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Chiapas (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈtʃjapas] (About this soundlisten)), officially the Free and Sovereign State of Chiapas (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de Chiapas), is one of the states that make up the 32 federal entities of Mexico. It is divided into 124 municipalities as of September 2017[9][10] and its capital city is Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Other important population centers in Chiapas include Ocosingo, Tapachula, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Comitán and Arriaga. It is the southernmost state in Mexico, and it borders the states of Oaxaca to the west, Veracruz to the northwest and Tabasco to the north,[11] and the Petén, Quiché, Huehuetenango, and San Marcos departments of Guatemala to the east and southeast. Chiapas has a coastline along the Pacific Ocean to the south.

In general, Chiapas has a humid, tropical climate. In the north, in the area bordering Tabasco, near Teapa, rainfall can average more than 3,000 mm (120 in) per year. In the past, natural vegetation in this region was lowland, tall perennial rainforest, but this vegetation has been almost completely cleared to allow agriculture and ranching. Rainfall decreases moving towards the Pacific Ocean, but it is still abundant enough to allow the farming of bananas and many other tropical crops near Tapachula. On the several parallel "sierras" or mountain ranges running along the center of Chiapas, climate can be quite temperate and foggy, allowing the development of cloud forests like those of the Reserva de la Biosfera el Triunfo, home to a handful of resplendent quetzals and horned guans.

Chiapas is home to the ancient Mayan ruins of Palenque, Yaxchilán, Bonampak, Chinkultic and Toniná.[12] It is also home to one of the largest indigenous populations in the country with twelve federally recognized ethnicities.

View of the waterfalls at Agua Azu

Chiapas is located in the tropical belt of the planet, but the climate is moderated in many areas by altitude. For this reason, there are hot, semi-hot, temperate and even cold climates. Some areas have abundant rainfall year-round and others receive most of their rain between May and October, with a dry season from November to April. The mountain areas affect wind and moisture flow over the state, concentrating moisture in certain areas of the state. They also are responsible for some cloud-covered rainforest areas in the Sierra Madre.[76]

Chiapas' rainforests are home to thousands of animals and plants, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.[20] Natural vegetation varies from lowland to highland tropical forest, pine and oak forests in the highest altitudes and plains area with some grassland. Chiapas is ranked second in forest resources in Mexico with valued woods such as pine, cypress, Liquidambar, oak, cedar, mahogany and more. The Lacandon Jungle is one of the last major tropical rainforests in the northern hemisphere with an extension of 600,000 hectares (1,500,000 acres). It contains about sixty percent of Mexico's tropical tree species, 3,500 species of plants, 1,157 species of invertebrates and over 500 of vertebrate species. Chiapas has one of the greatest diversities in wildlife in the Americas. There are more than 100 species of amphibians, 700 species of birds, fifty of mammals and just over 200 species of reptiles. In the hot lowlands, there are armadillos, monkeys, pelicans, wild boar, jaguars, crocodiles, iguanas and many others. In the temperate regions there are species such as bobcats, salamanders, a large red lizard Abronia lythrochila, weasels, opossums, deer, ocelots and bats. The coastal areas have large quantities of fish, turtles, and crustaceans, with many species in danger of extinction or endangered as they are endemic only to this area. The total biodiversity of the state is estimated at over 50,000 species of plants and animals. The diversity of species is not limited to the hot lowlands. The higher altitudes also have mesophile forests, oak/pine forests in the

Chiapas' rainforests are home to thousands of animals and plants, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.[20] Natural vegetation varies from lowland to highland tropical forest, pine and oak forests in the highest altitudes and plains area with some grassland. Chiapas is ranked second in forest resources in Mexico with valued woods such as pine, cypress, Liquidambar, oak, cedar, mahogany and more. The Lacandon Jungle is one of the last major tropical rainforests in the northern hemisphere with an extension of 600,000 hectares (1,500,000 acres). It contains about sixty percent of Mexico's tropical tree species, 3,500 species of plants, 1,157 species of invertebrates and over 500 of vertebrate species. Chiapas has one of the greatest diversities in wildlife in the Americas. There are more than 100 species of amphibians, 700 species of birds, fifty of mammals and just over 200 species of reptiles. In the hot lowlands, there are armadillos, monkeys, pelicans, wild boar, jaguars, crocodiles, iguanas and many others. In the temperate regions there are species such as bobcats, salamanders, a large red lizard Abronia lythrochila, weasels, opossums, deer, ocelots and bats. The coastal areas have large quantities of fish, turtles, and crustaceans, with many species in danger of extinction or endangered as they are endemic only to this area. The total biodiversity of the state is estimated at over 50,000 species of plants and animals. The diversity of species is not limited to the hot lowlands. The higher altitudes also have mesophile forests, oak/pine forests in the Los Altos, Northern Mountains and Sierra Madre and the extensive estuaries and mangrove wetlands along the coast.[76]

