Cancún (/kænˈkuːn/ or /kɑːn-/; Spanish
pronunciation: [kaŋˈkun]) is a city in southeastern
the northeast coast of the
Yucatán Peninsula in the Mexican state of
Quintana Roo. It is an important tourist destination in Mexico, and
the seat of the municipality of Benito Juárez. The city is on the
Caribbean Sea, and is one of Mexico's easternmost points.
Cancún is just north of Mexico's Caribbean coast resort band known as
the Riviera Maya. In older English-language documents, the city’s
name is sometimes spelled "Cancoon," an attempt to convey the sound of
1 Place names and shield
1.1 Place names
3 City layout
4 Cancun Airport's old Control Tower Memorial
5 Maya archaeological sites
7.1 Hurricane Gilbert
7.2 Hurricane Wilma
7.3 Hurricane Dean
10 Drug trafficking Network
11 See also
13 External links
Place names and shield
A fountain allusive to Benito Juárez's coat of arms,
Cobá and Náder
There are two possible translations of Cancún, based on the Mayan
pronunciation kaan kun. The first translation is "nest of snakes". The
second version and less accepted is "place of the gold snake".
The shield of the municipality of Benito Juárez, which represents the
city of Cancún, was designed by the Californian Mexican American
artist Joe Vera. It is divided into three parts: the color blue
symbolizes the Caribbean Sea, the yellow of the sand, and the red of
the sun with its rays.
As documented in the earliest colonial sources, the island of Cancún
was originally known to its Maya inhabitants as Nizuc (Yucatec Maya
[niʔ suʔuk]) meaning either "promontory" or "point of grass". In
the years after the Conquest, much of the Maya population died off or
left as a result of disease, warfare, piracy, and famines, leaving
only small settlements on
Isla Mujeres and
The name Cancún, Cancum or Cankun first appears on 18th-century
maps. The meaning of
Cancún is unknown, and it is also unknown
whether the name is of Maya origin. If it is of Maya origin, possible
translations include "Place/Seat/Throne of the Snake" or "Enchanted
Snake". Snake iconography was prevalent at the pre-Columbian site of
Cancun Island aerial view, from the top of the Escénica Tower adding
80 meters of height. May 2008
Crowded beach at Cancun Island
La Isla Shopping Village
When development of the area as a resort was started on January 23,
Cancún had only three residents, caretakers of the coconut
plantation of Don José de Jesús Lima Gutiérrez, who lived on Isla
Mujeres. Some 117 people lived in nearby Puerto Juarez, a fishing
village and military base.
Due to the reluctance of investors to gamble on an unknown area, the
Mexican federal government had to finance the first nine hotels.
The first financed hotel was a Hyatt,
Cancún Caribe, but the first
hotel built was the Playa Blanca, which later became a Blue Bay hotel.
It is now named Temptation Resort. At the time it was an elite
destination, famous for its virgin white sand beaches.
The city began as a tourism project in 1974 as an Integrally Planned
Center, a pioneer of FONATUR (Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo,
National Fund for Tourism Development), formerly known as INFRATUR.
Since then, it has undergone a comprehensive transformation from being
a fisherman's island surrounded by virgin forest and undiscovered
shores to being one of the two most well-known Mexican resorts, along
with Acapulco. The
World Tourism Organization
World Tourism Organization (WTO), through its
foundation UNWTO-Themis, awarded the Best of the Best award "for
excellence and good governance" to the Trust for Tourism Promotion of
Cancun on February 3, 2007. This award ensured
Cancún the ongoing
support of the Department of Education and Knowledge Management of the
Most 'Cancunenses' are from Yucatán and other Mexican states. A
growing number are from the rest of the
Americas and Europe. The
municipal authorities have struggled to provide public services for
the constant influx of people, as well as limiting squatters and
irregular developments, which now occupy an estimated ten to fifteen
percent of the mainland area on the fringes of the city.
In the 21st century,
Cancún had largely avoided the bloodshed
associated with the trade of illegal drugs, but is known for its
retail drug sales to tourists as well as for being a center of money
laundering. The links with
Cancún date from the 1990s and early
2000s, when the area was controlled by the Juárez and Gulf drug
cartels. In recent years Los Zetas, a group that broke away from the
Gulf Cartel, has taken control of many smuggling routes through the
Yucatán, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference
2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Cancún
from November 29 to December 10 of that year.
