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Central Lowlands

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altThe Central lowlands encompass an area that extends from Tabasco, across southern Campeche and northern Chiapas, the Department of Peten in Guatemala and most of Belize.

This sub-region is marked by dense tropical forests and rolling terrain. Several large rivers, like the Usumacinta to the west, the Hondo, New and Belize Rivers to the East, and the Sittee, Swazey and Motagua to the south, cut across its rolling terrain. These navigable rivers served as major avenues for trade, exchange and contact, and many products (e.g. animal (jaguar, etc.) skins used as symbols of power by the elite, flint for tools and weapons, marine shells for jewelry, slate, and granite for grinding stones called manos and metates) were exported by merchants that journeyed on their large dugout canoes along these waterways.

Some of the largest and best known Maya cities were established in the central area – cities such as Tikal, Uaxactun, Naranjo, Seibal and Mirador in the Peten, Calakmul and Becan in Campeche, Kohunlich, Coba and Tzibanche in Quintana Roo, and Caracol, Xunantunich, Lamanai, Lubaantun and Altun Ha in Belize (to name a few).