Chiapas has about thirty percent of Mexico's fresh water resources. The Sierra Madre divides them into those that flow to the Pacific and those that flow to the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the first are short rivers and streams; most longer ones flow to the Gulf. Most Pacific side rivers do not drain directly into this ocean but into lagoons and estuaries. The two largest rivers are the Grijalva and the Usumacinta, with both part of the same system. The Grijalva has four dams built on it the Belisario Dominguez (La Angostura); Manuel Moreno Torres (Chicoasén); Nezahualcóyotl (Malpaso); and Angel Albino Corzo (Peñitas). The Usumacinta divides the state from Guatemala and is the longest river in Central America. In total, the state has 110,000 hectares (270,000 acres) of surface waters, 260 km (160 mi) of coastline, control of 96,000 km2 (37,000 sq mi) of ocean, 75,230 hectares (185,900 acres) of estuaries and ten lake systems.[76] Laguna Miramar is a lake in the Montes Azules reserve and the largest in the Lacandon Jungle at 40 km in diameter. The color of its waters varies from indigo to emerald green and in ancient times, there were settlements on its islands and its caves on the shoreline. The Catazajá Lake is 28 km north of the city of Palenque. It is formed by rainwater captured as it makes it way to the Usumacinta River. It contains wildlife such as manatees and iguanas and it is surrounded by rainforest. Fishing on this lake is an ancient tradition and the lake has an annual bass fishing tournament. The Welib Já Waterfall is located on the road between Palenque and Bonampak.[86]

The state has thirty-six protected areas at the state and federal levels along with 67 areas protected by various municipalities. The Sumidero Canyon National Park was decreed in 1980 with an extension of 21,789 hectares (53,840 acres). It extends over two of the regions of the state, the Central Depression and the Central Highlands over the municipalities of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Nuevo Usumacinta, Chiapa de Corzo and San Fernando. The canyon has steep and vertical sides that rise to up to 1000 meters from the river below with mostly tropical rainforest but some areas with xerophile vegetation such as cactus can be found. The river below, which has cut the canyon over the course of twelve million years, is called the Grijalva. The canyon is emblematic for the state as it is featured in the state seal.[76][89] The Sumidero Canyon was once the site of a battle between the Spaniards and Chiapanecan Indians. Many Chiapanecans chose to throw themselves from the high edges of the canyon rather than be defeated by Spanish forces. Today, the canyon is a popular destination for ecotourism. Visitors can take boat trips down the river that runs through the canyon and see the area's many birds and abundant vegetation.[20]

The Montes Azules Integral Biosphere Reserve was decreed in 1978. It is located in the northeast of the state in the Lacandon Jungle. It covers 331,200 hectares (818,000 acres) in the municipalities of Maravilla Tenejapa, Ocosingo and Las Margaritas. It conserves highland perennial rainforest. The jungle is in the Usu

The Montes Azules Integral Biosphere Reserve was decreed in 1978. It is located in the northeast of the state in the Lacandon Jungle. It covers 331,200 hectares (818,000 acres) in the municipalities of Maravilla Tenejapa, Ocosingo and Las Margaritas. It conserves highland perennial rainforest. The jungle is in the Usumacinta River basin east of the Chiapas Highlands. It is recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme for its global biological and cultural significance. In 1992, the 61,874-hectare (152,890-acre) Lacantun Reserve, which includes the Classic Maya archaeological sites of Yaxchilan and Bonampak, was added to the biosphere reserve.[72][76]

Agua Azul Waterfall Protection Area is in the Northern Mountains in the municipality of Tumbalá. It covers an area of 2,580 hectares (6,400 acres) of rainforest and pine-oak forest, centered on the waterfalls it is named after.[76] It is located in an area locally called the "Mountains of Water", as many rivers flow through there on their way to the Gulf of Mexico. The rugged terrain encourages waterfalls with large pools at the bottom, that the falling water has carved into the sedimentary rock and limestone. Agua Azul is one of the best known in the state. The waters of the Agua Azul River emerge from a cave that forms a natural bridge of thirty meters and five small waterfalls in succession, all with pools of water at the bottom. In addition to Agua Azul, the area has other attractions—such as the Shumuljá River, which contains rapids and waterfalls, the Misol Há Waterfall with a thirty-meter drop, the Bolón Ajau Waterfall with a fourteen-meter drop, the Gallito Copetón rapids, the Blacquiazules Waterfalls, and a section of calm water called the Agua Clara.[90]

The El Ocote Biosphere Reserve was decreed in 1982 located in the Northern Mountains at the boundary with the Sierra Madre del Sur in the municipalities of Ocozocoautla, Cintalapa and Tecpatán. It has a surface area of 101,288.15 hectares (250,288.5 acres) and preserves a rainforest area with karst formations. The Lagunas de Montebello National Park was decreed in 1959 and consists of 7,371 hectares (18,210 acres) near the Guatemalan border in the municipalities of La Independencia and La Trinitaria. It contains two of the most threatened ecosystems in Mexico the "cloud rainforest" and the Soconusco rainforest. The El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, decreed in 1990, is located in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas in the municipalities of Acacoyagua, Ángel Albino Corzo, Montecristo de Guerrero, La Concordia, Mapastepec, Pijijiapan, Siltepec and Villa Corzo near the Pacific Ocean with 119,177.29 hectares (294,493.5 acres). It conserves areas of tropical rainforest and many freshwater systems endemic to Central America.[76] It is home to around 400 species of birds including several rare species such as the horned guan, the quetzal and the azure-rumped tanager.[20] The Palenque National Forest is centered on the archaeological site of the same name and was decreed in 1981. It is located in the municipality of Palenque where the Northern Mountains meet the Gulf Coast Plain. It extends over 1,381 hectares (3,410 acres) of tropical rainforest. The Laguna Bélgica Conservation Zone is located in the north west of the state in the municipality of Ocozocoautla. It covers forty-two hectares centered on the Bélgica Lake. The El Zapotal Ecological Center was established in 1980.[76] Nahá – Metzabok is an area in the Lacandon Jungle whose name means "place of the black lord" in Nahuatl. It extends over 617.49 km2 (238.41 sq mi) and in 2010, it was included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Two main communities in the area are called Nahá and Metzabok. They were established in the 1940s, but the oldest communities in the area belong to the Lacandon people. The area has large numbers of wildlife including endangered species such as eagles, quetzals and jaguars.[91]

