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The Zoque are an indigenous people of Mexico; they speak variants of the Zoque languages.

This group consists of 41,609 people, according to the 2000 census.[1] They live mainly in the northerly sector of Chiapas state, principally in the municipios and towns of Amatán, Copainalá, Chapultenango, Francisco León, Ixhuatán, Ixtacomitán, Jitotol, Ocotepec, Ostuacán, Pantepec, Rayón, Totolapa, Tapilula, Tecpatán, Acala, Blanca rosa, and Ocozocoautla. They also live in the northern part of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in the state of Oaxaca. Their language is also called Zoque, and has several branches and dialects. The Zoque are related to the Mixe. They follow the Roman Catholic religion.

In the pre-Hispanic period, the Zoque lived throughout Chiapas, and as far away as the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and parts of the state of Tabasco. They are believed to be descendants of the Olmec who emigrated to Chiapas and Oaxaca. They had a good social and commercial relationship with the Mexica, which contributed to the economic prosperity of their culture in Chiapas. In 1494 they were invaded and defeated by the Aztecs, during the reign of Ahuizotl, and forced to pay tribute.

The Spanish conquest of the Zoque lands commenced in 1523, under the leadership of Luis Marin. The Zoque were parceled out amongst the settlers, where they endured forced labor and were obliged to pay high tribute. Diseases, exploitation and the miserable conditions under which they lived contributed to a significant decrease in their numbers.

The situation of the Zoque did not improve with Mexican independence, since they continued to be exploited by the mestizos and criollos. It was not until 1922, when they were assigned ejidos (common lands), that their living conditions improved somewhat.

The Zoque traditional dress is worn almost exclusively by women, and on special occasions. Some elderly men in remote communities wear white cotton shirts. The women wear short-sleeved blue blouses, embroidered at the neck, and long poplin skirts in various colors.

Their houses are mainly rectangular, with one or two rooms and walls of wood and mud, or adobe, whitewashed inside and out. The houses have earthen floors, and roofs consisting of four sloping sides of tile or thatch. In the larger towns they are made of concrete.

As with other groups, agriculture is their prime economic activity. The crops vary according to the topography of the terrain. For the most part they raise maize, beans, chiles, and squash. Their commercial crops are coffee, cocoa, peppers, bananas, mamey, sweetsop, and guava. The soil is of poor quality, and therefore the output is low. They raise pigs and domesticated fowl in small quantities to augment their diet.

The Zoque also work in the construction industry in the cities.


  1. ^ According to the Mexican Commission for Indigenous Development, the Zoque number 86,569 [1].


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

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Zoque (uncountable)

  1. An indigenous people of Mexico
  2. The language of this people


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