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, peninsula, North America

Yucatán (yo͞okətănˈ), 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. Mérida, Campeche, and Cancún, Mexico and Belize City, 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 extinction 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; Cozumel 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.


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.


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.


Centuries before the arrival of the Spanish, Yucatán was the seat of a great civilization (see Maya). 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 Cortés 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 córdoba 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.


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).


, state, Mexico
Yucatán (yo͞okətănˈ, –kätänˈ), 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. 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, Mérida. 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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.



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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Minister of Tourism of the State Yucatan, Michelle Fridman Hirsch added: "In Yucatan we are very proud to host the 17th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, such an important event that brings together great activists, students, opinion leaders and social leaders from around the world, in search of the same goal: World Peace.
In the Yucatan coast, Lopez-Rocha (2011) found a median density 217 ind [ha.sup.-1] for I.
purpurea y las de sus especies hermanas estan presentes en siete provincias biogeograficas: Eje Neovolcanico, Sierra Madre del Sur, Los Altos de Chiapas, Costa del Pacifico, Depresion del Balsas, Golfo de Mexico y Peninsula de Yucatan (Apendice 1).
Accordingly Capri, who beat Yucatan in the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh last month, was chalked up the 11-8 hotpot.
Leptospirosis in Mexico was first demonstrated in the state of Yucatan in 19207, and since then, different studies in humans and animal reservoirs confirm its endemic condition in Yucatan where it has been reported a 14.2% prevalence (8,9).