The northwest region of Belize, known as the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area (RBCMA), is a research set-aside of interest for investigating hinterland communities of the prehistoric Maya. The hinterland or rural communities of the RBCMA are as diverse and complex as any across the Maya lowlands. The Programme for Belize Archaeological Project (PfBAP), of northwest Belize, provides various data for identifying and interpreting ancient Maya interactions in the region. With more than 25 seasons of Maya archaeological research in the region, PfBAP researchers are well placed to present aspects of nonurban life that helped make Maya civilization possible. The PfBAP utilizes survey and mapping strategies, material culture analyses, Light Detection and Ranging, and theoretical interests for evaluating ancient Maya life in the region's rural areas. There are four essential components herein contained for the PfBAP investigations of ancient Maya rural settlements in northwest Belize: (1) hinterland study strategies, (2) rural settlements, (3) rural diversity, and (4) nonurban life and rural elites. Sociopolitical systems (and/or interactions) are also posited for the prehistoric rural Maya. Where possible, suggested relationships between communities of varying size and complexity are discussed. The manifestations of production, identity, and equality are also defined as appropriate and integrated into the discussion of function(s) associated with rurality.