Origin of state name: The state was named in honor of Nayar, a sixteenth-century governor of the Cora (Nayari) people, an indigenous group native to the state.
Capital: Tepic (teh-PEEK).
Entered country: February 5, 1917.
Coat of Arms: The coat of arms of Nayarit is made up of three sections. A corn stalk appears on the left, weapons appear on the right, and a mountain landscape lies across the lower section. In the center is a small shield surrounded by a white border with seven footprints, symbols of the seven tribes of the Nahuatl, or Aztecs. An illustration of the Eagle of Aztlan is in the center of the shield. Green, blue, and gold are used to represent the colors of the Nayarit landscape.
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 state flag.
Time: 5 AM = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Nayarit is located on the western coast of Mexico. It covers an area of 27,620 square kilometers (10,664 square miles), which is a little larger than the US state of Maryland. Nayarit is bordered on the north by the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Durango; on the south by the Mexican state of Jalisco; on the east by the Mexican states of Zacatecas and Jalisco; and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Nayarit has twenty municipalities. The capital is Tepic.
Most of the population lives in the broad valleys of the state. Tepic and Xalisco are located in the Matatipac valley, and Compostela lies in the Coatlán valley. In the mountainous eastern regions, the highest mountains include San Juan, Sanguangüey, El Ceboruco, Cumbre de Pajaritos, and Picachos.
Nayarit has 289 kilometers (181 miles) of Pacific coastline. There are clusters of islands in the Pacific Ocean that belong to Nayarit. These include Islas Marías, Isla Isabela, and Las Marietas.
The main rivers are the Santiago, San Pedro, and Acaponeta. The Ameca River forms the border with Jalisco. Las Cañas forms the border with Sinaloa. There are a number of lakes along the coast, including the Santa María del Oro, San Pedro Lagunillas, and Agua Brava.
The climate in the valley and coastal regions is typically warm. The average year-round temperature in Tepic is 20° c (68° f ). However, there are cooler temperatures in the mountain regions. The statewide average high temperature is 27° c (80° f ). The average low temperature statewide is 21° c (69° f ). Annual rainfall ranges from a minimum of 77 centimeters (30 inches) in some regions to a maximum of 264 centimeters (104 inches) in other parts of the state.
There are mangrove trees along the coast and pastures across the valleys. Coconut palms and guava trees can be found in the state. Pine and oak trees grow in the mountain regions. Common animals include white-tailed deer, wildcats, pumas, and wild boars. Smaller mammals include skunks, badgers, rabbits, and armadillos. Mountain doves, cojólite (a kind of pheasant), and the bobo bird live in the state as well.
El Manglar is an organization that was formed in 1993 to protect the mangroves and rain forests. The forests were threatened by rapid growth of tourism and shrimp farming. Isla Isabel is the site of a national park.
In 2000, Nayarit had a total population of 920,185. Of the total, 456,105 were men and 464,080 were women. The population density was 33 people per square kilometer (85 people per square mile). In 2000, the capital, Tepic, had a population of 305,025.
Indigenous groups that live in the state are the Coras, Huicholes, Tepehuanos, and Mexicaneros. Almost all citizens speak Spanish as their first language. About 4.6% of the population speaks indigenous (native) languages as their first language.
According to the 2000 census, 81% of the population, or 748,579 people, were Roman Catholic; about 3%, or 24,313 people, were Protestant. That year there were also 8,686 Jehovah's Witnesses and about 30,000 people who reported no religion.
Tepic Airport provides international flights to and from Nayarit. There are about 3,089 kilometers (1,919 miles) of roads and 245 miles (395 kilometers) of railroads in the state.
