Chetumal (coordinates: 18°30′13"N 88°18′19"W) is a city on the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula
Yucatán Peninsula
The Yucatán Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico, separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, with the northern coastline on the Yucatán Channel...

 in Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. It is the capital of the state of Quintana Roo
Quintana Roo
Quintana Roo officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Quintana Roo is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 10 municipalities and its capital city is Chetumal....

 and the municipal seat of the Municipality of Othón P. Blanco
Othón P. Blanco, Quintana Roo
On february 2nd, 2011, the municipality of Othón P. Blanco had undergone important changes. All information below may be outdated. Please remove this notice when data has been checked....

. In 2010 it had a population of 151,243 people.

The city is situated on the western side of Chetumal Bay
Chetumal Bay
Chetumal Bay is a large bay in northern Belize and eastern Mexico in the south of the Yucatán Peninsula. On the bay is the major city of Chetumal, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The mouth of the bay is redirected southward and buffered by a large Belizean island named Ambergris Caye. The...

, near the mouth of the Río Hondo
Hondo River (Belize)
The Rio Hondo is a river of Central America, approximately 150 km in length, which flows in a northeasterly direction to discharge into Chetumal Bay on the Caribbean Sea...

. Chetumal is an important port
A port is a location on a coast or shore containing one or more harbors where ships can dock and transfer people or cargo to or from land....

 for the region and operates as Mexico's main trading gateway with the neighboring country of Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

. Goods are transported via a road connecting Chetumal with Belize City
Belize City
Belize City is the largest city in the Central American nation of Belize. Unofficial estimates place the population of Belize City at 70,000 or more. It is located at the mouth of the Belize River on the coast of the Caribbean. The city is the country's principal port and its financial and...

 to the south, and also via coastal merchant ships. Because of its location on the Caribbean coastline, it is vulnerable to tropical cyclone
Tropical cyclone
A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical cyclones strengthen when water evaporated from the ocean is released as the saturated air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor...

s; Hurricane Janet
Hurricane Janet
Hurricane Janet was the most powerful hurricane of the 1955 Atlantic hurricane season and one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record. It made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, causing catastrophic damage and at least 687 deaths in the Lesser...

 and Hurricane Dean
Hurricane Dean
The name Dean was used for five tropical cyclones in the Northern Atlantic Ocean:*1983's Tropical Storm Dean, which struck the coast of Virginia, causing minor erosion and flooding...

, both Category 5 storms
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale
The Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale , or the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale , classifies hurricanes — Western Hemisphere tropical cyclones that exceed the intensities of tropical depressions and tropical storms — into five categories distinguished by the intensities of their sustained winds...

, made landfall
Landfall (meteorology)
Landfall is the event of a tropical cyclone or a waterspout coming onto land after being over water. When a waterspout makes landfall it is reclassified as a tornado, which can then cause damage inland...

 near Chetumal in 1955 and 2007 respectively.


In Pre-Columbian
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

 times, a city called Chactemal (sometimes rendered as "Chetumal" in early European sources), probably today's Santa Rita in Belize, was the capital of a Maya
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

 state of the same name that roughly controlled the southern quarter of modern Quintana Roo and the northeast portion of Belize. This original Chetumal is now believed to have been on the other side of the Río Hondo, in modern Belize, not at the site of modern Chetumal.

During the Spanish conquest of Yucatán
Spanish conquest of Yucatán
The Spanish conquest of Yucatán was the campaign undertaken by the Spanish conquistadores against the Late Postclassic Maya states and polities, particularly in the northern and central Yucatán Peninsula but also involving the Maya polities of the Guatemalan highlands region...

, the Maya state of Chetumal fought off several Spanish expeditions before finally being subjugated in the late 16th century.

The 1840s revolt of the indigenous
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 Maya peoples
Maya peoples
The Maya people constitute a diverse range of the Native American people of southern Mexico and northern Central America. The overarching term "Maya" is a collective designation to include the peoples of the region who share some degree of cultural and linguistic heritage; however, the term...

 against Mexican rule, known as the Caste War of Yucatán
Caste War of Yucatán
The Caste War of Yucatán began with the revolt of native Maya people of Yucatán, Mexico against the population of European descent, called Yucatecos, who held political and economic control of the region. A lengthy war ensued between the Yucateco forces in the north-west of the Yucatán and the...

, drove all the Hispanic people from this region; many settled in British Honduras (modern Belize).