El Meco archaeological site
Yamil Lu'um (Temple of the Scorpion)
Aerial view from El Castillo of the archaeological site El Meco
Master plan of INFRATUR
Apart from the island tourist zone (part of the world's second-longest
coral reef), the Mexican residential section of the city, the downtown
part of which is known as "El Centro," follows a master plan that
consists of "supermanzanas" (superblocks), giant trapezoids with a
central, open, non-residential area cut in by u-shaped residential
streets. These open centers usually have walkways and 'sidewalks'
around a central garden park, or football fields, or a library, etc.
which make the mainland "Mexican"
needed] The residential roads of central or 'Mainland' Cancún,
U-shaped and culs-de-sacs, insulate housing from the noise and
congestion of the main flow of traffic. Mainland
Cancún has a central market that resembles an outlet mall, colorful
buildings on a pedestrian city block.
Tulum is the main north-south artery, connecting downtown to the
airport, which is some 30 km (19 mi) south of downtown.
Tulum is bisected by Ave. Cobá. East of Ave. Tulum,
Ave. Kukulcan which serves as the primary road through the 7-shaped
hotel zone. Ave.
Tulum ends on the north side at Ave. Paseo José
López Portillo which connects to the main highway west to Chichén
Itzá and Mérida. Another major north-south road is Ave. Bonampak
which runs roughly parallel to Ave. Tulum. The main ferry to Isla
Mujeres is located in Puerto Juarez, on Ave. Paseo José López
To save on the cost of installing sewer systems and other public
services, the design of much of the rest of the city reverted to the
grid plan after
Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. The newest
upper-middle-class residential areas reflect the original plan, but
are much less intimate. Less expensive developments are composed
almost entirely of identical one- or two-story small row-houses,
sometimes built around interior plazas or 4 story apartment
blocks.Until recently, most mainland buildings were
four stories or shorter; since 2005, there has been an influx of
condominium and luxury retail and office space concentrated along Ave.
Cancún's Mainland or Downtown area has diverged from the original
plan; development is scattered around the city. The remaining
undeveloped beach and lagoon front areas outside the hotel zone are
now under varying stages of development, in Punta Sam and Puerto
Juarez to the north, continuing along Bonampak and south toward the
airport along Boulevard Donaldo Colosio. One development abutting the
hotel zone is Puerto Cancún, also Malecon Cancún is another
Cancun Airport's old Control Tower Memorial
Despite being a young city, Cancun has a memorial monument of its
foundation on a replica of the old Airport Control Tower that
resembles to its own date of foundation. The original Control Tower
was a provisional wooden structure to satisfy the operative needs of
the recently created airport. Some documents of the city mention that
on that time there were no other formal buildings constructed in the
city, being possibly the first built structure of Cancun's recent
The old airport was located on the same part of the city that today
corresponds to the Kabah Avenue. The tower is 15 meters tall, has a
staircase of 45 steps, and has a base dimension of 5 x 5 meters. The
memorial was first built in 2002, with the donations of Aerocaribe, a
local airline, but the structure was damaged after
Hurricane Wilma in
2005. After the claims of the local people asking to rebuild the tower
memorial, a new version was built on 2010, which was later abandoned
without proper maintenance until Woox Pinturas, another local wood
maintenance company, made a donation to restore the structure to its
Maya archaeological sites
El Rey archaeological site
There are some small Mayan vestiges of the pre-Columbian Maya
civilization in Cancún. El Rey (Las Ruinas del Rey) is located in the
Hotel Zone. El Meco, a more substantial site, is found on the mainland
just outside the city limits on the road north to Punta Sam.[citation
Close by in the
Riviera Maya and the Grand Costa Maya, there are sites
Muyil (Riviera) the small Polé (now Xcaret), and
Kohunlich, Kinichná, Dzibanché, Oxtankah, Tulum, and Chacchoben, in
the south of the state.
Chichén Itzá is in the neighboring state of
Cancún is served by the
Cancún International Airport
Cancún International Airport with an added
main runway that commenced operation as of October 2009. It has many
flights to North America, Central America, South America, Asia, and
Europe. It is located on the northeast of the Yucatán Peninsula
serving an average of about fifteen million passengers per year. The
airport is located around 20 km (12 mi) from the hotel zone,
approximately a 20 minute trip by car. The island of Isla Mujeres
is located off the coast and is accessible by ferry from Puerto
Juárez and Playa Tortugas in the Hotel Zone.