As of 2010, the population is 4,796,580, the eighth most populous state in Mexico.[94] The 20th century saw large population growth in Chiapas. From fewer than one million inhabitants in 1940, the state had about two million in 1980, and over 4 million in 2005.[78][95] Overcrowded land in the highlands was relieved when the rainforest to the east was subject to land reform. Cattle ranchers, loggers, and subsistence farmers migrated to the rain forest area. The population of the Lacandon was only one thousand people in 1950, but by the mid-1990s this had increased to 200 thousand.[96] As of 2010, 78% lives in urban communities with 22% in rural communities.[97] While birthrates are still high in the state, they have come down in recent decades from 7.4 per woman in 1950. However, these rates still mean significant population growth in raw numbers. About half of the state's population is under age 20, with an average age of 19.[98] In 2005, there were 924,967 households, 81% headed by men and the rest by women. Most households were nuclear families (70.7%) with 22.1% consisting of extended families.[99]

More migrate out of Chiapas than migrate in, with emigrants leaving for Tabasco, Oaxaca, Veracruz, State of Mexico and the Federal District primarily.[98]

While Catholics remain the majority, their numbers have dropped as many have converted to Protestant denominations in recent decades.[98] The National Presbyterian Church in Mexico has a large following in Chiapas; some estimate that 40% of the population are followers of the Presbyterian church.[100]

There are a number of people in the state with African features. These are the descendants of slaves brought to the state in the 16th century. There are also those with predominantly European features who are the descendants of the original Spanish colonizers as well as later immigrants to Mexico. The latter mostly came at the end of the 19th and early 20th century under the Porfirio Díaz regime to start plantations.[101]

Indigenous population

Numbers and influence

Over the history of Chiapas, there have been 3 main indigenous groups: the Mixes-Zoques, the Mayas and the Chiapa.[98] Today, there are an estimated fifty-six linguistic groups. As of the 2005 Census, there were 957,255 people who spoke an indigenous language out of a total population of about 3.5 million. Of this one million, one third do not speak Spanish.[98][102] Out of Chiapas' 111 municipios, ninety-nine have significant indigenous populations.[21] 22 municipalities have indigenous populations over 90%, and 36 municipalities have native populations exceeding 50%. However, despite population growth in indigenous villages, the percentage of indigenous to non indigenous continues to fall with less than 35% indigenous. Indian populations are concentrated in a few areas, with the largest concentration of indigenous-language-speaking individuals is living in 5 of Chiapas's 9 economic regions: Los Altos, Selva, Norte, Fronteriza, and Sierra. The remaining four regions, Centro, Frailesca, Soconusco, and Costa, have populations that are considered to be dominantly mestizo.[21][22]

The state has about 13.5% of all of Mexico's indigenous population,[98] and it has been ranked among the ten "most indianized" states, with only Campeche, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo and Yucatán having been ranked above it between 1930 and the present.[103] These indigenous peoples have been historically resistant to assimilation into the broader Mexican society, with it best seen in the retention rates of indigenous languages and the historic demands for autonomy over geographic areas as well as cultural domains. Much of the latter has been prominent since the Zapatista uprising in 1994.[104] Most of Chiapas' indigenous groups are descended from the Mayans, speaking languages that are closely related to one another, belonging to the Western Maya language group. The state was part of a large region dominated by the Mayans during the Classic period.[21] The most numerous of these Mayan groups include the Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Ch'ol, Zoque, Tojolabal, Lacandon and Mam, which have traits in common such as syncretic religious practices, and social structure based on kinship.[105] The most common Western Maya languages are Tzeltal and Tzotzil along with Chontal, Ch’ol, Tojolabal, Chuj, Kanjobal, Acatec, Jacaltec and Motozintlec.[21]

12 of Mexico's officially recognized native peoples live in the state have conserved their language, customs, history, dress and traditions to a significant degree. The primary groups include the Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Ch'ol, Tojolabal, Zoque, Chuj, Kanjobal, Mam, Jacalteco, Mochó Cakchiquel and Lacandon.[75][106] Most indigenous communities are found in the municipalities of the Centro, Altos, Norte and Selva regions, with many having indigenous populations of over fifty percent. These include Bochil, Sitalá, Pantepec, Simojovel to those with over ninety percent indigenous such as San Juan Cancuc, Huixtán, Tenejapa, Tila, Oxchuc, Tapalapa, Zinacantán, Mitontic, Ocotepec, Chamula, and Chalchihuitán.[98] The most numerous indigenous communities are the Tzeltal and Tzotzil peoples, who number about 400,000 each, together accounting for about half of the state's indigenous population. The next most numerous are the Ch’ol with about 200,000 people and the Tojolabal and Zoques, who number about 50,000 each.[101] The top 3 municipalities in Chiapas with indigenous language speakers 3 years of age and older are: Ocosingo (133,811), Chilon (96,567), and San Juan Chamula (69,475). These 3 municipalities accounted for 24.8% (299,853) of all indigenous language speakers 3 years or older in the state of Chiapas, out of a total of 1,209,057 indigenous language speakers 3 years or older.[107][108]

