Tomás Torres Mercado
José Trejo Reyes
• Luis Enrique Mercado
Arturo Ramírez Bucio
• Claudia Edith Anaya Mota
Samuel Herrera Chávez
Ramón Jiménez Fuentes
Gerardo Leyva Hernández
José Narro Céspedes
• Gerardo Verver y Vargas
75,284 km2 (29,067 sq mi)
3,200 m (10,500 ft)
21/km2 (54/sq mi)
• Density rank
• Summer (DST)
Area codes 1 and 2
ISO 3166 code
0.717 high Ranked 24th
US$ 5,171,913.8 th[a]
Official Web Site
^ a. The state's
GDP was 66,200,496 thousand of pesos in 2008,
amount corresponding to 5,171,913.8 thousand of dollars, being a
dollar worth 12.80 pesos (value of June 3, 2010).
Zacatecas (American Spanish: [sakaˈtekas]), officially the Free
and Sovereign State of
Zacatecas (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de
Zacatecas), is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District,
comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 58
municipalities and its capital city is
Zacatecas is located in North-Central Mexico. It is bordered by the
Durango to the northwest,
Coahuila to the north,
San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí and
Nuevo León to the east, and Jalisco,
Aguascalientes to the south.
The state is best known for its rich deposits of silver and other
minerals, its colonial architecture and its importance during the
Mexican Revolution. Its main economic activities are mining,
agriculture and tourism.
1 Geography and environment
5 Culture, festivals, and traditions
6 Archeological sites
7 Major communities
9 External links
Geography and environment
Zacatecas is located in the center-north of Mexico, and covers an area
of 75,284km2, the tenth largest state in the country. It
borders the states of Jalisco, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosí,
Durango and is divided into fifty eight municipalities
and 4,882, towns, cities and other communities.
Sombreretillo Mountain in the northwest
The state has an average altitude of 2230 meters above sea level, with
the capital at 2,496 masl. The state has three main geographical
Sierra Madre Occidental
Sierra Madre Occidental in the west, the Mexican Plateau
and the Sierra Madre Oriental. Most of it is in the Sierra Madre
Occidental with highly rugged with peaks of over 2,500 meters above
sea level. The mountains of the southeast and northeast are lower but
there large valleys such as the Juchipila and Tlaltenango. Most of the
territory has only small mesas and other areas of flat land. In the
center of the state, there is a small mountain chain called the Sierra
de Fresnillo, from which much of the state’s mineral wealth comes
from. In the extreme northwest, there is another important mountain
chain called the Sierra de Sombrerete, marked by a mountain called
Sombreretillo, which is an important source of mineral wealth. Near
this chain is another called the Sierra de Órganos.
Stream in the Sierra de Cardos, part of the Sierra Madre Occidental.
No major rivers run through the state and most of the waterways run
only during the rainy season. The state belongs to two basins. The
south east of the state belongs to the
Lerma River basin, which
eventually empties in the Pacific Ocean. Rivers belonging to this
basin include the San Pedro, Juchipila, Jerez and Tlaltenango. The
other basin is smaller and endorheic, and does not empty into any
ocean. The state has eighty dams with a total capacity of 595,337
million cubic meters. The largest of these are the Leobardo Reynoso in
Fresnillo, Miguel Aleman in Tlaltenango and El Chique in Tabasco. Much
of the state’s water is underground divided into twenty hydraulic
zones. These are accesses with over 5,800 wells mostly for
Most of the territory has a cool, dry climate, although areas in the
south have more moisture, with most rain falling between June and
September. The driest and coldest areas are in the northeast, known as
the Salado because of its saltwater lakes. 75% of the state is
arid or semi arid. 14% is arable and 79% is apt for the grazing of
The average annual temperature is 16C with most of the state being
temperate. The coldest months are from November to January, with frost
not uncommon. The warmest month is June. The state gets an average
rainfall of 400mm per year mostly in the summer, with the warmest and
wettest part of the state is along the Sierra Madre
Yucca decipiens in the state
Ecosystems vary depending on relief, soil and temperature, leading to
a wide variety of vegetation, including forests, scrub and grasslands.
Arid areas are dominated by various species of cactus. In the far
south, there are deciduous trees that lose their leaves in winter and
spring. Statewide the most common trees are mesquite, ironwood and
palo verde (Parkinsonia). In the highest altitude, near the Jalisco
border, there are mixed forests of pine and holm oak, with the latter
dominating along the border with
Durango and some along the border
with San Luis Potosí. One interesting tree that occurs in
Zacatecas is the elephant tree (Bursera microphylla). In the
sierras there are many wild boar, white-tailed deer and hares; in the
valleys and plains it is common to find coyote, badgers, quails and
ducks. The extreme northern part of the state is the southern fringe
Chihuahuan Desert and as such is rich and diverse in biology.
