Lake Atitlán is a lake in the Guatemalan Highlands of the Sierra Madre mountain range. It is in the Sololá Department of southwestern Guatemala, it is the deepest lake in Central America Atitlán means "between the waters." In the Nahuatl language, "atl" is the word for water, "titlan" means between. The "tl" at the end of the word "atl" is dropped and the words are combined to form "Atitlán." Lake Atitlán is a lake in Central America with a maximum depth of about 340 metres with an average depth of 220 metres. Its surface area is 130.1 km2. It is 18 km × 8 km with around 20 km3 of water. Atitlán is technically an endorheic lake, feeding into two nearby rivers rather than draining into the ocean, it is shaped by three volcanoes on its southern flank. The lake basin is volcanic in origin, filling an enormous caldera formed by an eruption 84,000 years ago; the culture of the towns and villages surrounding Lake Atitlán is influenced by the Maya people. The lake is about 50 kilometres west-northwest of Antigua.
It should not be confused with the smaller Lake Amatitlán. Lake Atitlán is renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, is Guatemala's most important national and international tourist attraction. German explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt called it "the most beautiful lake in the world," and Aldous Huxley famously wrote of it in his 1934 travel book Beyond the Mexique Bay: "Lake Como, it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlán is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes, it is too much of a good thing." The area supports extensive coffee and avocado orchards and a variety of farm crops, most notably corn and onions. Significant agricultural crops include: corn, beans, tomatoes, garlic, chile verde and pitahaya fruit; the lake itself is a significant food source for the indigenous population. The first volcanic activity in the region occurred about 11 million years ago, since the region has seen four separate episodes of volcanic growth and caldera collapse, the most recent of which began about 1.8 million years ago and culminated in the formation of the present caldera.
The lake now fills a large part of the caldera. The caldera-forming eruption is ejected up to 300 km3 of tephra; the enormous eruption dispersed ash over an area of some 6,000,000 square kilometres: it has been detected from Florida to Ecuador, can be used as a stratigraphic marker in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. A chocoyo is a type of bird, found nesting in the soft ash layer. Since the end of Los Chocoyos, continuing volcanic activity has built three volcanoes in the caldera. Volcán Atitlán lies on the southern rim of the caldera, while Volcán San Pedro and Volcán Tolimán lie within the caldera. San Pedro seems to have stopped erupting about 40,000 years ago. Tolimán began growing after San Pedro stopped erupting, remains active, although it has not erupted in historic times. Atitlán has developed entirely in the last 10,000 years and remains active, with its most recent eruption having occurred in 1853. On February 4, 1976, a large earthquake struck Guatemala, killing more than 26,000 people.
The earthquake fractured the lake bed and caused subsurface drainage from the lake, allowing the water level to drop two metres within one month. In 1955, the area around Lake Atitlán became a national park; the lake was unknown to the rest of the world, Guatemala was seeking ways to increase tourism and boost the local economy. It was suggested by Pan American World Airways that stocking the lake with a fish prized by anglers would be a way to do just that; as a result, an exotic non-native species, the black bass, was introduced into the lake in 1958. The bass took to its new home and caused a radical change in the species composition of the lake; the predatory bass caused the elimination of more than two-thirds of the native fish species in the lake and contributed to the extinction of the Atitlan grebe, a rare bird that lived only in the vicinity of Lake Atitlán. A unique aspect of the climate is; this wind afternoon across the lake. In August 2015 a thick bloom of algae known as Microcystis cyanobacteria re-appeared in Lake Atitlan.
