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Estado Libre y Soberano
de Yucatán
—  State  —


Coat of arms
Location within Mexico
Country  Mexico
Capital Mérida
Municipalities 106
Admission December 23, 1823[1]
Order 8th
 - Governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco PRI
 - Federal Deputies PAN: 4
PRI: 1
 - Federal Senators Beatriz Zavala Peniche (PAN)
Alfredo Rodríguez (PAN)
Cleominio Zoreda (PRI)
Ranked 20th
 - Total 38,402 km2 (14,827.1 sq mi)
Population (2005)
 - Total 1,818,948 (Ranked 21st)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
HDI 0.821 - high
Ranked 20th
ISO 3166-2 MX-YUC
Postal abbr. Yuc.

Yucatán is one of the 31 states of Mexico, located on the north of the Yucatán Peninsula. The Congress of Yucatan was installed on August 20, 1823; and was admitted to the Mexican federation on 21 December 1823,[2] being the 8th state admitted. The Yucatan peninsula includes three states: Yucatán, Campeche, and Quintana Roo; all three modern states were formerly part of the larger historic state of Yucatán in the 19th century. The state capital of Yucatán is Mérida.



The State of Yucatán is located on the Yucatán Peninsula. It borders the states of Campeche to the southwest, Quintana Roo to the east and southeast, and the Gulf of Mexico to the north and west. As a whole, the state is extremely flat with little or no topographic variation, with the exception of the Puuc hills, located in the southern portion of the state.

Government and politics

The Constitution of the State of Yucatán provides that the government of Yucatán, like the government of every other state in Mexico, consists of three powers: the executive, the legislative and the judiciary.

Executive power rests in the governor of Yucatán, who is directly elected by the citizens, using a secret ballot, to a six-year term with no possibility of reelection. Legislative power rests in the Congress of Yucatán which is a unicameral legislature composed of 25 deputies. Judicial power is invested in the Superior Court of Justice of Yucatán.

The most recent local election in Yucatán was held on May 20, 2007. (See main article: Yucatán state election, 2007.)



The State of Yucatán is divided into 106 municipalities, each headed by a municipal president (mayor). Usually municipalities are named after the city that serves as municipal seat; e.g. the municipal seat of the Municipality of Mérida is the City of Mérida.

Major cities


Yucatecan food is its own unique style and is very different from what most people would consider "Mexican" food. It includes influences from the local Mayan culture, as well as Caribbean, Mexican, European (French) and Middle Eastern cultures.

There are many regional dishes. Some of them are:

  • Poc Chuc, a Mayan/Yucatecan version of barbecued pork.
  • Salbutes and Panuchos. Salbutes are soft, cooked tortillas with lettuce, tomato, turkey, and avocado on top. Panuchos feature fried tortillas filled with black beans and topped with turkey or chicken, lettuce, avocado and pickled, onions. Habanero chiles accompany most dishes, either in solid or puréed form, along with fresh limes and corn tortillas.
  • Queso Relleno is a "gourmet" dish featuring ground pork inside of a carved Edam cheese ball served with tomato sauce.
  • Pavo en Relleno Negro is turkey meat stew cooked with a black paste made from roasted chiles, a local version of the mole de guajalote found throughout Mexico. The meat soaked in the black soup is also served in tacos, sandwiches and even in panuchos or salbutes.
  • Sopa de Lima A turkey, lime, and tortilla soup.
  • Papadzules. Egg tacos covered in pumpkin seed sauce and tomatoes.
  • Cochinita Pibil is a marinated pork dish and by far the most renowned of Yucatecan food.
  • Xcatik, a type of chili.
  • Pavo en Relleno Blanco is a turkey stew almost like Pavo en Relleno Negro.

Language and accent

The Spanish spoken in Yucatan is easily identifiable. This is due to the confluence of Spanish and the Mayan language, which is still spoken by a third of the population of the state, especially in rural areas. The Mayan language is very melodic, full of "x" sounds ("x" is pronounced "sh" in the Mayan language). The Spanish of the region employs many words of Mayan origin, such as purux (fat), tuch (navel) and wixar (urinate).


