Tikal National Park, the Republic of Guatemala
Guatemala is a country where native Mayans make up nearly half of the population, and it is a land throughout which the ancient Maya civilization prospered. Tikal National Park, located in the northern part of the country, was registered as a mixed world heritage site by UNESCO in 1979. In terms of natural heritage, it is a tropical rain forest of rich biodiversity extending over 576 square kilometers. As for cultural heritage, it is one of the largest ancient city ruins of Maya civilization, encompassing 100 square kilometers of urban area that was ruled by thirty-three kings or more between the 2nd and 10th centuries AD. In the 1960s, an extensive investigation, including large scale excavation and restoration of ancient structures, was conducted in Tikal after a part of tropical jungle had been cleared beginning in 1956. In the 1980s the site became the subject of tourism-oriented projects, among which was the construction of an airport outside the park, together with a paved road connecting the airport and the Tikal site. The site has become one of the most popular cultural tourist sites in the country.
The establishment of the Center for Conservation and Investigation of the Cultural Heritage at Tikal National Park (CCIT)
While the Tikal National Park has seen remarkable development as a cultural tourist site, problems have emerged regarding restored structures due to insufficient conservation and maintenance management of the ruins. Recognizing the urgent need to resolve the situation, the government of Guatemala requested us to carry out a cultural cooperation project under the auspices of the Japan Foundation in 2005 to investigate the current status of cultural heritage in Tikal National Park and the feasibility of cooperation. Based on the outcome of the investigation, the Center for Conservation and Investigation of the Cultural Heritage at Tikal National Park (CCIT) was built under an agreement between the two countries, using the scheme of Cultural Grant Assistance administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 2010, with a view to carrying out a sustainable and long-term international cooperation project despite the harsh natural environment of the tropical rain forest.