Climate Change Overview

Country Summary

This page presents high-level information for Guatemala's climate zones and its seasonal cycle for mean temperature and precipitation for the latest climatology, 1991-2020. Climate zone classifications are derived from the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system, which divides climates into five main climate groups divided based on seasonal precipitation and temperature patterns. The five main groups are A (tropical), B (dry), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar). All climates except for those in the E group are assigned a seasonal precipitation sub-group (second letter).  Climate classifications are identified by hovering your mouse over the legend. A narrative overview of Guatemala's country context and climate is provided following the visualizations.

Guatemala is located in the Northernmost end of the Central American isthmus and to the West and North with Mexico, to the East with Belize and the Gulf of Honduras, to the Southeast with Honduras and El Salvador, and to the South with the Pacific Ocean. It is approximately 108,889 km2 in size. It has a rugged topography with elevations that go from sea level to 4,200 meters above sea level, which gives the country six climate regions. It has an estimated population over 17.9 million inhabitants as of 2020. 

Much of the country is mountainous and dominated by a string of volcanic ranges. Guatemala is the largest economy in Central America, one of the most densely populated and one of the poorest countries in the region. More than half of Guatemala’s population lives in rural areas, and of that, 70 percent live in poverty. The Guatemalan economy is the largest in Central America and also the fifth poorest economy in Latin America and the Caribbean region with persistently high rates of poverty and inequality. 

Guatemala is extremely affected by climate and weather events and its poorer populations are particularly vulnerable. Guatemala ranks ninth in the world for level of risk to the effects of climate change. As a result of widespread deforestation and land degradation, slash-and-burn subsistence agriculture and overexploitation of water resources, Guatemalans rely on degraded natural resources and lands with low productivity, leading to increased food insecurity and vulnerability. Vulnerability is further increased by urbanization and rapid population growth, highly vulnerable physical structures, limited access to suitable water and health services, and low capacity to manage natural disaster risks.

The economy is mainly driven by its agriculture sector which includes, livestock, hunting, forestry, and fisheries sub-sectors. The agriculture sector is particularly vulnerable as small agricultural producers are highly impacted by droughts associated with climate change. Assessments show that farmers loose, on average, 55% of their basic grain production during drought periods.

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) is the lead agency on climate change. A National Climate Change Program, started in 2008, helps implement measures agreed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The National Climate Change Policy (2009) lays out a political and legal basis for action and a framework Climate Change Law, adopted in 2013, recently created the National Climate Change Council, a collegial advisory body. The Council consists of public and private representatives and is overseen by the President. Guatemala ratified the Paris Agreement on January 25, 2017.