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Tamaulipas is one of the 31 states of Mexicomarker and is located in the central-northeastern part of the Mexican federation. It borders the U.S. state of Texasmarker to the north, the Gulf of Mexicomarker to the east, Veracruzmarker to the south, San Luis Potosímarker to the southwest, and Nuevo Leónmarker to the west. According to the 2006 census, Tamaulipas had a population of about 3,024,238 people.

The capital of Tamaulipas is Ciudad Victoriamarker, other important cities include Reynosamarker, Matamorosmarker, Nuevo Laredomarker and Tampicomarker


The name of the state is derived from Tamaholipa, a Huastec term in which the tam- prefix signifies "place where." As yet, there is no scholarly agreement on the meaning of holipa, but "high hills" is a common interpretation. (However, a native population of Tamaulipas, now extinct, was referred to as the "Olives" during the early colonial period, which is a likely Spanish transformation on holipa.)

The area currently known as Tamaulipas has been inhabited for at least 8000 years. Several different cultures (north coastal, south coastal, lowlands, and mountains) existed during that period.

Although Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztecs rather quickly, it took a gradual process for Spain to subjugate the inhabitants of Tamaulipas in the 16th and 17th centuries. The first permanent Spanishmarker settlement in the area was Tampico in 1554. More work along these lines was done by Franciscan missionaries, although repeated indigenous rebellions kept the area unstable. What is now Tamaulipas was first incorporated as a separate province of New Spain in 1746 with the name Nuevo Santander. The local government capital during this time moved from Santander to San Carlos, and finally to Aguayo.

After Mexico's independence from Spainmarker, Tamaulipas continued to be an unstable region. The fight in the national government between federalist and centralist factions resulted in repeated rebellions. In January 1854, Tamaulipas was declared a state of the union during the civil war between Santa Anna and the liberal guerrilla factions that had been in power before him. Its capital was kept at Aguayo, which would later be renamed Ciudad Victoria.

It briefly became a part of the Republic of the Rio Grande.

The French occupation and reign of Emperor Maximilian during the 1860s was difficult for Tamaulipas, at least on the borders and in the city of Tampico. Portions of Tamaulipas supported the guerrilla fighters resisting the French, especially in the north. It was not until two years after French occupation began that Tamaulipas as a state finally acceded to Maximilian's rule, and it was not until 1866 that the last French soldiers left the state, leading up to Maximilian's execution in 1867.

However, the years after Maximilian's defeat were ones of rebuilding and great growth in Tamaulipas. International trade began to blossom, especially with the coming of the railroad to Tampico, which was developing as not only a port city, but an industrial and commercial center as well. The railroad allowed goods to flow quickly from the mines and cities of the interior and the Texas border to Tampico for processing and shipment. This in turn caused significant growth in towns such as Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo.

Since the revolution of 1910, successive governments have dedicated themselves to building industry and infrastructure in Tamaulipas, including communications and educational systems. Norberto Treviño Zapata founded the state university system as well as reformed the state oil industry. Marte Gómez provided increased farm sizes for private family farmers. And more recently, Emilio Martínez Manautou led industrial growth. Lately a push has been to strengthen fishing, including efforts to increase the price of fish and shellfish on the international market.


The geographic imaginary line known as the Tropic of Cancermarker crosses the northern part of the capital city of Ciudad Victoria.

The coastal plains along the Gulf have a large presence in the state, whereas in-land the landscape is adorned by cactus species and pasturelands. Predominant fauna in the region include the puma, mountain lion, weasel, ocelot, badger, beaver, quail, and a type of guan called chachalaca.

In the southeast, the eastern Sierra Madre displays warm valleys and high sierras with peaks reaching 3,280 meters in the Pedragoso Sierra; 3,240 in the Borregos Sierra; 3,220 in La Gloria Sierra; 3,180 in Cerro el Nacimiento; and 3,000 meters above sea level in the Sierra el Pinal.

