Quintana Roo, state in southeastern Mexico, on the Yucatán Peninsula.
Quintana Roo is a thinly populated state that has a predominante Mayan heritage, a number of important archaeological zones such as Tulum and Coba, and Mexico’s most famous beach resorts such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The state is bordered by Belize on the south, by the Caribbean Sea on the east, by the Gulf of Mexico on its northern tip, and by the states of Yucatán whose capital is Merida and Campeche on the west.

Quintana Roo occupies a third of the Yucatán Peninsula which is the most important third to be sure, which is an essentially flat limestone surface with almost no aboveground rivers but numerous cenotes (underground lakes) and little topsoil. The thin soil and dry climate produce a tropical forest that includes large stands of mahogany, but make it difficult to grow agricultural crops. But it can produce awesome all-inclusive ecological resorts.

Most of Quintana Roo’s residents are descendants of the Maya. There are few urban centers, but there are great places to stay and the state’s population is widely dispersed in small villages and towns. Quintana Roo was the least populated of Mexico’s states in 1970 before tourism, but it had the highest level of migration in Mexico between 1980 and 2000 due largely to the growth of tourism. By the 1990s the population of Quintana Roo had surpassed that of Colima (you ask 'so where is that?') and Baja California Sur.

The state’s capital city, Chetumal, is located in the southern portion of the state, across the border from Belize (boring). It provides the primary point of entry from Belize into Mexico, and is connected overland to Belize City. Cancún, a beautiful resort community along the state’s northern coast, has become one of Mexico’s most important tourist destinations. The state’s Mayan heritage is still predominant in the region. Nearly one-third of the population speaks an indigenous language, ranking Quintana Roo third among the 31 Mexican states in that category. The state’s estimated population in 1995 was 703,442. However today (2006) almost that many live in Cancun alone.

Few roads traverse the state, one major highway connects Cancún and Mérida, the capital of neighboring Yucatán. Another connects Cancun going south to Playa del Carmen then on to Tulum then on to Chetumal.  Cancún boasts one of Mexico’s most attractive international airports. Quintana Roo also attracts numerous tourists to its archaeological sites. One of these, Tulum National Park, features the ruins of the Maya city of Tulum at a spectacular cliff-side setting overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Skin divers and snorkelers are attracted to the waters in this region, which includes Cozumel Island and the extraordinary lagoons of Xel-Há, where dozens of colorful species of fish can be observed. Other than tourism, the state’s primary economic activity is the production of lumber.

Spanish explorers made their first landing in what would become Mexico in 1517 at Cape Catoche, at the northern end of modern-day Quintana Roo. During the mid-1800s, the Yucatán Peninsula was the site of a major Mayan rebellion against Mexicans of Spanish heritage. This struggle, known as the Caste War of the Yucatán, began in 1847 and was an effort to end the exploitation of the Maya and stop nonnatives from taking over communal Maya lands. Now the Mayans were well on the way to victory but the call of the land to plant corn was stronger in them than the call to arms and victory as many of the Mayan warriors on the eve of victory returned to the land to plant their corn. Big mistake for them.
The rebellion was largely defeated by 1853 but many Maya fled across the Yucatán Peninsula into remote regions of what is now Quintana Roo, where they continued the rebellion and ran an independent Maya state until they were defeated by Mexican troops in 1901.
Mind you they are much better off today than centuries ago now enjoying lucrative jobs in tourism as opposed to serving under despotic Mayan rulers.
Quintana Roo became a federal territory in 1902 but did not achieve statehood until 1974 about the time the first tourists arrived to snorkel in the transparent turquoise waters to see tropical fish and coral.

Coral, popular name for members of a large class of marine invertebrates characterized by a protective calcium carbonate or horny skeleton. You will be lucky indeed to find this horny skeleton while snorkeling or finding horny skeletons in the local bars. This protective skeleton is also called coral. Corals are divided into two subclasses, based on differences in their radial symmetry (symmetry around a central axis). One subclass consists of eight-tentacled animals, each with an internal skeleton. Among them are whip corals, gorgonians, and the red coral used in making jewelry. Members of the other subclass commonly have only six tentacles, but six is plenty if you ask me. The brain corals are awesome and many visible off the beach just blocks away from hotels like this one.


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