This desert is home to a large amount of cacti and is one of the most
ecologically diverse deserts on earth.
The state name derives from the name of its capital, Zacatecas. This
word is derived from
Nahuatl and means “where there is abundant
zacate (grass)” . The state seal depicts the Cerro de la
Bufa, a landmark of the capital, surrounded by the weapons of the
original inhabitants. Above is the motto “Work conquers
Earthenware and pigment female and male figurines, 2nd century AD
Before the arrival of the Spanish, dominant ethnic groups included the
Caxcans, Zacatecos, and Guachichils, with a probable rivalry between
the Guchichils and the Caxcans. The history of these peoples is
sketchy and it is not known when the first settlements were founding
in the region. Between the fourth and tenth centuries in the Christian
era, several large settlements developed such as Altavista,
Chalchihuites and La Quemada, considered to be part of Greater
Mesoamerica . Areas in the north of the state, without major
settlements was part of what is called Aridoamerica, where inhabitants
lived off hunting and gathering. The first of the major population
centers emerged along the Suchil, Graceros and Guadiana Rivers. The
archeological sites of today are all ceremonial centers and/or
observatories in the center of metropolises.
The first Spanish settlement in the state’s current borders was in
what is now
Nochistlan in 1531, the original Guadalajara. This
settlement was later moved to its current location in
of water supply problems and indigenous attacks. The capital was
Juan de Tolosa with the support of
Cristobal de Oñate and
Pedro Almendez Chirinos in 1546, after the discovery of one of the
world’s richest silver veins. However, shortly
afterwards, the most Spanish attention turned back south because of
indigenous uprisings. The area remained dangerous for Spanish
settlement because of the fierce opposition of the native peoples. In
1541, an indigenous leader named Tenamextle, also known as Francisco
Tenamaztle and Diego the Aztec, rebelled, capturing and executing
Spanish leader Miguel de Ibarra. The Spanish defeated the Caxcans
Mixtón War in the 1540s. Tenamextle escaped the battle and
continued to organized rebellions against the Spanish. However, the
Spanish continued to push into
Zacatecas because of its silver wealth,
making it a province of New Galicia. Although able to establish mining
towns, convoys transporting the metal were regularly attacked.
Zacatecas City by Carl Nebel, 1836.
Depiction of silver refinement during the patio process at the
Hacienda Nueva de Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Pietro Gualdi, 1846.
Much of the state’s colonial history to the present has been related
to its mineral production, especially of silver. The first boom was
from the Conquest to the mid 17th century. The riches drew
settlers from the south and in 1586, Phillip II gave the city the name
of Noble and Loyal City of Nuestra Señora de los Zacatecas. In 1588,
he authorized its coat of arms. Most of the state was evangelized by
the Franciscans, who founded a hospice in the city in 1558 and by 1567
had built a large monastery. They officially took possession of its
religious functions in 1603. Later other orders arrived, founding
monasteries but they did not evangelize the indigenous.
The next boom was in the early 18th century, with the state producing
one-fifth of the world’s silver. These riches supported the
establishment of new settlements along with the building of elegant
churches and mansions as the area became one of the most important of
New Spain .
During the Mexican War of Independence, Miguel Hidalgo’s troops
Zacatecas twice, once when they were attacking
royalist troops and later when fleeing them. The war ended in 1821 and
Zacatecas formally became a state in 1824, with the city of Zacatecas
as its capital, and this city continued to grow.
The state’s history during the most of the 19th century was
tumultuous, along with the rest of the country. From Independence
until the 1860s, Liberal and Conservative elements occupied the
capital at one time or another, until Liberal leader Jesús González
Ortega seized control of the state permanently in 1859. This
leader’s decrees against Conservative sympathizers drove many
Catholic priests out of the state. In 1861, French troops occupied
Zacatecas but only for two years before being driven out. For the
rest of the century, the state was mostly controlled by local
strongmen, such as González Ortega, Trinidad García de la Cadena and
Genero Codina. The fighting depressed silver production until near
the end of the century, but it recovered enough to account for sixty
percent of the state’s export revenue.
Painting of the Toma de Zacatecas
At the end of the century, technological innovations such as the
telegraph, telephone, electricity and rail lines connected the state
with the rest of Mexico. Trains provided direct links to Ciudad
Aguascalientes and Chihuahua, which led to emigration out of
the state, primarily to the United States in the 20th century.
