Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Chiapas is a state in the southeast of Mexico. Chiapas is bordered by the states of Tabasco to the north, Veracruz to the northwest, and Oaxaca to the west. To the east Chiapas borders Guatemala, and to the south the Pacific Ocean.
Chiapas has an area of 73,887 km² (28,528 square miles). The 2003 population estimate was 4,224,800 people.
The state capital city is Tuxtla Gutiérrez; other cities and towns in Chiapas include San Cristóbal de las Casas, Comitán, and Tapachula. Chiapas is also home to the ancient Maya ruins of Palenque, Yaxchilan, Bonampak, Chinkultic, and Tonina.
Many of the people in Chiapas are poor, rural small farmers. About one third of the population are of full or predominantly Maya descent, and in rural areas many do not speak Spanish. The state suffers from the highest rate of malnutrition in Mexico, estimated to affect over 40% of the population.
In Mormon culture, Chiapas is the most popular traditional location of the Book of Mormon land of Zarahemla, though this is not official doctrine of the LDS Church. The popular LDS tourism service, Israel Revealed, has package tours that include various spots in Chiapas.
History of Chiapas
Chiapas was conquered by Spain in the early 16th century, and became part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, administered as part of the "Kingdom of Guatemala" (what is now Central America), administered from Antigua Guatemala.
When Central America achieved its independence from Mexico in 1823, western Chiapas was annexed to Mexico. More of current day Chiapas was seized after the disintegration of the Central American Federation in 1842, and the remainder of the current state taken from Guatemala in the early 1880s by President Porfirio Díaz.
Chiapas remained one of the parts of Mexico least affected by change, with the descendants of the Spanish continuing to exercise much control over the native Indians through such institutions as debt peonage, despite attempts by the central Mexican government to abolish such practices.
Some people in Chiapas felt that their poor and largely agricultural area had been largely ignored by the Mexican government for a long time. One of the chief complaints was that many Indian farmers were required to pay absentee landlords, despite the fact that since the 1920s the Mexican government had been promising the peasants ownership of the land they had farmed and lived on for generations.
Such dissatisfaction led to the rise of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Zapatistas, or EZLN), which began an armed rebellion against the Mexican government in 1994. In this year, thousands of supporters of the anti-globalization movement gathered in Chiapas, and it was from this meeting that the modern movement was born.
The Zapatistas were only marginally successful militarily, but they and their appointed spokesperson, Subcomandante Marcos, succeeded in attracting sympathy both in Mexico and overseas.
In 2000, EZLN renewed its revolt, seizing a number of villages and sending an army into Mexico City. While the army was unsuccessful, the villages remain under Zapatista control, in large due to the resilience of local villagers and their unwavering support of the group.
- Towns, cities, and postal codes in Chiapas (in Spanish)
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