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Central America Ranges

Range TypeMiscellaneous physical or political Feature
Highest PointVolcán Tajumulco (4220 m/13,845 ft)
CountriesMexico (33%), Nicaragua (17%), Honduras (15%), Guatemala (14%), Panama (9%), Costa Rica (7%), Belize (3%), El Salvador (3%)
(numbers are approximate percentage of range area)
Area775,672 sq km / 299,487 sq mi
Area may include lowland areas
Extent1,601 km / 995 mi North-South
1,948 km / 1,210 mi East-West
Center Lat/Long14° 25' N; 85° 53' W
Map LinkMicrosoft Bing Map

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For the purposes of the PEMRACS, Central America runs from the Ithmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico to the swamps of Darien on the Colombia-Panama border. This is a mostly linear mountain system, well-bounded by the Pacific to the southwest and the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico to the northeast. Except for the Yucatan Peninsula and the Caribbean lowlands of Nicaragua, the area is almost enitrely mountainous.

This area has a clear political and geographic identity and unity--except for the parts of Mexico included, the Central American Ranges are equivalent to the seven small Central American countries. However, it is interesting to note that the lowest saddle along the Continental Divide that runs along the backbone of Central America is in Nicaragua, not at Tehuantepec or Darien.

So, while this Nicaragua saddle is not used as a divider between Range2s, it does set off the Southern Cental America Range3 (Costa Rica and Panama) from the other sub-ranges of Central America: Central Central America (Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador); the Guatemala Ranges; the Chiapas ranges of Mexico; and the Yucatan.

Map of Central America Ranges
Click on red triangle icons for links to other ranges.


Note: Range borders shown on map are an approximation and are not authoritative.
Click Here for a Full Screen Map

Other Ranges: To go to pages for other ranges either click on the map above, or on range names in the hierarchy snapshot below, which show the parent, siblings, and children of the Central America Ranges.
North AmericaLevel 1 (Parent)
         Alaska-Yukon RangesLevel 2 (Sibling)
         North America Arctic IslandsLevel 2 (Sibling)
         Pacific RangesLevel 2 (Sibling)
         Intermountain WestLevel 2 (Sibling)
         Rocky MountainsLevel 2 (Sibling)
         North America PlainsLevel 2 (Sibling)
         Appalachian MountainsLevel 2 (Sibling)
         Central Mexican RangesLevel 2 (Sibling)
         Central America RangesLevel 2
                 YucatanLevel 3 (Child)
                 Chiapas RangesLevel 3 (Child)
                 Guatemala RangesLevel 3 (Child)
                 Central Central AmericaLevel 3 (Child)
                 Costa Rica-Panama RangesLevel 3 (Child)
         Caribbean AreaLevel 2 (Sibling)



Major Peaks of the Central America Ranges

Ten Highest Peaks
RankPeak NamemftRange3
1.Volcán Tajumulco422013,845Guatemala Ranges
2.Volcán Tacaná406713,343Chiapas Ranges
3.Volcán Acatenango397513,041Guatemala Ranges
4.Cerro Chemal383712,589Guatemala Ranges
5.Chirripó Grande381912,530Costa Rica-Panama Ranges
6.Cerro Piramide380712,490Costa Rica-Panama Ranges
7.Volcán Santa María377212,375Guatemala Ranges
8.Cerro Terbi376512,352Costa Rica-Panama Ranges
9.Volcán de Fuego376312,346Guatemala Ranges
10.Volcán de Agua376112,339Guatemala Ranges
Sub-peaks are excluded from this list. List may not be complete, since only summits in the PBC Database are included.
Child Range High Points
RankPeak NamemftRange3
1.Volcán Tajumulco422013,845Guatemala Ranges
2.Volcán Tacaná406713,343Chiapas Ranges
3.Chirripó Grande381912,530Costa Rica-Panama Ranges
4.Cerro Las Minas28499347Central Central America
5.Doyle's Delight11743852Yucatan



Photos of Peaks in the Central America Ranges

Volcán Acatenango
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Volcán Acatenango in Guatemala from the nearby saddle, looking at the higher peak (2009-04-29). Photo by Jeff Malik.
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Chirripó Grande
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Cerro Chirripo looms through the morning mist. Photo by Ken Jones.
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Volcán de Fuego
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Volcán Fuego, Guatemala, from the summit of Acatenango (2009-04-29). Photo by Jeff Malik.
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Volcán de Agua
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Volcan Agua from the plaza in Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala at sunrise (2011-12-21). Photo by Ken Jones.
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Volcán Barú
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On the summit (11,398 feet) of the volcano-country highpoint standing next to the white cross (2011-03-28). Photo by Daniel Musser.
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Volcán Poás
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Volcan Poas crater, March 2013 (2013-03-23). Photo by Timothy Hutchings.
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