Michoacán, formally Michoacán de Ocampo (Spanish pronunciation: [mit╩âoa╦łkan de o╦łkampo]), officially Free and Sovereign State of Michoacán de Ocampo (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de Michoacán de Ocampo), is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. The State is divided into 113 municipalities and its capital city is Morelia (formerly called Valladolid). The city was named after José María Morelos, one of the main heroes of the Mexican War of Independence.
Michoacán is located in Western Mexico. It is bordered by the states ofColima and Jalisco to the west and northwest, Guanajuato to the north,Querétaro to the northeast, the State of México to the east, and Guerreroto the southeast. To the southwest, Michoacán has a stretch of coastline on the Pacific Ocean.
The name Michoacán is from Nahuatl: Michhuahc─ün /mit═í╩â╦łwa╩öka╦Én/ frommichhuah /╦łmit═í╩âwa╩ö/ ("possessor of fish") and -c─ün /ka╦Én/ (place of) and means "place of the fishermen" referring to those who fish on Lake Pátzcuaro. In pre-Hispanic times, the area was the home of theTarascan Empire, which rivaled the Aztec Empire at the time of Spanish encounter. After the Spanish conquest, the empire became a separate province which became smaller over the colonial period. The state and several of its residents played a major role in the Mexican War of Independence. Today, the state is still home to a sizable population ofP'urhépecha people as well as minor ones of Otomi and Nahua. The economy is based on agriculture, fishing, mining and some industry. The major tourism draw for the state is the Lake Pátzcuaro–Tzintzuntzan–Quiroga area, which was the center of the Tarascan Empire, also the National or State Parks which include the winter grounds of the Monarch Butterflies ("Mariposas Monarca") and the Park where the Cupatitzio Riverhas its main source.
According to the archeological evidence, there has been human habitation within the territory of the Mexican state of Michoacán for at least 10,000 years. In the pre-Hispanic period, there were waves of migration into the area, including the Pirinda, Nahua, Huetamo, Colima, Purhepecha and other peoples. There are sites of formal settlements from all Mesoamerican period. Important sites include El Opeñoand those in Curutarán, Tepalcatepec, Apatzingán, Zinapécuaro and Coalcomán. The territory has been inhabited by the Nahua, Otomi, Matlatzinca, Pirinda and Teco peoples as well as the P’urhépecha.
The main pre-Hispanic civilization of the state is that of the P'urhépecha (Tarascans), which was centered in the Lake Pátzcuaro area. Before the 13th century, both Nahua and Purépecha peoples were here, sustaining themselves by agriculture and fishing. The P’urhépecha are descendants of a late arrival of Chichimeca who came from the north. At Lake Patzcuaro, they came upon people with similar cultures to their own but who were more technically and socially advanced. The formation of the Tarascan State began in the 13th century, when these people started their own dominion at Uayameo, today Santa Fé de la Laguna, and becoming dominant over the entire Lake Patzcuaro area by the 15th century. Conquest of neighboring tribes and territories occurred between 1401 and 1450, as they absorbed peoples with different cultures and languages into the empire. By the late 15th century, this state rivaled that of the Aztec, having expanded their territory over much of what is now Michoacán and into part of Colima, Nayarit, Querétaro, Guanajuato, Guerrero andJalisco. The Aztec attempted to invade the P'urhépecha(Tarascans) but were repelled. Because of this attack, the P'urhépecha later denied the Aztecs aid in their defense of Tenochtitlan against the Spanish.
Prior to the arrival of any Spaniard in the territory, then-ruler Zuanga died of smallpox, presumably carried by one of the Aztec delegations seeking military aid. He was succeeded by Tanganxoan II. The first Spaniard to the area was Cristóbal de Olid. The Spanish destruction of Tenochtitlan and their promise to allow him to remain ruler convinced Tanganxoan II to submit to Spanish rule. But, Nuño de Guzmán reneged on this agreement and killed Tanganxoan II in 1530.
During the first years of the Conquest, Michoacán was part of the "kingdom of Mexico" with included the current states of Mexico, Querétaro, Hidalgo, Tlaxcala,Oaxaca, Morelos, Guerrero, Veracruz, Tabasco, Michoacán, Guanajuato and parts of San Luis Potosí, Jalisco and Colima. These lands were divided into encomiendasamong the conquistadors. The provinces with the largest populations were called Alcaldias Mayores, with Michoacán being one of these, with its capital initially atTzintzuntzan. Soon after, it was moved to Patzcuaro and eventually settled in what is now Morelia. The provincial and later state capital was founded by viceroyAntonio de Mendoza in 1541. It became the political and ecclesiastical center of the province after the death of Vasco de Quiroga in 1565.
