Tlaxcala officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Tlaxcala (Free and Sovereign State of Tlaxcala) is one of the 31 states which along with the Federal District
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 comprise the 32 federative entities of 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 divided into 60 municipalities
Municipalities of Tlaxcala
The Mexican state of Tlaxcalais made up of 60 municipalities ....

 and its capital city is Tlaxcala
Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala
The city of Tlaxcala is the capital and chief center of population of the Mexican state of Tlaxcala. The city is located at in the south-central portion of the state. In the census of 2005 the city had a population of 15,777 inhabitants and was by far the smallest state capital in Mexico. It is...


It is located in East-Central Mexico
Eastern Mexico
The Eastern Mexico or also called East-Central Mexico , is a region of United Mexican States, formed by the states of Hidalgo, Puebla, Tlaxcala and Veracruz...

, in the altiplano region
Mexican Plateau
The Central Mexican Plateau, also known as the Mexican Altiplano or Altiplanicie Mexicana, is a large arid-to-semiarid plateau that occupies much of northern and central Mexico...

, with the eastern portion dominated by the Sierra Madre Oriental
Sierra Madre Oriental
The Sierra Madre Oriental is a mountain range in northeastern Mexico.-Setting:Spanning the Sierra Madre Oriental runs from Coahuila south through Nuevo León, southwest Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, Querétaro, and Hidalgo to northern Puebla, where it joins with the east-west running Eje Volcánico...

.. It is bordered by the states of Puebla
Puebla officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Puebla is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 217 municipalities and its capital city is Puebla....

 to the north, east and south, México to the west and Hidalgo to the northwest. It is the smallest state of the republic, accounting for only 0.2% of the country’s territory.

The state is named after its capital, Tlaxcala, which was also the name of the pre-Hispanic city and culture. The Tlaxcalans allied themselves with the Spanish to defeat the Aztec
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.Aztec is the...

s, with concessions from the Spanish that allowed the territory to remain mostly intact throughout 300 years of colonial period. After Mexican Independence
Mexican War of Independence
The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. The movement, which became known as the Mexican War of Independence, was led by Mexican-born Spaniards, Mestizos and Amerindians who sought...

, Tlaxcala was declared a federal territory
Federal Territory
The Federal Territories in Malaysia comprise three territories: Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan, governed directly by the federal government of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is the national capital of Malaysia, Putrajaya is the administrative capital, and Labuan is an offshore international financial...

, until 1857 when it was admitted as a state of the federation.

Most of the state’s economy is based on agriculture, light industry and tourism. The tourist industry is rooted in Tlaxcala’s long history with major attractions being archeological sites such as Cacaxtla
Cacaxtla is an archaeological site located near the southern border of the Mexican state of Tlaxcala. It was a sprawling palace containing vibrantly colored murals painted in unmistakable Maya style. The nearby site of Xochitecatl was a more public ceremonial complex associated with Cacaxtla...

 and colonial constructions in and around Tlaxcala city.


The name “Tlaxclala” pre-dates the state by centuries; it derives from the name of the capital city, which was also used to denote the territory controlled by this city in pre-Hispanic times. According to some historians, the name comes from an ancient word “texcalli”, which meant crag; however, an alternative etymology stems from the Nahuatl
Nahuatl is thought to mean "a good, clear sound" This language name has several spellings, among them náhuatl , Naoatl, Nauatl, Nahuatl, Nawatl. In a back formation from the name of the language, the ethnic group of Nahuatl speakers are called Nahua...

 word “Tlaxcallan” which means place of corn or maize tortilla
In Mexico and Central America, a tortilla is a type of thin, unleavened flat bread, made from finely ground maize...

s. The Aztec glyph that referred to this place has both elements, two green hills and two hands holding a corn tortilla. The state’s coat of arms is based on the coat of arms that was granted to the city in 1535. Its different elements have the following meanings: the red background represents courage; the castle symbolizes defensive power; the eagle with its open wings, represents the spirit of vigilance; the border symbolizes protection and compensation; the green palms stand for victory, and the crowns are the symbol of royal authority. The letter I refers to Joanna of Castile
Joanna of Castile
Joanna , nicknamed Joanna the Mad , was the first queen regnant to reign over both the Crown of Castile and the Crown of Aragon , a union which evolved into modern Spain...

