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Estado Libre y Soberano
de Michoacán de Ocampo
—  State  —


Coat of arms
Location within Mexico
Municipalities of Michoacán
Country  Mexico
Capital Morelia
Municipalities 113
Admission December 22, 1823[1]
Order 5th
 - Governor Leonel Godoy (PRD)
 - Federal Deputies PRD: 9
PAN: 9
 - Federal Senators PRD: 2
PAN: 1
Ranked 16th
 - Total 59,928 km2 (23,138.3 sq mi)
Population (2005)
 - Total 3,966,073 (Ranked 7th)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
HDI (2004) 0.7422 - medium
Ranked 29th
ISO 3166-2 MX-MIC
Postal abbr. Mich.
Website Michoacán state government

Michoacán (Spanish pronunciation: [mitʃoaˈkan], from Nahuatl Michhuacān "place of the fishermen"), formally Michoacán de Ocampo, is one of the 31 constituent states of Mexico. It borders the states of Colima and Jalisco to the west, Guanajuato and Querétaro to the north, México to the east, Guerrero to the south-east, and the Pacific Ocean to the south.

Michoacán has an area of 59,864 km² (23,113.6 sq mi). It is the sixteenth largest state in Mexico, taking up 3% of the national territory. In a 2005 census the population was at 3,966,073 people. Its state is similar to the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca and its capital is the city of Morelia (previously known as Valladolid), located between 2 main cities in Mexico, Mexico City and Guadalajara.



For more than a thousand years, Michoacán has been the home of the P'urhépecha Amerindians (also known as the Tarascans). The modern state of Michoacán preserves, to some extent, the territorial integrity of the pre-Columbian Kingdom of the Purhépecha. This kingdom was one of the most prosperous and extensive empires in the pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican world. The name Michoacán derives from the Náhuatl terms, michin (fish), hua (own) and can (place), which roughly translates into "place of the people who have fish." [2]

The Tarascans of Michoacán have always called themselves P'urhépecha. However, early in the 16th century, when the Spaniards arrived to what is known now as Mexico, they gave the Purhépecha a name from their own language. The name of these Indians, Tarascos, was derived from the native word tarascué, meaning 'brother-in-law'. According to Fray (Friar) Martín Coruña, it was a term the natives used derogatively for the Spaniards. The Spaniards mistakenly took it up to name them and now the Spanish word Tarasco (and its English equivalent, Tarascan) is commonly used today to describe the Indians who are really named P'urhépecha.

This statue of José María Morelos lies on the island of Janitzio, in Michoacán's Lake Patzcuaro.

The P'urhépecha or Phorhé language is a language isolate which means that it has not been successfully related to any known language families. It has been compared to many other languages but no relation has been sufficiently well proven to attract a wide following among linguists[3]. Even though it is spoken within the boundaries of Mesoamerica, P'urhépecha does not share many of the traits defining the Mesoamerican Linguistic Area, probably due to a long adherence to an isolationist policy.

By 1324 A.D., they had become the dominant force in western Mexico, with the founding of their first capital city Pátzcuaro, located 7,200 feet (2,200 m) above sea level along the shore of Lake Pátzcuaro (Mexico's highest lake). The name, Pátzcuaro, meaning "Place of Stones," was named for the foundations called "Petatzecua" by Indians who found them at the sites of ruined temples of an earlier civilization. Eventually, however, the Purhépecha transferred their capital to Tzintzuntzan ("Place of the Hummingbirds"), which is about 15 kilometers north of Pátzcuaro, on the northeastern shore of the lake. Tzintzuntzan would remain the Purhépecha capital until the Spaniards arrived in 1522.


Dominated by the mountains of the Sierra Madre del Sur and the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, Michoacán extends from the Pacific Ocean northeastward into the central plateau. The climate and soil variations caused by this topography make Michoacán a diverse agricultural state that produces both temperate and tropical cereals, fruits, and vegetables.

Some of the cities and towns of Michoacán are Tacámbaro, Ixtlan de Los Hervores, Tendeparacua, Erongarícuaro, Cherán, Churintzio, Zinaparo, Apatzingán, Huetamo, Santa Ana Maya, San Lucas, Ciudad Hidalgo, Ichán, Tangancicuaro, Jacona, Jiquilpan, Purepero, La Piedad, Yurécuaro, Lázaro Cárdenas, Los Reyes, Paracho, Pátzcuaro, Aquila, El Triunfo, Coalcoman, Agulilla, Puruándiro, Sahuayo, Cotija, Uruapan, Zacapú, Zinapecuaro, Zamora, Aguaverde, Copandaro, and Zitácuaro. A few of the state's pre-Columbian sites include the ruins of Tzintzuntzan, Ihautzio, Villa Venustiano Carranza a.k.a. San Pedro Caro,Tepalcatepec and Tingambato.

The area around Angangueo and Ocampo in northeast Michoacán is famous for the monarch butterflies that spend 6 months in the surrounding forests of Oyamel.


Many tourists visit Michoacán for Day of the Dead celebrations, such as this one on Island Pacanda.

Michoacán is known for its rich and varied culture, most notably for its unique pre-columbian and colonial architecture as well as its art and cuisine.

The P'urhépecha were skilled weavers and became known for their feathered mosaics made from hummingbird plumage and precious stones. With time, these gifted people also became skilled craftsmen in metalworking, pottery, and lapidary work. In the Michoacán of this pre-Hispanic period gold, copper, salt, obsidian, cacao, cotton, cinnabar, seashells, fine feathers, wax and honey were abundant and quickly became highly prized products to the Spaniards.

