The Maya Tropical Forest: People, Parks, & Ancient Cities

By James D. Nations | Go to book overview

Preface

Working in the Maya Tropical Forest for more than 25 years gave me the opportunity to examine scores of books on the region, but my research in libraries and bookstores never turned up the one book I was looking for. I was seeking a book that brought together the basic information on the region’s people, archaeology, and natural resource conservation. Most of all, the book would tell interesting stories about the people, history, and wildlife of the Maya Tropical Forest. This volume represents my effort to create that book for future travelers and researchers.

The Maya Tropical Forest: People, Parks, and Ancient Cities tells a unified story of the lowland tropical forest of southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. The Maya Tropical Forest is the closest rainforest to the United States and one of the most visited tourist sites in the Western Hemisphere. Journalists have called the Maya the most fascinating ancient culture since Egyptian pharaohs first inspired the public imagination, and few months go by without at least one major article on the ancient or modern Maya in National Geographic, Natural History, Newsweek, or Time. Descriptions of Maya archaeology appear regularly in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. Simultaneously, questions about the fate of the world’s rainforests have seeped deep into public concern during the past 25 years, and generations of students are seeking to learn more about the fate of these forests.

The Maya Tropical Forest: People, Parks, and Ancient Cities guides the reader through the past and future of southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, telling some of the stories I have heard and experienced in the region’s archaeological sites, national parks, and communities. The book describes the region’s plants and wildlife, explains how the ancient Maya

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The Maya Tropical Forest: People, Parks, & Ancient Cities
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Notes on Names and Orthography xvii
  • On Distances and Measurements xix
  • Epochs of Civilization in the Maya Tropical Forest xxi
  • Part One - Time, Land, and Forest 1
  • 1 - Introduction to the Maya Tropical Forest 3
  • 2 - History of the Maya Tropical Forest 18
  • 3 - Natural History of the Maya Tropical Forest 46
  • Part Two - Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize 111
  • 4 - Mexico 113
  • 5 - Guatemala 172
  • 6 - Belize 225
  • Part Three - The Future of the Maya Tropical Forest 257
  • 7 - The Future of the Selva Maya 259
  • Glossary 287
  • References Cited 289
  • Index 313
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