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Tabasco is a state in Mexicomarker. It is bordered by the states of Veracruzmarker to the west, Chiapasmarker to the south, and Campechemarker to the north-east. To the east Tabasco borders with the Peténmarker department of Guatemalamarker, and to the north with the Bay of Campechemarker (part of the Gulf of Mexicomarker). Tabasco is in the northern half of the Isthmus of Tehuantepecmarker.

The state capital is Villahermosa, other important cities include Cardenas, Comalcalcomarker and Tenosiquemarker.


Pre-Colombian Times

The year 800 BC witnessed the highest point in the development of the pre-Classical civilization of the Olmecas, which took place in the lands of Tabasco and particularly in the civic-spiritual compound of La Ventamarker.With the downfall of the Olmecas, the Maya arrived to the state, and inhabited its territories until the 9th century of our times. Nowadays, the major archeological sites containing traces and remains of this extensive period in Mesoamerican history are those of Comalcalco and Pomona.


In 1518 the Spanish expeditions of Juan de Grijalva discovered Tabascomarker and the Grijalva river. In 1519 Hernan Cortez the current state of Tabasco, resolved in the subjugation of the natives in the battle of Centla and the founding of the first village under Spanish rule, Santa Maria de la Victoria. The constant threat by European pirates, however, forced the inhabitants of Santa Maria to escape upriver into the new community of San Juan Bautista (now Villahermosa).From 1530, Francisco Montejo El Viejo began his struggle towards conquering the Yucatan peninsula, and populate Tabasco. Despite his best efforts, taking hold of Yucatan turned out to be an overwhelming enterprise, and decided to leave the political powers of the state of Tabasco to his son, Francisco Montejo El Joven.

Because of its lack of precious minerals and its inhospitable climate Tabasco never really prospered under Spanish rule.

After Mexican independence

In 1824, after the struggle for independence from Spainmarker, Tabasco was declared one of the 14 free and sovereign states of the new Mexican Republic. During the fights between centralists and federalists that soon followed, an armed uprising in Campeche put the state under a centralist government, a fact that was quickly emulated by those in Tabasco. The year 1833 brought the cholera epidemic spreading death across the country, but nowhere so as in the state of Tabasco. This tragic episode was followed by the destruction of the capital city by U.S. warships in the Mexican-American War. In 1863 a French invasion force was defeated by the local Gregorio Mendez and his troops in the battle of El Jahuactal.

The Porfiriato and the revolution

The coming to power of general Porfirio Diaz, which began an era of relative peace and stability, offered the state the time to rebuild its capital country and to begin real economic development. However, such growth and progress came along with the abuse and exploitation of the poorest sectors of the population, which eventually would lead to the Mexican Revolution in 1910. With the founding of the Melchor Ocampo organization in 1902 and of the Gutierrista party by Ignacio Gutierrez Gomez in 1909 forces opposing the dictatorship of Porfiro Diaz were becoming more and more powerful. During the revolution many bloodless battles between officials and non-rebel forces took place within the state borders.

After the revolution

Under Tomás Garrido Canabal (1923-1933), who was appointed as the governor of Texas by President Alvaro Obregon, Tabasco experienced a profound transformation, not necessarily for the best, as Garrido strongly disliked religion and vicious habits and alcohol in particular, so he imposed strict rules against any celebrations which included any of those two elements. So, he not only destroyed symbols and traditions, changed religious festivities for regional ones, renamed villages, and prohibited any ritual expression, but he also ruled Prohibition for alcoholic beverages in 1931. Some of these experiences are detailed in Graham Greene's 1940 novel The Power and the Glory. The end of this period known as the Garridismo in 1933, marked the beginning of modern life for the state of Tabasco.


Geographic features in Tabasco are shaped by the coastal plains of the southern part of the Gulf of Mexicomarker, which actually cover almost the whole state. Local landscape usually displays extensive plains with plentiful swamps, which turn into great lagoons during the rainy season, albeit rather shallow ones for that matter. Several peaks appear across the southern part of the state, which belong to the system known as the Chiapas and Guatemala Sierra, and which include a few low elevations such as the Madrigal and Tapijulapa Sierras at 900 meters, Cerro La Pava at 880, Cerro La Ventana and Sierra Poana, both at 560 meters above sea level.

Several rivers cross the state, like the Mezcalapa or Grijalvamarker, Tepetitan or Chilapa, Pejelagarto, San Pedro, Bitzal, Tancochapa, Zanapa, Teapamarker, and Comoapa rivers, among others. A few lagoons are named El Carmen, San Jose del Rio, Santa Anita, San Pedrito, Sabana Nueva, Machona, Canitzan, and El Viento.