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The first Spaniard to arrive in Nayarit was Hernán Cortés (1485–1547), who visited the region in an expedition in 1523. Five years later, Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán conquered the different villages that existed in the region. Famous for his ruthless behavior and his will to overpower indigenous leaders, Beltrán de Guzmán built the Espíritu Santo village on top of the ruins of the indigenous city of Tepic. Cortés visited Tepic in 1531 and attempted to take control of the region, but Beltrán de Guzmán successfully convinced the Spanish crown to name him governor of a newly created province for the territories conquered by Beltrán de Guzmán.
Beltrán de Guzmán was replaced in 1536 by Diego Pérez de la Torre, who died in 1538 fighting an indigenous revolt. The new governor, Cristobal de Oñate, changed the provincial capital to a valley near Tepic. Several indigenous revolts threatened the Spanish colonizers' control of the region. The most famous revolt was led by indigenous leader Tenamaxtli in 1548. During most of the 16th and 17th century, Franciscan priests (of the Roman Catholic Church) sought to convert the indigenous Cora, but many fiercely resisted Spanish occupation. Only in 1722 did the Spaniards succeed in conquering the indigenous rebels in the Nayar mountain range. Economic development was experienced in the 18th century primarily due to the region's strategic location for trade with California.
As an independence movement began to take shape in 1810, local priest and leader José María Mercado rose to control most of the region. But a royalist army (loyal to Spain) recaptured most of Nayarit a year later. A few years later, the independence movement had completely disappeared in the region.
National independence in 1821 did not bring many changes to Nayarit. The 1830s and 1840s were characterized by conflicts between centralists and federalists, whereas the 1850s and 1860s witnessed war between liberals and conservatives. The national victory of the liberals led by Benito Juárez (1806–1872) first and by Porfirio Díaz (1830–1915) later brought peace and some economic development to Nayarit. The region was first made an autonomous entity in 1860.
During the Mexican Revolution, which started in 1910, different factions fought in Nayarit. Factions were loyal to Mexican revolutionaries Francisco Madero (1873–1913), Porfirio Díaz (1830–1915), Victoriano Huerta (1854–1916), and Venustiano Carranza (1859–1920). Some militias loyal to revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa (1879–1923) also fought in the region. When the Carranza forces emerged as victorious, they quickly controlled Nayarit. The 1917 constitutional convention declared Nayarit as a federal state. A new state constitution was passed into law in 1918.
The revolutionary army was led by Lázaro Cárdenas (1895–1970) in Nayarit. Some battles were also fought in Nayarit during the Cristero war, where Roman Catholic loyalists revolted against the anti-clerical policies of the revolutionary government in the late 1920s.
There was some economic development resulting from ambitious agriculture promotion policies undertaken by the government in the 1950s and 1960s, but Nayarit has remained one of the poorest and least developed states in Mexico.
The legislature is comprised of a thirty-seat congress. Eighteen deputies are elected in single member districts and twelve are elected by proportional representation. Although historically Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) governors exercised overwhelming influence over the legislature, after the PRI lost the governorship to the National Action Party (PAN) in 1999, provisions for separation of powers and checks and balances have been generally enforced. Yet, the governor continues to enjoy much power and excessive influence, curtailing the oversight power of the legislature.
The twenty municipalities that comprise Nayarit hold regular democratic elections for municipal presidents and council members every three years. Immediate re-election is not allowed. Highly centralized budgetary and administrative decision making at the state level hinder the development and consolidation of local governments.
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). The PRI controlled state level politics since the end of the Mexican Revolution (1910–20). All state governors were PRI members until Antonio Echevarría Domínguez, of the PAN, won the 1999 election. The PRD has a limited presence in larger town, but the PRI has survived as a strong opposition party.
The Superior Tribunal of Justice is the highest court in the state. It is comprised of seven justices appointed for nonrenewable ten-year terms by the congress from a list submitted by the state governor. Only qualified and well-respected attorneys familiar with state laws and regulations can be appointed. In addition, an electoral tribunal and local courts also comprise the state's legal system. The historic influence of PRI governors over other authorities often reached the members of the Superior Tribunal, but the arrival of more competitive electoral politics has also had positive effects on the autonomy of the state judiciary.
