geographic extent of the Maya civilization, known as the
Maya area, extended throughout the southern Mexican states
of Chiapas, Tabasco, and the Yucatán Peninsula states of
Quintana Roo, Campeche and Yucatán. The Maya area also
extended throughout the northern Central American region,
including the present-day nations of Guatemala, Belize, El
Salvador and western Honduras.
As the largest sub-region in Mesoamerica, it encompassed a
vast and varied landscape, from the mountainous regions of
the Sierra Madre to the semi-arid plains of northern
Yucatán. Climate in the Maya region can vary tremendously,
as the low-lying areas are particularly susceptible to the
hurricanes and tropical storms that frequent the
The Maya area is generally divided into three loosely
defined zones: the southern Maya highlands, the southern
(or central) Maya lowlands, and the northern Maya
lowlands. The southern Maya highlands include all of
elevated terrain in Guatemala and the Chiapas highlands.
The southern lowlands lie just north of the highlands, and
incorporate the Petén of the Mexican states of Campeche
and Quintana Roo and northern Guatemala, Belize and El
Salvador. The northern lowlands cover the remainder of the
Yucatán Peninsula, including the Puuc hills.