Zacatecas was again a battleground with the outbreak of the Mexican
Revolution in the early 20th century. One of the largest and most
decisive battle of this conflict took place outside the capital and is
Toma de Zacatecas
Toma de Zacatecas (Taking of Zacatecas). This battle pitted
the troops of
Francisco Villa against those of Victoriano Huerta,
resulting in the deaths of 7,000 soldiers and the wounding of 5,000.
Civilian casualties were not recorded. The battle led to the
naming of the city as a “Heróica Ciudad” (Heroic City).
UNESCO named the historic center of
Zacatecas as a World
Heritage Site .
From 1998-2004, the state undertook a major project to expand the
Huichol woman and child
As of 2010, the state had a population of 1,490,668. Forty one percent
of the population lives in rural areas, with a population density of
18,13 per square kilometer. Fifty nine percent of the
population lives in urban areas such as
Fresnillo (pop. 213,139),
Guadalupe (159,991), Zacatecas, (138,176) along with Pinos and
Sombrerete. Ninety four percent of the population is Roman
Catholic. In the year 2008,
Zacatecas had the smallest indigenous
population percentage-wise in Mexico: 0.3%. Only the state of
Aguascalientes has a smaller number of indigenous people. Only
four in 1,000 speak an indigenous language, compared to the national
average of 60/1000. Indigenous languages spoken in the state
include Huichol (1000 speakers),
Nahuatl (500), Tepehuan (just under
500) and Tlapanec (about 400).
Zacatecas has more than tripled in a century, in 1900 its population
was 462,190. Since 1990, the state’s population has grown by at
least 1.3% per year. Average life expectancy is slightly above the
national average at 74.1 years for men and 78.5 for women. Principal
causes of death are heart problems, malign tumors and diabetes.
The average number of years of schooling is 7.9 (second year of middle
school), below the national average of 8.6. 5.9% have had no
schooling at all and 66.8% have finished primary school. Only 12.3%
have finished university level studies. 6% are illiterate.
Of those who leave the state permanently, most go to Aguascalientes,
Jalisco and other northern states. Those who come to live in the state
arrive from Jalisco, Aguacalientes and nearby northern states. It
is estimated that half of the people from
Zacatecas do not reside in
the state. Mexico's National Population Council estimates that 600,000
Zacatecas now live in the United States, a figure that is
equivalent to 40 percent of the state's resident population of 1.5
Some minerals that were found in the state's mines. Clockwise from
upper left: Silver; Topaz; Atacamite-Boleite-Malachite; Calcite.
See also: Minerals of Zacatecas
As in the past, the state’s dominant sector is mining, accounting
for 13% of the state’s
GDP and .9% of the entire country’s.
The state is rich in mineral wealth include lead, zinc and copper with
small quantities of gold and silver, along with non-metal mineral
deposits such as kaolinite, wollastonite, fluorite and barite. The
state has fifteen mining districts of which the most important are
Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Concepción del Oro, Sombrerete and
Chalchihuites, along with Nora de Angeles more recently.
Zacatecas accounts for 21% of the country’s gold production and
53.2% of its silver. Two of the largest silver mines in the world
currently are operated in Zacatecas: former
Mina Proaño (also known as the
and the Peñasquito Polymetallic Mine.
Zacatecas silver mostly
accounts for Mexico’s status as the world’s largest producer of
silver, accounting for 17% of the world’s output.
Zacatecas’s economy used to be almost completely centered on mining
but has since diversified into cattle raising, agriculture,
communications, food processing, tourism and transportation. Zacatecas
is Mexico’s main producer of beans, chili peppers, guavas and nopal,
along with significant grain, sugar cane, grape and peach crops. It is
also a major producer of rum, pulque and mezcal and even produces red
wine. These activities account for just over ten percent of the
Manufacturing accounts for over twelve percent of the state’s GDP
and has attracted most of the state’s foreign investment.
Traditional handcrafts include weaving in Villa Garcia, saddles and
jewelry in Jerez as well as furniture, leatherworking, miniatures,
macramé, ironwork and pottery in various locations.
Tourism includes the capital along with the designation of “Pueblos
Mágicos” such as Jerez, Teul de Gonzalez Ortega and Sombrerete,
along with the shrine of the Santo Niño de Atocha, which is visited
by thousands every year. It also includes archeological sites such as
Alta Vista and
La Quemada along with thermal springs such as Paraíso
Commerce and services accounts for over 53% of the GDP, mostly small
Culture, festivals, and traditions
Zacatecan Danza de Matachines
Most of the state’s festivities are in honor of local patron saints
and many of the secular festivals have links to religious ones. Such
festivals often focus on recitals of traditional dances such as the
Mexicapan. Many of these are derived from waltzes and polkas because
of the state’s mining history. The
Mexican Revolution took a toll on
the state’s local musical traditions, but one that has survived is
the Tamborazo, especially in Jerez.
