|Cancún||Coordinates: 21°09′38″N 86°50′51″W|
|Founded||April 20, 1970|
|• Mayor||Mara Lezama Espinosa (Morena)|
|• Total||1,978.75 km2 (764.00 sq mi)|
|Elevation||10 m (30 ft)|
|Highest elevation||10 m (30 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|• Density||380/km2 (970/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (EST)|
Cancún is a city in southeast Mexico on
the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Mexican state
of Quintana Roo. It is a significant tourist destination in Mexico and the seat of the municipality of Benito Juárez. The city is on
the Caribbean Sea and is one of Mexico’s easternmost points.
Cancún is just north of
Mexico’s Caribbean coast resort band known as the Riviera Maya. In older
English-language documents, the city’s name is sometimes spelled
“Cancoon”, an attempt to convey the sound of the name.
and coat of arms
There are two possible translations of Cancún, based on the Mayan pronunciation kaan kun. The first translation is “nest of snakes”. The second version and less accepted is “place of the golden snake”.
The shield of the municipality of Benito Juárez, which represents the city of Cancún, was designed by the Mexican-American artist Joe Vera. It is divided into three parts: the color blue symbolises the Caribbean Sea, the yellow the sand and the red the sun with its rays.
As documented in the earliest
colonial sources, Cancún was originally known to its Maya inhabitants as
Nizuc meaning either “promontory” or “point of grass”.In
the years after the Conquest, much of the Maya population died off or left as a
result of disease, warfare, piracy, and famines, leaving only small settlements
on Isla Mujeres and Cozumel Island.
The name Cancún, Cancum or Cankun first appears on 18th-century maps. The meaning of Cancún is unknown, and it is also unknown whether the name is of Maya origin. If it is of Maya origin, possible translations include “Place/Seat/Throne of the Snake” or “Enchanted Snake”. Snake iconography was prevalent at the pre-Columbian site of Nizuc.
When development of the area
as a resort was started on January 23, 1970, Isla Cancún had only three
residents, all caretakers of the coconut plantation of Don José de Jesús Lima
Gutiérrez, who lived on Isla Mujeres. Some 117 people lived in nearby
Puerto Juárez, a fishing village and military base.
Due to the reluctance of investors
to gamble on an unknown area, the Mexican federal government financed the first
nine hotels. The first financed hotel was a Hyatt, Cancún Caribe, but the
first hotel built was the Playa Blanca, which later became a Blue Bay hotel. It
is now named Temptation Resort. At the time it was an elite destination, famous
for its virgin white sand beaches.
The city began as a tourism
project in 1974 as an Integrally Planned Center, a pioneer of FONATUR (Fondo
Nacional de Fomento al Turismo, National Fund for Tourism Development),
formerly known as INFRATUR. Since then, it has undergone a comprehensive
transformation from being a fisherman’s island surrounded by virgin forest and
undiscovered shores to being one of the two most well-known Mexican resorts, along
with Acapulco. The World Tourism Organization (WTO), through its
foundation UNWTO-Themis, awarded the Best of the Best award
“for excellence and good governance” to the Trust for Tourism
Promotion of Cancún on February 3, 2007. This award ensured Cancún the ongoing
support of the Department of Education and Knowledge Management of the WTO.
Most ‘Cancunenses’ are from
Yucatán and other Mexican states. A growing number are from the rest of
the Americas and Europe. The municipal authorities have
struggled to provide public services for the constant influx of people, as well
as limiting squatters and irregular developments, which now occupy an estimated
ten to fifteen percent of the mainland area on the fringes of the city.
In the 21st century, Cancún
had largely avoided the bloodshed associated with the trade of
illegal drugs, but is known for its retail drug sales to tourists as well as
for being a center of money laundering. The links with Cancún date
from the 1990s and early 2000s, when the area was controlled by the Juárez and
Gulf drug cartels. In recent years Los Zetas, a group that broke away from
the Gulf Cartel, has taken control of many smuggling routes through the
Yucatán, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Apart from the island tourist
zone (part of the world’s second-longest coral reef), the Mexican residential
section of the city, the downtown part of which is known as “El
Centro”, follows a master plan that consists of “supermanzanas” (superblocks), giant trapezoids with a central, open, non-residential
area cut in by u-shaped residential streets.