, the mother of Carlos V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

; the letter K represents the name of the king himself; and the letter F belongs to Felipe, the son of Carlos V
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

. The human skulls and cross-bones represent those who died during the Conquest.

Political geography

The state of Tlaxcala is located slightly east of center of Mexico between 97°37´07´´ and 98°42´51´´W and 19º05´43´´ and 19°44´07´´N. It is bordered by the states of Hidalgo, Puebla and Mexico State. It is the smallest state in terms of territory with only about 4,061 km2, representing about 0.2% of the entire country. The state is divided into 60 municipalities, the largest of which are Tlaxcala, Apizaco
Apizaco is a city in Apizaco Municipality located near the geographic center of the Mexican state of Tlaxcala, approximately 25 minutes by car from the state's capital city of Tlaxcala. The city gets its name from the Nahuatl language words "ātl" , "pitzāhuac" , and the suffix "co" , forming...

, Chiautempan, Huamantla
Huamantla is a city and its surrounding municipality of the same name, located in the eastern part of the Mexican state of Tlaxcala. It is the third-largest city in the state in population , with a 2005 census population of 47,286...

, Calpulalpan and Tlaxco.
The political heart of the state is its capital, Tlaxcala, even though it is not the state’s largest city. Tlaxcala lies at the foot of the northwestern slope of the La Malinche volcano in the Sierra Madre Oriental
Sierra Madre Oriental
The Sierra Madre Oriental is a mountain range in northeastern Mexico.-Setting:Spanning the Sierra Madre Oriental runs from Coahuila south through Nuevo León, southwest Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, Querétaro, and Hidalgo to northern Puebla, where it joins with the east-west running Eje Volcánico...

. It is one of the oldest cities in Mexico, originally founded as an organized civilization before the 15th century. The Spanish political entity was founded by Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

 between 1520 and 1525 and given the Spanish name of New City of Our Lady of the Assumption. Its economy is still based on the traditional enterprises of agriculture, textiles, and the commerce of products of native peoples such as the Otomí
Otomi people
The Otomi people . Smaller Otomi populations exist in the states of Puebla, Mexico, Tlaxcala, Michoacán and Guanajuato. The Otomi language belonging to the Oto-Pamean branch of the Oto-Manguean language family is spoken in many different varieties some of which are not mutually intelligible.One of...

, especially on market days. Other important cities include Santa Ana Chiautempan, the most populous city in the state, Apizaco, noted for its textile production and Huamantla, a farming and cattle town.

Natural geography and climate

Tlaxcala is a land-locked state situated on the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt
Trans-Mexican volcanic belt
The Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt also known as the Transvolcanic Belt and locally as the Sierra Nevada , is a volcanic belt that extends 900 km from west to east across central-southern Mexico...

. The average altitude for the state is 2,230 meters above sea level, making it a bit higher than the Valley of Mexico just to the southwest. The western part of the state lies on the central plateau of Mexico while the east is dominated by the Sierra Madre Oriental, home of the 4,461 meter La Malinche volcano. Most of the state is rugged terrain dominated by ridges and deep valleys, along with protruding igneous rock
Igneous rock
Igneous rock is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic rock. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava...

 formations. This ruggedness, along with large-scale weather phenomena such as the Intertropical Convergence Zone, gives the state a complex climate. Overall rain patterns for the state are about 400mm in the summer rainy season and 30mm in the winter. Locally, however, this varies dramatically between the drier plateaus and valleys and the wetter mountains. Variations in altitude produce sub-climates between semi-tropical to temperate, with frosts likely in the higher elevations during the winter. Temperate forests of pine, fir (abies religiosa), evergreen oak (Quercus ilex) and junipers (Juniperus communis) dominate the mountain highlands while the flatlands, with their drier climate, are characterized by agaves and prickly pear cactus (opunita).