Modern day, there are many cultural activities in Michoacán, especially in the major cities like Morelia, Patzcuaro, and Uruapan. Morelia, as the capital, has the highest number of museums, art galleries, film theaters and restaurants. Every year in the month of October Morelia hosts an international film festival, which is rapidly growing to become one of the top festivals in the whole country and which features international film stars such as Gael Garcia, Diego Luna and Martha Higareda.


A state with abundant natural resources, Michoacan is one of Mexico's main producers of agricultural products. Mining is also a leading industry in the state, with significant production of gold, silver, zinc, and iron. Steel industry production is the largest in the country. Lázaro Cárdenas port is a large and important one for containers.

Other important economical activities in Michoacán include the energy industries, as well as tourism and art gatherings like expositions, ancient and contemporary theatrical shows and film festivals.


In early spring and summer, people from all over the world go to Michoacán to enjoy its sierras (mountains and countrysides) full of green which host unique animal and floral species, lakes, and waterfalls like Salto de Enandio which is 200 feet high and Chorros del Varal (300 ft high). The southern part of the state borders the Pacific Ocean for more than 130 miles (210 km). As in most of the beaches in Mexico, surfing is a common activity by tourists and townspeople.

Yearly between about October and April tourism increases as more than a hundred million monarch butterflies migrate from Canada and north of the United States to the mountains in Michoacán, to spend the winter in Oyamel Forests. For decades, the communities of Angangueo, El Rosario, Zitácuaro, Ocampo, with help from the State government, have created complete sanctuaries to protect this species.

Another major attraction is the volcano Parícutin, one of the newest volcanoes in the world (although no longer the newest owing to the 1963 birth of Surtsey in Iceland, among others). Born on February 20th 1943, in a large territory between the towns of San Juan Parangaricutiro and Angahuan, it is considered by many as one of the natural wonders of the world of modern times.

There are also several archeology temples and sites where tourists get to see ancient petroglyphs of many different indigenous cultures, some of them still present in many towns in Michoacán.

The capital city is Morelia, often cited as 'the most beautiful city in Mexico', with its fabulous colonial architecture, the stunning 400-year old cathedral and its museums. The Museum of Masks, the Museum of Geology and Mineralogy, the Museum of Contemporary Art Alfredo Zalce and The Museum of Colonial Art are the most visited by tourists.


There are 113 Municipalities.

Major communities

Fauna of Michoacán

There are many endangered unique species in Michoacán, including the Jaguar, Jaguarundi, Cougar, Onza, Ocelot, Margay, Coyote, and Boa constrictor. Other inhabitants of the state are the White-nosed Coati, the raccoon, squirrels, skunks, the Nine-banded Armadillo, the Ring-tailed Cat, the White-tailed deer, and the Collared Peccary.

Reptiles include spinytail iguanas, the Beaded lizard, Whiptail Lizards, the Horrible Spiny Lizard, spiny lizards, Cope's largescale spiny lizard, bunchgrass lizards, rattlesnakes, coral snakes, the ornate box turtle, the Mexican burrowing snake, lyre snakes and many others. The Michoacán Dwarf Spiny-tailed Iguana or Nopiche, endemic to the state, is believed to possess a venomous bite by locals when in reality it does not.[4]

Some of the birds of the state are chachalacas, roadrunners, doves, the Northern Caracara, the Golden Eagle, vultures, quail, the Groove-billed Ani or chicuaro, the Great Horned Owl, the Barn Owl, and crows.


  1. ^ La diputación provincial y el federalismo mexicano -
  2. ^ Launey, Michel, 1992, Introducción a la lengua y a la literatura Náhuatl, UNAM, México, p. 100
  3. ^ Campbell, Lyle (1997). American Indian languages: the historical linguistics of Native America. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  4. ^ Dulleman, William E.; Ann S. Dulleman (1959-02-16). "Variation, Distribution, and Ecology of the Iguanid Lizard Enyaliosaurus clarki of Michoacan, Mexico". Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology (University of Michigan) 598. 

External links

Coordinates: 19°10′07″N 101°53′59″W / 19.16861°N 101.89972°W / 19.16861; -101.89972

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Michoacan article)

From Wikitravel

Michoacan [1] is a state on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Michoacan is a beautiful State. With mountains to the east and Pacific shore to the west, the diversity of the State is unmatched in Mexico. Vegetables and fruit are abundant year around. The people are proud and friendly. It is said that the biggest export from Michoacan, is it's young men who provide millions of dollars in local revenue to support their families, by working in the United States. On the Pacific Coast, they are working towards a Cancun like resort area with a new highway almost completed from Morelia.

  • El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. , Located close to Angangueo and North of Zitácuaro, at an altitude of approx. 8,500 feet on the Eastern border of Michoacan. Every winter approx. 100 million monarch butterflies from the Canada and The United States, wisely migrate, even across Lake Erie, to spend the winter in pine and fir trees. It may take several generations of monarch butterflies to make this annual trip back and forth. The sanctuary is open from November until March. This is an adventure you want to be well prepared for, as you most likely will hike, ride horse back or in the back of a pick up to the Sanctuary.
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Map of Mexico highlighting Michoacán


Nahuatl Michhuahcan (place of fish), from michhuah (possessor of fish)

Proper noun




  1. A state of Mexico.


See also



Nahuatl Michhuahcan (place of fish), from michhuah (possessor of fish)

Proper noun

Michoacán f.

  1. A state of Mexico.

Related terms

See also

  • Wikipedia-logo.png Michoacán on the Spanish

Simple English

Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this name.

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