The Indians belong chiefly to the Maya stock, which predominates throughout Peten, or to the allied Quiche race which is well represented in the Altos and central districts.
In the 16th century the Mayas and Quiches had attained a high level of civilization (see Central America, Archaeology), and at least two of the Guatemalan languages, Quiche and Cakchiquel, possess the rudiments or the relics of a literature.
Of Totonicapam, was formerly the capital of the Quiche kings, but has now a Ladino population.
In Mexico itself the languages of the Nahua nations, of which the Aztec is the best-known dialect, show no connexion of origin with the language of the Otomi tribes, nor either of these with the languages of the regions of the ruined cities of Central America, the Quiche of Guatemala and the Maya of Yucatan.
Among the most curious documents of early America is the Popol-Vuh or national book of the Quiche kingdom of Guatemala, a compilation of traditions written down by native scribes, found and translated by Father Ximenez about 1700, and published by Scherzer (Vienna, 1857) and Brasseur de Bourbourg (Paris, 1861).