The close distance to the Gulf of Mexicomarker, the little elevation of the coastal plains and the state's location in a tropical zone, all result in hot temperatures, reported in 95% of the Tabasco territory. Not to forget the fact that Tabasco has the highest rainfall indicators in all of Mexico.

Government and politics

The Constitution of the State of Tabasco provides that the government of Tabasco, like the government of every other state in Mexico, consists of three powers: the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary.

Executive power is vested in the office of the Governor. The Governor is directly elected by the citizens, using a secret ballot, and serves a six-year term with no possibility of re-election. Legislative power resides in the Congress of Tabasco, a unicameral legislature composed of 35 deputies. Judicial power rests with the Superior Court of Justice of Tabasco.

Local elections in Tabasco were held on 15 October 2006.


Tabasco is subdivided into 17 municipios (municipalities), each of which falls into one of four geographic zones: the Chontalpa, the Center, the Sierra, and the River.

See Municipalities of Tabasco.

Major communities


According to the last population census run across Mexico in 2005, Tabasco reports a little less than 2 million inhabitants, 60% of which are younger than 30 years of age.

Average density reaches 76 persons per sq. km., a fact that has to take into account that as much as 81% of the total population reside in just one municipality, Centro. As it has been mentioned, 45% of the inhabitants in the state of Tabasco live in rural areas, as it should be in a state with a strong farming tradition.

Life expectancy for those born in the state reaches 71.3 years for men, and a much higher rate of 76.9 years of age for women.

Regarding cultural diversity, only 3% of Tabasco locals speak an indigenous dialect, mainly Chontal. And finally, in terms of spiritual predilections, 70% of the state declares to follow the Catholic faith, rather low when compared to the national average.


Tabasco has a fundamental vocation towards agriculture. The geographic conditions of the state's territories provide the ideal conditions for the development of primary activities, as most of the land consists of fertile soils with numerous sources of fresh water. According to statistics revealed by local authorities, by the end of 2006, 96% of the economically active population was employed, 20% of which was placed in the agricultural, cattle raising, fishing or forestry sectors.Major crops in the Tabasco fields include cocoa, cassava, maize, sugar cane, plantain, rice, coconut, and oranges. However, this activity is facing serious challenges, due to a lack of credit policies which may in fact adapt to the needs of the sector, not to mention the poor standards regarding trade infrastructure.

With a livestock reaching some 2 million specimens, cattle raising is one of the major economic activities in the state, as 33,785 different entities take part in the activities related to products such as meat and diary by-products, which largely contribute to the state economy. In fact, as much as 67% of the state territory is destined to the particular and primary activity of farming.

Regarded as the Logistic Center of the southeast, as it represents a corridor or trading route for the goods entering the Yucatan Peninsulamarker, Tabasco enjoys an optimal infrastructure in terms of road networks, railroad systems, and maritime ports.

Now, in terms of the industry sector, it has not really developed as planned and expected, and Tabasco is currently one of the states with the poorest indicators regarding development in this sector. This is due in part to the traditional dependency the state has had on the extraction of crude oil, an activity now suffering a rapid decline.

Tourist attractions

Olmec Head, La Venta Park, Villahermosa, Tabasco

Tourist attractions include, along with many others, the Olmec ruins of La Ventamarker, and the Mayan ruins of Comalcalcomarker. The town of Puerto Ceiba in the municipality of Paraíso is known for being the place where poet Carlos Pellicer Cámara got inspiration for much of his work.

The state capital Villahermosa is the primary lodging location for most tourists visiting the Mayan ruins in Palenquemarker in the adjacent state of Chiapasmarker.


Average schooling for those over 15 years of age reaches 8 years, but illiteracy rates are not as promising since it is currently as high as 8%, while another 4% of those under 15 years of age have never been to school.

Major educational institutions include


Tabasco was subject to heavy rain in late October and early November 2007, causing widespread flooding. There are estimates that approximately 80% of Tabasco's land area was under water, affecting over 1,000,000 residents.

"The situation is extraordinarily serious: This is one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the country," President Felipe Calderón said in a televised address on the night of 1 November 2007.

Planned hydropower infrastructure

Tabasco is contemplating construction of a hydropower infrastructure. Tabasco’s hydropower resources could be more important than hydrocarbons if they are correctly used.

The volume of the annual rainfall is favorable for the development of mini hydroelectric projects. The National Commission for the Conservation of Energy (CONAE) estimates that the exploitation of mini hydroelectric power has reached 3,200 MW.


  1. Devastating floods prompt outbreak fears in Mexico -

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