Origin of state name: The name Campeche is of Mayan origin and has three possible meanings: It may be derived from the words can (snake) and pech (tick)—the place of snakes and ticks. Some speculate that Can Pech means "the place where the snake is worshipped," because snakes appear on many ancient structures.
Entered country: 1862.
Coat of Arms: The red background of the upper left and lower right quarters represents the bravery of Campecheans and contrasts with the silver towers. This silver color is the reflection of solidness and honor of its inhabitants, and the towers signify the strength of Campecheans in the defense of their land. The other two quarters bear a sailing ship with a raised anchor, which reminds viewers of the importance of Campeche as a maritime port. The four quarters rest upon a blue background that represents the loyalty and noble sentiments of Campecheans. Finally, above the coat of arms there is a crown decorated with precious stones symbolizing the nobility and grandeur of the state.
Holidays: Año Nuevo (New Year's Day—January 1); Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day—February 5); Benito Juárez's birthday (March 21); Primero de Mayo (Labor Day—May 1); Revolution Day, 1910 (November 20); and Navidad (Christmas—December 25).
Flag: There is no official flag.
Time: 6 AM = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Campeche, in eastern Mexico on the Yucatán Peninsula, covers an area of 56,789 square kilometers (21,926 square miles). Campeche is about the same size as the US state of Iowa. Campeche is bordered by the Mexican state of Quintana Roo on the east; by the Mexican state of Tabasco and the Gulf of Mexico on the west; by the Mexican state of Yucatán on the north; and by the Central American nation of Guatemala on the south. It is divided into eleven municipalities. The capital city is also called Campeche.
Campeche has 404 kilometers (252 miles) of coastline and includes the Isla del Carmen, Jaina, Triángulo, and Cayo Arcas.
The mountains (sierras) are situated in the northern and eastern parts of the state. A great flat plain stretches to the south. The region also includes cenotes, natural pools that formed when water seeped through the limestone of underground caves.
There are small lakes throughout Campeche, and the coastline is dotted with lagoons. The main rivers are the Candelaría and the Champotón. The Usumacinta forms the border with Tabasco. The Laguna de Términos (Términos Lagoon) lies on the southern part of the coastline with the Gulf of Mexico and is fed by several rivers, including the Candelaría.
The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico contribute to the climate, which is generally warm and humid. The average temperatures is 24°c to 28°c (76°f to 82°f). Annual rainfall averages 38 inches (96.5 centimeters). The highest monthly average rainfall occurs in August and September.
The state has rich rain forests. The jaguar population, most of which may be found in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, is estimated at four hundred. It is one the largest jaguar populations anywhere in the world. Orchids and other plants of the rain forest are native to the state.
The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, on the southern border with Guatemala, is the second largest protected area in Mexico. The reserve, located 320 kilometers (200 miles) from the capital, Campeche, was created in 1993. There also are extensive ruins of ancient civilizations in Campeche.
Much of the forest areas in Campeche have been cut down and the wood used for housing materials and for cooking and heating. Forests were also cleared to make way for livestock. The government has instituted preservation programs to stop further environmental destruction.
Campeche had a total population of 690,689 in 2000; of the total, 344,334 were men and 346,355 were women. The population density was 12 people per square kilometer (31 people per square mile). In 2000, the capital, Campeche, had a population of 216,735.
About 85% of all citizens speak Spanish as their first language. Campeche has a fairly large population of indigenous (native) people, primarily Mayan. About 15% of citizens speak one of the Mayan languages as their first language.
According to the 2000 census, 63% of the population, or 432,457 people, were Roman Catholic; 12%, or 79,994 people, were Protestant. That year there were also 11,558 Seventh-Day Adventists, 2,264 Mormons, 14,585 Jehovah's Witnesses, and nearly 65,000 people who reported no religion.
Campeche International Airport and Ciudad del Carmen Airport provide international flights to and from Campeche.
There are approximately 2,942 kilometers (1,839 miles) of paved roads and about 400 kilometers (250 miles) of railroad
Cayo Arcas is one of Mexico's principal ports for exports. Laguna Azul is the port at Ciudad del Carmen.
The history of Campeche, which lies on the Yucatán Peninsula, begins in the era from 300 to 900 A.D. The Maya built several cities in the Yucatán. The Toltec culture arrived in 987 A.D., led by its leader Quetzalcóatl. Toltec became the dominate culture in the region before the arrival of the Spanish.
The first Spaniards to visit the region were the survivors of a shipwreck. Two survivors, Jerónimo de Aguilar and Gonzalo Guerrero, became incorporated into Mayan civilization. Guerrero married the daughter of the Chetumal tribal chief, and their son was the first officially recorded Mestizo (mixed Indian and Spanish) in Mexico. Jerónimo de Aguilar was later rescued by Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés's (1485–1547) expedition.
