Origin of state name: Probably based on the Náhuatl word tlaxcallan, which means "place of corn" or "place of corn bread (tortilla)."
Entered country: 1824.
Coat of Arms: The coat of arms features a castle, which is meant to represent the state's link to Castile, Spain. The letters I, K, and F and the crowns in the border represent Queen Isabel, King Karolus (Charles I), and King Ferdinand, all of Spain. The skull and crossbones at the bottom represent those who died in the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
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: 6 AM = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Tlaxcala is Mexico's smallest state. It is located in the region of the country that is known as the Central Breadbasket. It is bordered on the north, east, and south by the Mexican state of Puebla; on the west by México state; and on the north and west by the Mexican state of Hidalgo. Tlaxcala covers an area of 3,913 square kilometers (1,511 square miles), which is just a little larger than the US state of Rhode Island. Only the Distrito Federal (Federal District) is smaller. Tlaxcala has sixty municipalities. The capital is Tlaxcala.
Tlaxcala has three mountain ranges. The Tlaxco mountains (sierra) are located in the north and are known for its El Peñón Hill. Another sierra serves as the natural border between Puebla and Tlaxcala. It is given different names according to the location: it is known as the Tlaxco Sierra in the north, where it is also called the Caldera Sierra; and towards the southeast, it is known as the Huamantla Sierra. The Huintépetl volcano forms part of this sierra. A volcanic mountain range, the highest peak of which is the extinct volcano known as Malinche, or Malintzi (4,451 meters/14,636 feet), lies near the
There are plains located to the south of the Tlaxco Sierra and surrounding the volcanic range on the border with Puebla.
Tlaxcalan rivers, while small, play an important role because they feed the Balsas River, one of the largest rivers in Mexico. The main rivers in the state are the Zahuapan and Atoyac. The Zahuapan River rises in the Tlaxco Sierra and runs southward down the mountain slopes, where it joins the Apizaco River and forms the Atlihutzía waterfall. Upon reaching the border with Puebla, it runs into the Atoyac River; the Zahuapan River also receives water from the Amomoloc and Rojano Rivers.
The climate throughout the state is generally cool. The average year-round temperature is about 16°C (60°F). Temperatures are usually under 21°C (70°F). Average rainfall in the capital city is about 79 censtimeters (31 inches) per year.
Pine, fir, and oak are the most common trees. Savin shrubs are found in several regions. Pastures cover some of the plains
In 2003, the state received a federal grant to establish a monitoring system for industrial pollution. Malinche National Park is a protected area surrounding a dormant volcano.
Tlaxcala had a total population of 962,646 in 2000; of the total, 469,948 were men and 492,698 were women. The population density was 241 people per square kilometer (624 people per square mile). In 2000, the capital, Tlaxcala, had a population of 73,184.
Almost all citizens speak Spanish as their first language. A small number, about 3.2% of the population, speaks indigenous (native) languages.
According to the 2000 census, 82% of the population, or 791,284 people, were Roman Catholic; over 2%, or 24,200 people, were Protestant. That year there were also 1,088 Seventh-Day Adventists, 1,140 Mormons, 9,875 Jehovah's Witnesses, and over 15,000 people who reported no religion.
There is one domestic airport in the state. There are also about 1,843 kilometers (1,145 miles) of roads and about 308 kilometers (191 miles) of railroads.
Although the first evidence of human life in the state dates back to nomadic hunters and gatherers around 10,000 B.C., the indigenous Quinametin were the first to permanently settle in the region. With Otomi and Teotihuacan influence, the Quinametin were later overpowered by the Olmec-Xicalanca whose Maya ancestry is evident. One of the most important archeological pieces from that period, the Chac-Mool sculpture housed in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, has clear Maya influence. The Olmec-Xicalanca built several cities and left numerous pieces of religious and cultural artifacts that have survived to this day.
In the 10th century, the Toltec-Chichimec exercised control of the area, but around 1330 A.D., the Tlaxcalteca permanently settled in the area after overpowering several other groups that inhabited the region. In 1348, they founded Tepectícpac, the first city of the Tlaxcallan empire. Between 1418 and 1430, the Tlaxcalteca Indians provided support and protection to Nezahualcóyotl, who later rose to be the philosopher king of Texcoco and an ally of the Mexico-Tenochtitlan Aztecs. Threats from powerful neighbors forced the Tlaxcalteca to develop their famous military might and organization. When Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés (1485–1547) learned of the conflicts between Aztecs and Tlaxcaltecas, he invited the latter to join him in defeating the rulers of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. After an initial refusal, Cortés overpowered the Tlaxcaltecas and subdued them into an alliance against the Aztecs. With their support, Cortés overpowered the Aztecs. Tlaxcaltecas were later used to fight along with the Spaniards in new conquest efforts elsewhere in Mexico and Central America and to populate new territories conquered by the Spaniards.
During most of the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadors (those who sought to conquer Mexico for Spain) respected the agreement made between Cortés and the Tlaxcaltecas. As a result they did not levy taxes on them nor did they confiscate the land occupied by the native population in the region. However, toward the end of the 16th century, new Spanish authorities began to levy taxes and occupy the native's land. Although there were a few insurrections during the 17th and 18th centuries, the Tlaxcaltecas were successfully subdued by the Spanish colonizers. Different Catholic orders also promoted aggressive conversion efforts that permitted the consolidation of the Roman Catholic faith in the region.
