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Monday, December 7, 2009

Acapulco de Juárez, Mexico

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Acapulco (Officially known as Acapulco de Juárez) is a city, and major sea
port in the state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast of Mexico, 300 kilometres
(190 mi) southwest from Mexico City. Acapulco is located on a deep,
semi-circular bay. It is a port of call for shipping and cruising lines
running between Panama and San Francisco, California, United States. As of
the 2005 census, the population of the urbanized area was 616,394, while
that of the administrative municipality was 717,766 people. The municipality
which has an area of 1,882.6 square kilometres (726.9 sq mi), includes
numerous small localities outside of the city. The tourist resort city of
Acapulco is the largest city in the state, far larger than the state capital

The name "Acapulco" comes from the Nahuatl language, and means "place of big


The town was built on a narrow strip of low ground, scarcely half a mile
(800 m) wide, between the shoreline and the lofty mountains that encircle
the bay to the north and east. Access to the town from inland is through the
mountains via a 2-kilometre (1.2 mi) tunnel that was constructed in the
1990s. A passage through the mountains, called Abra de San Nicolas, has been
constructed, and it allows cooling sea breezes to reach the city.


Acapulco's climate is Tropical wet and dry (Köppen climate classification
Aw), with a marked dry season in the winter and warm to hot temperatures
year-round. Precipitation is heavily concentrated in summer, while winter is
mostly dry and sunny.


Pre-Columbian Era

Archeological evidence shows that Acapulco has been inhabited since before
3000 BC. The first vestiges of human presence consist of figures and pottery
made of clay, stone, and ceramics. The pieces found in the coastal region of
Puerto Marqués are the earliest known ceramics from Mexico, and they could
be the oldest in Mesoamerica.

Cave paintings from 1200 BC and petroglyphs have been discovered on Pie de
la Cuesta. They indicate the early presence of fishing settlements, with
agriculture and hunting as secondary activities. In a mountainside near
Palma Sola, situated in the Veladero National Park, calendaric beads and 18
giant granite stones engraved with anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and geometric
details have been found. They were created between 200 BC and AD 600. During
this period, nomadic tribes from the northeast of Mexico entered what is now
the state of Guerrero. Evidence of their presence has been found near the

Spanish colonial period

The first reference to Acapulco in the history of the Viceroyalty of New
Spain was made as early as 1519, by Bernal Díaz del Castillo in his
Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de Nueva España" (True History of the
Conquest of New Spain). Spanish captain Hernán Cortés sent several
expeditionary groups to the Mexican Pacific coasts in order to find a new
commercial route towards Asia. The expedition led by Francisco Chico
discovered Acapulco on December 13, 1521, Santa Lucía's day, after whom he
named the new found bay. Later, in 1523, Juan Rodríguez Villafuerte led
Zacatula's expedition, arriving first at Zihuatanejo, where he built the
first shipyard of the New Spain. Then, after producing several caravels and
brigantines, he sailed to Acapulco, where he formally took possession of the
port in the name of the Kings of Spain, driving in the sand the cross and
the staff with the banner of Castille and Aragón.

In 1532, by royal order, Acapulco became a direct dependency of the Spanish
Crown, receiving the name of Ciudad de los Reyes (City of the Kings). Later,
in 1550, Carlos V, King of Spain and Emperor of Germany and the Indias
Occidentales (Western Indies), promoted it to historical city by royal

It soon became a major port for Spanish ships carrying spices gathered from
the Asia-Pacific region.

For more than 256 years, a trading movement, known as the Manila-Acapulco
Galleon, set sail from Acapulco to the Philippine Islands. Its trade started
an annual merchant fair in Acapulco where traders bargained for the galleon
s cargo of spices, silks, porcelain, ivory, and lacquerware.

Acapulco's yearly treasure soon attracted pirates from both England and the
Netherlands, who had sailed from the Caribbean sea. In 1579, Francis Drake
attacked the coast of Acapulco, but failed to capture the Spanish Galleons;
but in 1587, off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Thomas Cavendish seized the
Santa Anna, taking most of the treasure.

After a Dutch fleet invaded Acapulco in 1615, the Spaniards rebuilt their
fort, which they christened Fort San Diego in 1617. The fort was destroyed
by an earthquake in 1776 and was rebuilt by 1783. The Mexican War of
Independence, between 1810 to 1821, put a permanent stop to the
Manila-Acapulco galleon trade.

The Golden era of Acapulco

In 1933 Carlos Barnard started the first section of Hotel El Mirador, with
12 rooms on the cliffs of La Quebrada.

The principal architect and visionary for the development of Acapulco was
Miguel Alemán Valdés, as president of Mexico from 1946 to 1952. The main
avenue that runs along the Acapulco Bay is named after him.

In 1949 Carlos Barnard started the "La Perla" restaurant, adjoining his
Hotel El Mirador at La Quebrada.

Teddy Stauffer (Mr. Acapulco) was also important. He created the first
discothèque, "The Tequila a Go-Go", and the most glamorous hotel at that
time (Villa Vera).

Present day Acapulco

In the early 1960s Acapulco had a population of about 50,000.

Acapulco has hosted yachting as part of the 1968 Summer Olympics. The city
was devastated by Hurricane Pauline in 1997.


From the U.S., many airlines now fly to Acapulco Airport year-round. While
in the city, there are many buses and taxi services one can take to get from
place to place, but most of the locals choose to walk to their destinations.
However, an important mode of transportation is the government subsidized
Colectivo' cab system. These cabs cost 10 pesos per person to ride, but they
are not private. The driver will pick up more passengers as long as seats
are available, and will transport them to their destination based on first
come first served rules. The colectivos each travel a designated area of the
city, the three main ones being Costera, Colosio, Coloso, or a mixture of
the three. Coloso cabs mainly travel to old Acapulco. Colosio cabs travel
through most of the tourist area of Acapulco. Costera cabs drive up and down
the coast of Acapulco, which is where most of the hotels for visitors are,
but also includes some of old Acapulco. Where a driver will take you is
partly up to his choice. Some are willing to travel to the other designated
areas, especially during slow periods of the day.

The bus system is highly complex, and can be rather confusing to an outsider
As far as transportation goes, it is the cheapest form other than walking
in Acapulco. The most expensive buses have air conditioning, while the
cheaper buses do not. For tourists, the Acapulco city government has
established a system of yellow buses with Acapulco! painted on the side of
them. These buses are not for tourists only, but are certainly the nicest
and most uniform of the bus systems. These buses travel the tourist section
of Acapulco, driving up and down the coast. There are buses with specific
routes and destinations, generally written on their windshields or shouted
out by a barker riding in the front seat. Perhaps the most unusual thing
about the privately operated buses is the fact that they are all highly
decorated and personalized, with decaling and home made interior designs
that range from comic book scenes, to adult themes, and even to "Hello Kitty


Since 1934 the La Quebrada Cliff Divers have performed their impressive jumps into the shallow water and dangerous tides that form in the bottom part of La Quebrada. The Acapulco cliff divers were featured regularly on the weekend sports program ABC's Wide World of Sports in the United States during the 1970s.

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