Bureaucratic red tape has been blamed for the lack of action to save the lake. If current activities continue unchecked, the toxification of the lake will make it unsuitable for human use. A bluish gray stream of wastewater descending through the town of San Pablo La Laguna and emptying directly into the lake can be viewed along the shoreline trail as you enter San Pablo; the lake is surrounded by many villages in which Maya culture is still prevalent and traditional dress is worn. The Maya people of Atitlán are predominantly Tz ` Kaqchikel. During the Spanish conquest of the Americas, the Kaqchikel allied themselves with the invaders to defeat their historic enemies, the Tz'utujil and K'iche' Maya, but were themselves conquered and subdued when they refused to pay tribute to the Spanish. Santiago Atitlán is the largest of the lakeside communities, it is noted for its worship of Maximón, an idol formed by the fusion o
Pakistan the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world’s sixth-most populous country with a population exceeding 212,742,631 people. In area, it is the 33rd-largest country. Pakistan has a 1,046-kilometre coastline along the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by India to the east, Afghanistan to the west, Iran to the southwest, China in the far northeast, it is separated narrowly from Tajikistan by Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor in the northwest, shares a maritime border with Oman. The territory that now constitutes Pakistan was the site of several ancient cultures and intertwined with the history of the broader Indian subcontinent; the ancient history involves the Neolithic site of Mehrgarh and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation, was home to kingdoms ruled by people of different faiths and cultures, including Hindus, Indo-Greeks, Turco-Mongols and Sikhs. The area has been ruled by numerous empires and dynasties, including the Persian Achaemenid Empire, Alexander III of Macedon, the Seleucid Empire, the Indian Maurya Empire, the Gupta Empire, the Arab Umayyad Caliphate, the Delhi Sultanate, the Mongol Empire, the Mughal Empire, the Afghan Durrani Empire, the Sikh Empire and, most the British Empire.
Pakistan is the only country to have been created in the name of Islam. It is an ethnically and linguistically diverse country, with a diverse geography and wildlife. A dominion, Pakistan adopted a constitution in 1956, becoming an Islamic republic. An ethnic civil war and Indian military intervention in 1971 resulted in the secession of East Pakistan as the new country of Bangladesh. In 1973, Pakistan adopted a new constitution which stipulated that all laws are to conform to the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Quran and Sunnah. A regional and middle power, Pakistan has the sixth-largest standing armed forces in the world and is a nuclear power as well as a declared nuclear-weapons state, the second in South Asia and the only nation in the Muslim world to have that status. Pakistan has a semi-industrialised economy with a well-integrated agriculture sector and a growing services sector, it is ranked among the emerging and growth-leading economies of the world, is backed by one of the world's largest and fastest-growing middle class.
Pakistan's political history since independence has been characterized by periods of military rule, political instability and conflicts with India. The country continues to face challenging problems, including overpopulation, poverty and corruption. Pakistan is a member of the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the OIC, the Commonwealth of Nations, the SAARC and the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition; the name Pakistan means "land of the pure" in Urdu and Persian. It alludes to the word pāk meaning pure in Pashto; the suffix ـستان is a Persian word meaning the place of, recalls the synonymous Sanskrit word sthāna स्थान. The name of the country was coined in 1933 as Pakstan by Choudhry Rahmat Ali, a Pakistan Movement activist, who published it in his pamphlet Now or Never, using it as an acronym referring to the names of the five northern regions of British India: Punjab, Kashmir and Baluchistan; the letter i was incorporated to ease pronunciation. Some of the earliest ancient human civilisations in South Asia originated from areas encompassing present-day Pakistan.
The earliest known inhabitants in the region were Soanian during the Lower Paleolithic, of whom stone tools have been found in the Soan Valley of Punjab. The Indus region, which covers most of present day Pakistan, was the site of several successive ancient cultures including the Neolithic Mehrgarh and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro; the Vedic period was characterised by an Indo-Aryan culture. Multan was an important Hindu pilgrimage centre; the Vedic civilisation flourished in the ancient Gandhāran city of Takṣaśilā, now Taxila in the Punjab, founded around 1000 BCE. Successive ancient empires and kingdoms ruled the region: the Persian Achaemenid Empire, Alexander the Great's empire in 326 BCE and the Maurya Empire, founded by Chandragupta Maurya and extended by Ashoka the Great, until 185 BCE; the Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria included Gandhara and Punjab and reached its greatest extent under Menander, prospering the Greco-Buddhist culture in the region.
Taxila had one of the earliest universities and centres of higher education in the world, established during the late Vedic period in 6th century BCE. The school consisted of several monasteries without large dormitories or lecture halls where the religious instruction was provided on an individualistic basis; the ancient university was documented by the invading forces of Alexander the Great, "the like of which had not been seen in Greece," and was recorded by Chinese pilgrims in the 4th or 5th century CE. At its zenith, the Rai Dynasty of Sindh ruled the surrounding territories; the Pala Dynasty was the last Buddhist empire, under Dharmapala and Devapala, stretched across South Asia from what is now Bangladesh through Northern India to Pakistan. The Arab conqueror Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh in 711 CE; the Pakistan government's official chronol
The United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations based in Paris. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter, it is the successor of the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation. UNESCO has 11 associate members. Most of its field offices are "cluster" offices covering three or more countries. UNESCO pursues its objectives through five major programs: education, natural sciences, social/human sciences and communication/information. Projects sponsored by UNESCO include literacy and teacher-training programs, international science programs, the promotion of independent media and freedom of the press and cultural history projects, the promotion of cultural diversity, translations of world literature, international cooperation agreements to secure the world's cultural and natural heritage and to preserve human rights, attempts to bridge the worldwide digital divide.