The current site of Chetumal was established as a Mexican port town in 1898, originally under the name Payo Obispo. The name was officially changed to Chetumal in 1936.

Two hurricanes in the 1940s leveled the entire town; Chetumal was devastated a third time in 1955 by Hurricane Janet
Hurricane Janet
Hurricane Janet was the most powerful hurricane of the 1955 Atlantic hurricane season and one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record. It made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, causing catastrophic damage and at least 687 deaths in the Lesser...

. After this, the town was rebuilt with more solid construction, with concrete blocks replacing wood as the usual material.

The population of Chetumal was small (about 5,000 in 1950) until the construction of highways linking it to the rest of Mexico in the 1960s and 1970s; the city then boomed with substantial migration from other parts of Mexico.

Contemporary Chetumal

Chetumal is a small growing city with an international airport. The city has a Museum of Maya Culture as well as a zoo.
Chetumal's economy has been influenced by its proximity to the border with Belize. A goods and services tax-free zone (Corozal Free Zone) established on the Belizean side attracts many visitors to Chetumal and also provides a ready market for Chetumal's retailers and traders. Chetumal itself was also once a free zone and a notable destination for people from other parts of Mexico seeking to purchase high-value and bulk goods, free of government duty charges (a policy that was deliberately implemented to attract this business). The city retains a significant retail trade for the region, which supports many local businesses.
Several modern malls have been built, such as the Plaza de Américas mall, which houses a modern movie theater (which belongs to the Mexican chain Cinepolis), various department store chains, fast-food outlets, and supermarkets.

In addition to its retail economy, Chetumal is also the capital of the state of Quintana Roo. Since it is the location of all of the state's central offices, there is a large population of government employees whose consumption of local goods and services injects additional revenue into the Chetumal economy.

The city has a music school which offers lessons of various instruments as well as music theory and history. The school is the main music school of the state and is the home of the Junior symphonic orchestra of the state Quintana Roo ("Orquesta sinfonica juvenil del estado de Quintana Roo") which is directed by Silvia Alcantara Chavero.

The city houses two theaters. The "Teatro minerva", which is an open air theater and belongs to the state's music school , and the "Teatro Constitullentes", which is a private-owned theater.

There is a Country club, which features tennis, football and basketball courts, a gym, a swimming pool, a steam-bath and a lounge for parties.

In the early 1990s, the University of Quintana Roo was established at Chetumal, providing training and advanced tertiary degrees over a range of subjects.

Points of interest


  • Cultural Center of the Fine Arts (Centro Cultural de las Bellas Artes), located in the center of the city, the building it is housed in was the school Belisario Domínguez, which was the first school of Quintana Roo.
  • Museum of the Mayan Culture (Museo de la Cultura Maya), considered the largest and most comprehensive museum in the state dedicated to the Mayan culture, has an important collection of authentic and reproductions of classical works, and tells the development of Mayan culture, its origins, as well as various aspects of their daily life.
  • Museum of the City Tied to the Cultural Center of the Fine Arts, dedicated to the exhibition of photographs, tools and documents that tell the story of the founding of the city.


  • Monument to the Flag (Monumento a la Bandera), the first monument built in Chetumal, it consists of a white obelisk that has a clock dial on each of its faces.
  • Cradles of the Meztizaje (Monumento Cuna del Meztizaje), constructed in the entrance of Chetumal, it has the form of a Mayan pyramid on which are the statues of Gonzalo Guerrero, his wife Zazil Há and the children of both.
  • Andrés Quintana Roo Memorial, dedicated to Andrés Quintana Roo, whom the state was named after.
  • Monument to the Fishermen, one of the most recent, it is located in the Bay of Chetumal.


  • Ecological Park (Parque Ecológico). There are many rabbits, turtles, birds and trees here.
  • Cheese Park One of the most popular parks, it now has a skating park.
  • Biouniverzoo Zoo of the city.

In literature

A "filthy bar buried deep in the most depraved slum of Chetumal, Mexico" is the starting locale for a 1950s
The 1950s or The Fifties was the decade that began on January 1, 1950 and ended on December 31, 1959. The decade was the sixth decade of the 20th century...

 styled men's adventure
Men's adventure
Men's adventure is a genre of magazines that had its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s. Catering to a male audience, these magazines featured glamour photography and lurid tales of adventure that typically featured wartime feats of daring, exotic travel or conflict with wild animals.These magazines are...

 story published in Modern Drunkard magazine.

External links

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