History of Cancun
The very east of the Yucatan Peninsula, south of the Mexican Republic is bordered by the Caribbean sea. This sea is
known as the Mayan Coast. The Mayan Coast is influenced by the pre-Hispanic civilizations, from Punta Brava to Punta Allen.
Punta Allen is at the tip of a small peninsula. It’s a very small town. Punta Brava lies south of Cancun International Airport.
It is known as the Riviera Maya.
The north side of the coast offers an incredible tourist infrastructure and extraordinary development. On the other hand,
the south is surrounded by small villages and virgin beaches where we can find the Gran Arrecife which is the second largest
reef in the world. The south of Cancun is famous for it’s caves and deep sea caverns. There’s a great variety of out of the
ordinary vegetation and animal species.
The Mayan civilization was the original civilization that inhabited the Yucatan peninsula. They were a very advanced
culture for their time. Their studies regard earth science, precision calculations and the complication of their religious
rituals. From the year 1,000 to 1,500 (post-classical period), the peninsula was a very important commercial and religious
centre. Tulum was a fort on the Caribbean shores. The word Tulum means fence or wall. This name was given to this location
in recent times because of the rock wall that surrounds it. It’s believed that it’s ancient name is Zama, a corruption of
Zamal (morning) associated with dawn.
63 kilometers north of Tulum we can find Playa del Carmen. Its original name was then Xaman-Ha. The Mayan used it as a
launching point for pilgrimages to Cozumel, which they detained to be the home of Ixchel, the moon goddess, love, pregnancy
4 kilometer south from Playa del Carmen you can find Xcaret which used to be known as Puerto Pole. Now Xcaret is a translation
of the Mayan word meaning “little creek”. The Mayas used to come to this magical spot to bathe in the clear inlet, purifying their
bodies and souls before traveling to Cozumel to worship Ixchel.
The most important city back then was Coba. These ruins are all that is left of the largest Mayan cities. They had a population
of 50,000 people. Coba boasts the second tallest pyramid of the Mayan world. When the Spaniards arrived in 1519 to the Yucatan
peninsula, the Mayan cities such as Uxmal and Chichen-Itza had been abandoned. These cities were suddenly abandoned around
1400 A.D. perhaps because of internal fighting or lack of food. Xel-ha is now known as the first European settlement. The
main reason why the peninsula was unknown for so long was that during the Colonial period the growth of the population was not
made easy, given to the proximity of the open sea and the pirate attacks. These attacks were so often that it made it quite
difficult to reach land and the forest posed many difficulties and dangers of its own.
In 1967 Presidente Echeverria made Cancun part of its tourism program. The government then acknowledged the importance that
the tourism industry would result for Mexico’s economy. The Cancun project was approved in 1969. This project contained the
building of the tourism zone now days called Zona Hotelera, residential area and the airport. The first hotels were built in
1970. This city rapidly became very dynamic. By 1976 Cancun had 18,000 inhabitants. It is now the most important Mexican tourist
destination. Until 1990 many new hotels were built as well as amazing shopping malls and entertainment amenities.
Cancun now has three main areas: the city of Cancun with a population of 300,000 and a simple and basic infrastructure; the
zona hotelera which is where most of the shopping malls, hotels and restaurants are to be found and the ecological reserve with
incredible mangroves, lakes and forests.
Cancun has many different sides to it, which when are put together they offer a natural beauty of what is beyond doubt a
Caribbean paradise, forest, and the comfort of the most upscale hotels in the world. All of this is now in the location of what
only used to be one of the most advanced and intellectual civilizations in the old world.