|surface||75,634 km² (rank 8 )|
|population||4,796,580 (Rank 7 )|
|Population density||63.4 inhabitants per km²
Rutilio Escandón Cadenas ( Morena )
Morena = 4
PT = 4
PES = 4
PVEM = 1
(13 federal constituencies)
PRI = 1
Morena = 1
PES = 1
Chiapas [ ˈtʃjapas ], officially Free and Sovereign State of Chiapas ( Spanish Estado Libre y Soberano de Chiapas ), is a state in southeastern Mexico , whose name comes from the indigenous people of the Chiapa who settled in the highlands before the colonial era. In the north it borders on the state of Tabasco , in the west on the states of Veracruz and Oaxaca and the Pacific Ocean , in the south and east on Guatemala . Chiapas has an area of 75,634 km² and is administratively divided into 124 Municipios .
The state has about 4.9 million inhabitants, of which about one million are of indigenous descent from fourteen Indian ethnic groups . Most of the indigenous people belong to the Maya ethnic group. These speak mainly Tzeltal or Tzotzil ; around 300,000 speak little or no Spanish . The eastern two thirds of the state are mostly inhabited by indigenous people.
The capital is Tuxtla Gutiérrez , the economically most important city is Tapachula . The best known for tourists are San Cristóbal de las Casas , formerly also called Ciudad Real , and the ruined city of Palenque from the classical Maya period , which is part of the world cultural heritage . Chiapas has a great diversity of species and nature.
Around 4,000 years ago, the Mayan ethnic group , living in Chiapas, Guatemala , Honduras , El Salvador , Belize and on the Yucatán Peninsula , began to develop an advanced civilization of considerable scientific knowledge that was steadily growing in size and complexity .
Particularly noteworthy are the Mayan calendar , which has proven to be the most accurate to date, the only known script of the indigenous peoples on the American continent and the use of a vigesimal system in mathematics as well as the knowledge of the number 0.
The Mayans organized themselves into autonomous city-states , but formed a cultural and religious unit. Individual cities should have a population of several hundred thousand residents have had and the greatest human settlements were to current scientific knowledge, at that time, worldwide.
In architecture and in general construction , the culturally almost isolated Mayans achieved extraordinary achievements, which are mainly in the design of cities , the construction of a road network , the expansion of a widely ramified canal system and in the production of works of art such. B. the sculpture and wall painting manifested.
Arches were unknown to the Mayans as an architectural style element , so there were no vaults or domes within their buildings. They discovered a hydraulic lime ( cement ) used as a mortar . The demanding construction work was done without the use of pack animals ; Although the Mayans knew the wheel ( cogwheel for calculating the calendar and circular picture steles), it was not used for transport purposes.
In metalworking , the Mayas were only familiar with making jewelry from precious metals such as gold and silver . Their weapons were mostly equipped with obsidian or glass tips , and such materials were also used in the manufacture of blades .
Including the prediction of solar and lunar eclipses as well as the course of Venus , which received special attention as the morning star and thus the advance notice of the sunrise, the Mayans achieved very precise calculations in astronomy ; the most exact concerned the lunar cycle .
The Mayans practiced astrology to a large extent , using independently developed interpretation patterns . According to the Mayan writing expert Nikolai Grube from the University of Bonn , the location of Venus, also interpreted by the Mayans as the god of war, determined the beginning of acts of war, the so-called star wars .
The Mayas were a warlike people, almost continuously the cities fought each other in constantly changing alliances. A strictly hierarchical caste system was established in the city-states . Nobles and priests formed the upper class , including the lower priests (Ah Kinoob), civil servants and military leaders ( Nacom ). The middle class (Ah Chembal Uinicoob) was made up of artisans , soldiers , farmers and traders . The lower class (P'entac) represented the slaves , mostly captured during military campaigns .
In the classical period (up to approx. 900 AD) religion was the linchpin of the Mayan culture. This can also be seen in the architectural structure of the cities, where the ceremonial center of the temple marks the city center. The stone houses of the upper class were grouped around the temple district, while the middle and lower classes lived in the outskirts of the cities, mostly in wooden houses and huts , of which not much has been preserved. Part of the religion was a great pantheon of gods . Occasionally it is reported that people were sacrificed for religious reasons, this thesis is scientifically controversial.
