The Maya civilization was a Mesoamerican civilization developed by the Maya peoples, and noted for its hieroglyphic script—the only known fully developed writing system of the pre-Columbian Americas—as well as for its art, architecture, mathematics, calendar, and astronomical system. The Maya civilization developed in an area that encompasses southeastern Mexico, all of Guatemala and Belize, and the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador. This region consists of the northern lowlands encompassing the Yucatan Peninsula, and the highlands of the Sierra Madre, running from the Mexican state of Chiapas, across southern Guatemala and on wards into El Salvador, and the southern lowlands of the Pacific littoral plain.
In spite of the invasion of foreign tourism, Mayan culture has remained amazingly intact. Many of the Yucatan Mayans whose ancestors were hunters, chicle farmers and fisherman now work in hotels and other tourist related businesses. More than 350,000 Mayans living in the Yucatan speak Yukatek Mayans and most speak Spanish as a second language, primarily learned in school.
As with ancient Egyptian Pharaohs, Mayan rulers filled vast cities with sky high pyramids, ornate and lavish palaces personifying the power of the great kings and their connections to the gods, and astronomical observatories which helped them created their calendars and plan their lives.
The cause of the Mayan collapse came over decades with no one quite sure what happened. There is no one single explanation for this implosion, but some scholars seem to believe that environmental catastropy lead to a full blown meltdown - lack of food and polluted water which produced malnutrition and disease.