Pre-Columbian era

El Castillo, Chichen Itza, a pre-Columbian Maya temple-pyramid

Before the arrival of the Spanish in the area, Yucatán was the home of the Maya civilization, and in particular the Yucatecan Maya people. Archaeological remains show ceremonial architecture dating back some 3,000 years; some Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions found in the area date back to the Maya Preclassic period (200 B.C.). Maya cities of Yucatán continued to flourish after the central and southern lowland Classic period Maya cities collapsed (900 AD), including the Puuc flouresence during the Terminal Classic, the rise of Chichen Itza at roughly the same time, and the subsequent rise of other sites, such as Mayapan, during the Postclassic.

Several sites continued to be occupied up to and beyond the 16th century arrival of the Spanish. The ruins of well over a hundred Maya sites of varying sizes can still be found on the peninsula, such as Chichen Itza and Uxmal, though most sites have not been extensively investigated. Other important ancient Maya cities were built over by the Spanish, and their sites are still occupied today, such as Izamal (Itsmal in Yucatecan Maya) and Mérida (T'ho in Yucatecan Maya).

Arrival of the Spanish

See also: Archdiocese of Yucatán.

According to Hernán Cortés' first letter (Cartas de relación) to the King of Spain, "Yucatan" represents a mis-naming of the land by his political antagonist Diego Velázquez. Cortés alleges that when Velazquez initially landed in Yucatan and asked about the name of the well-populated land, the indigenous people answered, "We don't understand your language." This was supposedly rendered as Yucatan by the Spaniards, who were unfamiliar with the phonetics of Mayan. However, there was political antagonism between Cortés and Velázquez, and this story evidently represents an attempt to defame Velázquez. The actual source of the name "Yucatan" is the Nahuatl (Aztec) word Yokatlān, "place of richness."

The conquest of the Maya city-states took decades of long fighting.

African slaves brought by the Spanish also played a major role during Yucatan conquest, many of them declaring themselves free after a revolt led by Gaspar Yanga took place. A lot of the freed slaves settled in small towns called palenques and declared themselves independent. They also interacted with the indigenous Maya mixing both cultures in to what is now know as Zambo or Afro-indigenous ancestry.[citation needed]

Three Spanish expeditions explored the coastal areas of Yucatan from 1517 to 1519, but no major effort was made to conquer the country until 1527 when the first expedition under Francisco de Montejo landed with Spanish crown authority to conquer and colonize Yucatán. While the chiefs of some states quickly pledged allegiance to the Spanish crown, others waged war against the Spanish. Montejo was forced to retreat from Yucatán in 1528. He came back with a large force in 1531, briefly established a capital at Chichén Itzá, but was again driven from the land in 1535. Montejo turned over his rights to his son, also named Francisco, who invaded Yucatán with a large force in 1540. In 1542 the younger Montejo set up his capital in the Maya city of T'ho, which he renamed Mérida. The lord (also known as Tutul Xiu in the Yucatec Maya language) of Mani converted to Roman Catholicism and became an ally, which greatly assisted in the conquest of the rest of the peninsula. When the Spanish and Xiu defeated an army of the combined forces of the states of eastern Yucatán in 1546, the conquest was officially complete.

As of 1564 Yucatan became a captaincy general and from 1786 an intendencia, as a result of the Bourbon Reforms in the administration of the Indies.

The Spaniards were granted land and natives to work it for their benefit. Priests and monks set to bringing the population into the Roman Catholic Church. The first bishop of Yucatán, Diego de Landa, burned all the Maya books that could be located (saying "they contained nothing but the lies of the Devil") and suppressed any remnants of pagan beliefs with such vigour that he was for a time recalled to Spain to answer charges of improper harshness. The book he wrote (in the 1560s) in his defense, Relación de las cosas de Yucatán ("Relation of the Things of Yucatán"), is one of the single-most detailed accounts of Yucatán and of indigenous life from the time of the Conquest. Segments of this work would much later prove to be of instrumental value in the much-later decipherment of the pre-Columbian Maya writing system.

