The Mayan civilization covered a third of Central America, mostly on the Yucatan Peninsula. They lived in what is now Yucatan, Guatemala, Belize, and southern Mexico. The area is south of the tropic of Cancer and north of the equator. It is around 900 kilometers from north to south and 550 kilometers from west to east. The land is covered with rainforests, savannas, and swamps. The highlands had volcanic mountains.
The lowlands were a limestone shelf bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and Carribean Sea. The northern climate is hot, with rain May through October. Rivers and lakes would go dry and only sinkholes filled with rainwater provided water. The south consisted of rainforests and savannahs. Rivers and lakes were fed by the Usamacinta River. The highlands were made of mountains and valleys. It was prone to tsunamis, volcanoes, and earthquakes, but had fertile soil. It had rain during May through November.
There were many animals in this region. Some dangerous animals were jaguars, caimans (fierce crocodiles), bull sharks, and many poisonous snakes. Those animals had to be avoided when they hunted deer, turkey, peccaries, tapirs, and rabbits in the forest. Other animals included monkeys and quetzal, which lived under the canopy.
The area was important to trade. The lowlands provided crops for personal consumption, mostly maize. They also grew crops like squash, beans, chilli peppers, amaranth, manioc, and cacao. They grew cotton for cloth and sisal for rope. The highlands provided obsidian, jade, and metals like cinnabar and hematite used to develop a lively trade.Home | Hieroglyphs | Ballgame | Mayan Cities | Bibliography |