Cancún is also served by three private bus lines that connects it to
the downtown area and the “hotel zone” as well as more distant
destinations such as
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
Cancún has a tropical climate, specifically a tropical monsoon
climate (Köppen Am), with few temperature differences between
seasons, but pronounced rainy and dry seasons. The city is hot
year-round, and moderated by onshore trade winds, with an annual mean
temperature of 27.1 °C (80.8 °F). Unlike inland areas of
the Yucatán Peninsula, sea breezes restrict high temperatures from
reaching 35 °C (95 °F) on most afternoons. Annual rainfall
is around 1,340 millimetres (52.8 in), falling on 115 days per
More temperate conditions occur from November to February with
occasional refreshing northerly breezes, it is drier and becomes
hotter in March and April. It is hottest from May to September, due to
proximity to the Caribbean and Gulf humidity is high the year round,
especially during hurricane season (averages close to 70% on rainfree
days). The hotel zone juts into the Caribbean Sea, it is surrounded by
ocean therefore daytime temperatures are around 1-2C less and
windspeeds are higher than at the airport located some distance
inland, which is the official meteorological station for Cancún,
averages as shown below.
Climate data for Cancún
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average rainfall mm (inches)
Average rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm)
Source: Servicio Meteorologico Nacional (1951–2010)
Average Sea Temperature
Thanks to the Yucatán current continually bringing warm water from
further south, the sea temperature is always very warm, with lows of
79 °F (26 °C) in winter and highs of 84 °F
(29 °C) in summer.
The tropical storm season lasts from May to December, the rainy season
extends into January with peak precipitation in October. February to
early May tend to be drier with only occasional scattered showers.
Cancún is located in one of the main Caribbean hurricane impact
areas. Although large hurricanes are rare, they have struck near to
Cancún in recent years,
Hurricane Wilma in 2005 being the largest.
Hurricane Gilbert made a devastating direct hit on
September 1988 and the tourist hotels needed to be rebuilt. In both
cases, federal, state and municipal authorities were well prepared to
deal with most of the effects on tourists and local residents.
Hurricane Dean in 2007 also made its mark on the city of Cancún.
Main article: Hurricane Gilbert
Hurricane Gilbert was the second most intense hurricane ever
observed in the Atlantic basin. It landed on the Yucatán peninsula
after crossing over the island of Cozumel. In the
Cancún region, a
loss of $87 million (1989 USD) due to a decline in tourism was
estimated for the months October, November and December in 1988.
Main article: Hurricane Wilma
On October 21, 2005,
Hurricane Wilma made landfall on Mexico's
Yucatán Peninsula as a powerful
Category 4 hurricane, with strong
winds in excess of 150 mph (240 km/h). The hurricane's eye
first passed over the island of Cozumel, and then made an official
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen in the state of
Quintana Roo at around
midnight on October 22 EDT with winds near 140 mph
(230 km/h). Portions of the island of
Cozumel experienced the
calm eye of Wilma for several hours with some blue skies and sunshine
visible at times. The eye slowly drifted northward, with the center
passing just to the west of Cancún, Quintana Roo.
Main article: Hurricane Dean
Two years later after Hurricane Wilma, in 2007,
Hurricane Dean made
landfall as a
Category 5 storm in Majahual, 190 miles (310 km) to
the south of Cancún. Fierce winds at the edge of Dean's impact cone
stripped sand off 7.5 miles (12.1 km) of beaches from Punta
Cancún (Camino Real Hotel de la puta) to Punta Nizuc (Club Med).
The authorities asked tourism operators to suspend sending tourists to
Hurricane Dean was approaching, but did ask airlines to
send empty planes, which were then used to evacuate tourists already
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June
Cancún is better known as a travel and tourism destination,
in recent years some colleges and universities have been offering
higher education to both Mexican and foreign students.
Private schools in
Centro Educativo Monteverde
International American School of Cancun
The city has been home to Atlante F.C., a traditional
football club, since 2007.
Atlante F.C. was moved to Cancun's Andrés
Quintana Roo Stadium when that stadium opened. Its games had low
attendance at its previous stadium, Azteca Stadium, which it had been
renting. The team currently plays in the Ascenso MX, the second level
of the Mexican football pyramid.
The city is also home to the baseball team Tigres de Quintana Roo, who
play in the
Mexican League (LMB).
Quintana Roo Stadium, with a very slight increase in its
capacity that intended, for Atlante F.C.