The state has no major lakes or extremely large rivers. Principal water sources are the Atoyac-Zahuapan basin and the reservoir of the Atlangatepec dam.


Much of Tlaxcala’s economy is based on agriculture, livestock and forestry. Principle crops for the state are maize and barley, along with important quantities of wheat, beans, animal feed and potatoes, using about 60% of the state’s land. Although the state has 15 dams and 483 wells to provide water for agriculture, 88% of the state’s agriculture is dependent on the summer rainy season, leaving it vulnerable to climatic phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña
El Niño-Southern Oscillation
El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, is a quasiperiodic climate pattern that occurs across the tropical Pacific Ocean roughly every five years...


Most livestock raised in the state is beef cattle and dairy cows along with the renowned fighting bulls. Other important animals are pigs, sheep, horses, poultry and bees. About 35,842 hectares, or 6.7% of the state is dedicated to livestock. Due to the limited surface water, there is no commercial fishing or fish-farming here.

The state’s forestry enterprises are located in the municipalities of Tlaxco, Terrenate
Terrenate, Tlaxcala
Terrenate is a city, and the surrounding municipality of the same name, in the Mexican state of Tlaxcala.It is situated in the highest part of the state, at 2,680 metres above sea level...

, Altzayanca, Calpulalpan and Nanacamilpa, with about 35,842 hectares of land dedicated to this. However, the amount of land dedicated to forestry has been declining in recent years. To combat this, in 2007 2,484,687 trees were planted on about 2,477 hectares of land.

Industry and commerce

Light manufacturing has developed on a significant scale in the state, especially products produced for export outside the state.(comerico) These products include clothing, foam and plastic products, paper products, publishing, textiles and automobile works. Organized industrial areas in the state include the Malinche Corridor, the Apizaco-Xalostoc-Huamantla Corridor, the Panzacola Corridor, the “industrial cities” of Xicohténcatli I, Xicohténcatli II and Xicohténcatli III, the industrial parks of Calpulalpan, Xiloxoxtla, Ixtacuixtla, and Nanacamilpa as well as the industrial areas of Velasco and Atlangatepec.

Most commercial activity in the state occurs in the municipalities of Apizaco, Chiautempan, Tlaxcala, Huamantla, San Pablo del Monte
San Pablo del Monte
San Pablo del Monte is a municipality in Tlaxcala in south-eastern Mexico.-References:...

 and Zacatelco. In the last economic census in 2003, INEGI registered 21, 307 commercial establishments in the state, most of these being small individually or family-owned enterprises. There are also fifty-nine tianguis
A tianguis is an open air market or bazaar that is traditionally held on certain market days in a town or city neighborhood in Mexico and Central America. This bazaar tradition has its roots well into the pre-Hispanic period and continues in many cases essentially unchanged into the present day....

 (tent markets which are movable), seventeen municipal markets
Traditional fixed markets in Mexico
Traditional fixed markets in Mexico go by a variety of names such as "mercados públicos" , "mercados municipales" or even more often simply "mercados"...

, eleven malls, twenty-six department stores and fourteen commercial centers of other types.
In addition, the state is an important link between Mexico’s major eastern port, Veracruz
Veracruz, Veracruz
Veracruz, officially known as Heroica Veracruz, is a major port city and municipality on the Gulf of Mexico in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The city is located in the central part of the state. It is located along Federal Highway 140 from the state capital Xalapa, and is the state's most...

, on the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

, and Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

, in the interior.


Tourist attractions primarily consist of pre-Hispanic archeological sites and colonial establishments with examples of both religious and civil constructions. However, in comparison with the rest of Mexico, Tlaxcala’s archeological and colonial attractions in are barely known. Tlaxcala’s major attractions are the archeological sites of Cacaxtla, Xochitécatl
Xochitecatl is a pre-Columbian archaeological site located in the Mexican State of Tlaxcala, 18 km southwest of Tlaxcala city. The major architecture dates to the Middle Preclassic Period but occupation continued, with one major interruption, until the Late Classic, when the site was...

 and Tizatlán
Tizatlan, in precolumbian Mexico, was one of the four independent polities that constituted the confederation of Tlaxcallan. It was the third of the four altepetl to be founded, but at the time of the Spanish conquest of Mexico it was, along with Ocotelolco, the most powerful of the four allied...