While the Maya embraced Christianity, many took it on as an addition to rather than a replacement of pre-Columbian beliefs, and some Christian Maya continue to offer prayers to the ancient agricultural deities in addition to the Christian God and saints.

There were periodic native revolts against Spanish rule, including a large one led by Can Ek in 1761.

Independence and the turbulent 1840s

In February 1821, Mexico achieved independence from Spain. On 2 November of that year, Yucatán became part of independent Mexico. The State of Yucatán at that time included the territory of what is now the states of Campeche and Quintana Roo as well.

In 1835, a conservative unitary system of government, basically a centralized dictatorship, was instituted in Mexico by President Antonio López de Santa Anna. Yucatán became a department, and authority was imposed from the center. Discontent increased and an insurrection erupted in Tizimín in May 1838, advocating Yucatecan independence. In 1840, the local Congress approved a declaration of independence for Yucatán. At first, Governor Santiago Méndez blocked it, saying that Yucatán would again recognize the rule of the central government in Mexico City if the Mexican Constitution of 1824 were reinstated. Andrés Quintana Roo, sent to Mérida in 1841 by President Santa Anna, succeeded in settling the differences and signed a treaty with the local government.

Flag of the Republic of Yucatán

But when Santa Anna later ignored the provisions of this treaty, hostilities resumed, and Governor Méndez ordered all Mexican flags removed from Yucatecan buildings and shipping in favor of the flag of the "sovereign nation of the Republic of Yucatán", two red and one white stripe, with a quincunx of stars in a green field. The Yucatecan Constitution was modeled in part on the 1824 Mexican Constitution and the Yucatán state constitution of 1825.

Santa Anna refused to recognize Yucatán's independence, and he barred Yucatecan ships and commerce in Mexico and ordered Yucatán's ports blockaded. He sent an army to invade Yucatán in 1843. The Yucatecans defeated the Mexican force, but the loss of economic ties to Mexico deeply hurt Yucatecan commerce. Yucatán's governor Miguel Barbachano decided to use the victory as a time to negotiate with Santa Anna's government from a position of strength. It was agreed that Yucatán would rejoin Mexico so long as various assurances of right to self-rule and adherence to the 1825 Constitution within the Peninsula were observed by Mexico City. The treaty reincorporating Yucatán into Mexico was signed in December 1843.

Once more, the central government rescinded earlier concessions and in 1845 Yucatán again renounced the Mexican government, declaring independence effective 1 January 1846. When the Mexican-American War broke out, Yucatán declared its neutrality.

In 1847 the so-called "Caste War" (Guerra de Castas) broke out, a major revolt of the Maya people against the Hispanic population in political and economic control. At one point in 1848, this revolt was successful to the point of driving all Hispanic Yucatecans out of almost the entire peninsula other than the walled cities of Mérida and Campeche.

The government in Mérida appealed for foreign help in suppressing the revolt, with Governor Méndez taking the extraordinary step of sending identical letters to Britain, Spain, and the United States, offering sovereignty over Yucatán to whatever nation first provided sufficient aid to quash the Maya revolt. The proposal received serious attention in Washington, D.C.—the Yucatecan ambassador was received by US President James K. Polk and the matter was debated in the Congress, with no action taken other than an invocation of the Monroe Doctrine to warn off any European power from interfering in the peninsula.

Map of Yucatán, circa 1910

After the end of the Mexican-American War, Governor Barbachano appealed to Mexican President José Joaquín de Herrera for help in suppressing the revolt, and in exchange Yucatán again recognized the central government's authority. Yucatán was again reunited with Mexico on 17 August 1848.

Frequent skirmishes and occasional large battles between the forces of the Yucatecan government and independent Maya of the eastern part of the peninsula continued through 1901, when the Mexican army occupied the Maya capital of Chan Santa Cruz. Some Maya communities in Quintana Roo continued to refuse to acknowledge Ladino or Mexican sovereignty as late as the 1910s.

See also Caste War of Yucatán.

Late 20th century: An end to relative isolation

Park Dedicated to the Flag of Mexico, in Telchac Pueblo.