Drug trafficking Network
The city has been devastated by violent acts related to drug
trafficking .Between 2013 and 2016 there were 76 murders, in 2016
they count 31 murders , and at least 193 during 2017, the vast
majority related to drug trafficking, in the urban nucleus and,
various violent episodes with firearms in the so-called "Zona
Hotelera". Beginning in 2018 with a high wave of violence, Cancun
is above the national average in homicides, only in January there
were 33 homicides, triple the amount of homicides in January 2017.
^ 2015 census tables, MX: INEGI, archived from the original on May 2,
Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2016-08-11.
^ "OMT concede premio excelencia a la promoción turística de Cancún
(México)" (in Spanish). ES: El Economista. February 3, 2007.
^ United States. Congress. House. Select Committee on Aging.
Subcommittee on Federal, State, and Community Services (1976).
Transportation, improving mobility for older Americans: hearings
before the Subcommittee on Federal, State, and Community Services of
the Select Committee on Aging, House of Representatives, Ninety-fourth
Congress, second session. Google Books. U.S. Government Printing
Office. Retrieved 9 November 2014. CS1 maint: Multiple names:
authors list (link)
^ "Fast Facts". ’’World Atlas’’. Retrieved 2013-04-18.
^ Varillas, Adriana (August 19, 2013). "Centro de Cancún, tan
mexicano como cosmopolita". El Periodico de Quintana Roo. Archived
from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
^ "MEXICO: Quintana Roo". Citypopulation.de. 2012-01-08. Retrieved
June 1, 2012.
^  A proper Maya spelling of Nizuc may be “Ni’ su’uk” which
translates to “promontory” or “point of grass”-Source-Some
Historic Notes and Observations on Isla Cancún, Quintana Roo,
published at FAMSI by Andrews, Anthony P.
^  Government of Mexico,
Cancún 2014, published in Cancún
government official page cancun.gob.mx
^  Snake iconography was prevalent at the pre-Columbian site of
Nizuc-Source- Historic Notes and Observations on Isla Cancún,
Quintana Roo, p. 5 published at FAMSI
^ a b c Siegel, Jules (2006). Cancun User's Guide. Lulu.com.
p. 204. ISBN 1-4116-3944-8.
^ Booth, William (May 27, 2010). "Mayor of Cancun, Mexico, charged
with drug trafficking, money laundering". Washington Post. Associated
^ Hawley, Chris (May 26, 2010). "Drugs cast cloud over Mexican
paradise". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
^  El Centro supermanzanas-Source-La arquitectura norte americana,
motor y espejo de la arquitectura española ... By José Manuel Pozo
Municio, Javier Martínez González
^ "Location". Puerto Cancun. Archived from the original on May 10,
2013. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
^  Archived July 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
Cancun's Airport Old Control Tower.
^  CANCUN AIRPORT MAP (CUN) ICAO CODE (MMUN) LATITUDE 21.0°
^ "Public Transportation".
^  Cancun Weather
^ "Normales Climatologicas 1951–2010" (in Spanish). National
Meteorological Service of Mexico. August 2011. Archived from the
original on July 5, 2015. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
^ "Cancun Climate and Weather Averages, Cancun and Riviera Maya".
Weather to Travel. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
^ "Cancun weather – water temperature". Cancunmap.com. Archived from
the original on July 27, 2013. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
Hurricane Dean On Course for Cancun
^ Benigono Aguirre. "Cancun under Gilbert: Prelimenary [sic]
Observations" (PDF). International Journal of Mass Emergencies and
Disasters March 1989, Vol. 7, No.1, pp. 69–82. Archived from the
original (PDF) on December 10, 2005. Retrieved October 1, 2006.
^ Novedades de
Quintana Roo Archived September 29, 2007, at the
^  Vacationers flee Cancun and Belize resorts after Dean, now a
Category 5 storm, barrels past the Cayman Islands
(in Spanish) Official city government website
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cancún.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Cancun.
Cancún at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
State of Quintana Roo
Benito Juárez (Cancún)
Cozumel (San Miguel de Cozumel)
Felipe Carrillo Puerto (Felipe Carrillo Puerto)
Isla Mujeres (Isla Mujeres)
José María Morelos (José María Morelos)
Lázaro Cárdenas (Kantunilkín)
Othón P. Blanco (Chetumal)
Puerto Morelos (Puerto Morelos)
Solidaridad (Playa del Carmen)
Places of interest
Cozumel National Park