Spanish explorer Francisco de Montejo initiated the conquest of Yucatán in 1527. The Amerindian resistance was so strong that he fled. He returned three years later with his son Francisco de Montejo y León but was again unsuccessful in his effort to overpower the native Indians. A third attempt in 1537 proved successful. De Montejo founded the cities of Campeche in 1540 and Mérida in 1542. Franciscan priests (from an order of the Roman Catholic Church) built more than thirty convents in an effort to convert the indigenous people to the Catholic faith. Indigenous revolts during the colonial period consolidated Yucatán's reputation as a region whose fierce Indians would not easily surrender to Spanish rule. The Spanish built a wall around the city of Campeche to protect it from other European invaders and from indigenous warriors.
Yucatán did not participate in the independence movement of 1810. The Spanish authorities controlled the region and prevented any insurgencies. In 1821, with the Plan of Iguala, Yucatán was made a part of independent Mexico. After the Independence of Mexico, Campeche became one of the five important seats of government that formed Yucatán. Yucatán was formally made a state in 1823 and a new constitution became law in 1825. On August 7, 1857, civil war divided Campeche from Yucatán. A new region was created that was given the name Campeche, with the city of Campeche as the capital.
The constitution was written in 1861, and the Mexican Congress voted in favor of accepting Campeche as a state in 1862, during the presidency of Benito Juárez (1806–1872).
Under the long presidency of Porfirio Díaz (1830–1915), Campeche lost the Quintana Roo territory. Díaz made Quintana Roo a separate province in 1902. Quintana Roo was returned to Campeche during the short Ortiz Rubio presidency (1930–1932). Finally, President Lázaro Cárdenas, who held office from 1934 to 1940, separated Campeche and Quintana Roo permanently by creating a new Quintana Roo state in 1974.
Also in the mid-19th century, Campeche segregationists sought to force the central government to create a new province independent of Yucatán. Tomás Aznar, Pedro and Perfecto de Baranda, Francisco and Rafael Carvajal, Leando and Miguel Domínguez, and Irineo Lavalle were among the leaders of Campechean separation. Segregationist Campeche leaders occupied Mérida, the Yucatán capital, in the early 1860s.
The invasion of French troops into Mexico in the mid-1860s forced Campeche leaders to decide whether to join the occupying forces, as Yucatán had done, or to resist the foreign invaders. The city of Campeche was attacked and eventually overpowered by the French invading forces. Carlota, the French emperor's wife, visited Campeche during their short tenure as Mexican monarchs. Pro-republican forces occupied Campeche to fight against French emperor Maximilian (1832–1867) and the French invaders. The end of the war and the consolidation of power under Díaz did not bring peace to Campeche, however. From 1876 to 1910, twenty-five different governors ruled Campeche.
The discovery of oil fields off the coast turned Campeche into an extremely important area for the rest of Mexico. Military and political control of the state became central to any government that sought to exercise control over the rest of Mexico. Despite the local instability, the central government has continuously exercised direct control over the area where the oil fields are located.
During the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920) Campeche witnessed confrontations by different factions. A new government assumed control of the state shortly before the Mexican Constitution was approved in 1917. Since then, the party that eventually became the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has exercised political control over Campeche.
When President Cárdenas created the state of Quintana Roo in 1974, dividing the old state of Campeche, opposition from some Campechean leaders was quickly suppressed with promises of industrial and economic incentives. The presence of the most important oil fields off the coast of Campeche has made the state into one of the most strategically important units of the Mexican federation.
Some efforts at forming guerrilla movements in the region were undertaken in the mid-1960s. The strategic economic importance of the state led the central government to heavily intervene in state politics and to exercise an unusual level of centralized control over the Campechean state affairs.
Following the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1992, a trade agreement between Mexico, the United States, and Canada, Campeche became home to many new manufacturing enterprises.
The state government is highly centralized and most powers reside with the governor, who is elected by popular vote for a six-year nonrenewable term. The state congress is comprised of thirty-five legislators elected in twenty-one single member districts and fourteen multimember districts to promote the representation of minority parties. Legislators are elected for nonrenewable three-year terms. Although there is a formal, well-established separation of power with provisions for checks and balances, state governors have historically exercised strong influence over the legislative branch of government.
Comprised of eleven municipalities, local governments are restricted in their powers and attributions. In spite of this, the wave of democratization that swept Mexican politics since the early 1990s has also brought increased democratization to local governments in Campeche. Municipal presidents are elected for nonrenewable three-year terms as are municipal council members. The size of municipal councils varies according to the population of each municipality.
The three main political parties in all of Mexico are the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the National Action Party (PAN), and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).
As in the rest of Mexico, the PRI heavily controlled politics in Campeche during most of the 20th century. Campeche's strategic importance as an oil producing region made the PRI political control of the state more evident than in most other states. The last two governors, Antonio González (1997–2003) and Jorge Carlos Hurtado Valdez (2003–2009), both belonged to the PRI.
