Oaxaca Facts

Oaxaca Facts
Oaxaca is a relatively large state in southern Mexico. It is located on the Pacific coast and along with Veracruz comprises the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which is named for the town of Santo Domingo Tehuantepec. Oaxaca encompasses 36,200 square miles, making it the fifth largest Mexican state in terms of landmass and the largest state south of Mexico City. The state ranks fifth in total population among all Mexican states with nearly four million people. The name Oaxaca is derived from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word for a type of tree that grows in the region. As the name indicates, Oaxaca has a strong connection to its indigenous past and present. In Pre-Columbian times, the Olmecs, Zapotecs, and Aztecs all either ruled or influenced the region and today Oaxaca has the highest percentage of indigenous people and most in pure numbers. About half of Oaxacans identify as indigenous and more than 30% of the population speaks an indigenous language.
Interesting Oaxaca Facts:
Oaxaca is dominated geographically by the Central Valley or the Oaxaca Valley. As the name indicates, the region is in the middle of Oaxaca.
The capital and largest city in Oaxaca is Oaxaca de Juarez, which referred to by the locals as Oaxaca. The metro area of the city is more than 650,000 people.
The region of Oaxaca was dominated by the Zapotec culture from 700 BC- AD 1521. The center of this culture was at Monte Alban, where several pyramids and temples were built.
The northwestern part of Oaxaca is extremely rugged, as three mountain chains - the Sierra Madre del Sur, the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca, and the Sierra Atravesada - converge.
Although Oaxaca is in a tropical zone, the temperatures are moderated in the higher altitudes.
Oaxaca is one of Mexico's poorest and least developed states. About 50% of the population works in the service industry.
There are up to 250,000 native Oaxacans living in the Los Angeles, California area.
There are several different indigenous groups in Oaxaca, including the Zapotecs, Mixtecs, and Mazetecos. The Zapotecs, who are descended from the ancient Zapotecs, comprise the largest indigenous group in the state with more than 350,000.
Every July the Gulaguetza festival is held in the capital of Oaxaca. It is a Mexico-wide festival that celebrates the country's indigenous background.
Oaxaca has more biodiversity than any other Mexican state. Part of the reason for that biodiversity is that the environment is well-preserved in the state's seven officially protected areas, which includes three national parks
Today, iron, asbestos, and silver are the minerals most commonly mined in Oaxaca, but in ancient times it was hematite. The Olmecs developed trade routes with the people of Oaxaca, who mined hematite in return for basalt and other items. Hematite was used to make mirrors.
Tourism is the only growing sector of Oaxaca's economy. Most foreign tourists are from the United States and Canada who come to enjoy the lower costs, to visit the archaeological sites, and to surf the waves on the Pacific.

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