Until the mid-20th century most of Yucatán's contact with the outside world was by sea; trade with the USA and Cuba, as well as Europe and other Caribbean islands, was more significant than that with the rest of Mexico. In the 1950s Yucatán was linked to the rest of Mexico by railway, followed by highway in the 1960s, ending the region's comparative isolation. Today Yucatán still demonstrates a unique culture from the rest of Mexico, including its own style of food.

Commercial jet airplanes began arriving in Mérida in the 1960s, and additional international airports were built first in Cozumel and then in the new planned resort community of Cancún in the 1980s, making tourism a major force in the economy of the Yucatán Peninsula.

The first Maya governor of Yucatán, Francisco Luna Kan, was elected in 1976.

Today, the Yucatán Peninsula is a major tourism destination, as well as home to one of the largest indigenous populations in Mexico, the Maya people.

See also


External links

Coordinates: 20°50′0″N 89°0′0″W / 20.833333°N 89°W / 20.833333; -89

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Catedral de San Gervasio at Valladolid
Catedral de San Gervasio at Valladolid

Yucatán is a state in the western part of the Yucatán Peninsula, with its coastline facing the Gulf of Mexico. To the east is Quintana Roo State, home of Cancun and Cozemel. It is where the Chicxulub Crater is located, buried underneath the Peninsula. Experts say that this crater which dates back approx 65 million years from the Earth's collision with a meteorite, is implicated with the extinction of the dinosoars. In the late 1800’s Henequen cactus was the “green gold’’ of Yucatan and was responsible for much of the wealth of Yucatan. Henequen made Yucatan into one of Mexico’s richest States. Today, one can still visit some of the henequen producing haciendas that reflect this wealth.

  • Mérida - the state capital
  • Cuzamá - home of three beautiful cenotes
  • Izamal
  • Motul - Pueblito, origin of the "Huevos Motuleños"
  • Puerto Morelos - beach resort town
  • Progreso - Port City on Gulf of Mexico with seafood and beaches.
  • Valladolid
Lol-Tun caves
Lol-Tun caves


Yucatan is a place of peace and friendly people, a place to explore the Maya culture, enjoy beautiful sandy beaches, underground rivers and cenotes, delight in sightseeing many ancient Maya archaeological sites, or flavor a great meal. Most people speak Maya and Spanish; English and German are also commonly spoken at tourist sites. Bird lovers will find Yucatan a great place for bird-watching, those that enjoy romantic places will find many in the Colonial cities of this lovely state; where people gather early at night in parks and plazas to enjoy a free concert or to dance some salsa.


In much of Yucatan some Maya is spoken. Except in a few small villages, almost everyone will have at least a working knowledge of basic Spanish. The younger people are now learning English and will try to practice on you. A translation dictionary may not be as helpful as in other areas.

Get in

By air

The major airport in Yucatan State is located at Merida (Rejon) International Airport (IATA: MID). Another point of access to the State might be though Cancun International Airport (IATA: CUN), located at Cancun, Quintana Roo State, to the east of Yucatan State.

By Boat

The only option for approaching Yucatan State by boat would be cruise ships serving any ports within Yucatan State. Most cruise ships drop anchor to the east in Cancun or Cozemel, Quintana Roo State.

By Road

Yucatan has extensive well built highways, rural, state and federal roads that are safe for tourists to drive on. However, some of the more interesting paths are simply sand. If you have rented a vehicle, be cautious not to damage it or get stuck in beach sands. When driving the "libre" roads, keep an eye out for speed bumps. They are numerous, mostly at the beginning, end, and maybe middle of every village you pass through. It is not uncommon to find drains and water lines on top of the pavement, with a pavement patch on top of the pipe. Bus lines offer inexpensive first-class routes.

Get around

Renting a car is highly recommended. Main roads are in good condition and state maps are easily available at any "tourist information kiosk." There are lots of bus routes though the area but most will be slow and crowded. No train service is offered to this State. There is limited air service to outlying communities from Merida.

