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The Mayas

             The Mayas are native people of South Mexico and Central America. The ancestors of the Maya crossed the Bering Strait twenty thousand years ago. They were traveling hunter-gatherers. The Mayas presently inhabit Southern Mexico, Guatemala, Western Honduras, El Salvador, and Northern Belize. The Maya were skilled farmers, clearing large sections of tropical rain forest and, where groundwater was scarce, building large underground reservoirs for the storage of rainwater. They were equally skilled as weavers and potters, and cleared routes through jungles and swamps to promote widespread trade networks with distant people. .
             Almost four million people live in the Mayan area. There are at least twenty-eight different languages spoken there although most speak Spanish. The Mayans today preserve many of the ancient traditions. The day-to-day activity of each person depends on customs governed by religious beliefs. They keep their lives in harmony with their family, their community, and their gods.
             The Mayan people had centralized governments, commanded by a king, which ruled territories with visibly distinct boundaries. These boundaries changed as the different states lost and gained control over territory. In between 300-600 A.D. the population of the central lowlands declined significantly due to famine, drought, breakdowns in trade, and political breakup. Disintegration from large states into smaller cities caused the Mayans to use much of their resources on rivalries between cities such as wars and competitions of architecture and art between rival cities. The political power held by the Mayans is determined by the social and economical difference in the class structure of their society. Success depends on personal abilities.
             The Maya religion was not based on the human sacrifice that other tribes centered their religion around. However, blood sacrifice played an important role in their religion.

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