Pronunciation: gwah-nah-WHAH-toh.

Origin of state name: From an Amerindian word that means "hill of frogs."

Capital: Guanajuato.

Entered country: 1824.

Coat of Arms: The coat of arms is supported by a base of colored marble with gold decoration. The base is a shell held by two laurel branches bound with a blue ribbon. The shell linking with the coat of arms symbolizes a stable home, opening to welcome guests. The gold background signifies nobility and represents the wealth of precious metals found in the state. The laurels stand for victory, and the acanthus flowers signify loyalty. This crest originally represented the city of Guanajuato but was later adopted by 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 state flag.

Time: 6 AM = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

1 Location and Size

Guanajuato is in the center of Mexico. It covers an area of 30,768 square kilometers (11,880 square miles). Guanajuato is slightly larger than the US state of Maryland. It is bordered on the north by the Mexican states of San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas; on the east by the Mexican state of Querétaro; on the west by the Mexican state of Jalisco; and on the south by the Mexican state of Michoacán. Guanajuato is divided into forty-six municipalities. The capital, the city of Guanajuato, is located in approximately the center of the state.

Part of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range crosses the northeastern part of the state. Fertile valleys lie between the mountain ranges.

There are a number of rivers that flow into two river basins. The first of these river basins is the Pánuco, which flows northeast to the Gulf of Mexico. It is fed by the Santa María and Victoria Rivers. Other rivers run into the Río Lerma (Lerma River) basin, which, in turn, feeds the Río Santiago (Santiago River). Smaller rivers in the state

© Robert Frerck/Woodfin Camp A plaza in the capital, Guanajuato.
© Robert Frerck/Woodfin Camp

A plaza in the capital, Guanajuato.
include the Laja, Guanajuato, and Turbio Rivers.

2 Climate

The climate is fairly dry. Average monthly rainfall from November to April is 1 centimeter (0.4 inches). Most of the rainfall occurs between May and September, when the average monthly rainfall is 9.5 centimeters (3.75 inches). The average temperature is 19° c (66° f ).

3 Plants and Animals

Trees in Guanajuato include oak, pine, birch, eucalyptus, guava, lemon, and many types of cactus and nopal (a type of cactus). Animals include rabbits, eagles, lizards, squirrels, deer, snakes, skunks, owls, heron, and quail.

4 Environmental Protection

In 2003, Guanajuato was considering the establishment of a system requiring manufacturers to track their pollutants.

5 Population, Ethnic Groups, Languages

Guanajuato had a total population of 4,663,032 in 2000; of the total, 2,233,315 were men and 2,429,717 were women. The

© Robert Frerck/Woodfin Camp Monument to local hero in the battle for independence, Juan José de los Reyes Martínez (known as "Pipila").
© Robert Frerck/Woodfin Camp

Monument to local hero in the battle for independence, Juan José de los Reyes Martínez (known as "Pipila").
population density was 152 people per square kilometer (394 people per square mile). In 2000, the capital, Guanajuato, had a population of 141,215. Almost everyone speaks Spanish, with a small percentage (0.3%) speaking one of the indigenous languages as their first language.

6 Religions

According to the 2000 census, 84% of the population, or 3.9 million people, were Roman Catholic; just over 1%, or 53,390 people, were Protestant. That year there were also 24,020 Jehovah's Witnesses and about 58,000 people who reported no religion.

7 Transportation

Highways were constructed in the 1980s, helping the economy to grow by allowing goods to be transported. About 50% of all the people in Mexico live within 400 kilometers (250 miles) of Guanajuato, the capital of the state.

8 History

The first human settlements in Guanajuato date back to 500 B . C . The Chupicuaro culture populated the region and left considerable cultural, religious, and traditional legacies. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the region was inhabited by Guamare, Guaxabana, and Copuce indigenous groups. Prolonged human presence had left indelible traces of different cultures, often in tension with each other. Well-established settlements were also evident.

The first Spanish expedition arrived in 1522 led by Cristóbal de Olid (1488–1524). A year later, Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés (1485–1547) distributed some of the lands in the region to several of the lieutenants of his conquest expedition. In 1529, another Spanish explorer, Nuño de Guzmán (d. 1544), led an infamous expedition that killed many indigenous people and pillaged indigenous communities in the region. His pillaging included some communities that had already been conquered and assigned to colonizers under the encomienda (land tenure) system.

The discovery of silver mines in Zacatecas and Guanajuato helped promote Spanish settlements in the region in the late 16th and early 17th century. The city of Guanajuato was founded in 1557, two years after San Miguel (also in present-day Guanajuato) was founded and fourteen years before the foundation of Celaya. León, Guanajuato, was founded in 1574, reflecting the growing economic activity resulting from the exploitation of silver and other minerals. In 1762, the first inquisition official arrived in the region. The inquisition officials were priests appointed by the Catholic Church to combat followers of non-Catholic religions, particularly Protestants. The expulsion of the Jesuits (an order of the Roman Catholic Church) in 1767 provoked additional conflicts between local elites and the Catholic Church.

