Cancún

Cancún

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Cancún is a city of international tourism development certified by the UNWTO
World Tourism Organization
The World Tourism Organization , based in Madrid, Spain, is a United Nations agency dealing with questions relating to tourism. It compiles the World Tourism rankings. The World Tourism Organization is a significant global body, concerned with the collection and collation of statistical information...

 (World Tourism Organization). Located on the northeast coast of Quintana Roo
Quintana Roo
Quintana Roo officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Quintana Roo is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 10 municipalities and its capital city is Chetumal....

 in southern Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, more than 1,700 km from Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

, the Project began operations in 1974 as Integrally Planned Center, a pioneer of FONATUR (Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo, National Fund for Tourism Development), formerly known as INFRATUR.

In a few years, it had a remarkable transformation since being a fisherman's island surrounded by virgin forest and unknown shores; it is now, along with Acapulco
Acapulco
Acapulco is a city, municipality and major sea port in the state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast of Mexico, southwest from Mexico City. Acapulco is located on a deep, semi-circular bay and has been a port since the early colonial period of Mexico’s history...

, the most renowned Mexican resort in the world. Politically, it is the county seat of Benito Juárez municipio (county), in the state of Quintana Roo
Quintana Roo
Quintana Roo officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Quintana Roo is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 10 municipalities and its capital city is Chetumal....

. The World Tourism Organization
World Tourism Organization
The World Tourism Organization , based in Madrid, Spain, is a United Nations agency dealing with questions relating to tourism. It compiles the World Tourism rankings. The World Tourism Organization is a significant global body, concerned with the collection and collation of statistical information...

 (WTO), through its foundation UNWTO-Themis, awarded the Best of the Best "for excellence and good governance" to the Trust for Tourism Promotion of Cancun on February 3, 2007. This gave Cancún the support of the Department of Education and Knowledge Management of the WTO.

Place Names


There are two possible translations of cancún, based on the Mayan pronunciation. The first translation is "nest of snakes or pot." The second version and less accepted is "place of the golden snake" . The island of Cancun has a form of the numeral "7" and in the light of dawn resembles a golden serpent.

Shield


The shield of the municipality of Benito Juárez, who represents the city of Cancun, was designed by the artist Vital Jesús Carmichael Jiménez (Elio Carmichael).

It is divided into three parts: The color blue symbolizes the Caribbean Sea, the yellow the sand and the red the sun with its rays.

History



As documented in the earliest colonial sources, the island of Cancún was originally known to its Maya inhabitants
Maya peoples
The Maya people constitute a diverse range of the Native American people of southern Mexico and northern Central America. The overarching term "Maya" is a collective designation to include the peoples of the region who share some degree of cultural and linguistic heritage; however, the term...

 as Nizuc (Yucatec Maya [niʔ suʔuk]) meaning either "promontory" or "point of grass". In the years after the Conquest, much of the 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 was started on Jan. 23, 1970, Isla Cancún had only three residents, caretakers of the coconut plantation of Don José de Jesús Lima Gutiérrez, who lived on Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is one of the ten municipalities of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The municipality, located in the northeastern corner of the state is mostly on the mainland and has a municipal seat of the same name; Isla Mujeres...

, and there were only 117 people living in nearby Puerto Juarez, a fishing village and military base.

"Due to the reluctance of investors to bet on an unknown area, the Mexican government had to finance the first nine hotels." The first hotel financed was the Hyatt Cancún Caribe, but the first hotel actually built was the Playa Blanca, which later became a Blue Bay hotel, and is now Temptation Resort. At the time it was an elite destination, famous for its virgin white sand beaches.

Most 'Cancúnenses' are from Yucatán and other Mexican states. A growing number are from the rest of the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. 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 bloodshed
Mexican Drug War
The Mexican Drug War is an ongoing armed conflict taking place among rival drug cartels who fight each other for regional control, and Mexican government forces who seek to combat drug trafficking. However, the government's principal goal has been to put down the drug-related violence that was...

 associated with the trade of illegal drugs, but the city is regarded as a popular transshipment point for Colombian cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

 and reportedly known for retail drug sales to tourists and as a center of money laundering
Money laundering
Money laundering is the process of disguising illegal sources of money so that it looks like it came from legal sources. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication. Many regulatory and governmental authorities quote estimates each year for the amount...

.
The links with Cancún date from the 1990s and early 2000s, when the area was controlled by the Juárez
Juárez Cartel
The Juárez Cartel , also known as the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization, is a Mexican drug cartel based in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, across the border from El Paso, Texas...

 and Gulf drug cartels. In recent years Los Zetas
Los Zetas
Los Zetas is the second most powerful drug cartel in Mexico and considered by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as the most violent drug cartel and paramilitary enforcement group in Mexico...

