Mayan ruins of Tulum in Mexico
Pictures of ruins

GREAT CIVILIZATIONS IN THE RAINFOREST     Click here for more detailed information about rainforests!

Today most forest dwellers live in small settlements or practice nomadic hunting and gathering. In the past, tropical rainforests and surrounding areas supported great civilizations like the Mayas, Incas, and Aztecs that developed complex societies and made important contributions to science.

These great civilizations faced some of the same environmental problems (excessive forest loss, soil erosion, overpopulation, lack of water supplies) that we face today. For the Maya, the damage they caused to the environment apparently was great enough to cause their downfall.


By Rhett Butler

Date published: June 24, 2004 | Last updated: December 5, 2015