Although there was an active pro-independence group in the state, the forces loyal to the Spanish crown successfully controlled the state between 1810 and 1821. When the Plan of Iguala secured Mexico's independence in 1821, Tlaxcala was incorporated into the newly independent country. However, it was only declared a federal state in 1824.
Political and social instability characterized much of the 19th century. Federalist-centralist and conservative-liberal conflicts hindered economic development and caused military confrontations. After peace was finally achieved with the victory of liberals led by Benito Juárez (1806–1872) in 1867, Tlaxcala became a commercial and textile center. These developments were especially prominent during the Porfirio Díaz government (1876–1910).
The Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910, brought about several peasant uprisings and military confrontations between different factions. However, the revolution victors were in control of the state when the new Mexican Constitution was introduced in 1917. During the rest of the 20th century, the small but densely populated state evolved as a regional commercial and textile center in Mexico.
The governor is democratically elected every six years for a nonrenewable term. The legislature is comprised of a unicameral (single chamber) congress. Nine of its twelve members are elected from single member districts and three are elected by proportional representation for three-year nonrenewable periods. Because the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the dominant political party in the country since the Mexican Revolution, only lost the gubernatorial chair in the 1999 elections, formal provisions for separation of power between the executive and legislative branches have only been enforced for the last few years. Yet, state democratic practices have improved.
The sixty municipalities that comprise Tlaxcala hold democratic elections for municipal presidents and council members every three years. Immediate re-election is not allowed. Although some decentralization initiatives are producing positive results, the state still has a long way to go to achieve successful decentralization.
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). Although the PRI historically dominated state politics since the end of the Mexican Revolution in 1917, the 1999 gubernatorial elections produced the first alternation of power at the governor's desk. PRD militant, Alfonso Abraham Sánchez, won a six-year term as governor. At the time, he was only the third PRD militant to win a state gubernatorial race. The PRI remains strong, as the second largest party in the state.
The Superior Tribunal of Justice is the highest court in the state. Its members are elected by a simple majority vote of the legislature for renewable six-year terms. Because of the reduced size and small population of the state, the influence that the PRI exercised over the state judiciary significantly hindered its independence before 1999. When the PRD first won the governorship, the independence and autonomy of the judiciary were also automatically strengthened.
Though agriculture is an important economic activity, manufacturing companies account for about 28% of the economy. Service-based companies account for about 21% of the economy, followed by finance and insurance at 16%, trade activities at 12%, transportation and communications at 9%, agriculture and livestock at 8%, construction at 5%, and mining at 1%.
Textiles, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals are primary industries. The textile industries are primarily centered around Santa Ana Chiauhtempan, where both threads, fabrics, and finished clothing are made. Other textile facilities are located in the four industrial parks of the state in Ciudad Xicotencatl, Xiloxoxotla, Ixtacuixtla, and Calpulalpan. Other industries include machinery, automotive parts, and handicrafts of wood and clay.
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.
Agriculture is important to the local food supply, but not as important as an export industry. The primary crop is corn. Others include alfalfa, barley, and wheat. Maquey is a crop used to produce syrup and vinegar. It is also used to produce pulque, an alcoholic beverage. Cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats are the primary livestock animals.
Tlaxcala experiences frequent droughts. The largest challenge in natural resources is water conservation. The government has established programs to help the citizens learn how to conserve water.
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 Mexico, according to CFE). As the smallest Mexican state, Tlaxcala's electricity consumption was the lowest in the early 1990s. However, the recent impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—a trade agreement between Mexico, the United States, and Canada—is reflected in Tlaxcala's energy consumption.
The state of Tlaxcala has 9 general hospitals, 189 outpatient centers, and 21 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.
More than one-half of the housing available in the state of Tlaxcala is in good repair. More than 13% is in need of significant upgrading. Many 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 223,000 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. Tlaxcala's university is named the Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala, or the Autonomous University of Tlaxcala.
The state of Tlaxcala has thirteen cultural centers and eleven auditoriums. There are three theaters, all located in the city of Tlaxcala. The city of Huamantla has a festival that takes place in August, during which all of the streets are decorated with paint, colored sand, or flowers to look like carpeting.
There are 118 branches of the national library system in Tlaxcala. There are fifteen museums. In the city of Huamantla there is a bullfighting museum and a puppet museum. In Tlaxcala, there is a museum of pre-Columbian cultures and a museum of local artistic crafts, the Museo de Artesanías.
The capital, Tlaxcala, publishes the daily newspaper El Sol de Tlaxcala.
The capital city, Tlaxcala, is sometimes called the Red City because of the ochre color of the buildings. The Governor's Palace has beautiful murals by a local artist, Desiderio Hernandez Xochitiotzin, who has been working on them since the 1960s. They depict the history of Tlaxcala. There are also local churches and museums featuring the pre-colonial history of Tlaxcala.
Garzas Guerreras de Tlaxcala, the basketball team, is based in the state. There is a soccer field in Tlaxco.
Alfonso Abraham Sánchez Anaya was elected governor in 1998.
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).
Visit Mexico. http://www.visitmexico.com/destinations/ (accessed June 17, 2004).