Ave. Tulum is the main
north-south artery, connecting downtown to the airport, which is some
30 km (19 mi) south of downtown. Tulum is bisected by Ave. Cobá. East
of Ave. Tulum, Cobá becomes Ave. Kukulcan which serves as the primary road
through the 7-shaped hotel zone. Ave. Tulum ends on the north side at Ave.
Paseo José López Portillo which connects to the main highway west to Chichén
Itzá and Mérida. Another major north-south road is Ave. Bonampak
which runs roughly parallel to Ave. Tulum. The main ferry to Isla Mujeres is
located in Puerto Juárez, on Ave. Paseo José López Portillo.
To save on the cost of
installing sewer systems and other public services, the design of much of the
rest of the city reverted to the grid plan after Hurricane Gilbert in
1988. The newest upper-middle-class residential areas reflect the original
plan, but are much less intimate. Less expensive developments are composed
almost entirely of identical one- or two-story small row-houses, sometimes
built around interior plazas or 4-story apartment blocks. Until recently, most
mainland buildings were four stories or shorter; since 2005, there has been an
influx of condominium and luxury retail and office space concentrated along
Cancún’s mainland or downtown
area has diverged from the original plan; development is scattered around the
city. The remaining undeveloped beach and lagoon front areas outside the hotel
zone are now under varying stages of development, in Punta Sam and Puerto
Juarez to the north, continuing along Bonampak and south toward the airport
along Boulevard Donaldo Colosio. One development abutting the hotel zone is
Puerto Cancún; also Malecon Cancún is another large development.
Airport’s old Control Tower Memorial
Despite being a young city,
Cancún has a memorial monument of its foundation on a replica of the old
Airport Control Tower that resembles to its own date of foundation. The
original control tower was a provisional wooden structure to satisfy the
operative needs of the recently created airport. Some documents of the city
mention that in that time there were no other formal buildings constructed in
the city, being possibly the first built structure of Cancún’s recent history.
The old airport was located on
the same part of the city that today corresponds to the Kabah Avenue. The tower
is 15 meters tall, has a staircase of 45 steps, and has a base dimension of
5 × 5 meters. The memorial was first built in 2002, with the
donations of Aerocaribe, a local airline, but the structure was damaged after Hurricane
Wilma in 2005. After the claims of the local people asking to rebuild the
tower memorial, a new version was built on 2010, which was later abandoned
without proper maintenance until Woox Pinturas, another local wood maintenance
company, made a donation to restore the structure to its original appearance.
There are some small Mayan vestiges of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization in Cancún. El Rey (Las Ruinas del Rey) is located in the Hotel Zone. El Meco, a more substantial site, is found on the mainland just outside the city limits on the road north to Punta Sam.
Close by in the Riviera Maya
and the Grand Costa Maya, there are sites such as Cobá and Muyil (Riviera)
the small Polé (now Xcaret), and Kohunlich, Kinichná, Dzibanché,
Oxtankah, Tulum, and Chacchoben, in the south of the state. Chichén
Itzá is in the neighboring state of Yucatán.
Cancún is served by the Cancún
International Airport with an added main runway that commenced operation
as of October 2009. It has many flights to North America, Central America,
South America, and Europe. It is located on the northeast of the Yucatán
Peninsula serving an average of about fifteen million passengers per year. The
airport is located around 20 km (12 mi) from the hotel zone,
approximately a 20 minute trip by car. The island of Isla Mujeres is
located off the coast and is accessible by ferry from Puerto Juárez and
Playa Tortugas in the Hotel Zone.