It is a member of the United Nations Development Group. UNESCO's aim is "to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture and information". Other priorities of the organization include attaining quality Education For All and lifelong learning, addressing emerging social and ethical challenges, fostering cultural diversity, a culture of peace and building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication; the broad goals and objectives of the international community—as set out in the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals —underpin all UNESCO strategies and activities. UNESCO and its mandate for international cooperation can be traced back to a League of Nations resolution on 21 September 1921, to elect a Commission to study feasibility; this new body, the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation was indeed created in 1922.
On 18 December 1925, the International Bureau of Education began work as a non-governmental organization in the service of international educational development. However, the onset of World War II interrupted the work of these predecessor organizations. After the signing of the Atlantic Charter and the Declaration of the United Nations, the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education began meetings in London which continued from 16 November 1942 to 5 December 1945. On 30 October 1943, the necessity for an international organization was expressed in the Moscow Declaration, agreed upon by China, the United Kingdom, the United States and the USSR; this was followed by the Dumbarton Oaks Conference proposals of 9 October 1944. Upon the proposal of CAME and in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, held in San Francisco in April–June 1945, a United Nations Conference for the establishment of an educational and cultural organization was convened in London 1–16 November 1945 with 44 governments represented.
The idea of UNESCO was developed by Rab Butler, the Minister of Education for the United Kingdom, who had a great deal of influence in its development. At the ECO/CONF, the Constitution of UNESCO was introduced and signed by 37 countries, a Preparatory Commission was established; the Preparatory Commission operated between 16 November 1945, 4 November 1946—the date when UNESCO's Constitution came into force with the deposit of the twentieth ratification by a member state. The first General Conference took place from 19 November to 10 December 1946, elected Dr. Julian Huxley to Director-General; the Constitution was amended in November 1954 when the General Conference resolved that members of the Executive Board would be representatives of the governments of the States of which they are nationals and would not, as before, act in their personal capacity. This change in governance distinguished UNESCO from its predecessor, the ICIC, in how member states would work together in the organization's fields of competence.
As member states worked together over time to realize UNESCO's mandate and historical factors have shaped the organization's operations in particular during the Cold War, the decolonization process, the dissolution of the USSR. Among the major achievements of the organization is its work against racism, for example through influential statements on race starting with a declaration of anthropologists and other scientists in 1950 and concluding with the 1978 Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice. In 1956, the Republic of South Africa withdrew from UNESCO saying that some of the organization's publications amounted to "interference" in the country's "racial problems." South Africa rejoined the organization in 1994 under the leadership of Nelson Mandela. UNESCO's early work in the field of education included the pilot project on fundamental education in the Marbial Valley, started in 1947; this project was followed by expert missions to other countries, for example, a mission to Afghanistan in 1949.
In 1948, UNESCO recommended that Member States should make free primary education compulsory and universal. In 1990, the World Conference on Education for All, in Jomtien, launched a global movement to provide basic education for a
The term landslide or, less landslip, refers to several forms of mass wasting that include a wide range of ground movements, such as rockfalls, deep-seated slope failures and debris flows. Landslides occur in a variety of environments, characterized by either steep or gentle slope gradients: from mountain ranges to coastal cliffs or underwater, in which case they are called submarine landslides. Gravity is the primary driving force for a landslide to occur, but there are other factors affecting slope stability which produce specific conditions that make a slope prone to failure. In many cases, the landslide is triggered by a specific event, although this is not always identifiable. Landslides occur when the slope undergoes some processes that change its condition from stable to unstable; this is due to a decrease in the shear strength of the slope material, to an increase in the shear stress borne by the material, or to a combination of the two. A change in the stability of a slope can be caused by a number of factors, acting alone.
