Yucatán

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Yucatán

(yo͞okətăn`, –kätän`), state (1990 pop. 1,362,940), 14,868 sq mi (38,508 sq km), SE Mexico, occupying most of the northern part of the YucatánYucatán
, peninsula, c.70,000 sq mi (181,300 sq km), mostly in SE Mexico, separating the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico. It comprises the states of Yucatán, Campeche, and Quintana Roo, Mexico; the country of Belize; and part of Petén, Guatemala.
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 peninsula. It lies between CampecheCampeche
, state (1990 pop. 535,185), 21,924 sq mi (56,798 sq km), SE Mexico, on the Gulf of Campeche. The city of Campeche is the capital. Comprising most of the western half of the Yucatán peninsula, much of the state lies in hot, humid, and unhealthy lowlands.
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 and Quintana RooQuintana Roo
, state (1990 pop. 493,277), 19,630 sq mi (50,842 sq km), SE Mexico, on the Caribbean. Chetumal is the capital. Occupying most of the eastern part of the Yucatán peninsula, the state was, until recently, wild, sparsely settled, and populated almost entirely
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. The principal industry is tourism and the cultivation and preparation of henequen—mostly exported to the United States. Citrus production has gained in importance in recent years, and textile production, tobacco and other farming, and fishing are also important. Roads and rail lines connect many of the larger towns with the capital, MéridaMérida
, city (1990 pop. 523,422), capital of Yucatán state, SE Mexico. It is the chief commercial, communications, and cultural center of the Yucatán peninsula.
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. By 300 B.C., and until Columbian times, Yucatán was populated by the Maya. Cortés came to Yucatán in 1519. It became a state when Mexico won independence (1821) but seceded from 1839 to 1843. There were severe political uprisings in 1847 and in 1910. Several of the most famous Mayan ruins, including Tulúm, Chichén Itzá, and Uxmal, are located here.

Yucatán

(yo͞okətăn`), peninsula, c.70,000 sq mi (181,300 sq km), mostly in SE Mexico, separating the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico. It comprises the states of YucatánYucatán
, state (1990 pop. 1,362,940), 14,868 sq mi (38,508 sq km), SE Mexico, occupying most of the northern part of the Yucatán peninsula. It lies between Campeche and Quintana Roo.
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, CampecheCampeche
, state (1990 pop. 535,185), 21,924 sq mi (56,798 sq km), SE Mexico, on the Gulf of Campeche. The city of Campeche is the capital. Comprising most of the western half of the Yucatán peninsula, much of the state lies in hot, humid, and unhealthy lowlands.
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, and Quintana RooQuintana Roo
, state (1990 pop. 493,277), 19,630 sq mi (50,842 sq km), SE Mexico, on the Caribbean. Chetumal is the capital. Occupying most of the eastern part of the Yucatán peninsula, the state was, until recently, wild, sparsely settled, and populated almost entirely
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, Mexico; the country of BelizeBelize
, independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations (2005 est. pop. 279,500), 8,867 sq mi (22,965 sq km), Central America, on the Caribbean Sea. Belize is bounded on the N by Mexico, on the S and W by Guatemala, and on the E by the Caribbean. The capital is Belmopan.
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; and part of PeténPetén
, region, c.15,000 sq mi (38,850 sq km), N Guatemala. A humid expanse of dense, tropical hardwood forests interrupted by savannas and crisscrossed by ranges of hills, it is related geographically to SE Mexico and Belize rather than to the rest of Guatemala.
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, Guatemala. MéridaMérida
, city (1990 pop. 523,422), capital of Yucatán state, SE Mexico. It is the chief commercial, communications, and cultural center of the Yucatán peninsula.
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, CampecheCampeche,
city (1990 pop. 150,518), capital of Campeche state, SE Mexico, on the Yucatán peninsula. It is fortified and surrounded by 18th-century walls. Although it remains an export center for the surrounding region, Campeche's economy is increasingly linked to the
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, and CancúnCancún
, city (1990 pop. 167,730), Quintana Roo state, SE Mexico. An international resort, Cancún is known for its beaches, agreeable climate, and luxurious hotels and facilities.
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, Mexico and Belize CityBelize City,
capital (1993 est. pop. 47,724) of Belize dist., Belize, at the mouth of the Belize River, on the Caribbean Sea. The river flows c.180 mi (290 km) generally west and is navigable almost to Guatemala. It is the country's major port and has deepwater facilities.
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, Belize are the chief cities of Yucatán. The inhabitants are predominantly the modern descendants of the Maya.