Cancún is also served by three private bus lines that connect it to the downtown area and the “hotel zone” as well as more distant destinations such as Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
Cancún has a tropical
climate, specifically a tropical wet and dry climate with little
difference between seasons, but pronounced rainy and dry seasons. The city is
hot year-round, and moderated by onshore trade winds, with an annual mean
temperature of 27.1 °C (80.8 °F). Unlike inland areas of the Yucatán
Peninsula, sea breezes restrict high temperatures from reaching 36 °C
(97 °F) on most afternoons. Annual rainfall is around 1,340 millimetres
(52.8 in), falling on 115 days per year.
The rainy season runs from May
through late October, when hot temperatures, high humidity, and quick, but
intense summer thundershowers are common. The dry season normally begins in
December and runs through April, when more temperate conditions occur as the
northeast trade winds bring northerly breezes, sunshine, and relative humidity
is lowest. The hotel zone juts into the Caribbean Sea, it is surrounded by
ocean therefore daytime temperatures are around 1-2C less and wind speeds are
higher than at the airport located some distance inland, which is the official
meteorological station for Cancún, averages as shown below.
Thanks to the Yucatán current
continually bringing warm water from further south, the sea temperature is
always very warm, with lows of 79 °F (26 °C) in winter and highs of
84 °F (29 °C) in summer
|Climate data for Cancún|
|Average Sea Temperature|
The tropical storm season
lasts from May to December, the rainy season extends into January with peak
precipitation in October. February to early May tend to be drier with only
occasional scattered showers. Cancún is located in one of the main Caribbean
hurricane impact areas. Although large hurricanes are rare, they have struck
near to Cancún in recent years, Hurricane Wilma in 2005 being the
largest. Hurricane Gilbert made a devastating direct hit on Cancún in
September 1988 and the tourist hotels needed to be rebuilt. In both cases,
federal, state and municipal authorities were well prepared to deal with most
of the effects on tourists and local residents. Hurricane Dean in
2007 also made its mark on the city of Cancún.
1988’s Hurricane Gilbert was
the second most intense hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic basin. It
landed on the Yucatán peninsula after crossing over the island of Cozumel. In
the Cancún region, a loss of $87 million (1989 USD) due to a decline
in tourism was estimated for the months October, November and December in 1988.
On October 21, 2005, Hurricane
Wilma made landfall on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula as a powerful Category 4
hurricane, with strong winds in excess of 150 mph (240 km/h). The
hurricane’s eye first passed over the island of Cozumel, and then made an
official landfall near Playa del Carmen in the state of Quintana Roo
at around midnight on October 22 EDT with winds near 140 mph
(230 km/h). Portions of the island of Cozumel experienced the calm eye of
Wilma for several hours with some blue skies and sunshine visible at times. The
eye slowly drifted northward, with the center passing just to the west of
Cancún, Quintana Roo.
Two years later after
Hurricane Wilma, in 2007, Hurricane Dean made landfall as a Category 5 storm
in Majahual, 190 miles (310 km) to the south of Cancún. Fierce winds
at the edge of Dean’s impact cone stripped sand off 7.5 miles (12.1 km) of
beaches from Punta Cancún (Camino Real Hotel) to Punta Nizuc (Club
Med). The authorities asked tourism operators to suspend sending tourists
to Cancún while Hurricane Dean was approaching, but did ask airlines to send
empty planes, which were then used to evacuate tourists already there.
Although Cancún is better
known as a travel and tourism destination, in recent years some colleges and
universities have been offering higher education to both Mexican and foreign
The city has been home
to Atlante F.C., a traditional Mexico City football club,
since 2007. Atlante F.C. was moved to Cancún’s Andrés Quintana Roo Stadium when
that stadium opened. Its games had low attendance at its previous
stadium, Azteca Stadium, which it had been renting. The team currently
plays in the Ascenso MX, the second level of the Mexican football pyramid.
The city is also home to the
baseball team Tigres de Quintana Roo, who play in the Mexican League (LMB).
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia