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Guatemala Geography

Guatemala, except for the coastal areas, is a mountainous country of rolling hills, plateaus, deep river valleys, and numerous volcanoes - some active.

On May 27, 2010 the Pacaya volcano started erupting lava and rocks, blanketing Guatemala City with black sand (and forcing the closure of the international airport). It was declared a "state of calamity." The Pacaya volcano left about eight centimeters of ash and sand through all of Guatemala City.

Major regions include the Central Highlands that separate the Cuchumatanes Mountains of the northwest from the volcanic ranges of the Sierra Madre Mountains of the south and east; Peten, a limestone plateau covered by grasslands and tropical rainforest that blankets most of the northern third of the country; Atlantic Lowlands that front the swampy edges of the Gulf of Honduras, and the grassy farmland, volcanic sand beaches and rivers of the Pacific Lowlands.

Guatemala is drained by numerous rivers; the Motagua, the country's longest river, rises in the Central Highlands and flows to the Caribbean Sea. Lake Izabal is the most significant lake.

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.