In many colonial societies there exists a close relationship between population size and economic wellbeing. Spanish Central America illustrates this relationship clearly. The economic prospects of the colony were intimately linked to its historical demography. Thus with a large population from which to draw labor, the initial economic outlook seemed promising. The Cuchumatán highlands of Guatemala are the most massive and spectacular non-volcanic region of all Central America. Lying to the north of the Rio Cuilco, and to the north and west of the Rio Negro or Chixoy, the Cuchumatanes form a fairly well-defined physical unit bordered on the north by the sparsely settled tropical lowlands of the Usumacinta basin and to the west by the Mexican state of Chiapas. Any attempt to reconstruct the population history of the Cuchumatán highlands is beset by a lack of consistent, representative data. The paucity of source materials containing demographic information is particularly notable for the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.