, a group that broke away from the Gulf Cartel
Gulf Cartel
The Gulf Cartel is one of the most powerful drug cartels in Mexico, and perhaps the oldest organized crime group in the country...

, has taken control of many smuggling routes through the Yucatán, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
Drug Enforcement Administration
The Drug Enforcement Administration is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Justice, tasked with combating drug smuggling and use within the United States...

.

The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference
2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference
The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Cancún, Mexico, from 29 November to 10 December 2010. The conference is officially referred to as the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 6th session of the...

 was held in Cancún from November 29, 2010 to December 10, 2010.

Mayan archaeological sites



There are some small Mayan vestiges of the pre-Columbian
Pre-Columbian
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

 Maya civilization
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

 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
Coba
Coba is a large ruined city of the Pre-Columbian Maya civilization, located in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. It is located about 90 km east of the Maya site of Chichen Itza, about 40 km west of the Caribbean Sea, and 44 km northwest of the site of Tulum, with which it is...

 and Muyil
Muyil
Muyil was one of the earliest and longest inhabited ancient Maya sites on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is located approximately south of the coastal site of Tulum, in the Municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Artifacts found here date back...

 (Riviera) the small Polé (now Xcaret
Xcaret
Xcaret is a Maya civilization archaeological site located on the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the modern-day state of Quintana Roo in Mexico. The site was occupied by the pre-Columbian Maya and functioned as a port for navigation and an important Maya trading center...

), and Kohunlich
Kohunlich
Kohunlich is a large archaeological site of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, located on the Yucatán Peninsula about 25 km east of the Rio Bec region, and about 65 km west of Chetumal on Highway 186, and 9 km south of the road...

, Kinichná, Dzibanché, Oxtankah, Tulum, and Chacchoben
Chacchoben
Chacchoben is the name of a Mayan ruin approximately 110 mi south of Tulum and 7 mi from the village from which it derives its name.- History :...

, in the south of the state. Chichén Itzá
Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the Municipality of Tinúm, Yucatán state, present-day Mexico....

 is in the neighboring state of Yucatán
Yucatán
Yucatán officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Yucatán is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 106 municipalities and its capital city is Mérida....

.

City layout


Apart from the island tourist zone (actually 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. These open centers usually have walkways and 'sidewalks' around a central garden park, or soccer fields, or a library, etc. which make the mainland "Mexican" Cancún bicycle-friendly. The residential roads of central or 'Mainland' Cancún, U-shaped and culs-de-sacs, insulate housing from the noise and congestion of the main flow of traffic. Mainland Cancún has a central market that resembles an outlet mall, colorful buildings on a pedestrian city block.

Ave. Tulum is the main north-south artery, connecting downtown to the airport
Cancún International Airport
Cancún International Airport is located in Cancún, Quintana Roo, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. It is Mexico's second busiest airport, after Mexico City International Airport in Mexico City, but the biggest in Mexico and Latin America for International passengers...

, which is some 30 km (18.6 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
Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the Municipality of Tinúm, Yucatán state, present-day Mexico....

 and Mérida. Another major north-south road is Ave. Bonampak which runs roughly parallel to Ave. Tulum. The main ferry to Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is one of the ten municipalities of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The municipality, located in the northeastern corner of the state is mostly on the mainland and has a municipal seat of the same name; Isla Mujeres...

 is located in Puerto Juarez
Puerto Juárez
Puerto Juárez is a town in Benito Juárez municipality, in the Mexican state of Quintana Rooat .It is in the north-east of the Yucatán Peninsula, on the shore of the Caribbean Sea, 2 km from Cancún. A regular ferry service runs to nearby Cancún and to Isla Mujeres....

, 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
Hurricane Gilbert
Hurricane Gilbert was an extremely powerful Cape Verde-type hurricane that formed during the 1988 Atlantic hurricane season and created widespread destruction in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. It is the second most intense hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic basin behind only...

 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 Ave. Bonampak.

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.

Tourism


The Nichupté Lagoon is on the opposite side of the island from the Caribbean Sea, which is used for boating excursions and jet-ski jungle tours.

Cancún is also the gateway to the Riviera Maya
Riviera Maya
Riviera Maya, also known as the Mayan Riviera, is a tourism district following the coastal Highway 307 which parallels the Caribbean coastline of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, located on the eastern portion of the Yucatán Peninsula...

 and the Yucatán interior, which has numerous archaeological sites, such as Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the Municipality of Tinúm, Yucatán state, present-day Mexico....