, which were not fully investigated until the 20th century, like most of the rest of the sites of this state. When Hernán Cortés came, Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

n civilization here was considered to be in the Post-Classic period, and the kingdom was filled with temples, palaces and grand plazas that impressed the Spaniards.

Tlaxcala’s two major archeological sites are Xochitécatl and Cacaxtla. Xochitécatl was built between 300 and 400 A.D. and probably reached its peak between 600 and 800 A.D. There is evidence that occupation of the sites extends much further back in time than the city. The ceremonial center is situated on a hill with four main structures called “The Spiral Building,” “The Volcano Base,” “The Serpent Pyramid” and “The Flower Pyramid.” The last is the most important and is topped by two monolithic pillars. This pyramid is the fourth largest in Mexico (by base size) and the Spiral Pyramid is one of the few circular ones to be found.

Cacaxtla was built later than Xochitecatl, between 600 and 900 A.D., and is the far larger of the two. It was discovered only about thirty years ago near the modern town of San Miguel del Milago. The main attraction here is the murals painted with pigments made from mineral sources. Some of the best works include the Scorpion Man at the Venus Temple, Cacaxtli with corn plant at the Red Temple, the Battle Mural, which is 22 meters long and contains 48 human figures and the Bird Man and the Jaguar Man found in “Porch A.”

Another interesting archeological site is called Tizatlán. This site does not contain pyramids; instead the buildings here are made of adobe brick, a very unusual construction material for this place and time. The site contains two stucco-covered altars with murals that follow the Borges Group Code style with images of gods and important human figures, including gods such as Tezcatlipoca, Tlaloc and Mayahuel and were the scene of human sacrifices.

The state contains more than 1,000 archeological sites with only seven fully excavated and open to the public. The last of these is Ocotelulco, situated on a hill near the town of San Francisco Ocotelulco. It is a collection of dwellings with raised areas for ceremonial purposes. Its altar is similar to the one found at Tezcatlipoca
Tezcatlipoca was a central deity in Aztec religion. One of the four sons of Ometeotl, he is associated with a wide range of concepts, including the night sky, the night winds, hurricanes, the north, the earth, obsidian, enmity, discord, rulership, divination, temptation, jaguars, sorcery, beauty,...

, decorated with colorful frescos with images of Quetzalcoatl
Quetzalcoatl is a Mesoamerican deity whose name comes from the Nahuatl language and has the meaning of "feathered serpent". The worship of a feathered serpent deity is first documented in Teotihuacan in the first century BCE or first century CE...

, Xolotl
In Aztec mythology, Xolotl was the god with associations to both lightning and death.Although often depicted in relation to the underworld, Xolotl was not a psychopomp in the Western sense. Xolotl did, however, aid the dead on their journey to Mictlan, the afterlife in some myths.Xolotl was also...

 and Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli
In Aztec religion, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli is the god of the planet Venus, the morning star. Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli was considered a dangerous and malevolent god, and was associated with Quetzalcoatl.-Myths:...

. These images are in the style of the Post-classic period and have been dated to about 1450.
Tlaxcala is home to some of the earliest colonial architecture and art. The oldest church in Mexico, built in 1521 and the first monasteries, built by the Franciscans, were built here in 1524. Many other churches and monasteries were built in the state in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Just about every municipality has colonial-era structures such as churches, municipal palaces and plazas but the best examples are in and around the city of Tlaxcala. The Temple and Ex-monastery of San Francisco, built in the early 16th century, is located about 14 km southeast of the capital city. Only the church retains its original function; the former monastery now houses a school. The State Government Palace is located in the city proper and was creating by conjoining the former mayor’s house, the treasury and the state warehouse, which is architecturally held together with a Plateresque
Plateresque, meaning "in the manner of a silversmith" , was an artistic movement, especially architectural, traditionally held to be exclusive to Spain and its territories, which appeared between the late Gothic and early Renaissance in the late 15th century, and spread over the next two centuries...

