Guatemala’s seven biomes

The classification of Guatemala´s ecosystems in biomes was proposed by Villar-Anleu in 1998. These biomes are biogeographic categories that can be further subdivided into several ecosystems defined by their floral characteristics (Dallies 2008).

Tropical Humid Forest

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It is representative of the Northern and Eastern parts of Peten. It is mainly flat, with karstic landscapes, exuberant forests, and high species diversity. The climate is hot and humid. This is the country´s largest remnant of jungle.

Tropical Rain Forest

2-selva-tropical-lluviosaAlthough it is similar to the Tropical Humid Forest, it presents much higher levels of rainfall and atmospheric humidity. With an altitudinal range going from sea level to 1,300 m (4,290 ft). It is one of the wettest parts of the country. It holds several ecosystems, such as bogs, floodable forests, wetlands, estuaries, Caribbean marine coastlands, tall evergreen forests, savannahs, and associated pasturelands.

Cloud Forest

It presents a complex flora structure in high relief areas ranging from 1,100 to 2,900 m (3,300 to 9,570ft) above sea level. It holds great habitat diversity, abundant rainfall, high levels of atmospheric humidity, and exuberant vegetation typical of mixed forests where mosses and ferns grow. It is an area of high endemism due to its characteristics.

Montane Forest

Its vegetation is characteristic of North America where conifers –plants that reproduce through cones- are abundant. It presents a marked temperature difference between cold and warm seasons, and it has an altitudinal variation that ranges from 2,000 to 4,200 m (6,600 to 13,860ft) above sea level. The vegetation is dominated by forests of pine, oak, and birch, and in the higher areas by subalpine pastures.

Dry Scrub

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It is typical of valleys surrounded by mountains that generate a phenomenon known as “rain shadow effect”, generating dry areas with very low levels of rainfall. The flora is characteristic of dry forests and xeric areas, adapted to local conditions, with abundant cacti and low briery, most of them with spines. It is one of the most fragile and less represented biomes of the Guatemalan Protected Area system.

Subtropical Humid Forest

It is located along the transition zone between the Guatemalan highlands and Pacific coast, along the volcanic chain southern slope, between 800 and 1,200 m (2,640 to 3,600 ft). It is a zone of abundant rainfall and broadleaf vegetation. It holds an ecotone -a zone of transition- for neartic and neotropical species of fauna especially birds, and for flora.

Tropical Humid Savannah


Currently, the original vegetation native to the region (deciduous forests, evergreen forests, savannahs, and mangrove forests) have been replaced in large areas by agricultural landscape; however, it is still possible to observe remnants of forest and a great number of rivers coming down from the volcanic chain and crossing the region, making it one of the most productive ones in terms of agricultural production in the country.

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