Guanajuato was one of the twelve regions that comprised Mexico in the 18th century, reflecting the economic and social importance of the agricultural and mineral producing region. The independence movement, which began in 1810, started in the city of Dolores, Guanajuato (known today as Dolores Hidalgo). Priest Miguel Hidalgo (1753–1811) called on peasants and patriots to revolt against the Spanish crown. A local hero, a miner named Juan José de los Reyes Martínez, is known by his nickname "Pipila." He was a hero in a battle in Guanajuato, and a statue commemorates his place in the state's history. Hidalgo organized an army that marched towards Mexico City. Although the rebellion was eventually defeated, the independence movement remained active in Guanajuato. In 1821 Guanajuato joined the rest of Mexico in signing the Plan of Iguala that secured the country's independence.

In the Mexican-American War (1846–48), a Guanajuato army fiercely fought the US occupation. During the political conflicts for power in the 1850s, Mexican revolutionary and later president Benito Juárez (1806–1872) made Guanajuato the provisional capital of his government. During the short French occupation (from 1863 to 1867) under the monarchy of Maximilian (1832–1867), Guanajuato was the most populated state of Mexico. Under Juárez, Guanajuato remained an economic and political power in Mexico. Benito Juárez and later President Porfirio Díaz (1830–1915) promoted economic development and improvements in infrastructure.

The Mexican Revolution, which started in 1910, was fiercely fought in Guanajuato. There revolutionary leaders organized militias and different factions faced each other in bloody battles. Francisco "Pancho"

© Robert Frerck/Woodfin Camp The Valenciana silver mine operated for over 250 years.
© Robert Frerck/Woodfin Camp

The Valenciana silver mine operated for over 250 years.
Villa (1878–1923) and other revolutionary leaders occupied different cities during the revolt. However, no group dominated the entire state. After the end of the revolution, the Cristero War (1926–1929) brought new confrontations to the state. The Catholic Church's militant opposition to some of the policies of the new government and the uprising of Catholic loyalists generated much tension in Guanajuato. Eventually, the government made peace with the Catholic Church, but religious tensions remained present in the state .

Since the mid 1950s, the consolidation of anti-clerical (anti-Catholic) Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) rule in Mexico promoted the growth of the pro-Catholic National Action Party (PAN) party in Guanajuato. The election of PAN gubernatorial candidate Vicente Fox in 1995 represented the first state-wide electoral defeat for the PRI. Fox's gubernatorial victory in 1995 made Guanajuato the first state to elect a non-PRI governor since the end of the Mexican Revolution. Fox went on to become president of Mexico in 2000.

9 State and Local Government

The governor is the most important and powerful figure in the state. With strong powers and attributions, the governor can assume an influential leadership role. The state congress is comprised of thirty-six deputies, twenty-two elected in single member districts and fourteen by proportional representation, for nonrenewable three-year terms. Balance of power provisions existing in the constitution were first implemented when a PAN candidate won the governorship in 1995. Democratic consolidation in Guanajuato has resulted in lively debates between two strong political parties. However, executive powers are now checked by the legislature.

The forty-six municipalities of the state elect municipal presidents and council members every three years for nonrenewable terms. The powers and attributions of the municipal governments are strong because of historical tradition and the importance of local governments during the colonial period. The process of democratic consolidation that Guanajuato experienced since the mid 1980s also supports the municipal government.

10 Political Parties

The three main political parties in all of Mexico are the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the National Action Party (PAN), and Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Although the PRI was the sole political party during much of the post revolution 20th century, the PAN became a strong contender for political power and representation in the mid 1980s. PAN's Vicente Fox was the first non-PRI governor of the state. He went on to become the first non-PRI president of Mexico in 2000.

11 Judicial System

The Supreme Tribunal of Justice is the highest court of the state. Members are appointed by the governor with congressional approval. The president of the Supreme Tribunal is elected from among its members for a renewable two-year period. The state legal system is also comprised of an electoral tribunal and local courts with different powers and attributions. The process of democratization experienced in the mid 1980s and 1990s has helped strengthen the independence and autonomy of the Guanajuato judiciary.

12 Economy

The segments of the economy that developed rapidly after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1992—a trade agreement between Mexico, the United States, and Canada—were industry, trade, and tourism. About half of Guanajuato's cities produce goods for export. Between 1999 and 2002 Guanajuato's foreign trade doubled.

13 Industry

Industry is centered in cities such as León, Salamanca, and Irapuato. The main industries are silver and gold mining, oil, manufacturing of shoes in León, manufacturing of fabrics and clothing, and tourism. Guanajuato has an export rate three times the national average

14 Labor

Guanajuato has the lowest unemployment rate in Mexico. Workers are engaged in mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism.

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.

15 Agriculture

Guanajuato is a fertile agricultural state, producing strawberries, mangoes, bananas, oats, sorghum, chilies, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, peas, tomatoes, and alfalfa. Farmers also grow flowers such as roses, and cempasúchil, a special flower used in the celebration for the Day of the Dead (or All Souls Day, a Catholic holiday that falls on November 2, the day after All Saints Day).