 facade. The city’s cathedral, called Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, built in the 16th century. Its main altar preserves a Baroque altarpiece with a depiction of the baptism of the Lord Maxixcatzin, with Hernan Cortes and Malinche as godparents. A bit later, the Basilica of Octolan was built in the 17th and 18th centuries to comply with a demand of the Virgin Mary who reportedly appeared before Juan Diego Bernardino here in 1541. It is considered be the culmination of the Baroque style
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

 in Tlaxcala. The state also contains 140 hacienda
Hacienda is a Spanish word for an estate. Some haciendas were plantations, mines, or even business factories. Many haciendas combined these productive activities...

s, which vary in their state of conservation but some are promoted for tourism.

Regional festivals here are known for dances featuring men in mustached masks (imitating Spaniards), large-plumed hats and colorful garb. This is especially apparent during Carnival
Carnaval is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnaval typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party...

, when over 4,000 folk dancers from different villages come to the capital to celebrate. In a village just north of the capital, in San Juan Totolac, every year they commemorate the departure of 400 families in 1591 who went north to colonize the land known as the Great Chichimeca, which primarily covers the northeast of modern Mexico. Streets in Huamantla are decorated with flowers in intricate designs on “La Noche que Nadie Duerme” (The Night No One Sleeps) in August. Many other festivals are in the state, many of which display the state’s long tradition of bullfighting.

Ecotourism is a form of tourism visiting fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas, intended as a low impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism...

 is relatively new here and much of it centers on La Malinche National Park, home to the La Malinche volcano, which is 4,461 m (14,636 ft) high. Here one can camp, mountain bike, horseback ride, rappel and climb the volcano itself. At the peak of La Malinche, it is possible to see the volcanos of Popocatépetl
Popocatépetl also known as "Popochowa" by the local population is an active volcano and, at , the second highest peak in Mexico after the Pico de Orizaba...

, Iztaccíhuatl
Iztaccíhuatl , is the third highest mountain in Mexico, after the Pico de Orizaba, , and Popocatépetl, . Its name is Nahuatl for "White woman"....

 (in Puebla/Mexico State) and Pico de Orizaba
Pico de Orizaba
The Pico de Orizaba, or Citlaltépetl , is a stratovolcano, the highest mountain in Mexico and the third highest in North America. It rises above sea level in the eastern end of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, on the border between the states of Veracruz and Puebla...

Veracruz, formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave , is one of the 31 states that, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided in 212 municipalities and its capital city is...


Ninety five percent of those visiting Tlaxcala are from Mexico and most of these are from neighboring Puebla state. Foreign visitors are mostly German, French and Swiss who are interested in Mexican history.


Tlaxcala is the smallest and one of the most densely populated of the states of Mexico. The state comprises only 0.2% of the nation’s territory but it is home to over 1,068,207 people (2005 census). Population density ranges from 269 people/km2 in the city of Tlaxcala to 50 people/km2 in the rural municipality of Atlangatepec. The largest population centers are Tlaxcala, Huamantla, Apizaco, San Pablo del Monte and Chiautempan, whose 361, 328 inhabitants represent over 33% of the state’s population, but the largest population increases are occurring in the municipalities of Tzompamtepec, Yauhquemecan and Santa Isabel Xiloxoxtla. Of Tlaxcala’s 60 municipalities, ten have a poverty index rating of “very low,” twenty-nine have a rating of “low,” seventeen have a ranking of “medium” and only four have a ranking of “high.”