Although most indigenous language speakers are bilingual, especially in the younger generations, many of these languages have shown resilience. 4 of Chiapas' indigenous languages Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Tojolabal and Chol are high-vitality languages, meaning that a high percentage of these ethnicities speak the language and that there is a high rate of monolingualism in it. It is used in over 80% of homes. Zoque is considered to be of medium-vitality with a rate of bilingualism of over 70% and home use somewhere between 65% and 80%. Maya is considered to be of low-vitality with almost all of its speakers bilingual with Spanish.[109] The most spoken indigenous languages as of 2010 are Tzeltal with 461,236 speakers, Tzotzil with 417,462, Ch’ol with 191,947 and Zoque with 53,839. In total, there are 1,141,499 who speak an indigenous language or 27% of the total population. Of these 14% do not speak Spanish.[110] Studies done between 1930 and 2000 have indicated that Spanish is not dramatically displacing these languages. In raw number, speakers of these languages are increasing, especially among groups with a long history of resistance to Spanish/Mexican domination.[103] Language maintenance has been strongest in areas related to where the Zapatista uprising took place such as the municipalities of Altamirano, Chamula, Chanal, Larráinzar, Las Margaritas, Ocosingo, Palenque, Sabanilla, San Cristóbal de Las Casas and Simojovel.[111]

The state's rich indigenous tradition along with its associated political uprisings, especially that of 1994, has great interest from other parts of Mexico and abroad.[21][101] It has been especially appealing to a variety of academics including many anthropologists, archeologists, historians, psychologists and sociologists.[101] The concept of "mestizo" or mixed indigenous European heritage became important to Mexico's identity by the time of Independence, but Chiapas has kept its indigenous identity to the present day.[21] Since the 1970s, this has been supported by the Mexican government as it has shifted from cultural policies that favor a "multicultural" identity for the country.[112] One major exception to the separatist, indigenous identity has been the case of the Chiapa people, from whom the state's name comes, who have mostly been assimilated and intermarried into the mestizo population.[101]

Most Indigenous communities have economies based primarily on traditional agriculture such as the cultivation and processing of corn, beans and coffee as a cash crop and in the last decade, many have begun producing sugarcane and jatropha for refinement into biodiesel and ethanol for automobile fuel.[113][114] The raising of livestock, particularly chicken and turkey and to a lesser extent beef and farmed fish is also a major economic activity. Many indigenous, in particular the Maya are employed in the production of traditional clothing, fabrics, textiles, wood items, artworks and traditional goods such as jade and amber works.[115] Tourism has provided a number of a these communities with markets for their handcrafts and works, some of which are very profitable.[98]

San Cristóbal de las Casas and San Juan Chamula maintain a strong indigenous identity. On market day, many indigenous people from rural areas come into San Cristóbal to buy and sell mostly items for everyday use such as fruit, vegetables, animals, cloth, consumer goods and tools.[105] San Juan Chamula is considered to be a center of indigenous culture, especially its elaborate festivals of Carnival and Day of Saint John. It was common for politicians, especially during Institutional Revolutionary Party's dominance to visit here during election campaigns and dress in indigenous clothing and carry a carved walking stick, a traditional sign of power.[61] Relations between the indigenous ethnic groups is complicated. While there have been inter ethnic political activism such as that promoted by the Diocese of Chiapas in the 1970s and the Zapatista movement in the 1990s, there has been inter-indigenous conflict as well.[61][70] Much of this has been based on religion, pitting those of the traditional Catholic/indigenous beliefs who support the traditional power structure against Protestants, Evangelicals and Word of God Catholics (directly allied with the Diocese) who tend to oppose it. This is particularly significant problem among the Tzeltals and Tzotzils. Starting in the 1970s, traditional leaders in San Juan Chamula began expelling dissidents from their homes and land, amounting to about 20,000 indigenous forced to leave over a thirty-year period. It continues to be a serious social problem although authorities downplay it.[43][61] Recently there has been political, social and ethnic conflict between the Tzotzil who are more urbanized and have a significant number of Protestant practitioners and the Tzeltal who are predominantly Catholi

More migrate out of Chiapas than migrate in, with emigrants leaving for Tabasco, Oaxaca, Veracruz, State of Mexico and the Federal District primarily.[98]

While Catholics remain the majority, their numbers have dropped as many have converted to Protestant denominations in recent decades.[98] The National Presbyterian Church in Mexico has a large following in Chiapas; some estimate that 40% of the population are followers of the Presbyterian church.[100]

There are a number of people in the state with African features. These are the descendants of slaves brought to the state in the 16th century. There are also those with predominantly European features who are the descendants of the original Spanish colonizers as well as later immigrants to Mexico. The latter mostly came at the end of the 19th and early 20th century under the Porfirio Díaz regime to start plantations.[101]

Over the history of Chiapas, there have been 3 main indigenous groups: the Mixes-Zoques, the Mayas and the Chiapa.[98] Today, there are an estimated fifty-six linguistic groups. As of the 2005 Census, there were 957,255 people who spoke an indigenous language out of a total population of about 3.5 million. Of this one million, one third do not speak Spanish.[98][102] Out of Chiapas' 111 municipios, ninety-nine have significant indigenous populations.[21] 22 municipalities have indigenous populations over 90%, and 36 municipalities have native populations exceeding 50%. However, despite population growth in indigenous villages, the percentage of indigenous to non indigenous continues to fall with less than 35% indigenous. Indian populations are concentrated in a few areas, with the largest concentration of indigenous-language-speaking individuals is living in 5 of Chiapas's 9 economic regions: Los Altos, Selva, Norte, Fronteriza, and Sierra. The remaining four regions, Centro, Frailesca, Soconusco, and Costa, have populations that are considered to be dominantly mestizo.[21][22]