The disintegration of the high culture took place since the 8th century AD - the final fall is dated in the 10th century. The cities were hastily abandoned and very quickly overgrown by the jungle . The causes are still unclear, the explanations are currently the grueling wars, revolutions and a period of drought as temporally coincident phenomena.
In 1523, starting from the already conquered part of today's Mexico, several Spanish armies undertook a campaign to the south. The army moving west was led by Gonzalo de Sandoval and Pedro de Alvarado . Accompanied by a few hundred Indian allies (mostly Tlaxcalteks and Cholulas ), 420 conquistadors , 120 of them cavalrymen, moved to the highlands in the south towards Guatemala.
During their ultimately victorious campaign to Guatemala, the conquistadors subjugated most of the indigenous tribes in the highlands of Chiapas. Not much is known about the events during this campaign, but what remains in memory is the mass suicide of hundreds of women and children of the Chiapas people who threw themselves into the Cañón del Sumidero in order to avoid enslavement . The Chiapa tribe subsequently became extinct. It was reported that it was common practice to label captured Indians (men, women and children) as slaves. A G (for Spanish guerra "war") was branded on their foreheads with a glowing branding iron .
At the same time, Hernán Cortés led an army through the tropical lowlands of Chiapas. He intended to first conquer the Yucatán peninsula in order to colonize Honduras from there . The strategic calculation of this separate military approach was a pincer-like encirclement of the Maya peoples.
The chronicler Bartolomé de Las Casas described the conquistadors' approach as follows: “It happened more than once that of 4,000 Indians they did not bring home 6 alive; everyone else lost their lives. ”He was referring to the bloody attempts of the conquerors to enslave entire tribes.
Not only the violent actions of the conquistadors decimated the Indian population, also introduced diseases such as smallpox and flu depopulated entire regions, such as the highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala, in which the population density is said to have decreased by 70 to 90% within a century.
After long struggles, in 1528 Diego de Mazariegos founded Ciudad Real, later San Christóbal de las Casas; the later renaming honors Bartolomé de Las Casas, ordained bishop of Chiapas on March 30, 1544 , as he is said to have been friendly to the indigenous people. After the founding of the provincial capital, Mercedarians soon came to Chiapas, who were later replaced by Dominicans .
The indigenous indigenous population repeatedly offered massive resistance to these attempts at repression and repression of their own culture, which regularly resulted in bloody revolts . Mention should be made of the Tseltal uprising that started in the metropolis of Cancuc in 1712 and the resistance movement led by Gomez de la Gloria in 1772 , which was joined by over 6000 indigenous fighters. All revolts followed the same course, they were brutally and bloodily suppressed.
The basic racist attitude of the European conquerors manifested itself in regional legislation . Blacks and mulattos were forbidden to ride horses or mules when threatened with 100 lashes . The refusal of the Indians to reproduce in bondage was counteracted by law, because childlessness in marriage was punished with 25 lashes.
As in neighboring (then) Mexico, a racist caste system emerged in Chiapas and Guatemala . The lower class consisted of people who were either not partly of European or partly of African descent: Indians, mulattos, blacks and zambos. Above them stood the mestizos, above them the Spaniards born in the New World, the Creoles , while the (European) Spanish nobility stood at the top.
Chiapas was ruled from Guatemala in colonial times . Guatemala was annexed to Mexico in 1822 - after the successful war of independence against Spain - at the instigation of Agustín de Iturbide , but split off again in 1823. Chiapas decided by referendum to remain Mexican.
In 1867 an indigenous rebellion started in the village of Chamula , which is inhabited by Tzotzil Indians , which lasted until 1870 and was extremely bloody, most of the victims were Tzotzil. The cause of the uprising was the suppression of a religious movement of the Chamulatzotzils triggered by a drought . A volunteer was crucified in front of the Church of San Juan in anticipation of a salvific "Indian Jesus" . Missionaries who happened to come from San Cristóbal de las Casas, with the support of military units called for help , demanded that the living Indian Messiah be suspended, thereby sparking the uprising.
Three missionaries are said to have died in direct connection with the forced suspension. The suppression of this uprising resulted in massive atrocities , for example, Tzotzil Indians captured as an example, had their noses and ears cut off publicly in San Cristóbal de las Casas . Photographs of the martyred could still be purchased on postcards in the provincial capital until the Zapatista revolution of 1994, which in turn came from Chamula .
