 to 2015, a former general during the military regime, Otto Pérez Molina, was president of Guatemala; the president in office since 2020 is Alejandro Giammattei.
The official languages are Spanish and twenty-two other indigenous languages.
Guatemala is a country located in Central America and borders Mexico to the north and west, Belize to the east, Honduras to the southeast and El Salvador to the south. The salient characteristics of the geography of this country are the following:
1. Andes Mountains: Guatemala has a mountainous topography that is part of the mountain range known as the Andes. This mountain range is divided into several mountain ranges, including the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes to the west and the Sierra de las Minas to the east.
2. Volcanoes: Guatemala is known for its large number of volcanoes. Some of the most notable include Tajumulco Volcano, which is the highest peak in Central America, and Fuego Volcano, which is one of the most active volcanoes in the region.
3. Lowlands: Despite its mountainous terrain, Guatemala also has large areas of lowlands, especially in the Pacific and Atlantic coastal regions.
4. Lakes and Rivers: The country has several lakes, of which Lake Atitlán is one of the most famous. Additionally, Guatemala has a number of major rivers, such as the Motagua River and the Usumacinta River.
5. Jungles and Forests: Guatemala is home to various rainforests and forests, which are home to rich biodiversity. These areas are essential for the conservation of fauna and flora.
6. Earthquakes: Guatemala is located in an active seismic region and has experienced significant earthquakes throughout its history due to the convergence of tectonic plates.
7. Coasts: Guatemala has coasts on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The Pacific coast is longer and home to several major ports, while the Caribbean coast is shorter but offers access to the sea via the Gulf of Honduras.
8. Geographical Diversity: Guatemala’s diverse geography contributes to its rich biodiversity and offers a wide variety of natural environments and scenic landscapes.
Guatemala’s climate varies significantly from region to region due to its diverse topography, which includes high mountains, valleys, and coastlines. In general, Guatemala has a tropical climate with two main seasons: the rainy season (also known as winter) and the dry season (also known as summer). The climatic characteristics of the main regions of Guatemala are described below:
1. Plateaus (Altiplano):
– The highlands, where cities such as Guatemala City, Antigua and Quetzaltenango are located, have a temperate climate.
– Temperatures vary depending on altitude, but are generally between 15°C and 25°C (59°F to 77°F).
– The rainy season in the highlands usually runs from May to October, while the dry season runs from November to April.
2. Caribbean Region:
– The Caribbean coast of Guatemala has a humid tropical climate.
– Temperatures are generally warm and vary between 25°C and 35°C (77°F to 95°F) throughout the year.
– This region receives a significant amount of rain throughout the year, with a most pronounced rainy season from June to November.
3. Pacific Region:
– The Pacific coast of Guatemala also has a tropical climate, but it is drier than the Caribbean coast.
– Temperatures are warm and tend to be between 28°C and 35°C (82°F to 95°F) throughout the year.
– The rainy season in this region generally runs from May to October.
4. Petén Region:
– El Petén, in northern Guatemala, has a hot and humid tropical climate.
– Temperatures are high and usually range between 25°C and 35°C (77°F to 95°F).
– The rainy season is significant and runs from June to November.
Guatemala is a country with geographic and climatic diversity that allows it to host a wide variety of flora. The flora of Guatemala is rich and varied, with numerous species of plants, trees and flowers. Below, I provide you with a list of some of the most important plants and trees found in Guatemala:
1. Ceiba (Ceiba pentandra): This majestic tree is the national tree of Guatemala and is found throughout the country. It is known for its wide, thorny trunk and impressive height.
2. Orchids: Guatemala is known for its great diversity of orchids. There are hundreds of different species, some of which are endemic to the region.
3. African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis): Although not native to Guatemala, the oil palm is grown in the country for the production of palm oil.
4. Ficus: Several species of ficus are found in Guatemala, including ficus benjamina, an evergreen tree prized for its attractive foliage.
5. Bromeliads: These ornamental plants are found throughout the country and are characterized by rosette-shaped leaves and colorful flowers.
6. Coffee (Coffea arabica): Guatemala is famous for its high-quality coffee. Coffee is grown in several mountainous regions of the country and forms an important part of the Guatemalan economy.
7. Pines: In the mountainous regions of Guatemala, especially in the Cuchumatanes mountain range, there are dense pine forests.
8. Agave: Agave is used to make mezcal and other traditional spirits in Guatemala.
9. Fruit Trees: Guatemala is also known for its fruit trees, such as avocado, soursop, pineapple, mango, papaya and many more.
Guatemala’s fauna is very diverse thanks to its varied geography which includes rainforests, mountains, coasts and plateaus. Below is a list of some of the most important species of Guatemalan fauna:
– Jaguar (Panthera onca): The jaguar is the largest feline in America and is found in the jungles and forests of Guatemala, although it is an endangered species.
– Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno): The quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala and is known for its colorful plumage and long tail. He lives in the highlands and is considered a symbol of freedom.
– Black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra): This monkey is known for its distinctive howl and is found in the rainforests of northern Guatemala.
– Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus): toucans are tropical birds known for their colorful beaks and live in the Guatemalan jungles.
– Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao): These beautiful birds with red and blue plumage are common in the rainforests of Guatemala.
– Morelet’s crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii): this crocodile is found in the rivers and lakes of Guatemala and is a species native to Central America.
– Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii): The tapir is a herbivorous mammal found in the jungles and forests of Guatemala.
– Ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata): This turkey, with its brightly colored feathers and ocellus-shaped eyes, is found in the jungles of northern Guatemala.
– Coral snake (Micrurus spp.): Guatemala is home to several species of coral snakes, some of which are venomous.
– Sea turtle (various species): Guatemala has coasts on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, where several species of sea turtles nest, such as the green turtle and the hawksbill turtle.
– Migratory Birds: Guatemala is an important location for migratory birds that travel between North America and South America. Many species of migratory birds stop in the country during their migratory routes.
– Freshwater fish: Guatemala’s rivers and lakes are home to a variety of fish, including tilapia, catfish and cichlids.
Obviously these are just some of the many species of animals present in Guatemala. Wildlife conservation and the protection of endangered species are important objectives of the country.