The ancient Maya city of Tikal is located deep in the heart of Guatemala's El Petén rainforest with a towering canopy that floats thirty meters above the ground. The ancient city site is one of the largest ancient Maya sites, and today exists as a 222 square mile protected national park that is sanctuary not only for archaeological monuments, but also for endangered wildlife such as ocelots, peccaries, monkeys, toucans, parrots, and the elusive jaguar among many more rare creatures. Tikal is bounded by rivers to the east and west that drain respectively to the Caribbean and to the Gulf of Mexico. This geographical condition strategically poised Tikal to become a great trade, religious, and political center that dominated the region at times during the Classic Period, ca. 200CE to 850CE.