Natural causes of landslides include: saturation by rain water infiltration, snow melting, or glaciers melting. Slope material that becomes saturated with water may develop into a debris mud flow; the resulting slurry of rock and mud may pick up trees and cars, thus blocking bridges and tributaries causing flooding along its path. Debris flow is mistaken for flash flood, but they are different processes. Muddy-debris flows in alpine areas cause severe damage to structures and infrastructure and claim human lives. Muddy-debris flows can start as a result of slope-related factors and shallow landslides can dam stream beds, resulting in temporary water blockage; as the impoundments fail, a "domino effect" may be created, with a remarkable growth in the volume of the flowing mass, which takes up the debris in the stream channel. The solid–liquid mixture can reach densities of up to 2,000 kg/m3 and velocities of up to 14 m/s; these processes cause the first severe road interruptions, due not only to deposits accumulated on the road, but in some cases to the complete removal of bridges or roadways or railways crossing the stream channel.
Damage derives from a common underestimation of mud-debris flows: in the alpine valleys, for example, bridges are destroyed by the impact force of the flow because their span is calculated only for a water discharge. For a small basin in the Italian Alps affected by a debris flow, estimated a peak discharge of 750 m3/s for a section located in the middle stretch of the main channel. At the same cross section, the maximum foreseeable water discharge, was 19 m3/s, a value about 40 times lower than that calculated for the debris flow that occurred. An earthflow is the downslope movement of fine-grained material. Earthflows can move at speeds within a wide range, from as low as 1 mm/yr to 20 km/h. Though these are a lot like mudflows, overall they are more slow moving and are covered with solid material carried along by flow from within, they are different from fluid flows. Clay, fine sand and silt, fine-grained, pyroclastic material are all susceptible to earthflows; the velocity of the earthflow is all dependent on how much water content is in the flow itself: the higher the water content in the flow, the higher the velocity will be.
These flows begin when the pore pressures in a fine-grained mass increase until enough of the weight of the material is supported by pore water to decrease the internal shearing strength of the material. This thereby creates a bulging lobe which advances with a rolling motion; as these lobes spread out, drainage of the mass increases and the margins dry out, thereby lowering the overall velocity of the flow. This process causes the flow to thicken; the bulbous variety of earthflows are not that spectacular, but they are much more common than their rapid counterparts. They develop a sag at their heads and are derived from the slumping at the source. Earthflows occur much more during periods of high precipitation, which saturates the ground and adds water to the slope content. Fissures develop during the movement of clay-like material which creates the intrusion of water into the earthflows. Water increases the pore-water pressure a
Guatemalan Civil War
The Guatemalan Civil War ran from 1960 to 1996. It was fought between the government of Guatemala and various leftist rebel groups supported chiefly by ethnic Maya indigenous people and Ladino peasants, who together make up the rural poor; the government forces of Guatemala have been condemned for committing genocide against the Maya population of Guatemala during the civil war and for widespread human rights violations against civilians. Democratic elections during the Guatemalan Revolution in 1944 and 1951 had brought popular leftist governments to power, but a United States-backed coup d'état in 1954 installed the military regime of Carlos Castillo Armas, followed by a series of conservative military dictators. In 1970, Colonel Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio became the first of a series of military dictators representing the Institutional Democratic Party or PID; the PID dominated Guatemalan politics for twelve years through electoral frauds favoring two of Col. Carlos Arana's proteges; the PID lost its grip on Guatemalan politics when General Efraín Ríos Montt, together with a group of junior army officers, seized power in a military coup on 23 March 1982.
In the 1970s continuing social discontent gave rise to an insurgency among the large populations of indigenous people and peasants, who traditionally bore the brunt of unequal land tenure. During the 1980s, the Guatemalan military assumed absolute government power for five years. In the final stage of the civil war, the military developed a parallel, semi-visible, low profile but high-effect, control of Guatemala's national life, it is estimated that 200,000 people were "disappeared" during the conflict. As well as fighting between government forces and rebel groups, the conflict included, much more a large-scale, coordinated campaign of one-sided violence by the Guatemalan state against the civilian population from the mid-1960s onward; the military intelligence services and an affiliated intelligence organization known as La Regional or Archivo – headquartered in an annex of the presidential palace – were responsible for coordinating killings and "disappearances" of opponents of the state and suspected insurgents and those deemed by the intelligence services to be collaborators.