The area known has Tlaxcala has officially been a number of different entities, from a kingdom during the pre-Hispanic era, to being a district, or territory during colonial times to a “free and sovereign state” within the republic of Mexico. Tlaxcalans consider their fight to remain a distinct entity a hallmark of their history, resisting in turn the Aztecs, the colonial government, the various monarchies and republics of an independent Mexico and even the claims on its territory by neighboring state, Puebla.


Evidence of human occupation in what is now the state of Tlaxcala extends back to 12,000 B.C., with the earliest identified cultures being Tzompantepec (170-1200 B.C.), Tlatempa (1200-800 B.C.), and Texoloc (800-400 B.C.). The Toltecs also had a presence, but the first major native culture here was the Olmec Xicalanca. This civilization fell into decline after 900 A.D. and was replaced by a sub-group of the Chichimeca
Chichimeca was the name that the Nahua peoples of Mexico generically applied to a wide range of semi-nomadic peoples who inhabited the north of modern-day Mexico and southwestern United States, and carried the same sense as the European term "barbarian"...

s. In the 14th century, the Chichimecas were driven out by the Tlaxcalans, a Nahua people and the indigenous ethnicity that still dominates the state. The Tlaxcalans founded the city of Tlaxcala and then began to subdue the surrounding peoples. Eventually, the Tlaxcalan nation would evolve into a confederation of four sub-states called Tepectipac, Ocotelulco, Tizatlán and Quiahuixtlán.

The pre-Columbian Tlaxcalan state
Tlaxcala (Nahua state)
Tlaxcala was a pre-Columbian city state of central Mexico.Tlaxcala was a confederation of four altepetl — Ocotelolco, Quiahuiztlan, Tepeticpac and Tizatlan — which each took turns providing a ruler for Tlaxcala as a whole.-History:Tlaxcala was never conquered by the Aztec empire, but was...

 developed roughly at the same time as another Nahua people, the Mexica
The Mexica were a pre-Columbian people of central Mexico.Mexica may also refer to:*Mexica , a board game designed by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling*Mexica , a 2005 novel by Norman Spinrad...

, were building the vast Aztec empire with its capital at Tenochtitlan. From the 14th century, these two nations were in near constant state of war. However, even though the Aztecs managed to build the largest empire in Mesoamerica, they never did conquer Tlaxcala. By the time, the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, Tlaxcala was an independent enclave nearly completely surrounded by the Aztec Empire. This left Tlaxcala economically isolated, leaving it without goods such as cotton and salt. This and the constant warfare with the Mexica would give the Tlaxcalans reason to ally with the Spanish.

Spanish conquest

When Hernán Cortés and the Spanish landed on the Veracruz coast, they were greeted by the Totonacas, who were a subject people of the Aztecs and saw the Spanish as a way to free themselves of rule from Tenochtitlan. They allied with the Spanish, and when Cortés decided to go inland to Tenochtitlan, the Totonacas guided them to other subject peoples who would be willing to ally with them, including and especially the Tlaxcalans. However, after entering Tlaxcalan territory, the Spanish were met by a hostile force of 30,000. The Tlaxcalans and the Spanish (with their Indian allies) fought a number of battles, with the Spanish inflicting heavy casualties on the Tlaxcalans despite their superior numbers. The Spaniards’ prowess in battle impressed the Tlaxcalan king Xīcohtēncatl Āxāyacatzin
Xicotencatl II
Xicotencatl II Axayacatl, also known as Xicotencatl the Younger , was a prince and warleader, probably with the title of Tlacochcalcatl, of the pre-Columbian state of Tlaxcallan at the time of the Spanish conquest of Mexico...

, who then not only allowed the Spanish to pass through his territory, he also invited them to the capital city.

Cortés stayed in the city of Tlaxcala for 20 days and forged an alliance with the Tlaxcalans to bring down Tenochtitlan. Cortes added 6,000 Tlaxcala warriors to this ranks and arrived to Tenochtitlan in November 1519. They were received by Emperor Moctezuma II
Moctezuma II
Moctezuma , also known by a number of variant spellings including Montezuma, Moteuczoma, Motecuhzoma and referred to in full by early Nahuatl texts as Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin, was the ninth tlatoani or ruler of Tenochtitlan, reigning from 1502 to 1520...