The state has about 13.5% of all of Mexico's indigenous population,[98] and it has been ranked among the ten "most indianized" states, with only Campeche, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo and Yucatán having been ranked above it between 1930 and the present.[103] These indigeno

The state has about 13.5% of all of Mexico's indigenous population,[98] and it has been ranked among the ten "most indianized" states, with only Campeche, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo and Yucatán having been ranked above it between 1930 and the present.[103] These indigenous peoples have been historically resistant to assimilation into the broader Mexican society, with it best seen in the retention rates of indigenous languages and the historic demands for autonomy over geographic areas as well as cultural domains. Much of the latter has been prominent since the Zapatista uprising in 1994.[104] Most of Chiapas' indigenous groups are descended from the Mayans, speaking languages that are closely related to one another, belonging to the Western Maya language group. The state was part of a large region dominated by the Mayans during the Classic period.[21] The most numerous of these Mayan groups include the Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Ch'ol, Zoque, Tojolabal, Lacandon and Mam, which have traits in common such as syncretic religious practices, and social structure based on kinship.[105] The most common Western Maya languages are Tzeltal and Tzotzil along with Chontal, Ch’ol, Tojolabal, Chuj, Kanjobal, Acatec, Jacaltec and Motozintlec.[21]

12 of Mexico's officially recognized native peoples live in the state have conserved their language, customs, history, dress and traditions to a significant degree. The primary groups include the Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Ch'ol, Tojolabal, Zoque, Chuj, Kanjobal, Mam, Jacalteco, Mochó Cakchiquel and Lacandon.[75][106] Most indigenous communities are found in the municipalities of the Centro, Altos, Norte and Selva regions, with many having indigenous populations of over fifty percent. These include Bochil, Sitalá, Pantepec, Simojovel to those with over ninety percent indigenous such as San Juan Cancuc, Huixtán, Tenejapa, Tila, Oxchuc, Tapalapa, Zinacantán, Mitontic, Ocotepec, Chamula, and Chalchihuitán.[98] The most numerous indigenous communities are the Tzeltal and Tzotzil peoples, who number about 400,000 each, together accounting for about half of the state's indigenous population. The next most numerous are the Ch’ol with about 200,000 people and the Tojolabal and Zoques, who number about 50,000 each.[101] The top 3 municipalities in Chiapas with indigenous language speakers 3 years of age and older are: Ocosingo (133,811), Chilon (96,567), and San Juan Chamula (69,475). These 3 municipalities accounted for 24.8% (299,853) of all indigenous language speakers 3 years or older in the state of Chiapas, out of a total of 1,209,057 indigenous language speakers 3 years or older.[107][108]

Although most indigenous language speakers are bilingual, especially in the younger generations, many of these languages have shown resilience. 4 of Chiapas' indigenous languages Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Tojolabal and Chol are high-vitality languages, meaning that a high percentage of these ethnicities speak the language and that there is a high rate of monolingualism in it. It is used in over 80% of homes. Zoque is considered to be of medium-vitality with a rate of bilingualism of over 70% and home use somewhere between 65% and 80%. Maya is considered to be of low-vitality with almost all of its speakers bilingual with Spanish.[109] The most spoken indigenous languages as of 2010 are Tzeltal with 461,236 speakers, Tzotzil with 417,462, Ch’ol with 191,947 and Zoque with 53,839. In total, there are 1,141,499 who speak an indigenous language or 27% of the total population. Of these 14% do not speak Spanish.[110] Studies done between 1930 and 2000 have indicated that Spanish is not dramatically displacing these languages. In raw number, speakers of these languages are increasing, especially among groups with a long history of resistance to Spanish/Mexican domination.[103] Language maintenance has been strongest in areas related to where the Zapatista uprising took place such as the municipalities of Altamirano, Chamula, Chanal, Larráinzar, Las Margaritas, Ocosingo, Palenque, Sabanilla, San Cristóbal de Las Casas and Simojovel.[111]

The state's rich indigenous tradition along with its associated political uprisings, especially that of 1994, has great interest from other parts of Mexico and abroad.[21][101] It has been especially appealing to a variety of academics including many anthropologists, archeologists, historians, psychologists and sociologists.[101] The concept of "mestizo" or mixed indigenous European heritage became important to Mexico's identity by the time of Independence, but Chiapas has kept its indigenous identity to the present day.[21] Since the 1970s, this has been supported by the Mexican government as it has shifted from cultural policies that favor a "multicultural" identity for the country.[112] One major exception to the separatist, indigenous identity has been the case of the Chiapa people, from whom the state's name comes, who have mostly been assimilated and intermarried into the mestizo population.[101]

Most Indigenous communities have economies based primarily on traditional agriculture such as the cultivation and processing of corn, beans and coffee as a cash crop and in the last decade, many have begun producing sugarcane and jatropha for refinement into biodiesel and ethanol for automobile fuel.[113][114] The raising of livestock, particularly chicken and turkey and to a lesser extent beef and farmed fish is also a major economic activity. Many indigenous, in particular the Maya are employed in the production of traditional clothing, fabrics, textiles, wood items, artworks and traditional goods such as jade and amber works.[115] Tourism has provided a number of a these communities with markets for their handcrafts and works, some of which are very profitable.[98]

