10 Facts You Probably Did Not Know About the Yucatan 

Just when you thought you knew all about the Great Yucatan Peninsula, TYT brings you the Top 10 List of things you probably did not know about our beloved “Land of the Mayab“…

1.-) There are several versions of how the name of “Yucatan” came to be, one was the result of a Spanish explorer questioning a Mayan native when he wanted to know the name of the region. The native probably responded UMa’anaatik ka t’ann that in Mayan means “I do not understand you”; and so the Spaniards just named the land “Yucatán”…

Encounter between Spanish and Aztecs (Google)



2.-) Unlike many people believe, the Yucatan Peninsula was conquered two decades after the conquest of Mexico, by the Montejo family.

Francisco de Montejo (Google)



3.-) Yucatan has been separated two times from Mexico. The first one was on December 23, 1823. And the second time two years later in 1825, when the state of Tabasco was claiming to separate from the country and Miguel Barbachano, the governor of Yucatan at the time was planning to create an independent federal republic, however the idea failed.

República de Yucatán (Google)



4.-) In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, Yucatan used to export thousands of tonnes of “Henequén” rope and textile fibers to many countries in Europe, the U.S., Canada and South America. This material was known worldwide as “Sisal”. The “Green gold” industry made Yucatan one of the richest states of the republic at the time. The name “Sisal” was given to the textile fiber due to the fact that all ships transporting this material sailed out of the port of the same name, and the packs containing rope and textiles featured a seal with that word.

Textile Fiber Shipping (Google)



5.-) Gonzalo Guerrero was an Spanish sailor that after a shipwreck near the coasts of Yucatan, started living amongst the Maya, learned their language and helped them fight his former countrymen in the conquest war. He is known as the “Father of all Mestizos”.

Image from the Film “Gonzalo Guerrero” (Google)



6.-) The word “Merida” comes from the Latin “Emeritus”, first name of a city founded by the Romans 25 years BC in Spain.  The word Emeritus originally means “veteran soldier.”

Merida, Extremadura, Spain. (Photo: Google)



7.-) There are other cities named Merida in the world. One is in Spain, the other one in Venezuela and a fouth Merida is located in the Philippines.

3 meridas
Image: www.lasmeridasdelmundo.org



8.-) The second oldest Cathedral in the Americas is the San Ildelfonso Cathedral located in Merida, Yucatan (it is the first one within the American Continent), the first cathedral was built by the Spanish Crown on the island of Hispaniola, that today is divided in two countries: Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Island of Hispaniola (Image: Google)



9.-) In 1908 the “Jose Peon Contreras” theater was opened to the public, it was designed and built by the Italian architect Pio Palientini. It is still the most important theater in Merida to these days.

Peon Contreras Theatre
Peon Contreras Theatre (Photo: Google)



10.-) “El Diario de Yucatan” is the oldest newspaper in Yucatan, and one of the oldest in Mexico.  Founded in 1925, it is just about to turn 90 years old on May 31st 2015. The “Diario” had its origins on the publication known as “La revista de Merida” that was created 60 years earler in 1864.

Diario de Yucatan Building in 1925 (left), and 2005 (right) Photo: yucatan.com.mx

Source: TYT Newsroom