Mérida is the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Yucatán as well as the largest city of the Yucatán Peninsula. It is located in the northwest part of the state, about 35 kilometres (22 miles) from the Gulf of Mexico coast. The city is also the municipal seat of the Municipality of Mérida, which includes the city and the areas around it.
According to the 2010 census, the population of Mérida was 970,377, ranking 12th among the most populous Mexican metropolitan areas. The municipality’s area is 858.41 km2 (331.43 sq mi). The metropolitan area includes the municipalities of Mérida, Umán and Kanasín and had a population of 1,035,238 in the same 2010 census. It is the largest of the four cities of the world that share the name Mérida, the other three being in Spain, Venezuela, and the Philippines.
The city, like much of the state, has heavy Mayan, Spanish, French, British, and to a lesser extent Dutch influences. Mérida has the highest percentage of indigenous persons of any large city in Mexico with approximately 60% of all inhabitants being of the Maya ethnicity.
Mérida is serviced by Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport (IATA airport code: MID)
House of Montejo in a 19th-century lithograph
Merida city center in 1981.
Cathedral of Merida (1598).
See also: Timeline of Mérida, Mexico
There were three Spanish conquistadors named “Francisco de Montejo”: Francisco de Montejo “el Adelantado” (“The Lieutenant”, the eldest); Francisco de Montejo y León “el Mozo” (“The Boy”, his son); and Francisco de Montejo “el Sobrino” (“The Nephew”). Mérida was founded in 1542 by Francisco de Montejo y León (“el Mozo”) and named after the town of Mérida in Extremadura, Spain. It was built on the site of the Maya city of T’hó (/d̥ʼχøʼ/), which was also called Ichkanzihóo or Ichcaanzihó (/isʃkan’siχœ/; “City of Five Hills”) in reference to its pyramids. T’ho had been a center of Mayan culture and activity for centuries: because of this, some historians[who?] consider Mérida the oldest continually-occupied city in the Americas.
Carved Maya stones from ancient T’ho were widely used to build the Spanish colonial buildings that are plentiful in downtown Mérida, and are visible, for instance, in the walls of the main cathedral. Much of Mérida’s architecture from the colonial period through the 18th century and 19th century is still standing in the centro historico of the city. From colonial times through the mid-19th century, Mérida was a walled city intended to protect the Peninsular and Criollo residents from periodic revolts by the indigenous Maya. Several of the old Spanish city gates survive, but modern Mérida has expanded well beyond the old city walls.
Late in the 19th century and the early 20th Century, the area surrounding Mérida prospered from the production of henequén. For a brief period, around the turn of the 20th century, Mérida was said to house more millionaires than any other city in the world. The result of this concentration of wealth can still be seen today. Many large and elaborate homes still line the main avenue called Paseo de Montejo, though few are occupied today by individual families. Many of these homes have been restored and now serve as office buildings for banks and insurance companies. Korean immigration to Mexico began in 1905 when more than a thousand people arrived in Yucatan from the city of Incheon. These first Korean migrants settled around Merida as workers in henequen plantations.
Mérida has one of the largest centro histórico districts in the Americas (surpassed only by Mexico City and Havana, Cuba). Colonial homes line the city streets to this day, in various states of disrepair and renovation; the historical center of Mérida is currently undergoing a minor renaissance as more and more people are moving into the old buildings and reviving their former glory.
In August 1993, Pope John Paul II visited the city on his third trip to Mexico. The city has been host to two bilateral United States – Mexico conferences, the first in 1999 (Bill Clinton – Ernesto Zedillo) and the second in 2007 (George W. Bush – Felipe Calderón).
In June 2007, Mérida moved its city museum to the renovated Post Office building next to the downtown market. The Museum of the City of Mérida houses important artifacts from the city’s history, as well as an art gallery. Mérida hosted the VI Summit of Association of Caribbean States, in 2014.
Mérida is the cultural and financial capital of the Yucatán Peninsula, as well as the capital city of the state of Yucatán. In recent years, important science competitions and World events have been held in Mérida – FITA Archery World Cup Finals, the International Cosmic Ray Conference, a Physics Olympiad, etc.
The city as seen from the 18th floor of Hyatt
Monument to the Yucatán caste war
Mérida is located in the northwest part of the state of Yucatán, which occupies the northern portion of the Yucatán Peninsula. To the east is the state of Quintana Roo, to the west is the state of Campeche, to the north is the Gulf of Mexico, and far to the south is the state of Chiapas. The city is also located in the Chicxulub Crater. It has a very flat topography and is only 30 feet (9 m) above sea level. The land outside of Mérida is covered with smaller scrub trees and former henequen fields. Almost no surface water exists, but several cenotes (underground springs and rivers) are found across the state. Mérida has a centro histórico typical of colonial Spanish cities. The street grid is based on odd-numbered streets running east/west and even-numbered streets running north/south, with Calles 60 and 61 bounding the “Plaza Grande” in the heart of the city. The more affluent neighborhoods are located to the north and the most densely populated areas are to the south. The Centro Histórico area is becoming increasingly popular with American and other expats who are rescuing and restoring the classic colonial structures. The Los Angeles Times recently noted this surge of interest in rescuing Mérida’s historic downtown.
Merida features a tropical wet and dry climate (Köppen: Aw). The city lies in the trade wind belt close to the Tropic of Cancer, with the prevailing wind from the east. Mérida’s climate is hot and its humidity is moderate to high, depending on the time of year. The average annual high temperature is 33 °C (91 °F), ranging from 28 °C (82 °F) in January to 36 °C (97 °F) in May, but temperatures often rise above 38 °C (100 °F) in the afternoon in this time. Low temperatures range between 18 °C (64 °F) in January to 23 °C (73 °F) in May and June. It is most often a few degrees hotter in Mérida than in coastal areas due to its inland location and low elevation. The rainy season runs from June through October, associated with the Mexican monsoon which draws warm, moist air landward. Easterly waves and tropical storms also affect the area during this season.
Image Credit: https://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/merida_plaza_grande_-courtesy_yucatan_tourism-a.jpg