Through the uprising of the Zapatistas led by Subcomandante Marcos , the Mexican federal state , which was marked by great poverty , was noticed all over the world. The Zapatistas, who have come together in the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN, German 'Zapatista Army of National Liberation'), fight for the rights and free development of the indigenous population. Contact with violent means against the consequences of colonial exploitation , various missionary efforts , but especially against those of racism and religious fanaticism embossed motivations that the last remnants of ancient civilization threatens to exterminate the Mayas.
In its crackdown on the guerrillas , the Mexican army used massive violence against indigenous peoples who were not involved and committed numerous atrocities. The most famous massacre took place in Acteal , among the 45 victims even pregnant women and children are said to have been (see also article EZLN).
According to the EZLN, over 1,000 guerrillas and sympathetic Mayans were killed and more than 15,000 displaced between 1994 and 2000. Because of the high number of victims and the decline in the formerly profitable tourism that was declining as a result of the unrest, many of the indigenous supporters have now turned away from the EZLN.
Indigenous ethnic groups
The Tzeltals call themselves “Winik Atel”, which simply means “working person”. They mostly live from agriculture. They represent the largest indigenous ethnic group and settle southeast of San Cristóbal de las Casas. Today there are around 500,000 Tzeltal in Chiapas. The Tzeltal Maya belongs to the Maya language family and is spoken by over 470,000 people today - making it the fourth largest language group in Mexico. The Tzeltal language is divided into two dialects . One trained in the highlands, the other in the lowlands. Most of the children of this people now also speak Spanish, the adults are mostly monolingual. The Tzeltal form, locally bound, a social and cultural unit. In addition to agricultural products, the main trade product of the Tseltales is unglazed pottery.
The Tzotzil live in the tribal group concentrated in the highlands and border area to Tabasco, but they are distributed almost nationwide. The Tzotzil language is spoken by around 350,000 people and is therefore only slightly less widespread than the Tzeltal language. The main settlement points are Chamula , Zinacantán , Chenalhó and Simojovel . The language is closely related to the Tzeltal language and distantly related to the Yucatec Maya of the Lacandons.
Traditionally, many men wear shorts , a long, light cotton undershirt under a goatskin - or cotton poncho . The hat is decorated with ribbons. The colors of the costumes vary from village to village. The Chamulatzotzils, for example, wear dark traditional costumes, while the friendlier Zinacantantzotzils wear purple and pink traditional costumes with embroidered flowers. The Tzotzil women wear their hair open or braided and their toddlers wrapped up in towels.
It is primarily women and girls who trade, while the men stand aside and watch the goings-on. In addition to agricultural products, high-quality handicrafts are offered. Braided, very colorful, richly ornamented belts and bracelets are worth mentioning, but splendidly woven blankets and pottery are also on offer. Other ornament motifs than those associated with the Tzotzil costume are sold to tourists. This is ostensibly magical symbolism .
Among the Tzotzils, ritualized shamanism is pronounced and is mainly performed by women. A very important part of these rituals is the chicken as a sacrificial animal ( see also: Chamula ). The men’s willingness to fight is worth mentioning. The Tzotzilindians not only supported the EZLN's struggle for freedom , but also took part in it, thereby gaining autonomy .
The Maya, also called Lacandons (Lacandon Hach Winik , "true or real people") are an indigenous people in the lowlands of Chiapas. They are divided into two sub-ethnicities, the northern and southern Lacandons.
This ethnic group lives most isolated among the descendants of the ancient Maya, as they live in the middle of the lowland jungle. The Lacandons have split culturally in the last century - the Lacandons who settle near Bonampak were Christianized by Evangelical missionaries. These have opened up to tourism and also set up overnight accommodation for travelers. Selling logging rights has made some of these Lacandons very wealthy. The Lacandons, who still live traditionally, settle near the village of Nahè - near Palenque, where these Mayans still maintain their centuries-old way of life and religion .
Since the 20th century this small culture has come into contact with the “western” civilization. The culture of the today (estimated) only 600–1000 Lacandons is in acute danger of disappearing as a result of this acculturation and the various missionary attempts. The Lacandons also settle near major tourist attractions such as the Palenque ruins. There, male Lacandons trade or exchange self-made goods (arrows, small bows). B. Traven writes that the Lacandons still lived naked in the jungle at the beginning of the 1930s, now the Lacandon men wear long white cotton shirts and the hairstyle is often provided with a pony . The hair length varies, mostly the ends of the hair reach the chest area. The Lacandons did not join the EZLN.
