1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Maya
MAYA, an important tribe and stock of American Indians, the dominant race of Yucatan and other states of Mexico and part of Central America at the time of the Spanish conquest. They were then divided into many nations, chief among them being the Maya proper, the Huastecs, the Tzental, the Pokom, the Mame and the Cakchiquel and Quiché. They were spread over Yucatan, Vera Cruz, Tabasco, Campeche, and Chiapas in Mexico, and over the greater part of Guatemala and Salvador. In civilization the Mayan peoples rivalled the Aztecs. Their traditions give as their place of origin the extreme north; thence a migration took place, perhaps at the beginning of the Christian era. They appear to have reached Yucatan as early as the 5th century. From the evidence of the Quiché chronicles, which are said to date back to about A.D. 700, Guatemala was shortly afterwards overrun. Physically the Mayans are a dark-skinned, round-headed, short and sturdy type. Although they were already decadent when the Spaniards arrived they made a fierce resistance. They still form the bulk of the inhabitants of Yucatan. For their culture, ruined cities, &c. see Central America and Mexico.