Veracruz State

Travel Information for Veracruz State, Mexico

Map of Veracruz state, which lies along the Gulf Coast of Mexico.
Wikimedia Image

Veracruz state is a long, thin, crescent-shaped state located along the Gulf of Mexico. It is one of the top three states in Mexico for biodiversity (along with Oaxaca and Chiapas). The state is famous for its beautiful beaches, music, and dance with an Afro-Caribbean influence, and delicious seafood specialties. It is rich in natural resources and is a leading national producer of coffee, sugarcane, corn, and rice.

Quick Facts about Veracruz State:

  • Capital: Xalapa (alternative spelling Jalapa)
  • Area: square miles (71, 735 km²), 3.7 % of the national territory
  • Population: 6.9 million
  • Topography: from narrow coastal plains to the high mountains of the Sierra Madre, including the highest peak in the country, Pico de Orizaba (Citlaltépetl) at 18,491 feet (5,636 m) above sea level
  • Climate: varied - from cold, snow-topped mountaintops to warm wet tropical areas on the coast
  • Flora: palm, agave, pine and oak forest, mangroves, grasslands
  • Fauna: deer, hare, cacomixtle (raccoon), coyote, chachalaca, iguanas
  • Archaeological Sites: Cempoala, El Tajin
  • Fiestas in Veracruz: Carnaval (Puerto de Veracruz), Fiesta de la Candelaria (Tlacotalpan), Noche de Brujas (Catemaco), Cumbre Tajín (Papantla)
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Tlacotalpan, El Tajín
  • Pueblos Mágicos: Coatepec

The Port of Veracruz

The city of Veracruz, officially "Heroica Veracruz" but most often referred to as "El Puerto de Veracruz," was the first city founded by Spaniards in Mexico. They first arrived in 1518 under the command of Juan de Grijalva; Hernan Cortes arrived the following year and founded La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz (Rich City of the True Cross). As the country's principal port of entry, the city played an important role in several wars and is one of the state's primary tourist draws, particularly during Carnaval when the city comes alive with music and dancing with a strong Caribbean influence.

The State Capital: Jalapa

The state capital, Jalapa (or Xalapa) is a dynamic university town that is home to an excellent anthropology museum with the second most important collection of Mesoamerican artifacts in the country (after the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico City). Nearby towns Coatepec (one of Mexico's designated "Pueblos Magicos"), and Xico offer interesting local culture and scenery in the heart of Veracruz' coffee-growing region.

Further north, the town of Papantla is renowned for the production of vanilla. The nearby archaeological site El Tajín is one of Mexico's major ancient cities and is home to a great number of ball courts. Cumbre Tajin is a festival that celebrates the spring equinox and takes place here every year in the month of March.

To the south of the port of Veracruz, lies the city of Tlacotalpan, a colonial river port and the UNESCO-listed city which was founded in the mid-16th century. Farther south is Lake Catemaco, located in the Los Tuxtlas region, notable for its diversity of plants and animals. It contains the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve, and Nanciyaga Ecological Reserve.

The Voladores de Papantla is a cultural tradition of Veracruz that has been recognized by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

How to Get There

The state's only international airport is in Puerto de Veracruz (VER). There are good bus connections throughout the state.