In terms of hydrology, the Bravo, Purificacion and Guayalejo rivers flow into the Gulf of Mexicomarker after crossing the state from the western inland. On their way, their basins and zones of influence naturally correspond to the areas destined for agricultural use. The Rio Bravo, preferably known in Mexicomarker as the Rio Grandemarker, represents the northern frontier shared with the United States. One of the tributaries of this natural border, the San Juan River, feeds the Falcon International Reservoir and the Marte Gomez Dam, which, in conjunction with the "Friendship Dam", reach a capacity of 12,940 million cubic meters of stored water. The agricultural and cattle raising activities are served by other 14 dams across the state, with a total capacity of 7,500 million cubic meters of water.

As much as 90% of the state reports a dry or semi-dry climate, while the Huasteca mountain range presents hot and semi-humid conditions, along with humid winds coming from the Gulf, which means it is located in a zone highly influenced by cyclones, with predominant winds coming from the east and southeast.

Economy and culture

Northern Tamaulipas shares its culture with that of Texasmarker, and is primarily characterized by agriculture and strong growth in all industrial sectors. This region is home to many of the maquiladoras, factories owned by foreign companies but worked primarily by Mexicans.

Southern Tamaulipas' economy is based primarily on the petro-chemical industries. There are petro-chemical production plants around Altamiramarker as well as a principal Gulf coast container port, refinery facilities in Ciudad Maderomarker and many oil-industry support service companies in Tampicomarker, as well as a major loose-cargo port. Also of importance are the tourism and fishing industries, as well as much commercial shipping, based in Tampico and Altamira. The little village of La Pesca, in the municipality of Soto La Marina, about midway between Brownsville, Texas and Tampico, is a rapidly growing tourist area with lovely beaches and excellent fishing both in the Gulf of Mexico and the Rio Soto La Marina. The central zone contains the capital, Ciudad Victoriamarker, and is home to much foresting and farming, as well as some industrial development. About 30% of the population lives here, both in the capital and in Ciudad Mantemarker. Ciudad Victoria is a significant educational center, home to the Autonomous University of Tamaulipas (which also has campuses in other cities in the state), the Regional Technical Institute of Ciudad Victoria, the University of Valle de Bravo, and other institutions of learning.

As of the 1990 Mexican census, 13 percent of the homes had only dirt floors, nearly 19 percent had no running water, and over 15 percent of the homes had no electricity. This was better than the national average, but was skewed because of the high rate of development in the urban centers — in rural communities in Tamaulipas, access to running water was available in less than 40 percent of homes.

As of 2005, Tamaulipas’s economy represents 3.3% of Mexico’s total gross domestic product or 21,664 million USD. Tamaulipas's economy has a strong focus on export oriented manufacturing (i.e. maquiladora / INMEX). As of 2005, 258,762 people are employed in the manufacturing sector. Foreign direct investment in Tamaulipas was 386.2 million USD for 2005. The average wage for an employee in Tamaulipas is approximately 240 pesos per day.

Largest cities and projects

  • Tampico, Business Center CONEXPO, Hospital Angeles, Médica Sur Hospital...
  • Nuevo Laredo, Paseo Reforma Mallmarker Completed, Ciudad Deportivamarker Phase I/II Completed, Nuevo Laredo Regional Zoo Phase I Completed
  • Matamoros, Zoo
  • Reynosa
  • Villa Cuauhtemoc
  • Ciudad Victoria, New Private Hospital

Major cities

The state is subdivided into 43 municipalities.

! City
Population !!
Population !!

area type
Reynosamarker 507,998 1,007,538 International
Matamorosmarker 422,711 864,756 International
Nuevo Laredomarker 348,387 718,073 International
Tampicomarker 303,635 818,102 Bi-State
Ciudad Victoriamarker 278,455 282,178 In-State
Ciudad Maderomarker 193,045 193,045 City
Rio Bravomarker 83,736 - see Reynosa
Miramarmarker 82,079 - see Altamira
Ciudad Mantemarker 81,884 112,061 Municipality
Altamiramarker 58,896 162,628 Municipality
Valle Hermoso 47,696 62,193 Municipality


Tamaulipas enjoys standards slightly higher than the national averages, since illiteracy has been reduced to 5% for those over 15 years of age, average schooling reaches 8,7 years, and as much as 11% have earned a professional degree.

Institutions of higher education include:

Notable natives and residents


  1. Link to tables of population data from Census of 2005
  2. World Gazetteer

External links

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