  • Yucatan Today, [3]. The leading tourist guide to Yucatan - online and monthly print edition. Be sure to pick up a copy when in Yucatan for maps, information, and lots of articles. The web site has even more info and a weekly events column - featuring everything from the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra to the baseball schedule.  edit


Yucatan offers many areas of interest to visitors, including famous Maya archaeological sites, sandy beach towns, Colonial cities, Natural Reserves, and adventure loaded trips to'Cenotes', or fresh underwater sink-holes, Maya caves and small towns.

  • Create your own itinerary with Chichen Services, [4]a Mayan vacation portal dedicated to promoting the Mayan cultural legacy of Yucatan.
  • Read an article with suggestions for daytrips [5]


Yucatan is a great place to visit for those that enjoy birdwatching. Places to visit are: Celestun, Rio Lagartos, El Cuyo, Chichen Itza, and Uxmal. Read more about birdwatching in Yucatan [6]. The VII Annual Toh Birdwatching Festival will be held November 13th through 16th, 2008. [7]


Merida. Each night the City Hall sponsors many cultural events and regional dances through out the Historic Distric in downtown; most events are free and scheduled to start after 7:00 P.M. Carnival at Merida has evolved in recent years from a Maya/Catholic indigenous celebration to what they describe as The party of the year, every year in Yucatan. Lodging reservations suggested.

Archeology. Yucatán is home of several famous Mayan archaeological zones. The best known and most widely visited by tourists is Chichén Itzá, the site of the Kukulcan Pyramid, the Maya Observatory, and the Sacred Cenote. A contrasting cultural style can be observed at Mayan sites along the Ruta Puuc.

Cenotes. These natural underground lake and cave formations, found throughout the peninsula, are especially concentrated in the state of Yucatán. The highest concentration is to be found in what was once an ancient meteor crater. Many that can be toured are located along La Ruta de los Cenotes, an official network of secondary roads that is promoted by regional governments and tourist authorities.

Spas. Massages and treatments based on Mayan ritual practices are available at spas such as Yaxkin Spa at Hacienda Chichén, [8] near Chichén Itzá.

Museums. Many cities and towns in Yucatan offer visitors the joy of a good museum exhibit. Chichen Itza has a small exhibit at the main entrance of the site, within the Cultur complex; but don't miss the Merle Greene Gallery and museum [9] at Hacienda Chichen, where you will find an exquisite private collection of Dr. Greene's original rubbings display with utmost care and elegance.

Mayan Sacred Ceremonies. The Mayan Priests and Elder Healers' civil association: Kuch Kaab Yeetel J-Men Maya'ob A.C. offers a variety of sacred Mayan rituals and mystical ceremonies throughout the year at their Sacred Mayan Ceremonial Center within the Maya Jungle Reserve at Hacienda Chichen.

Yucatán Hammocks

The Mayan hammock is a very light and sturdy resting instrument or piece of gear, considered a gift of the Gods by the Maya. Used as a hammock or backpack, and strong enough to haul a monkey, in some places. They come in a variety of colors, sizes and materials. A well made matrimonial version will easily hold up to 600 pounds or more due to the unique Mayan diamond-like weave. A tighter weave will give more comfort and support. In times past, they were usually made from fibers of the local henequen cactus. Today, they are usually hand made using over 2 miles of soft cotton or nylon, and may give over two years of continuous service when not exposed to sunlight for long periods. Tree hanger accessories or free standing frames to hold the hammock are available commercially. They can be hand washed and hung to stretch and dry. Hammocks should not be hung directly on hooks, as the friction will create wear. Loop a rope or a hook from a chain or rope and loop it through the loop end of the hammock and attach that to the hook. Keep in mind the instability of a hammock until you are used to it and children should not be left unattended in them.

Yucatan is well known for its exquisite and embroider "huipiles," silver "filigrana" jewelry, traditional "hammocks,", fine replicas of ancient Maya ceramic vessels and masks. One of the most sensational fine arts boutique is found in Valladolid's main square, Yalat it specializes in Mexican fine arts and unique Maya art-crafts; the store itself is a joy to visit. Merida also offers some good shopping, try its traditional main market or the open-market on many streets all week long.