Soon after the Conquest, evangelists from the Franciscan, Augustinian, Carmeliteand other orders established monasteries all over the territory. Some of the best-known are Juan de Moya, Martín de la Coruña and Jacobo Daciano. As first governor, Nuño de Guzmán disrupted and devastated the social and economic order of the area. Vasco de Quirga succeeded Guzman, bringing Franciscan and Augustinian friars to both evangelize and repair the area's broken economy and social institutions. Quiroga founded the Spanish city of Patzcuaro in 1538, calling it the Ciudad de Mechuacán. For his efforts, Quiroga is still referred to in the Patzcuaro area as "Tata (grandfather) Vasco." The diocese of Michoacán was established in 1536 by Pope Paul III, and its boundaries coincide with the old Purhepecha kingdom. Its first bishop was Vasco de Quiroga.
The Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo began as the Colegio de San Nicolas Obispo, founded by Vasco de Quiroga in Patzcuaro in 1540. It was originally a seminary for the training of evangelists. It was granted a royal seal in 1543 to become the Real Colegio de San Nicolás Obispo. The school was moved to Morelia in 1580 and was fused with the Colegio de San Miguel Guayangareo. In 1590, its name was changed to the Seminario Tridentino, when the Seminario Conciliar in 1601. By the end of the 17th century, the name returned to Colegio de San Nicolás but its structure was profoundly changed, adding studies such as philosophy and others, civil law and others. At the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, a number of figures associated with the Mexican War of Independence, such as Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, José María Morelos and others were associated with this school. By the mid 19th century, the school had been secularized and renamed the Primitivo y Nacional Colegio de San Nicolás de Hidalgo adding studies such as chemistry, physics and other sciences. The current name and organization was adopted after the Mexican Revolution in 1917.
From the 16th to the 18th century, Augustinian, Franciscan and Carmelite missions were constructed in the territory as well as civil constructions, especially in the city now known as Morelia. Mining in areas such as Angangueo, Tlalpujahua andInguaran was begun, as well as the establishment of agricultural and livestock haciendas. The first school of higher education, called the Primera Casa de Altos Estudios en América, was founded by Alonso de la Veracruz in Tiripetío. Michoacán was made a separate province from "Mexico" in 1602. By the mid-17th century, the indigenous population had declined by half. In 1776, the territory of Michoacán was reduced to the area in which the modern states of Michoacán and Colima are now. Soon after, Colima split to join with the province of Guadalajara, leaving Michoacán roughly with the territory it has today.
During the entire colonial period, the economy was concentrated in the hands of the Spanish-born, who held vast lands and haciendas. They also held the rights over minerals mined in places such as Tlalpujahua, Angangueo and Huetamo. Indigenous peoples were exploited for their work, and slavery was not uncommon. Education was restricted for only those born in Spain and their descendants and was controlled by the Church. The main educational institutions were the Colegio de San Nicolas, founded in the 16th century; and the Seminary of San Pedro and San Pablo, founded in the 18th century. These schools produced a number of distinguished men, but the best-known is Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. At the end of the 18th century, ideas from Europe began to infiltrate the upper classes of the state, especially in Valladolid (Morelia) and Zamora. These would eventually lead to the Mexican War of Independence in the early 19th century. This war was foreshadowed by the 1809 conspiracy in Valladolid.
One of the early and main protagonists of the war, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, was educated as a priest in the state and began to disseminate Enlightenment ideas here. Soon after Hidalgo performed the Grito de Dolores in Dolores (nowDolores Hidalgo), Guanajuato, a number of people influenced by his thought took up arms against the colonial government. These included Manuel de la Torre Lloreda, Gertrudis Bocanegra, José María Garcia Obeso and Ignacio López Rayón. During his campaign, Hidalgo returned to Valladolid, issuing a decree eliminating slavery.
After Hidalgo's death, much of the insurgent government was located in Michoacán, with documents such as "Primera Constitución o Decreto Constitucional para la Libertad de la América Mexicana" (First Constitution or Constitutional Decree for the Liberty of the Mexican America) and "Sentimentos de la Nacion", both of which would shape constitutions and governments in the years to come. The first Mexican Supreme Court was also founded here. The Mexican War of Independence was culminated by the army of Agustín de Iturbide, also a Michoacán native, who took Morelia in May 1821.