San Cristóbal de las Casas and San Juan Chamula maintain a strong indigenous identity. On market day, many indigenous people from rural areas come into San Cristóbal to buy and sell mostly items for everyday use such as fruit, vegetables, animals, cloth, consumer goods and tools.[105] San Juan Chamula is considered to be a center of indigenous culture, especially its elaborate festivals of Carnival and Day of Saint John. It was common for politicians, especially during Institutional Revolutionary Party's dominance to visit here during election campaigns and dress in indigenous clothing and carry a carved walking stick, a traditional sign of power.[61] Relations between the indigenous ethnic groups is complicated. While there have been inter ethnic political activism such as that promoted by the Diocese of Chiapas in the 1970s and the Zapatista movement in the 1990s, there has been inter-indigenous conflict as well.[61][70] Much of this has been based on religion, pitting those of the traditional Catholic/indigenous beliefs who support the traditional power structure against Protestants, Evangelicals and Word of God Catholics (directly allied with the Diocese) who tend to oppose it. This is particularly significant problem among the Tzeltals and Tzotzils. Starting in the 1970s, traditional leaders in San Juan Chamula began expelling dissidents from their homes and land, amounting to about 20,000 indigenous forced to leave over a thirty-year period. It continues to be a serious social problem although authorities downplay it.[43][61] Recently there has been political, social and ethnic conflict between the Tzotzil who are more urbanized and have a significant number of Protestant practitioners and the Tzeltal who are predominantly Catholic and live in smaller farming communities. Many Protestant Tzotzil have accused the Tzeltal of ethnic discrimination and intimidation due to their religious beliefs and the Tzeltal have in return accused the Tzotzil of singling them out for discrimination.

Clothing, especially women's clothing, varies by indigenous group. For example, women in Ocosingo tend to wear a blouse with a round collar embroidered with flowers and a black skirt decorated with ribbons and tied with a cloth belt. The Lacandon people tend to wear a simple white tunic. They also make a ceremonial tunic from bark, decorated with astronomy symbols. In Tenejapa, women wear a huipil embroidered with Mayan fretwork along with a black wool rebozo. Men wear short pants, embroidered at the bottom.[116]

The Tzeltals call themselves Winik atel, which means "working men." This is the largest ethnicity in the state, mostly living southeast of San Cristóbal with the largest number in Amatenango.[101] Today, there are about 500,000 Tzeltal Indians in Chiapas. Tzeltal Mayan, part of the Mayan language family, today is spoken by about 375,000 people making it the fourth-largest language group in Mexico. There are two main dialects; highland (or Oxchuc) and lowland (or Bachajonteco).[22] This language, along with Tzotzil, is from the Tzeltalan subdivision of the Mayan language family. Lexico-statistical studies indicate that these two languages probably became differentiated from one another around 1200[21] Most children are bilingual in the language and Spanish although many of their grandparents are monolingual Tzeltal speakers.[101] Each Tzeltal community constitutes a distinct social and cultural unit with its own well-defined lands, wearing apparel, kinship system, politico-religious organization, economic resources, crafts, and other cultural features.[21][22] Women are distinguished by a black skirt with a wool belt and an undyed cotton bloused embroidered with flowers. Their hair is tied with ribbons and covered with a cloth. Most men do not use traditional attire.[101] Agriculture is the basic economic activity of the Tzeltal people. Traditional Mesoamerican crops such as maize, beans, squash, and chili peppers are the most important, but a variety of other crops, including wheat, manioc, sweet potatoes, cotton, chayote, some fruits, other vegetables, and coffee.[21][22]

Tzotzils

Tzotzil speakers number just slightly less than theTzeltals at 226,000, although those of the ethnicity are probably higher.[117] Tzotzils are found in the highlands or Los Altos and spread out towards the northeast near the border with Tabasco. However, Tzotzil communities can be found in almost every municipality of the state. They are concentrated in Chamula, Zinacantán, Chenalhó, and Simojovel. Their language is closely related to Tzeltal and distantly related to Yucatec Mayan and Lacandon.[21][50] Men dress in short pants tied with a red cotton belt and a shirt that hangs down to their knees. They also wear leather huaraches and a hat decorated with ribbons. The women wear a red or blue skirt, a short huipil as a blouse, and use a chal or rebozo to carry babies and bundles. Tzotzil communities are governed by a katinab who is selected for life by the leaders of each neighborhood. The Tzotzils are also known for their continued use of the temazcal for hygiene and medicinal purposes.[117]

Ch’ols

The Totolabals are estimated at 35,000 in the highlands.[118] According to oral tradition, the Tojolabales came north from Guatemala.[21] The largest community is Ingeniero González de León in the La Cañada region, an hour outside the municipal seat of Las Margaritas.[118] Tojolabales are also found in Comitán, Trinitaria, Altamirano and La Independencia.[103] This area is filled with rolling hills with

The Totolabals are estimated at 35,000 in the highlands.[118] According to oral tradition, the Tojolabales came north from Guatemala.[21] The largest community is Ingeniero González de León in the La Cañada region, an hour outside the municipal seat of Las Margaritas.[118] Tojolabales are also found in Comitán, Trinitaria, Altamirano and La Independencia.[103] This area is filled with rolling hills with a temperate and moist climate. There are fast moving rivers and jungle vegetation.[118] Tojolabal is related to Kanjobal, but also to Tzeltal and Tzotzil.[103] However, most of the youngest of this ethnicity speak Spanish. Women dress traditionally from childhood with brightly colored skirts decorated with lace or ribbons and a blouse decorated with small ribbons, and they cover their heads with kerchiefs. They embroider many of their own clothes but do not sell them. Married women arrange their hair in two braids and single women wear it loose decorated with ribbons. Men no longer wear traditional garb daily as it is considered too expensive to make.[118]

