The Maya Indians lived
in Mesoamerica and spanned five modern day countries: Mexico,
Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador.
Scientists believe these people migrated from North America and
set up a new homeland in the rainforests and jungles of Central
A series of waterways connected the Pacific Coast on the east to the Gulf
of Mexico on the west. These early people probably used canoes to move goods
from one city to another on these narrow waterways. There were no lakes or major
rivers in this area. But it was wet. Water bubbled up from the ground all
through the rainforest. There are many swamps and quicksand pits.
Most of Mesoamerica is covered by a dense rainforest, which along with the
Pacific Ocean on the west, the Gulf of Mexico on the west, the many swamps and
quicksand pits, provided a great many natural barriers to help protect the Maya
people from invasion.
The climate is warm. The soil is fertile. In spite of the danger from the
wildlife in the jungle and the threat of volcanic activity, the Maya settled
down and built an impressive civilization in Mesoamerica, composed of hundreds
of cities, connected by a network of roads that ran though the jungle. At one
point, at the height of their civilization about 1,500 years ago, their
population was probably around 5,000,000 (5 million) people.
The Geography of the Maya Empire
Maya Geography (great map and information)
The Amazon Rainforest, interactive
Changing Climate and Severe Drought Caused Changes in the Maya Empire