Comprised of a Superior Tribunal of Justice, an electoral tribunal, and local courts, the judicial system is autonomous and independent. Superior Tribunal justices are appointed by the governor with the legislature's approval. Appointees must be qualified lawyers with previous judicial experience. Appointments are made for six-year terms. After a term expires, if the justice is confirmed, he or she will continue in office for life or until a mandatory retirement age of sixty-five.
About 45% of the state's economy relates to the oil fields just off the shores of Campeche. Tourism (15%) is the next most important sector of the economy. Financial and real estate services (15%) are also important economic activities.
Over half of Mexico's oil and over one-fourth of the country's natural gas are produced by the wells off the coast of Campeche. PEMEX, Mexico's oil company, has significant operations in the state. Tourism is also an important industry, with Mayan ruins being a significant draw for visitors.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Mexican workers saw their wages increase 17%, from $2.09 per hour in 1999 to $2.46 per hour in 2000. (By comparison, the average American worker earned $19.86 per hour in 2000.) After one year, workers are entitled by law to six days paid vacation.
Agriculture and livestock are an important part of the economy in the northeast, where there is less rainfall. Fruit orchards produce mangoes, citrus fruits, watermelon, cantaloupe, and papaya. Other crops grown in the state include corn, rice, beans, sorghum, soy, jalapeño peppers, peanuts, and several varieties of squash. Cattle, pig, and goat production are other sources of income to the state, as well as beekeeping.
The oil fields off the Campeche coast are the state's most important mineral resource.
Fishing is an important and growing activity, with facilities for shipping already in existence. There are refrigerated warehouses in the port areas, as well as training centers for fishermen.
Over 90% of people living in cities and 85% of those living in rural areas have electricity.
Campeche has 20 general hospitals, 256 outpatient centers, and 28 surgical centers.
Most of the Mexican population is covered under a government health plan. The IMSS (Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social) covers the general population. The ISSSTE (Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales de Trabajadores del Estado) covers state workers.
The population of Campeche is growing at about 5% per year. More than one-fourth of the housing available in Campeche is of poor quality and requires major upgrading or replacement. Less than half of Campeche's housing is considered satisfactory or in need of just minor improvements.
The system of public education was first started by President Benito Juárez in 1867. Public education in Mexico is funded by the state and is free for all students from ages six to sixteen. There are over 180,000 school-age children living in the state. Many students elect to go to private schools.
The thirty-one states of Mexico all have at least one state university. A university was established under Governor Alberto Trueba Urbina's administration (1955–1961). It became known as the Universidad Autonoma de Campeche (Independent University of Campeche) in 1989.
Campeche has nine theaters and seven auditoriums, all located in the city of Campeche. There are six cultural centers, two of which are located in the city of Carmen. The jarana, the traditional dance of Campeche, is performed at many of the cultural centers. Many local markets sell crafts made by local artisans.
The state of Campeche has forty-eight branches of the national library. There are five museums in Campeche. There is an archaeology museum in the city of Campeche and a local history museum in Hecelchakán.
The capital city, Campeche, has two newspapers: El Sur de Campeche and La Tribuna de Campeche. There are thirteen AM and five FM radio stations broadcasting in the state. About half of the state's territory has broadcast television service; 20% of the state's residents have access to cable television. Internet service is not widely available, but several companies had begun offering access as of 2003.
There are 35,000 to 40,000 telephone lines in service in the state. Two mobile phone companies provide cellular phone service.
The city of Campeche is an old fortified colonial city with walls meant to protect it from pirate attacks. Tourists can visit the many citadels (fortresses) and thick-walled fortifications (called baluartes). There are also many Mayan ruins as a result of Spain's attempt to convert the natives to Christianity. The museum at San Miguel Fort has a collection of pre-Columbian artifacts. There are also Mayan ruins in the town of Edzna, where visitors can see the Temple of Five Stories. The towns of Rio Bec and Calakmul also have ruins.
Mexico's oldest baseball league, Liga Mexicana (Minor League Baseball), was organized in 1925. The Piratas (Pirates) of Campeche are members of this league. The baseball season in Mexico is from April to August.
Notable citizens born in Campeche include lawyer and politician Pablo García Montilla (1824–1895), who was involved in the establishment of the state's government and judicial system; lawyer and journalist Justo Sierra (1848–1912), one of the founders of the University of Mexico; Impressionist painter Joaquin Clausell (1866–1935); writer and folk historian Juan de la Cabada Vera (1899–1986); and musician and historian Francisco Alvares Suarez (1838–1916).
Supples, Kevin. Mexico. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2002.
Mayan World. http://www.mayan-world.com/ (accessed on June 11, 2004).
Mexico for Kids. http://www.elbalero.gob.mx/index_kids.html (accessed on June 11, 2004).