Zoques

The Zoque

The Zoques are found in 3,000 square kilometers the center and west of the state scattered among hundreds of communities. These were one of the first native peoples of Chiapas, with archeological ruins tied to them dating back as far as 3500 BCE.[117] Their language is not Mayan but rather related to Mixe, which is found in Oaxaca and Veracruz.[103] By the time the Spanish arrived, they had been reduced in number and territory. Their ancient capital was Quechula, which was covered with water by the creation of the Malpaso Dam, along with the ruins of Guelegas, which was first buried by an eruption of the Chichonal volcano. There are still Zoque ruins at Janepaguay, the Ocozocuautla and La Ciénega valleys.[21][117]

LacandonsThe Lacandons are one of the smallest native indigenous groups of the state with a population estimated between 600 and 1,000.[119] They are mostly located in the communities of Lacanjá Chansayab, Najá, and Mensabak in the Lacandon Jungle. They live near the ruins of Bonampak and Yaxchilan and local lore states that the gods resided here when they lived on Earth. They inhabit about a million hectares of rainforest but from the 16th century to the present, migrants have taken over the area, most of which are indigenous from other areas of Chiapas. This dramatically altered their lifestyle and worldview. Traditional Lacandon shelters are huts made with fonds and wood with an earthen floor, but this has mostly given way to modern structures.[117]

Mochós

The Mams are a Mayan ethnicity that

The Mams are a Mayan ethnicity that numbers about 20,000 found in thirty municipalities, especially Tapachula, Motozintla, El Porvenir, Cacahoatán and Amatenango in the southeastern Sierra Madre of Chiapas.[112][120] The Mame language is one of the most ancient Mayan languages with 5,450 Mame speakers were tallied in Chiapas in the 2000 census.[21] These people first migrated to the border region between Chiapas and Guatemala at the end of the nineteenth century, establishing scattered settlements. In the 1960s, several hundred migrated to the Lacandon rain forest near the confluence of the Santo Domingo and Jataté Rivers. Those who live in Chiapas are referred to locally as the "Mexican Mam (or Mame)" to differientiate them from those in Guatemala.[112] Most live around the Tacaná volcano, which the Mams call "our mother" as it is considered to be the source of the fertility of the area's fields. The masculine deity is the Tajumulco volcano, which is in Guatemala.[112][120]

Guatemalan migrant groups

Chiapas accounts for 1.73% of Mexico's GDP. The primary sector, agriculture, produces 15.2% of the state's GDP. The secondary sector, mostly energy production, but also commerce, services and tourism, accounts for 21.8%. The share of the GDP coming from services is rising while that of agriculture is falling.[121] The state is divided into nine economic regions. These regions were established in the 1980s in order to facilitate statewide economic planning. Many of these regions are based on state and federal highway systems. These include Centro, Altos, Fronteriza, Frailesca, Norte, Selva, Sierra, Soconusco and Istmo-Costa.[122]

Despite being rich in resources, Chiapas, along with Oaxaca and Guerrero, lags behind the rest of the country in almost all socioeconomic indicators.[69] As of 2005, there were 889,420 residential units; 71% had running water

Despite being rich in resources, Chiapas, along with Oaxaca and Guerrero, lags behind the rest of the country in almost all socioeconomic indicators.[69] As of 2005, there were 889,420 residential units; 71% had running water, 77.3% sewerage, and 93.6% electricity.[99] Construction of these units varies from modern construction of block and concrete to those constructed of wood and laminate.[123]

Because of its high rate of economic marginalization, more people migrate from Chiapas than migrate to it. Most of its socioeconomic indicators are the lowest in the country including income, education, health and housing. It has a significantly higher percentage of illiteracy than the rest of the country, although that situation has improved since the 1970s when over 45% were illiterate and 1980s, about 32%. The tropical climate presents health challenges, with most illnesses related to the gastro-intestinal tract and parasites.[74] As of 2005, the state has 1,138 medical facilities: 1098 outpatient and 40 inpatient. Most are run by IMSS and ISSSTE and other government agencies.[123] The implementation of NAFTA had negative effects on the economy, particularly by lowering prices for agricultural products. It made the southern states of Mexico poorer in comparison to those in the north, with over 90% of the poorest municipalities in the south of the country.[69] As of 2006, 31.8% work in communal services, social services and personal services. 18.4% work in financial services, insurance and real estate, 10.7% work in commerce, restaurants and hotels, 9.8% work in construction, 8.9% in utilities, 7.8% in transportation, 3.4% in industry (excluding handcrafts), and 8.4% in agriculture.[124]

Although until the 1960s, many indigenous communities were considered by scholars to be autonomous and economically isolated, this was never the case. Economic conditions began forcing many to migrate to work, especially in agriculture for non-indigenous. However, unlike many other migrant workers, most indigenous in Chiapas have remained strongly tied to their home communities.[61] A study as early as the 1970s showed that 77 percent of heads of household migrated outside of the Chamula municipality as local land did not produce sufficiently to support families. In the 1970s, cuts in the price of corn forced many large landowners to convert their fields into pasture for cattle, displacing many hired laborers, cattle required less work. These agricultural laborers began to work for the government on infrastructure projects financed by oil revenue.[61] It is estimated that in the 1980s to 1990s as many as 100,000 indigenous people moved from the mountain areas into cities in Chiapas, with some moving out of the state to Mexico City, Cancún and Villahermosa in search of employment.[61]

Agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing employ over 53% of the state's population; however, its productivity is considered to be low. Agriculture includes both seasonal and perennial plants. Major crops include corn, beans, sorghum, soybeans, peanuts, sesame seeds, coffee, cacao, sugar cane, mangos, bananas, and palm oil.[121] These crops take up 95% of the cultivated land in the state and 90% of the agricultural production. Only four percent of fields are irrigated with the rest dependent on rainfall either seasonally or year round.[121] Chiapas ranks second among the Mexican states in the production of cacao, the product used to make chocolate, and is responsible for about 60 percent of Mexico's total coffee output.[20][125] The production of bananas, cacao and corn make Chiapas Mexico's second largest agricultural producer overall.[21]

Coffee is the state's most important cash crop with a history from the 19th century. The crop was introduced in 1846 by Jeronimo Manchinelli who brought 1,500 seedlings from Guatemala on his farm La Chacara. This was followed by a number of other farms as well. Coffee production intensified during the regime of Porfirio Díaz and the Europeans who came to own many of the large farms in the area. By 1892, there were 22 coffee farms in the region, among them Nueva Alemania, Hamburgo, Chiripa, Irlanda, Argovia, San Francisco, and Linda Vista in the Soconusco region.[81] Since then coffee production has grown and diversified to include large plantations, the use and free and forced labor and a significant sector of small producers.[32] While most coffee is grown in the Soconusco, other areas grow it, including the municipalities of Oxchuc, Porfirio Díaz and the Europeans who came to own many of the large farms in the area. By 1892, there were 22 coffee farms in the region, among them Nueva Alemania, Hamburgo, Chiripa, Irlanda, Argovia, San Francisco, and Linda Vista in the Soconusco region.[81] Since then coffee production has grown and diversified to include large plantations, the use and free and forced labor and a significant sector of small producers.[32] While most coffee is grown in the Soconusco, other areas grow it, including the municipalities of Oxchuc, Pantheló, El Bosque, Tenejapa, Chenalhó, Larráinzar, and Chalchihuitán, with around six thousand producers.[32] It also includes organic coffee producers with 18 million tons grown annually 60,000 producers. One third of these producers are indigenous women and other peasant farmers who grow the coffee under the shade of native trees without the use of agro chemicals. Some of this coffee is even grown in environmentally protected areas such as the El Triunfo reserve, where ejidos with 14,000 people grow the coffee and sell it to cooperativers who sell it to companies such as Starbucks, but the main market is Europe. Some growers have created cooperatives of their own to cut out the middleman.[20][125]

Ranching occupies about three million hectares of natural and induced pasture, with about 52% of all pasture induced. Most livestock is done by families using traditional methods. Most important are meat and dairy cattle, followed by pigs and domestic fowl. These three account for 93% of the value of production.[121] Annual milk production in Chiapas totals about 180 million liters per year.[20] The state's cattle production, along with timber from the Lacandon Jungle and energy output gives it a certain amount of economic clouts compared to other states in the region.[21]

Forestry is mostly based on conifers and common tropical species producing 186,858 m3 per year at a value of 54,511,000 pesos. Exploited non-wood species include the Camedor palm tree for its fronds. The fishing industry is underdeveloped but includes the capture of wild species as well as fish farming. Fish production is generated both from the ocean as well as the many freshwater rivers and lakes. In 2002, 28,582 tons of fish valued at 441.2 million pesos was produced. Species include tuna, shark, shrimp, mojarra and crab.[121]

The state's abundant rivers and streams have been dammed to provide about fifty-five percent of the country's hydroelectric energy. Much of this is sent to other states accounting for over six percent of all of Mexico's energy output.[76][121][126] Main power stations are located at Malpaso, La Angostura, Chicoasén and Peñitas, which produce about eight percent of Mexico's hydroelectric energy.[76] Manuel Moreno Torres plant on the Grijalva River the most productive in Mexico. All of the hydroelectric plants are owned and operated by the Federal Electricity Commission (Comisión Federal de Electricidad, CFE).[77]

Chiapas is rich in petroleum reserves. Oil production began during the 1980s and Chiapas has become the fourth largest producer of crude oil and natural gas among the Mexican states.[21] Many reserves are yet untapped, but b

Chiapas is rich in petroleum reserves. Oil production began during the 1980s and Chiapas has become the fourth largest producer of crude oil and natural gas among the Mexican states.[21] Many reserves are yet untapped, but between 1984 and 1992, PEMEX drilled nineteen oil wells in the Lacandona Jungle.[126] Currently, petroleum reserves are found in the municipalities of Juárez, Ostuacán, Pichucalco and Reforma in the north of the state with 116 wells accounting for about 6.5% of the country's oil production. It also provides about a quarter of the country's natural gas. This production equals 6,313.6 cubic metres (222,960 cu ft) of natural gas and 17,565,000 barrels of oil per year.[76][121]

Industry is limited to small and micro enterprises and include auto parts, bottling, fruit packing, coffee and chocolate processing, production of lime, bricks and other construction materials, sugar mills, furniture making, textiles, printing and the production of handcrafts. The two largest enterprises is the Comisión Federal de Electricidad and a Petróleos Mexicanos refinery.[121] Chiapas opened its first assembly plant in 2002, a fact that highlights the historical lack of industry in this area.[20]