Yucatan cuisine is well known throughout Mexico. Try the traditional "Pollo Pibil" and "Sopa de Lima." If you are lucky enough to be discovering Yucatan by automobile or even bus, a travel cooler of decent size comes in very handy in this climate. You will have opportunities to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables along the road. Pass up any that have already been peeled. Honey is usually found for sale along the road in used whiskey bottles. It should be considered safe and surely will be quite tasty.


Some consider the water in Merida safe to drink, however unless your body is used to the microbes in foreign water and on food, you can have problems anywhere. Bottled water is available most places and is the safest choice. It would be difficult for anyone visting this area, not to sample the Tequila, which should be used in moderation. For those more adventurous souls, Absinth is legal in Mexico, moderation is suggested. Fresh fruit juice is very popular in Yucatan and fresh squeezed OJ can be found in most markets. Ummm, good. Dairy products, including cheese, should be avoided, unless you are positive they have been made with pasteurized milk.

Primitive lodging
Primitive lodging

The lodging in the Yucatan varies widely. It is not uncommon to find primitive lodging with three walls, a ceiling and an open air front. Only a wash bowl and stool will be provided. You will need to provide your own hammock. Sleeping in your own hammock is common, even in the higher priced hotels in the cities, you will find first floor rooms that only accommodate hammocks. Many other, more conventional sleeping choices are available. For a different type of Yucatan experience at the other end of the spectrum you may want to look into the numerous "haciendas" that are scattered throughout the State, offering outstanding amenities at reasonable cost. This will help you understand the rich history of the State of Yucatan.

  • Hacienda Chichen Resort and Maya Spa,[10]. +52-999-924-4222, from US/Canada: 1-877-631-4005. Boutique Colonial hotel 16th-century Hacienda, eco-friendly witn land dedicated to the protection of local flora and fauna. Maya Nature Reserve and Bird Refuge. Dr. Merle Greene's "Rubbing Collection," Gallery and Yaxkin Spa are open to site visitors. US$120-160 (single/double), US$165-225 (master suite). No phones in rooms.
  • Hacienda Yaxcopoil [[11]], Apartado Postal No. 1, Administracion de Correos No. 4, Merida, Yucatan, 97101 Mexico PH: (011-52-999) 900-1193
  • Hotel Puuc, (01)9979750103, [12]. An encounter with the Mayan culture in the heart of Route Puuc, where you will learn many of the archaeological sites in the state, such as Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, Labna, among many other heritages of humanity, as well as a twenty natural wonders of Mexico, the caves of Lol-Tun just 7km from Oxkutzkab, all located within a radius of 50 km from Hotel Puuc. Best rates on official website start at MXN 270.00.  edit

Stay safe

Yucatan should be considered a safe place to visit. It is common for locals to approach you to practice their English, although most are quite reserved and shy. Always keep your vehicle locked and valuables out of site. In the larger cities, parking is somewhat limited and it may be best to find secured parking. Never photograph military installations, Police, Federales or children without permission. The biggest danger to visitors may be on the roads. If not on toll roads, you are likely to encounter large buses, trucks, pedestrians, animals and such. Driving after dark can be dangerous and risky. In the tourist areas you may encounter some "machismo". It is best dealt with by pretending not to notice or humbleness.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also Yucatan



Map of Mexico highlighting Yucatán


Several etymologies for this name have been proposed:

  • Perhaps the most well-known is where it is said to derive from Mayan, being either tectetan, meaning “I do not understand you” or uyutan, uyukatan, or yukutan, “listen to them talk!”.
  • Bernal Diaz derived the name from the vegetable yuca + tale a hillock in which it is planted.
  • Perhaps more likely is the derivation from Nahuatl yohcāuh ‘possession, riches’ + tlān ‘place of’.

Proper noun




  1. a peninsula in southeast mexico
  2. a state in Mexico


See also


Proper noun

Yucatán m.

  1. Yucatán (peninsula or state)

Related terms

See also

  • Wikipedia-logo.png Yucatán on the Spanish

Simple English

Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this name.


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