After the war ended in 1821, the territory of Michoacán became the "Free and Sovereign State of Michoacán on 31 January 1824. This state was initially divided into 4 departments and 22 portions (partidos) under the Ley Territorial of 1825, with the first constitution ratified in the same year. The name of the capital was changed from Valladolid to Morelia at the same time.
In 1831, the state was reorganized into 61 municipalities and 207 locales (tenencias). Due to the struggle between centralists and federalists in Mexico in the 19th century, Michoacán's rights as an entity would change depending on who was in control. The state was declared a department in 1836 but became a more independent state again in 1846. Colima broke off from Michoacán to form its own state in this year. In 1849, the municipality of Coyuca was separated to form the state of Guerrero. In 1853, the state became a department again, regaining state status in 1856. In 1857, the municipality of Contepec separated to join the state of Guanajuato. Along with the loss of political territory, by 1863, the original diocese has shrunk but it was also elevated to archdiocese.
During the French Intervention in Mexico, Morelia was taken by French forces in 1863. Since resistance to the French was particularly strong here, punitive acts were undertaken by the French in places like Zitácuaro, where much of the city was burned . One of first victories that would get the French out of Mexico occurred in Zamora.
In 1907, Michoacán's boundaries changed again with the addition of the communities of Pungarabato and Zirandaroadded from Guerrero state to make the Balsas River a natural border.
The Mexican Revolution came to Michoacán in 1911, when those loyal to Francisco I. Madero proclaimed Santa Clara del Cobre as their territory, then went on to take towns around Lake Patzcuaro under the leadership of Salvador Escalante. The governor of the state, Aristeo Mendoza, resigned. Fighting among various factions would continue in parts of the state for the rest of the war. The state's current constitution was ratified in 1918.
In 1920, the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo was founded.
Soon after the end of the Revolution, the Cristero War would affect the state, which affected agricultural production and distribution. In 1926, hostilities closed the seminaries in Morelia and Zamora. Near the end of the war, Lázaro Cárdenaswas elected governor of the state and served until 1932, when he became president of Mexico.
The state provides public education from preschool level to high school. "Formal preschool" is offered in communities which have twenty five or more qualified students. Less formal preschools are operated in smaller communities. As of 1996, there were 5433 primary schools serving 705,694 students with 25,485 teachers. There is a failure rate from grade to grade of about 9.7% with just under five percent leaving school permanently before finishing primary studies. The most common reason for departure is poverty. At the secondary level there are 174,354 students, which represent 22% of these eligible to attend. High school level studies are mostly geared to vocational studies and many attend via distance education. There are 24 public and private institutions of higher learning offering 49 different majors. Eight are technical colleges, four for teachers, the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, the Instituto Michoacano de Ciencias de la Educación and ten private institutions.
The Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo is located in Morelia. It is the oldest institution of higher education in the Americas, founded in 1540.
The state ministry of tourism has divided the state into regions, mostly based on the major cities of Morelia, Uruapan, Lázaro Cárdenas, Patzcuaro, Zamora and Zitácuaro.
The Morelia region stresses its cultural and artistic heritage, especially its colonial architecture . The most important colonial structures are in Morelia and built in the 18th century. These include the cathedral, finished in 1744 and the main aqueduct finished at the end of the century. This architecture has made the city a World Heritage Site. In addition to the state capital, the region includes towns such as Charo, Capula, Tiripetio, Cuitzeo and Huandacareo, which contain archeological sites, water parks and traditional cuisine. The rural areas of this zone contain more than 400 thermal springs, many of which have been turned into recreational areas and parks. These include Reino de Atzimba, Cointzio, Huandacareo and El Ejido.
The Uruapan region stresses its cultural and natural heritage. The city is one of the oldest settlements in the state, which was initially settled by the Meseta Purhepecha. This city contains a number of attractions such as La Huatápera, colonial era hospital founded by Vasco de Quiroga, the Temple of San Francisco and the Eduardo Ruiz Municipal Museum. One other attraction is the narrowest house in the world as documented by the Guinness Book of World Records. Other important cities in the region are Apatzingán and Caracha. Uruapan is surrounded by hundreds of hectares of forests and by fertile fields growing fruits and flowers, many of which only grow here. Some of the natural attractions of the zone include the Santa Catarina Dam and the La Tzaráacua and La Tzararacuita waterfalls. Smaller towns and villages in this region are known for their religious and popular festivals, many of which occur in the summer. Examples of these are the feasts of Señor del Calvario in Quinceo, of San Mateo Ahuiran in Paracho and the National Guitar Festival in Paracho. The best-known town in the region is San Juan Nuevo Parangaricutiro, which was founded due to the destruction of its original namesake by the eruption of the Paricutín volcano.