Service-based companies account for about 24% of the state economy. Agriculture and livestock contribute about 20%, followed by finance and insurance companies at 17%, trade at 16%, manufacturing at 10%, transportation and communications at 9%, construction at 3%, and mining at 1%.
The tobacco industry has been one of the most significant contributors to the state economy. However, tourism and other service industries are becoming more important. Tepic is the site of a major cigarette factory. The headquarters for the two largest tobacco companies in the country are found in Nayarit. Other industries in the state include manufacturing activities linked to agriculture and food processing, woods, and textiles. In the south there are several small factories that produce tequila and leather goods. The sugarcane industry is also still prominent in the state.
The US 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. (The average US worker earned $19.86 per hour in 2000.) After one year, workers are entitled by law to six days paid vacation.
Nayarit is the leading tobacco growing state of Mexico. Both tobacco and sugarcane are the primary export crops of the state. Fruit growing is a major part of agriculture and includes production of avocados, mango, papaya, bananas, and tamarind. Other major crops include corn, beans, peanuts, and squash. Cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, and goats, are the primary livestock animals; however, deer, iguana, raccoons, and rabbits are also used for meat. The southern region of the state is known for its honey production.
The coastal lake zone has an abundant amount of shrimp. Tuna and red snapper are also part of the ocean catch. The main fishing center is at San Blas, which is also the site of an oyster research center. Coconut palms and oak trees are cut for commercial use. Gold, silver, and lead are found in the state and processed in two main facilities.
Almost all of the energy in Mexico is provided by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE). In February 2002, the CFE introduced new electric rates. For households that use less than 140 kilowatt hours per month, there was no rate increase. (This is about 75% of all households in the country, according to CFE.) As a small state whose economy has been based predominantly on agriculture, Nayarit's electricity consumption is among the lowest in Mexico.
The state of Nayarit has 12 general hospitals, 335 outpatient centers, and 29 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.
About two-thirds of the housing available in the state of Nayarit is in good repair. Only about 13% is in need of significant upgrading. These homes do not have running water or access to electricity.
The system of public education was first started by President Benito Juárez in 1867. Public education in Mexico is free for students from ages six to sixteen. According to the 2000 census, there were approximately 210,000 school-age students in the state. Many students elect to go to private schools. The thirty-one states of Mexico all have at least one state university. The Universidad Auntónoma de Nayarit is located in Tepic.
The state of Nayarit has a local ballet company, the Ballet de Cámara de Nayarit. The city of Tepic has two theaters. There are also over twenty-five auditoriums and public venues throughout the state.
There are seventy-four branches of the national library system. There are also twenty-six museums. In the capital, Tepic, there is a regional museum, a museum of visual arts, and a museum of popular arts, such as papier mâché, ironworks, masks, and embroidery. Tepic also houses a museum dedicated to the poet Amado Nervo (1870–1919).
The capital city, Tepic, publishes a daily newspaper, Meridiano.
Nayarit hosts festivals for charros (horsemen) and rodeos. Main celebrations in Tepic are those during Holy Week (the week before the Christian holiday Easter) and for Independence Day (mid-September).
Swimming, surfing, and fishing are popular water sports for residents and tourists alike. Soccer is a popular sport, particularly among school children. The Nicolas Alvarez Ortega Stadium (soccer) is located in Tepic.
The poet Amado Nervo (1870–1919) was born in Nayarit. Antonio Echevarría Domínguez was elected governor in 1999.
DeAngelis, Gina. Mexico. Mankato, MN: Blue Earth Books, 2003.
Supples, Kevin. Mexico. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2002.
Mexico for Kids. http://www.elbalero.gob.mx/index_kids.html (accessed on June 15, 2004).
Surfing & Adventure Travel in Mexico: Nayarit. http://www.surf-mexico.com/states/Nayarit/ (accessed on June 17, 2004).