, who understood the potential danger of a Spanish-Tlaxcalan alliance. Despite initial friendliness, intrigue and siege of the capital followed, with the Aztec backlash sending Cortes’ very wounded army limping back to Tlaxcalan territory. The Tlaxcalan king gave the Spanish refuge but promised further assistance in the conquest of Tenochtitlan only under certain conditions including perpetual exemption from tribute of any sort, part of the spoils of war and control of two provinces that bordered Tlaxcala. Cortés agreed. Cortes and the Tlaxcalans returned to Tenochtitlan in December of 1520. After many battles, including street-by-street fighting in Tenochtitlan itself, the Aztec Empire fell in August 1521.

For the most part, the Spanish kept their promise to the Tlaxcalans. Unlike Tenochtitlan and other cities, Tlaxcala was not destroyed after the Conquest. They also allowed many Tlaxcalans to retain their indigenous names. The Tlaxcalans were mostly able to keep their traditional form of government. For 300 years of colonial rule, the Spanish mostly held true to the Tlaxcalans.

The colonial period and post-independence

One of the major cultural interventions, however, was the evangelization of the region. Franciscan friars arrived in 1524. They built monasteries and churches and renamed the city of Tlaxcala “Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.” The first archbishopric of New Spain was established here. Most of the conversion work was done by 1530 and in 1535, the city of Tlaxcala received its coat-of-arms from the Spanish king.
Unlike the rest of Mexico, Tlaxcala was under the direct protection of the Spanish crown, part of its reward for its support in the Conquest. This shielded the Tlaxcalans from the worst of the oppression of the native peoples, which reached its peak in the 1530s. In fact, Tlaxcalan allegiance to the Spaniards became an enduring partnership. Tlaxcalan forces joined Spanish forces to put down revolts such as the Mixtón Rebellion
Mixtón Rebellion
The Mixtón War was fought from 1540 until 1542 between Spanish invaders and their Aztec and Tlaxcalan allies against the Caxcanes and other semi-nomadic Indians of the area of north western Mexico...

 and accompanied them to conquer places such as Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

 and northwest Mexico.

In the late 16th century, Christianized and sedentary Tlaxcalans were recruited to settle and pacify the Chichimecas in what is now northeast Mexico. Tlaxcalans were used not only to fight but also to establish towns in villages in this nomadic people’s territory, to be a kind of example to them. Over 400 Tlaxcalan families would move north, but not until they negotiated and won special concessions from the Spanish. They included orders called “mandamientos de amparo” to ensure that these families’ heirs would not lose the lands that were being granted to them. They also included freedom from tributes, taxes and personal service in perpetuity. These settlers were instrumental in pacifying this part of Mexico, and although these families eventually intermarried with the Chichimeca, they never completely lost their Tlaxcalan identity.
During the colonial period, the Tlaxcalans were successful in keeping the concessions granted to them by the Spanish crown. In 1585, when the territory of Tlaxcala was formally established, it roughly had the same borders as the old kingdom of Tlaxcala. While the neighboring territory of Puebla had some authority over this territory, the city of Tlaxcala remained independently governed until Mexican Independence in 1821. On November 24, 1824, Tlaxcala was declared a federal territory. Tlaxcala was finally admitted as a state of the federation on December 9, 1856. It was subdivided into five provinces but again had roughly the same dimensions, just somewhat less than before. Later, the state was able to recover some of that lost territory when the region known as Calpulapan was reunited in the 1860s. One interesting note is that the state was governed from 1885 to 1911 by Próspero Cahuantzi, one of the few Mexicans of indigenous origin to be a state governor.


The cuisine of the state is similar to that of neighboring Hidalgo, Puebla and Federal District of Mexico City, featuring dishes such as barbacoa
Barbacoa is a form of cooking meat that originated in the Caribbean with the Taíno people, from which the term "barbecue" derives. In contemporary Mexico it generally refers to meats or a whole sheep slow-cooked over an open fire, or more traditionally, in a hole dug in the ground covered with...

