Tikal National Park is located in Northern Guatemala’s Petén Province within a large forest region often called the Maya Forest, extending into neighboring Mexico and Belize. Embedded within the much larger Maya Biosphere Reserve, exceeding two million hectares and contiguous with additional conservation areas, Tikal National Park is one of the few World Heritage properties inscribed according to natural and cultural criteria for its extraordinary biodiversity and archaeological importance.
It comprises 57,600 hectares of wetlands, savannah, tropical broadleaf, and palm forests with thousands of architectural and artistic remains of the Mayan civilization from the Preclassic Period (600 B.C.) to the decline and eventual collapse of the urban center around 900 AD. The diverse ecosystems and habitats harbor a broad spectrum of neotropical fauna and flora. Five cats, including Jaguar and Puma, several species of monkeys and anteaters, and more than 300 species of birds are among the notable wildlife. The forests comprise more than 200 tree species, and over 2000 higher plants have been recorded across diverse habitats.
Tikal, a major Pre-Columbian political, economic, and military center, is one of the most important archaeological complexes left by the Maya civilization. An inner urban zone of around 400 hectares contains the principal monumental architecture and monuments, which include palaces, temples, ceremonial platforms, small and medium-sized residences, ball-game courts, terraces, roads, and large and small squares. Many of the existing monuments preserve decorated surfaces, including stone carvings and mural paintings with hieroglyphic inscriptions, which illustrate the dynastic history of the city and its relationships with urban centers as far away as Teotihuacan and Calakmul in Mexico, Copan in Honduras or Caracol here in Belize.