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The Aztecs were a Mesoamerican Indigenous culture that flourished in central Mexico from 1300 to 1521. The Aztec peoples included different ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica from the 14th to the 16th centuries. The name Aztec is derived from Aztlán (variously translated as “White Land,” “Land of White Herons,” or “Place of Herons”).
The Maya are an Indigenous people of Mexico and Central America who have continuously inhabited the lands comprising modern-day Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tabasco, and Chiapas in Mexico and southward through Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras. The designation Maya comes from the ancient Yucatan city of Mayapan, the last capital of a Mayan Kingdom in the Post-Classic Period. The Maya people refer to themselves by ethnicity and language bonds such as Quiche in the south or Yucatec in the north (though there are many others).
The Mazatec are an Indigenous people of Mexico who inhabit the Sierra Mazateca in the state of Oaxaca and some communities in the adjacent states of Puebla and Veracruz. The Mazatecan languages are a group of closely related Indigenous languages spoken by some 200,000 people. The name Mazatec means “Deer People” in the Aztec or Nahuatl language.
The Zapotecs (Zoogocho Zapotec: Didxažoŋ) are an indigenous people of Mexico. The population is concentrated in the southern state of Oaxaca, but Zapotec communities also exist in neighboring states. The name Zapotec is an exonym coming from Nahuatl tzapotēcah (singular tzapotēcatl), which means “inhabitants of the place of sapote”. The Zapotecs call themselves Ben ‘Zaa, which means “The Cloud People”. The Zapotec languages are a group of around 50 closely related indigenous Mesoamerican languages that constitute a main branch of the Oto-Manguean language family and which is spoken by the Zapotec people from the southwestern-central highlands of Mexico.