The Petén Basin is a geographical/archaeological subregion of Mesoamerica and a center of Maya civilizations such as Tikal and Calakmul. It is primarily located in northern Guatemala and southeastern Mexico. The Maya Forest is the largest remaining tropical rain forest in the Americas
It is primarily located within the Department of El Petén in northern Guatemala and Campeche state in southeastern Mexico.
Petén is a low limestone plateau, and except for areas of savanna vegetation, the region is covered by dense tropical rain forests. The area contains few rivers as most of the rainfall is drained underground.
During the Late Preclassic and Classic periods of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican chronology many major centers of the Maya civilization flourished, such as Tikal and Calakmul. A distinctive Petén-style of Maya architecture and inscriptions arose.
The archaeological sites La Sufricaya and Holmul are also located in this region.
After the Amazon, Mesoamerica’s 35 million-acre (14.2 million-ha) Maya Forest is the largest remaining tropical rain forest in the Americas.
Stretching across Belize, northern Guatemala and Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, the Maya Forest provides refuge for countless rare and endangered species such as the white lipped peccary, tapir, jaguar, scarlet macaw, harpy eagle and howler monkey.
The Maya Forest also harbors up to 400 species of birds with millions visiting during peak winter migratory months.
Mayan communities still call the forest their home. Many continue to practice traditional farming techniques however, traditional small-scale production is giving way to extensive agriculture and ranching, posing a threat to this vast and unique ecosystem.