Colima ( koˈlima (help·info)), officially Free and Sovereign State of Colima (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de Colima), is one of the 31 states that, with the Federal District, make up the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It shares its name with its capital and main city, Colima.
Colima is a small state located in the Western Mexico region on Mexico’s central Pacific coast, plus the four oceanicRevillagigedo Islands. Mainland Colima shares borders with the states of Jalisco and Michoacán. In addition to the capital city of Colima, the state's main cities include Manzanillo and Tecomán. Despite being the fourth smallest entity in Mexico with the lowest numerical population, the state has one of Mexico’s highest standards of living and lowest unemployment.
The state covered a territory of 5,455 km2 and is the fourth smallest federal entity after Tlaxcala, Morelos and the Federal District of Mexico City, with only 0.3% of the country total territory. The state is in the middle of Mexico’s Pacific coast, bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the states of Jalisco and Michoacán.
Colima’s territory includes the Revillagigedo Islands—Socorro, San Benedicto, Clarión, and Roca Partida. These are under federal jurisdiction but are considered part of the municipality of Manzanillo.
Politically, the state is divided into ten municipalities. Natural geography divides the state into a northern and southern region. The north has a cooler climate due to the higher mountains. The south is hotter and includes the Pacific Ocean coastline. The Revillagigedo Islands, of volcanic origin, are dispersed along the 19° north parallel over an areas of about 400 km—with a total landmass of 205 km2.
The altitude varies from zero at the coastline to 3,839 masl at the crater of the Volcán de Colima.
The state is in an offshoot of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range and geographically consists of four mountain systems. The most important of these is the Cerro Grande and its related peaks of Jurípicho-Juluapan, Los Juanillos, La Astilla, El Ocote, El Peón, El Barrigón, San Diego, and La Media Luna. The second consists of mountain chains parallel to the coast between the Marabasco and Armería Rivers, which include El Espinazo del Diablo, El Escorpión, El Tigre, El Aguacate, El Centinela, El Tora and La Vaca. The third is located between the Armería and Salado Rivers and include the Alcomún y Partida, San Miguel y Comala and San Gabriel/Callejones peaks. The last is between the Salado and Naranjo or Coahuayana Rivers and contains small mountain chains such as the Piscila, Volcancillos, La Palmera, El Camichín and Copales. Three quarters of the state is covered by mountains and hills.
At the very north of the state, the border is marked by two volcanoes. The Colima Volcano, also called the Volcán de Fuego, is active and the Nevado de Colima is not. The Nevado de Colima is taller at 4,264 masl and gives its name to the national park that surrounds it. The Colima Volcano is 3825 masl and has a pyramidal peak, in contrast to the other, which has been leveled somewhat. The last major eruptions of the Colima Volcano occurred in 1998 and 1999.
The main rivers of the state are the Cihuatlán (also called the Chacala, Marabasco, or Paticajo—which forms the state’s border with Jalisco on the west; the Armería, which descends from the Sierra de Cacoma and crosses the state north-south into the Pacific, and the Coahuayana River. The Salado is another important river, which flows entirely within Colima before emptying into the Coahuayana. Many of the state’s streams and arroyos empty into the Salado.
Colima has a relatively short coastline, at 139 km (1.2% of Mexico’s total). It extends from the Boca de Apiza to the Cerro de San Francisco in front of Barra de Navidad, Jalisco .
Coastal lagoons include the Potrero Grande in Manzanillo along with the Miramar and the San Pedrito. On the Tecomán municipality coast there are the lagoons of Alcuzahua and Amela, with the Cuyutlán lagoon split between the municipalities of Armería and Manzanillo. Inland, there are various fresh water lakes, with the larger ones near the coast and smaller ones in the Valley of Colima. The valley lakes are fed by the runoff from the Colima Volcano and include the Carrizalillo, Las Cuatas, El Jabalí, El Calaboso, La María and La Escondida.
The predominant climate is hot and relatively moist, with the coast particularly moist. One exception is the Tecomán municipality where the climate is dry and very hot. The mildest climates are in the municipalities of Comala and Cuauhtémoc. On the coast, the average temperature varies from between 24 and 26 C and in the near, at the highest elevations, the temperatures averages between 20 and 22 C.
Cropland covers 27% of the state’s territory, with another 28% dedicated to pasture. Forest covers 35% with the rest composed of bodies of water and urban areas. Most wild vegetation in the west of the state consists of moderately deciduous rainforest of medium height. Plants that lose leaves do so in the dry season. These include commercially important trees such as red cedar, caobilla (Couratara guianensis), parota (Enterolobium cyclocarpum)—and trees locally known as primavera, rosa morada, habillo, payolo, pelillo, barsino, and salatón. From the west of Manzanillo and into the municipalities of Armería and Coquimatlán, there is rainforest of medium height with tree species such as copal (Bursera) and cuajilote (Parmentiera aculeate), with some pines, holm oaks and salt friendly mangroveforests and scrub.
