The Mayan civilization (2,000 BC – 250 AD) was among those that flourished in the region, with little contact with cultures outside Mesoamerica. The modern history of Guatemala began with the Spanish conquest of Guatemala in 1511.
Most of the great Classic-era (250 – 900 AD) Maya cities of the Petén Basin region, in the northern lowlands of Guatemala, had been abandoned by the year 1000 AD. The states in the Belize central highlands flourished until the arrival in 1525 of Pedro de Alvarado, the Spanish Conquistador. Called "the invader" by the Mayan peoples, he began subjugating the Indian states with his forces.
Guatemala was part of the Captaincy General of Guatemala, for nearly 300 years; this Captaincy, or Capitanía, included the territories of Chiapas, Campeche, Tabasco in modern Mexico, and the modern countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The Capitania became independent in 1821, and became a part of the First Mexican Empire until 1823. From 1824 it was a part of the Federal Republic of Central America, until the Republic dissolved in 1841, when Guatemala became fully independent. In the late 20 century, Guatemala experienced a series of authoritarian governments.