Cozumel

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Cozumel

(kōzə`mel), resort island, c.190 sq mi (490 sq km), Quintana Roo state, Mexico, in the Caribbean Sea off the E coast of the Yucatán peninsula. It is famed for its beaches and coral reef (declared a national park in 1996). The island was inhabited by the Maya before it was visited by Spanish explorer Fernández de CórdobaFernández de Córdoba, Francisco
, d. 1518?, Spanish explorer in Mexico. Sailing from Cuba on a slave hunt, he discovered Yucatán in 1517. He died from wounds received in a battle with the Maya. His explorations were furthered by Juan de Grijalva.
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 (1517) and by conquistador Hernán CortesCortes
, representative assembly in Spain. The institution originated (12th–13th cent.) in various Spanish regions with the Christian reconquest; until the 19th cent.
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 in 1519. Long a favored destination for sports diving, the island was not extensively developed for tourism until the 1960s. It is now a popular cruise and tourist destination; the mostly unpopulated northern shore and adjoining waters were declared a nature reserve in 2012. Cozumel suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Wilma in 2005.