The Lázaro Cárdenas region is named after Michoacán largest port and oceanside city. Here the state stresses the miles of beaches and other natural areas in which to practice ecotourism and extreme sports. Beaches include Maruata, Faro de Bucerías, the Pichi Estuary, La Laguna de Mezcala, La Ticla and Nexpa, with the last two considered suitable for surfing with their regular two-three meter waves. A number of these beaches are protected areas due to the fact that they are breeding ground for sea turtles.
The Patzcuaro region is extremely important to the state due to its history of having been the center of the Purhepecha Empire as well as the first capital of the colonial province of Michoacán. Its pre-Hispanic heritage is evident by the Tzintzuntzan and Ihuatizo sites as well as the large number of people who still speak the Purhepecha language and maintain pre-Hispanic customs. Vasco de Quiroga established the first capital at Patzcuaro and was instrumental to building the colonial era economy of the Lake Patzcuaro area. The lake is surrounded by mountains and forests as well as the towns of Cuanajo, Tupátaro, Eronguícuaro andQuiroga. These towns are noted for their crafts and popular religious festivals such as the feast of the Señor del Rescate inTzintzuntzan, Holy Week and especially Noche de Muertos or Night of the Dead. This are is the most important to the state with the most visited town, Patzcuaro with its basilica and museums.
One of the largest tourist events in the state is Noche de Muertos or Night of the Dead. This is celebrated on the dates around 2 November. Essentially, these are Day of the Dead celebrations, which are celebrated all over Mexico, but with unique variations. The events of these days show a blending of both pre-Hispanic and Catholic beliefs and traditions. Noche de Muertos is celebrated most strongly in the towns and villages around Lake Patzcuaro such as Tzintzuntzan, Ihuatzio, as well as Patzuaro itself, which was the center of the Purhepecha Empire. As in other parts of Mexico, altars to the dead, both in homes and on graves are erected and covered with offerings such as bread, fruit and other items. One aspect which is unique to the event here is the lighting and floating of hundreds of small candles and flowers on Lake Patzcuaro on the night between 1 and 2 November. It is also believed that on this night the souls of Mintzita, the daughter of Purhepecha king Tzintzicha and Itzihuapa, son of Taré rise. Theirs is a Romeo and Juliet story as they were never able to marry due to the Spanish invasion of their lands. Today, it is said that the two rise up and head toward a specific cemetery to receive visitors. There are a number of other rituals performed on these days such as the Terescuan y Campaneri… a kind of treasure hunt for hidden harvest items.
The Zamora region is center of the city of the same name in an area known as the Purepecha Mesa. Pre-Hispanic language and customs are preserved here as well as a large number of crafts such s the pottery of Ptamban and the embroidery of Tarecuato. The region is part of an area of Mexico known as the Bajío and has extensive agriculture, livestock and some industry. Regional dishes such as pigs' feet, breads baked in wood fired ovens, tamales, pozole and dishes made with avocados and corn are promoted here. Important towns outside of Zamora include Camécuaro, Orandiro, La Estancia and La Alberca. The city of Zamora is home to one of the oldest cultures in the west of Mexico which dates to about 1750 BCE, known as the Opeño. The Spanish city was founded as a military garrison.
The Zitacuaro region contains approximately a half million hectares of conifer forests, but is best known as being part of the wintering grounds of the monarch butterfly. The area is filled with old mining towns as well as an important archeological site. The region is home to the Mazahua and Otomi peoples, many of whom produce crafts such as blankets,rebozos and ceramics. The city of Zitacuaro is the site of an important battle during the French Intervention in Mexico, which gives it the title of "Heroic City." Other important communities include Añgangueo, San Matias and Ciudad Hidalgo. The most important places to see monarch butterflies in the winter are in municipalities of Angangeo and Ocampo. The butterfly sanctuaries are called El Rosario, Cerro Campanario, Sierra Chincua and El Llanno de las Papas."