Guatemala is the third-largest country in Central America. Situated in a geologically active region, its geography is characterized by three major geographic regions or zones: the Petén lowlands, the Guatemalan highlands, and the Pacific coast flatlands.
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Landforms of Guatemala
The Andean Volcanic Belt is a major volcanic belt along the South American coast, segmented into four main areas of active volcanism. The Ring of Fire is an area in the Pacific Ocean basin where earthquakes and eruptions occur due to the movement and collision of tectonic plates.
The Central America Volcanic Arc (CAVA) is a chain of hundreds of volcanic formations that extend from Guatemala to northern Panama, parallel to the Pacific coastline of the Central American Isthmus. These volcanic formations range from major stratovolcanoes to lava domes and cinder cones.
Lake Atitlán lies in a spectacular setting in the Guatemalan Highlands of the Sierra Madre mountain range in southwestern Guatemala. It is the deepest lake in Central America. Renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, it is Guatemala's most important tourist attraction.
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System is a marine region, underwater ecosystem and geological structure that stretches from the Yucatán Peninsula down to Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. This underwater wilderness of coral provides homes and food to hundreds of species.
The Petén Basin is a geographical subregion of Mesoamerica and was a center of Maya civilizations. It is primarily located in northern Guatemala and southeastern Mexico. The Maya Forest is the second-largest remaining tropical rainforest in the Americas.
The Sierra de las Minas mountain range runs from east to west through Guatemala's southeast highlands. The Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve contains a substantial part of the range as well as an estimated 60 percent of Guatemala’s remaining cloud forest.
The Sierra Madre de Chiapas is a major mountain range of Central America that runs parallel to the Pacific coast, from southern Mexico northwest-southeast across the southern half of Guatemala and into El Salvador and Honduras. It is a mostly crystalline range of block mountains with a degree of volcanic activity.
The Yucatán Peninsula is the exposed portion of the larger Yucatán Platform and lies between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. It includes the Mexican states of Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatán as well as parts of Belize and Guatemala.