, mixiote
A mixiote is a traditional pit-barbecued meat dish in central Mexico; especially in the Basin of Mexico. It can also be prepared in an oven. It is usually made with mutton or rabbit, but chicken is also used. The meat is cubed with the bone and seasoned with pasilla and guajillo chili peppers,...

, tamale
A tamale — or more correctly tamal — is a traditional Latin American dish made of masa , which is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper. The wrapping is discarded before eating...

s, tacos, quesadilla
A quesadilla is a flour or corn tortilla filled with a savoury mixture containing cheese and other ingredients, then folded in half to form a half-moon shape. This dish originated in Mexico, and the name is derived from the Spanish word queso ....

s and more. The state is known for the use of a number of ingredients in these dishes. One of these is the use of a number of edible insects, many of which are considered delicacies such as escamoles
Escamoles are the larvae of ants of the genus Liometopum, harvested from the roots of the agave or maguey plant in Mexico. In some forms of Mexican cuisine, escamoles are considered a delicacy and are sometimes referred to as "insect caviar"...

 (ant eggs) and maguey larvae
Maguey worm
A maguey worm is one of two varieties of edible caterpillars that infest maguey and Agave tequilana plants. The white maguey worms, known as meocuiles, are caterpillars of a butterfly commonly named "tequila giant skipper," Aegiale hesperiaris...

 as well as others locally known as “padrecitos,” “mecapales,” “toritos” and “tenanas”. Vegetable items include a wide variety of mushrooms, often harvested from the wild, squash flowers, chilacayote, xoconostle (a kind of cactus fruit), nopal
Nopales are a vegetable made from the young cladode segments of prickly pear, carefully peeled to remove the spines. These fleshy pads are flat and about hand-sized. They can be purple or green...

 and epazote
Epazote, wormseed, Jesuit's tea, Mexican tea, Paico or Herba Sancti Mariæ is an herb native to Central America, South America, and southern Mexico....

. Like neighboring Puebla, moles
Mole (sauce)
Mole is the generic name for a number of sauces used in Mexican cuisine, as well as for dishes based on these sauces...

are an important element, especially for dishes made for special occasions. Two local versions include “mole prieto” and “mole de ladrillo.”


The formal state educational system of the state accommodates only 53% of eligible schoolchildren. Almost all of the rest are schooled in pre-schools, indigenous educational systems and other centers. Primary and secondary education is mostly provided by the state Secretary of Education. Indigenous education is a system of preschools and primary schools which meet the cultural demands of indigenous population s of the state. These are large located in the municipalities of Ixtenco, Contla de Juan C., San Pablo del Monte, Teolocholco, Tetlanohcan and la Magdalena.

High school and vocational education is provided by state school systems named CBTIS, CETIS, CECYTE,CBTA, COBAT and CONALEP. Most of these schools are of the vocational type. Higher education is provided by both public and prívate institutions, with the most important of these being the Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala (UAT), which also offers the widest range of majors. Other public universities and colleges include the Instituto Tecnológico de Apizaco, Instituto Tecnológico Agropecuario de Xocoyucan, Escuela Normal Estatal Lic. Benito Juárez, and the Universidad Tecnológica de Tlaxcala. Private institutions include the Universidad del Valle, Universidad de Calpulalpan, Instituto Tecnológico de Tlaxcala and UPAEP Tlaxcala.

In addition to traditional centers of education there are state-run technical training centers, which are considered to be an educational priority for Tlaxcala. These centers train people with short courses with industrial or trade skills. Some of these centers include the Centro de Capacitación Tecnológica Industrial (CECATI) and the Instituto de capacitación para el Trabajo en Tlaxcala (ICATLAX).

The state also has a library system with 129 public libraries located in 59 municipalities, with a collection of 588,758 volumes.

See also

External links

Tlaxcala Tourism Site in several languages including english, italian, french, and german Tlaxcala Cultural Tourism Site Official State Site Tlaxcala on tourist information
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