There is great diversity of wildlife species although a number of mammal species such as ocelots, pumas, wild boar and deer are disappearing. Among the state’s rodents is the Xenomis nelson, a small rare animal little known outside Colima. Bird species include wild turkeys, although these have mostly disappeared, and a bird called the chachalaca. A number of ducks and other migratory birds pass through. Reptiles include crocodiles, with a nursery in Tecomán dedicated to their survival in the wild. Another important reptile is sea turtles.
Colima’s most important tourism destination is the beaches of Manzanillo, which is popular among those in western Mexico as well as many sports fishermen. Historically, the port was the point of departure for various maritime expeditions and received the annual Manila Galleon from the Philippines. It has called itself the “World Capital of the Sailfish” since 1957 when 336 species were caught off its shores. The abundance of this fish along with marlin has made it a popular destination with sports fishermen and the city holds the annual Dorsey International fishing tournament. However, it is not as well known or as well visited as other Pacific destinations such as Puerto Vallarta, despite long sandy beaches and docks for cruise ships. In the 2000s, the city worked to renovate its downtown, with all buildings now showing white facades and many with red tile roofs.
The second most important destination is the small town of Comala, a small traditional town near the capital of Colima. Comala was named a “Pueblo Mágico” in 2002 because of its natural surroundings and traditional architecture, which its downtown declared a historic monument. Since 1962, all the buildings in the town have been painted white and most have red tile roofs, giving it the nickname of “White Village of America.”
Most of the other attractions of the state are related to its history, and most of these are in and around the capital city of Colima. The former state government palace is located in the center of the city of Colima and dates from the 19th century. The main stairwell contains a mural by Colima painter Jorge Chávez Carrillo. The Palacio Federal is near Jardín Núñez in the city of Colima and dates from the beginning of the 20th century. The upper floor contains murals with scenes depicting Mexico City and portraits of people from Mexico’s history. The Archive of the History of the State is located at Jardín Juárez in the city of Colima. It dates from the early 20th century and was home to the Escuela de Artes Aplicadas. San Francisco de Almoloyan in the city of Colima is the ruins of an old Franciscan monastery from the 16th century. The Mesón de Caxitlán on the Colima Tecomán highway is the ruins of an old in on the former royal road from the 18th century.
Other important attractions include a number of former haciendas, many of which have been renovated. The Del Carmen hacienda is in the municipality of Villa de Álvarez. It was a cattle ranch from the 19th century, and has been restored. The San Antonio hacienda is in the municipality of Comala. It was a coffee plantation from the 19th century, with a chapel and aqueduct, which have all been restored. The former Nogueras hacienda in Comala has a main house that dates from the 19th century and a chapel from the 17th. It has been restored and is used primarily as a museum.
The state has 307 preschools, 510 primary schools, 131 middle schools and 57 high school and vocational level schools. Today, over 85% of the population finishes primary school. Just under 90% of those who start middle school finish. Over 91% of the population over the age of 15 is literate. However, only about 12% of the state’s population has a university level education and 26% have not finished primary school or have had no schooling at all.
High school level education is available in all regions of the state, with just under sixty percent of those starting a program finishing it, with most that do not dropping out.
The state system also has schools dedicated to special education, vocational training and early childhood centers for those needing various types of physical and educational therapy. Literacy programs for adults are handled by INEA and CONAFE.
Higher education consists of a number of technological schools, universities and teachers’ colleges. Just over half of these are located in the city of Colima, with about 19% in Villa de Alvarez and eleven percent in Tecomán. Most technology related higher education is provided by the Instituto Tecnológico de Colima, with 76% of the students, followed by ITESM- Colima with 7.6% and Instituto Autónomo de Educación Superior de Tecomán with 16.2%. Most of the general university education is provided by the University of Colima (over 93%) with the rest attending the Universidad Autónoma del Pacífico. The main teachers’ colleges are theInstituto Superior de Educación Normal de Colima and the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional. The main providers of post graduate education are the University of Colima and ITESM-Colima.
The University of Colima was founded in 1940, following the educational philosophy of President Lázaro Cárdenas meant to provide higher education to the poorer classes. Today, the university offers high school level classes along with undergraduate and graduate degrees. Much of the institution’s current size and offering is due to growth in the 1980s, and during that time its reputation in Mexico and abroad increased. Most of the university’s majors are concentrated in agriculture, industry and commerce with aim of enhancing Colima’s economy.
The Instituto Tecnológico de Colima was founded in 1976 with three majors in engineering and business with the aim of providing an alternative education focusing on preparing students for industry and service markets. Since then it has added majors in biotechnology, computer science, mechatroncics and architecture, offering six undergraduate degrees and one master’s degree.