The Guatemalan state was the first in Latin America to engage in widespread use of forced disappearances against its opposition with the number of disappeared estimated at between 40,000 and 50,000 from 1966 until the end of the war. In rural areas where the insurgency maintained its strongholds, the repression amounted to wholesale slaughter of the peasantry and massacres of entire villages. In the early 1980s, the killings are considered to have taken on the scale of genocide. Most human rights abuses were at the hands of the military and intelligence services. Victims of the repression included indigenous activists, suspected government opponents, returning refugees, critical academics, left-leaning politicians, trade unionists, religious workers and street children; the "Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico" has estimated that 93% of human right abuses in the conflict have been committed by government forces and 3% by the guerrillas. In 2009, Guatemalan courts sentenced Felipe Cusanero as the first person convicted of the crime of ordering forced disappearances.
This was followed by the 2013 genocide trial of former president Efraín Ríos Montt for the killing and disappearances of more than 1,700 indigenous Ixil Maya during his 1982–83 rule. The first former head of state to be tried for genocide by his own country's judicial system, Montt was found guilty the day following the conclusion of his trial and was sentenced to 80 years in prison; the trial began again on 23 July 2015 but did not reach a verdict before the Montt's death on 1 April 2018. After the 1871 revolution, the Liberal government of Justo Rufino Barrios escalated coffee production in Guatemala, which required much land and many workers. To find the people needed for the work, Barrios established the Settler Rule Book, which forced the native population to work for low wages for the landowners, who were Criollos and German settlers. Barrios confiscated the common native land, protected during the Spanish Colony and during the Conservative government of Rafael Carrera, distributed to his Liberal friends, who became important landowners.
In the 1890s, the United States began to implement the Monroe Doctrine, pushing out European colonial powers and establishing U. S. hegemony over resources and labor in Latin American nations. The dictators that ruled Guatemala during the late 19th and early 20th centuries were accommodating to U. S. business and political interests. Unlike other Latin American nations, such as Haiti and Cuba, the U. S. did not have to use overt military force to maintain dominance in Guatemala. Th
Highlands or uplands are any mountainous region or elevated mountainous plateau. Speaking, upland refers to ranges of hills up to 500–600 m. Highland is reserved for ranges of low mountains; the best known highlands in the anglosphere are the Scottish Highlands in northern Scotland, the mountainous region north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault. The Highland council area is a local government area in the Scottish Highlands and Britain's largest local government area. Many countries have areas that are or unofficially referred to as highlands. Other than Scotland, these include parts of Tibet, Canada, Eritrea, Ghana, Papua New Guinea and Cantabria. Synonymous terms used in other countries include high country, used in New Zealand, New South Wales, Victoria and Southern Queensland in Australia, parts of the United States, used in South Africa and Roof of the World, used for Tibet; the highlands in Australia are above the elevation of 500 metres. These areas receive snowfalls through winter.
Most of the highlands lead up to large alpine or sub-alpine mountainous regions such as the Australian Alps, Snowy Mountains, Great Dividing Range, Northern Tablelands and Blue Mountains. The most mountainous region of Tasmania is the Central Highlands area, which covers most of the central western parts of the state. Many of these areas are elevated alpine regions. A spine of mountains runs the length of the island of New Guinea, forming a populous highlands region; the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka these are rain forests, where the elevation reaches 2,500 metres above sea level. The Sri Lanka montane rain forests represent the montane and submontane moist forests above 1,000 metres in the central highlands and in the Knuckles mountain range. Half of Sri Lanka's endemic flowering plants and 51 percent of the endemic vertebrates are restricted to this ecoregion; the highlands of Iceland cover about 40% of the country and are inhospitable to humans. They are considered to be any land above 500 meters.