The Tojolabal settle in the border area with Guatemala. It is believed that they immigrated to Chiapas from what is now Guatemala before colonization. The approximately 35,000 members of the Tojolabal speak their own language and only a few are also able to speak Spanish. Only the women wear traditional costumes , the blouses are white, the skirts are colorful. All items of clothing are embroidered with richly ornamented ribbon motifs. Unmarried women wear their hair open, while married women wear two pigtails. All married women wear headscarves , unmarried women and girls only occasionally.
Agriculture, natural resources, climate
Due to the climatic conditions of Chiapas, which includes several climatic zones (highlands, tropical rainforest in the lowlands, (rainy season May to October) subtropical transitional areas and mountain cloud forest on the Pacific coast), a large variety of plant species thrives here. The climate in the highlands is mild and does not change with the seasons ; The German writer B. Traven called his travelogue about Chiapas , which was published in book form, the Land of Spring .
- in the highlands : coffee (especially the Maragogype variety ), wheat , barley , oats , potatoes , sweet potatoes , corn
- in the lowlands : cocoa , corn, rubber , bananas , pineapple , coconut , cotton , avocado , agaves , sisal , tomatoes , beans , cassava , pumpkin , chili peppers , potatoes, sweet potatoes, chayote
- In the transition region: corn, sugar cane , wine , oranges , lemons , almonds , chestnuts , olives , nuts , apples , pears , cherries , peaches , avocado, agaves, sisal, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, cassava
fauna and Flora
Although it has become rarer, numerous exotic mammals such as monkeys , howler monkeys , tapirs , anteaters and umbilical pigs live in Chiapas . But big cats like pumas , ocelots and jaguars can also be found.
Among the reptiles of the rainforest, numerous species of snakes as well as crocodiles and iguanas deserve special mention. There are also numerous species of birds in the rainforests. The approximately 35 cm tall quetzal , one of the most colorful birds in the tropical rainforest, is a representative example .
Most of the most famous sights of the classical Maya period are located in the lowlands of Chiapas and thus in the tropical climate zone. Once overgrown by the jungle , they have been laboriously exposed. Almost all of the former cult centers can now be reached by road.
In the ruins, significant artifacts from the lost classical period were discovered, such as wall paintings , steles , but also everyday items (especially ceramics). What they have in common is that they are made by skilled craftsmen.
Today's cities are often characterized by a colonial architectural style: the old town of San Cristóbal de las Casas is almost completely preserved . Numerous churches from the colonial era, but also museums can be visited.
The Steilsturz- waterfall of Misol-Ha and in the dry season -green blue shimmering waterfall cascade of Agua Azul , which counts with more than 6 kilometers total length of the longest in the world, are well-known attractions.
About 10 km from San Christóbal are the Grutas de San Christóbal, a widely branched cave system, these are without any noteworthy stalactite formations and are therefore not heavily frequented.
Other tourist attractions are the Cañón del Sumidero and the Lagunas de Montebello National Park , which includes a lake area with different colored waters. The national park, which borders on Guatemala, has a particularly large biodiversity in terms of flora and fauna.
Another nature reserve is located in the lowlands in the middle of the Lacandon jungle. It includes the largest inland body of water in southern Mexico, Lake Miramar. This is in the biosphere reserve of Monte Azules, the largest still preserved, but today threatened rainforest area in North America; This national park also has an exceptionally high biodiversity.
The local population calls the route to these sights the gringo trail.
In 1982 the El Chichón volcano erupted in Chiapas. The mountain lost about 200 meters in height due to the eruption and subsequently formed a caldera with an internal acidic crater lake . Around 2000 people lost their lives in the outbreak. The eruption of the El Chichón was 1.5 cubic kilometers of ejected magma , after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, the second largest in the 20th century. The resulting aerosol cloud orbited the earth in three weeks and spread over the next six months from the equator to the 30th parallel north.
In 1986 the Tacaná volcano erupted in the border area with Guatemala.
At the beginning of October 2005, Hurricane Stan caused great damage in Chiapas, and neighboring regions such as the Yucatán , Quintana Roo , Hidalgo , Oaxaca , Puebla and Veracruz were also affected .
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- cf. VD17 39: 133228S