In some parts of the state, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry are raised.

16 Natural Resources

Mexico is the largest silver producer in the world. Silver has been mined in the state since the 1500s. Guanajuato ranks fourth among the country's silver-producing states (after Zacatecas, Chihuahua, and Durango). Together the four states produce three-fourths of Mexico's silver output. The Los Torres mine is a major producer.

17 Energy and Power

The government-run Federal Electricity Commission (Comision Federal de Electricidad—CFE) supplies almost all of Mexico's power. Energy consumption in Guanajuato has been increasing by about 4% per year.

18 Health

The state of Guanajuato has 30 general hospitals, 593 outpatient centers, and 87 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.

19 Housing

The population is growing by almost 2% per year. In some cities, the housing available cannot meet the demand. Over one-third of the housing in Guanajuato requires upgrading or replacement, and about 10% (mostly in rural areas) have no running water or electricity.

20 Education

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 more than 1.1 million 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 de Guanajuato (University of Guanajuato) is located in the capital.

21 Arts

The state of Guanajuato sponsors the Ballet Folklórico of Guanajuato. The Universidad de Guanajuato (University of Guanajuato) has a symphony orchestra. There is also a choir called the Voces of Guanajuato. The theatrical group, Cornisa 20,

© Robert Frerck/Woodfin Camp Homes on a hillside near the capital, Guanajuato.
© Robert Frerck/Woodfin Camp

Homes on a hillside near the capital, Guanajuato.
participates in many cultural fairs. There is also the more formal Ludus Teatro.

22 Libraries and Museums

The state of Guanajuato has 114 branches of the national library system. There are thirty museums. In Celaya, there is a mummy museum. In the capital, Guanajuato, there is a museum dedicated to Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes's work Don Quijote (Don Quixote).

23 Media

The newspaper, Corréo, is published in the capital, Guanajuato. Celaya has El Sol de Bajio, while Irapuato has El Sol de Irapuato. León has two papers: El Heraldo de León and El Sol de León. San Miguel de Allende has a bilingual newspaper, Atención, published in Spanish and English.

24 Tourism, Travel, and Recreation

Guanajuato means "hills of frogs" in the native language. The capital is best-known as a colonial silver mining town, where visitors can tour the silver mines. Two main museums, a mummy museum and the museum of famous muralist and painter Diego Rivera (1886–1957), are major

© Robert Frerck/Woodfin Camp The Hidalgo Market in the capital, Guanajuato, was built in the late 1800s.
© Robert Frerck/Woodfin Camp

The Hidalgo Market in the capital, Guanajuato, was built in the late 1800s.
tourist attractions. In mid-October, the Festival Cervantina honoring the works of Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616), who wrote Don Quixote , is a huge tourist attraction requiring reservations in advance.

25 Sports

Irapuato has a soccer team that plays in the Sergio León Chavez stadium, which holds 30,712 spectators. There is also a 15,000-seat Plaza de Toros (bullfighting ring) at the Plaza Revolución. Celaya has a soccer team, Atlético Celaya, which plays in the 25,000-seat Miguel Aleman stadium.

26 Famous People

Famous people from the state include Miquel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753–1811), a priest and revolutionary who fought for the rights of native peoples and published the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Pain), a pamphlet that helped to trigger the fight for independence in 1810. Diego Rivera (1886–1957) was a world-famous painter and muralist. His works include the fresco The Great City of Tenochtitlán, at the National Palace in Mexico City; The Allegory of California at the San Francisco Stock Exchange; and a series of murals at the Detroit Institute of Art. Vicente Fox (1942–) was born in Mexico City but moved with his family to Guanajuato early in his childhood. He was governor of the state before being elected president of Mexico in 2000.

27 Bibliography


DeAngelis, Gina. Mexico. Mankato, MN: Blue Earth Books, 2003.

Gaines, Ann. Vicente Fox: The Road to the Mexican Presidency. Chanhassen, MN: Child's World, 2003.

Supples, Kevin. Mexico. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2002.

Web Sites

Mexico for Kids. (accessed on June 15, 2004).

Surfing & Adventure Travel in Mexico: Guanajuato State. (accessed on June 17, 2004).

Also read article about Guanajuato from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

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its nice to see information about were i come from and learn more about were i was born. :)
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A nice overview - there are a few errors (e.g. mummy museum in Celaya - its in GTO) and some gaps in the early historical period of the independence (e.g. how Maximilian came to be) but as a first read and general introduction this is a good piece. And the fotos? Superb!
Great information on the state where my parents plus six of my brothers and sisters were born.Learned alot from this article,thanks!
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I have just returned home from guanajuato and I can't stop thinking of this magical place. Living here in the states I feel I lack the culture and sense of community that guanajuato provided me during my short stay under her bosom. Te quiero y hasta luego xoxo
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Rachel Pina
This was nice to read about. My grandfather was from Yuriria, Guanajuato. I have never been and intend to go visit.
Thank you.

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