In the state capital, September 8 is dedicated to the Virgen del
Patrocinio on the Cerro de la Bufa, with various cultural and artistic
events such as bullfighting, concerts, horse racing and culinary
demonstrations. The last week of August is dedicated to the Morismas
de Bracho, a theatrical production of the struggle between Moors and
It hosts the International Folklore Festival in August, featuring
dance and costumes from around the world. It is held during Holy Week,
and features music, food, street performances, dancing and
Other major festivals include the Festival Cultural Zacatecas, the
Feria Nacional de
Zacatecas and the Internacional Festival de Teatro
de Calle, Feria de Primavera de Jerez, the Feria del Libro, and the
Cabalgata Turistica Revolucionaria.
Traditional favorite foods include gorditas and panecillos, both made
from corn and can be sweet or savory, depending on the filling. Wheat
breads include panochas and semitas. Condoches are gorditas made with
fresh corn cooked in corn husks. Gorditas de cuajada are
representative of food on ranches. Meat is most typically prepared as
part of a stew to which vegetables such as corn, chickpeas, squash,
rice and more are added. One well-known meat preparation is asado de
boda, which is pork in a sauce made with mild red chili peppers.
Traditional beverages include pulque, aguamiel, aguardiente and mezcal
as well as a purely local beverage called colonche, made by fermenting
a cactus fruit.
View of the Salón de las Columnas in La Quemada.
Altavista is located 229 km northwest of the city of Zacatecas.
It was a ceremonial center, part of the Chalchihuite culture, active
between 200 and 1000 CE. It is named after a local ranch, and was
explored for the first time at the beginning of the 20th century by
Manuel Gamio. Its main building is called the Labyrinth.
La Quemada is located fifty km south of the city of Zacatecas, the
state’s largest pre Hispanic settlement. It developed
between 500 and 900 CE and covered an area of over 70,000m2 at its
height. Its name, which means “the burnt” comes from evidence that
the city was burned and abandoned. Who occupied the city is not known,
with speculation relating to Teotihuacan, the Purépecha and the
El Teúl is on a large hill overlooking the modern town of Teúl de
González Ortega (municipality). The name comes from
Nahuatl and means
“of the gods.” It was a ceremonial center, with residences located
north of it. The site is noted for its pit burials as well as the
oldest copper smelting facility in Mesoamerica. It
was inhabited from 200 CE to 1531, when the Spanish destroyed it.
It is one of several religious and population centers created by the
Caxcans, who were semi nomadic, along with others in Tlaltenango,
Juchipila and Teocaltiche.
Jerez de García Salinas
Moyahua De Estrada
See also: List of towns in Zacatecas
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^ "Senadores por
Zacatecas LXI Legislatura". Senado de la Republica.
Retrieved April 10, 2010.
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Desarrollo Municipal. 2010. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
^ C. Michael Hogan (2009) Elephant Tree: Bursera microphylla,
GlobalTwitcher.com, ed. N. Stromberg
^ a b c d "Nuestro Pasado" (in Spanish). Government of Zacatecas.
Retrieved November 18, 2013.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Zacatecas". History Channel.
Retrieved November 18, 2013.
^ West,Robert. Early
Mining in New Spain, 1531-1555 (1997).
Bakewell, Peter, ed. Mines of
Silver and Gold in the Americas.
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^ "Encuesta Intercensal 2015" (PDF). INEGI. Retrieved
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^ "Distribución" (in Spanish). INEGI. Retrieved November 18,
^ a b "Diversidad" (in Spanish). INEGI. Retrieved November 18,
^ John P. Schmal (2004). "The Hispanic Experience - Indigenous
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^ "Movimientos Migratorios" (in Spanish). INEGI. Retrieved November
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^ Edgar Sigler (October 22, 2013). "
Sonora brillan con
impuestos" (in Spanish).
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Silver Mines in the
World". International Business Times.
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Zacatecas. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Zacatecas.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Zacatecas.
Geographic data related to
Zacatecas at OpenStreetMap
Portal with News and Information about Zacatecas
Zacatecas state government website
State of Zacatecas
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Concepción del Oro (Concepción del Oro)
Cuauhtémoc (San Pedro Piedra Gorda)
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