The peninsula is largely a low, flat, limestone tableland rising to c.500 ft (150 m) in the south. To the north and west the plain continues as the Campeche Bank, stretching under shallow water c.150 mi (240 km) from the low, sandy shoreline. Along the NW coast are is the ancient, buried Chicxulub crater, an impact site associated with the mass extinctionmass extinction,
the extinction of a large percentage of the earth's species, opening ecological niches for other species to fill. There have been at least ten such events.
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 in which the dinosaurs died out. The eastern coast rises in low cliffs in the north and is indented by bays and paralleled by islands and cays in the south; CozumelCozumel
, 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).
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 is the largest island. Short ranges of hills cross the peninsula at scattered intervals. The only rivers are those flowing E and NW from Petén.

Climate

In the northern half of the tableland, rainfall is light and is absorbed by the porous limestone. Water for people and livestock comes from underground rivers and wells (cenotes) from which it is often pumped by windmills, and from surface pools (aguadas). The land has tropical dry and rainy seasons, but generally in the north the climate is hot and dry, and in the south hot and humid. The peninsula is subject to hurricanes.

Economy

Most of the northern half, although covered with only a few inches of subsoil, is one of the most important henequen-raising regions of the world; the uncultivated area is under a dense growth of scrub, cactus, sapote wood, and mangrove thickets. Subsistence crops, tobacco, and cotton also are grown. Magnificent forests of tropical hardwoods in SW Campeche, Petén, and Belize provide the basis for a lumber industry. This area teems with tropical life, including the jaguar, the armadillo, the iguana, and the Yucatán turkey. Fishing is important along the Yucatán coast. Many of the peninsula's fine beaches and archaeological sites have been developed for tourism, which is a significant part of the peninsula's economy. By the early years of the 21st cent. resort development in Mexico on the peninsula's E coast was extensive, especially at Cancún and to its south along c.60-mi (100 km) stretch of beach popularly known as the Mayan Riviera. Yucatán also possesses large oil deposits, and Mexico in particular has developed a substantiael oil industry on the peninsula.

History

Centuries before the arrival of the Spanish, Yucatán was the seat of a great civilization (see MayaMaya
, indigenous people of S Mexico and Central America, occupying an area comprising the Yucatán peninsula and much of the present state of Chiapas in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, parts of El Salvador, and extreme western Honduras.
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). Probably the first Europeans to arrive were the two survivors of a Spanish shipwreck (1511)—Gonzalo de Guerrero, who joined the Maya, and Gerónimo de Aguilar, who was rescued by Hernán CortésCortés, Hernán,
or Hernando Cortez
, 1485–1547, Spanish conquistador, conqueror of Mexico. Expedition to Mexico

Cortés went (1504) first to Hispaniola and later (1511) accompanied Diego de Velázquez to Cuba.
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 in 1519 and became his interpreter. Later (1524–25) Cortés made an epic march across the base of the peninsula to Honduras. Francisco 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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 had in 1517 already skirted the coast, and in the following year Juan de Grijalva had explored the same area. The battling with the Maya began in 1527 by Francisco de Montejo and continued until 1546, when his son, Francisco de Montejo the younger, crushed the revolt of a coalition of Mayan groups. Mayan resistance to Spanish (and later Mexican) rule perpetuated into the early 20th cent.

Bibliography

See F. F. Blom, The Conquest of Yucatan (1971); E. H. Moseley and E. D. Terry, ed., Yucatan: A World Apart (1980); G. D. Jones, Maya Resistance to Spanish Rule (1989).

Yucatán

 

a state in southeastern Mexico, in the northern part of the Yucatán Peninsula. Area, 43,400 sq km. Population, 904,000 (1976). The capital is Mérida. Yucatán’s agriculture is dominated by the cultivation of henequén; tropical and subtropical fruits are also grown. Industry includes henequén processing, food processing, metalworking, and the production of textiles, leather goods, and footwear. Henequén is exported through the port city of Progreso.


Yucatán

 

a peninsula in Central America, between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Most of the Yucatán Peninsula belongs to Mexico; the southeastern region includes parts of Guatemala and Belize. The total area of the peninsula is approximately 180,000 sq km.

The peninsula is mainly a low-lying plain composed of limestones. The Maya Mountains, which reach a maximum elevation of 1,122 m, are located in the southeast. Karst phenomena are encountered. The northern and western coasts are low and are marked by lagoons. The eastern coast is more precipitous and has large bays bordered by coral reefs; a notable example is Chetumal Bay.

The peninsula has a hot tropical trade-wind climate. Precipitation ranges from 500 mm a year in the north to 2,000 mm or more in the south. Surface runoff, associated with such rivers as the Belize, is marked only in the south. The economy uses underground water, especially from sinkholes. Vegetation consists of xerophytic shrubs and thin forests in the north and of evergreen tropical forests in the central and southern regions.

Among the peninsula’s products are fine wood and chicle-containing latex from sapodilla trees. Citrus fruits, cotton, and Indian corn are cultivated. Henequen is grown in the Mexican part of the peninsula.

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