Mesoamerica is the name of a region encompassing central and southern Mexico, the Yucatan peninsula, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and parts of Honduras, Nicaragua and northern Costa Rica. Note that Mesoamerica is not simply a synonym of Middle or Central America!
Before the arrival of the Conquistadores this region saw the rise and fall of a great number of native city-states, each with its own distinct culture. The Aztec Triple Alliance is but one example of such a city-state. The diverse cultures of Mesoamerica shared in a number of features most of which were pretty much confined to the Mesoamerican culture area. Some of the more important of these were:
- the use of an advanced calendar
- the building of stepped pyramids and temples
- irrigation agriculture
- the use of a hieroglyphic or pictographic writing system
- human sacrifice and ritual bloodletting
- a ritual ballgame played on an I-shaped ballcourt