, Cobá
Coba
Coba is a large ruined city of the Pre-Columbian Maya civilization, located in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. It is located about 90 km east of the Maya site of Chichen Itza, about 40 km west of the Caribbean Sea, and 44 km northwest of the site of Tulum, with which it is...

 and Tulum as well as the many cenote
Cenote
A cenote is a deep natural pit, or sinkhole, characteristic of Mexico and Central America, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath...

s such as Dos Ojos and Ik Kil
Ik Kil
Ik Kil is a well known cenote outside Pisté in the Municipality of Tinúm, Yucatán, Mexico, It is located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula and is part of the Ik Kil Archeological Park near Chichen Itza. It is open to the public for swimming and is often included in bus...

.

English Sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor
Jason deCaires Taylor
Jason deCaires Taylor is an English sculptor specialising in the creation of contemporary underwater sculptures which over time develop into artificial coral reefs....

 has created a monumental underwater art museum in the National Marine Park of Cancún.

Transportation


Cancún is served by Cancún International Airport
Cancún International Airport
Cancún International Airport is located in Cancún, Quintana Roo, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. It is Mexico's second busiest airport, after Mexico City International Airport in Mexico City, but the biggest in Mexico and Latin America for International passengers...

 with an added main runaway that commenced operation as of October 2010. It has many flights to North America, Central America, South America, Asia, and Europe. It is located on the northeast of the Yucatán Peninsula serving an average of more than ten million passengers per year. The airport is located around 12 miles from the hotel zone, approximately 20 minutes trip by car.
There is also a public transit bus system, servicing the hotel zone. The island of Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is one of the ten municipalities of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The municipality, located in the northeastern corner of the state is mostly on the mainland and has a municipal seat of the same name; Isla Mujeres...

 is located off the coast and is accessible by boat from Puerto Juárez.

Climate


Cancún has a tropical climate
Tropical climate
A tropical climate is a climate of the tropics. In the Köppen climate classification it is a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures above...

, specifically a tropical wet and dry climate (Köppen
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

 Aw
Tropical savanna climate
Tropical savanna climate or tropical wet and dry climate is a type of climate that corresponds to the Köppen climate classification categories "Aw" and '"As."...

), with little temperature differences between seasons, but pronounced rainy seasons. The city is warm 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 35 °C (95 °F) on most afternoons. Annual rainfall is around 1340 millimetres (52.8 in), falling on 115 days per year. More temperate conditions occur from November to February with occasional refreshing northerly breezes, it is drier and becomes hotter in March and April. It is hottest from May to September, due to proximity to the Caribbean and Gulf humidity is high the year round, especially so during hurricane season (averages close to 70% on rainfree days). The hotel zone juts into the Caribbean Sea, it is surrounded by ocean therefore daytime temperatures are around 1-2C less and windspeeds are higher than at the airport located some distance inland, which is the official meteorological station for Cancún, averages as shown below.

The tropical storm season lasts from May to December, the rainy season extends into January with peak precipitation in September. 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
Hurricane Wilma
Hurricane Wilma was the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. Wilma was the twenty-second storm , thirteenth hurricane, sixth major hurricane, and fourth Category 5 hurricane of the record-breaking 2005 season...

 in 2005 being the largest. Hurricane Gilbert
Hurricane Gilbert
Hurricane Gilbert was an extremely powerful Cape Verde-type hurricane that formed during the 1988 Atlantic hurricane season and created widespread destruction in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. It is the second most intense hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic basin behind only...

 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
Hurricane Dean
The name Dean was used for five tropical cyclones in the Northern Atlantic Ocean:*1983's Tropical Storm Dean, which struck the coast of Virginia, causing minor erosion and flooding...

 in 2007 also made its mark on the city of Cancún.

Hurricane Gilbert


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
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

) due to a decline in tourism was estimated for the months October, November and December in 1988.

Hurricane Wilma


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 (241.4 km/h). The hurricane's eye first passed over the island of Cozumel
Cozumel
Cozumel is an island in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen, and close to the Yucatan Channel. Cozumel is one of the ten municipalities of the state of Quintana Roo...

, 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 (225.3 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.

Hurricane Dean


Two years later, in 2007, the eye of Hurricane Dean landed 190 miles (305.8 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.

Education


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 students.

The first higher education institution established in the area was the Instituto Tecnológico de Cancún. Other followed, including Universidad La Salle Cancún, Universidad Anáhuac Cancún
Universidad Anáhuac Cancún
The Anáhuac Cancún University belongs to the Anahuac University Network, affiliated with the Anahuac University Network , the international education system of the Legion of Christ, called the in 18 countries and serving over 100,000 students from kindergarten to graduate school.The university's...

, Universidad Tecnológica de Cancún, Universidad del Caribe, and more recently the Universidad Interamericana para el Desarrollo and the Tec Milenium.