Additionally, the mountainous natural region of the Thai highlands is found in Northern Thailand. The Cameron Highlands are a highland hill station in Northern Malaysia. Shillong in India in the state of Meghalaya is a hill station, surrounded by highlands. Officers of the British Raj referred to Shillong as "The Scotland of the East". Highland continents – or terrae – are areas of topographically unstable terrain, with high peaks and valleys, they resemble highlands on Earth. They can be found on Venus, Mercury and the Moon. Planum Highlander
Guatemala the Republic of Guatemala, is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west and the Caribbean to the northeast, Honduras to the east, El Salvador to the southeast and the Pacific Ocean to the south. With an estimated population of around 16.6 million, it is the most populated country in Central America. Guatemala is a representative democracy; the territory of modern Guatemala once formed the core of the Maya civilization, which extended across Mesoamerica. Most of the country was conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century, becoming part of the viceroyalty of New Spain. Guatemala attained independence in 1821 as part of the Federal Republic of Central America, which dissolved by 1841. From the mid to late 19th century, Guatemala experienced civil strife. Beginning in the early 20th century, it was ruled by a series of dictators backed by the United Fruit Company and the United States government. In 1944, authoritarian leader Jorge Ubico was overthrown by a pro-democratic military coup, initiating a decade-long revolution that led to sweeping social and economic reforms.
A U. S.-backed military coup in 1954 installed a dictatorship. From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala endured a bloody civil war fought between the US-backed government and leftist rebels, including genocidal massacres of the Maya population perpetrated by the military. Since a United Nations-negotiated peace accord, Guatemala has witnessed both economic growth and successful democratic elections, though it continues to struggle with high rates of poverty, drug trade, instability; as of 2014, Guatemala ranks 31st of 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries in terms of the Human Development Index. Guatemala's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems includes a large number of endemic species and contributes to Mesoamerica's designation as a biodiversity hotspot; the name "Guatemala" comes from the Nahuatl word Cuauhtēmallān, or "place of many trees", a derivative of the K'iche' Mayan word for "many trees" or more for the Cuate/Cuatli tree Eysenhardtia. This was the name the Tlaxcaltecan soldiers who accompanied Pedro de Alvarado during the Spanish Conquest gave to this territory.
The first evidence of human habitation in Guatemala dates back to 12,000 BC. Evidence, such as obsidian arrowheads found in various parts of the country, suggests a human presence as early as 18,000 BC. There is archaeological proof. Pollen samples from Petén and the Pacific coast indicate that maize cultivation had developed by 3500 BC. Sites dating back to 6500 BC have been found in the Quiché region in the Highlands, Sipacate and Escuintla on the central Pacific coast. Archaeologists divide the pre-Columbian history of Mesoamerica into the Preclassic period, the Classic period, the Postclassic period; until the Preclassic was regarded as a formative period, with small villages of farmers who lived in huts, few permanent buildings. However, this notion has been challenged by recent discoveries of monumental architecture from that period, such as an altar in La Blanca, San Marcos, from 1000 BC; the Classic period of Mesoamerican civilization corresponds to the height of the Maya civilization, is represented by countless sites throughout Guatemala, although the largest concentration is in Petén.
This period is characterized by urbanisation, the emergence of independent city-states, contact with other Mesoamerican cultures. This lasted until 900 AD, when the Classic Maya civilization collapsed; the Maya abandoned many of the cities of the central lowlands or were killed off by a drought-induced famine. The cause of the collapse is debated, but the drought theory is gaining currency, supported by evidence such as lakebeds, ancient pollen, others. A series of prolonged droughts, among other reasons such as overpopulation, in what is otherwise a seasonal desert is thought to have decimated the Maya, who relied on regular rainfall; the Post-Classic period is represented by regional kingdoms, such as the Itza, Kowoj and Kejache in Petén, the Mam, Ki'che', Chajoma, Tz'utujil, Poqomchi', Q'eqchi' and Ch'orti' in the highlands. Their cities preserved many aspects of Maya culture; the Maya civilization shares many features with other Mesoamerican civilizations due to the high degree of interaction and cultural diffusion that characterized the region.
Advances such as writing and the calendar did not originate with the Maya. Maya influence can be detected from Honduras, Northern El Salvador to as far north as central Mexico, more than 1,000 km from the Maya area. Many outside influences are found in Maya art and architecture, which are thought to be the result of trade and cultural exchange rather than direct external conquest. After they arrived in the New World, the Spanish started several expeditions to Guatemala, beginning in 1519. Before long, Spanish contact resulted in an epidemic. Hernán Cortés, who had led the Spanish conquest of Mexico, granted a permit to Captains Gonzalo de Alvarado and his brother, Pedro de Alvarado, to conquer this land. Alvarado at first allied himself with the Kaqchikel nation to fight against their traditional rivals the K'iche' nation