Cancún

Satellite photo of Cancún

Cancún is a coastal city in Mexico's easternmost state, Quintana Roo. It is the municipal seat of Benito Juárez municipality and a world renowned tourist resort.

Geography

The average temperature in Cancún is 27° C (80° F) with more than 240 days of sunshine, and rain is rare, with late August through early October being the rainy season. The beaches are almost 100 percent limestone; the porous quality of the limestone makes for cool sand even under the intense tropical sun. Cancún is divided into two parts: The narrow 23-kilometer-long (14-mile) island section (Cancún Island) is lined with modern beachfront hotels surrounded by the Bahía de Mujeres (Bay of Women), the Caribbean Sea, and the Nichupte and Bojorquez lagoons. The mainland downtown commercial section (Cancún City), connected to the island by two bridges, has broad avenues lined with whitewashed shops, restaurants, and hotels.

History

In the early 1950s Cancun was an almost unpopulated and undeveloped island just off the Caribbean Sea coast of the Yucatán peninsula, home to three caretakers of a coconut plantation and small Pre-Columbian ruins of the Maya civilization. The government of Mexico decided to develop a tourist resort on Cancun, which was originally financed by a USD $27 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank. A causeway was built to link Cancun to the mainland, and an international airport was built, along with what was at first a model city for workers, complete with housing, schools and medical facilities. On the opposite side of the island from the Caribbean Sea is Nichupte Lagoon, which is used for boat and snorkelling tours of the area.

Although many international publications now spell Cancun as Cancún, in the area itself it is usually Cancún in Spanish and Cancun in English. This is probably a result of the fact that English-language type faces available in the early days of Cancun did not have accented characters, or the operators did not know how to access them because the keyboard codes were different from the ones they were accustomed to using. The Spanish is not really correct either. In Spanish, the accent usually falls on the second syllable. In the case of a two-syllable word, you would only use an accent to indicate that the stress falls on the first syllable, as in López.

The earliest known reference to Cancun called it Cancuen. There's also a site in Guatemala called Cancuen. Cancuen refers to a snake totem, usually identified with Kukulcan or Quetzalcoatl (the Plumed Serpent). The romanization of Mayan words varies, but it is common to use an apostrophe to indicate a kind of glottal stop. It is probable that some Yucatecan or Mexican Mayanist wrote the name as Cancu'en, which was turned into Cancún by someone at the predecessor of Fonatur, the Mexican government tourism development fund that created Cancun. The belief that Cancun means "nido de viboras" (nest of snakes) is modern folklore, according to according to long-time resident Jules Siegel, author of the Cancun User's Guide.

Development of Cancun started in 1970 and grew rapidly in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the original very sensible master plan was repeatedly modified and, on the mainland, often ignored. Siegel who was the translator of Fernando Martí's "Cancun, Fantasy of Bankers," municipal authorities have struggled to provide public services for the constant influx of people, as well as to control squatters and irregular developments, which now occupy an estimated ten to fifteen percent of the mainland area on the fringes of the city, he says.

Despite initial skepticism that forced the Mexican government to finance the first eight hotels, Cancún soon attracted investors from all over the world, but approximately 70% of the Hotel Zone properties are owned by Mexicans, many of them local residents, Siegel says. The figure is close to 100% for the mainland. Some observers believe that the resort is foreign-owned because they are confused by the hotel operating companies, which are international companies that supply administration and marketing services. They do not usually own the hotels themselves. Even outlets of restaurant chains such as McDonald's and Domino's Pizza are Mexican-owned.

The city has grown rapidly over the past thirty years to become a city of approximately 750,000 residents, covering the former island and the nearby mainland. Most 'cancunenses' here are from Yucatán and other Mexican states. A growing number are from the rest of America and Europe.

The city Cancun and its flourishing tourism industry were heavily damaged by Hurricane Wilma, which hit the area on October 22, 2005.

Environmental concerns

Although some environmentalists claim that Cancún is an environmental disaster, Siegel says that is not true. There has obviously been environmental damage and the situation could deteriorate rapidly, he reports, but at present (February 2005) Cancún's main problem is a breakdown of garbage collection and disposal as a result of political conflicts that will hopefully be solved by a new administration elected February 6, 2005. Sewage treatment is another danger point, he says. Although approximately 75% of the city has public sewer lines, many homes rely on septic tanks. The underground water table is beginning to show symptoms of contamination, but by the standards of most populated areas in the United States the water is still relatively clean.

"You can see the bottom of the Caribbean off Cancún in satellite photographs," Siegel says. He discusses this and other issues at length on his website, http://www.cafecancun.com.

Tourism in Cancún

The beach in Cancún

In Cancún there are about 140 hotels with 24,000 rooms and 380 restaurants. Four million visitors arrive each year in an average of 190 flights daily. The hotel zone is one of the most exclusive internationally, with upmarket restaurants, bars, and the like which have catered for quite a number of the rich and famous. The hotel zone tends to be rather expensive as it is aimed at visitors and relies on the all inclusive hotels to keep them all in this area allowing prices to soar. Downtown is home to less expensive places to shop like Walmart, Comercial Mexicana and Soriana, not to mention several flea markets like the one in the hotel zone.

Around March and April, Cancún experiences a flood of college students (usually from the United States) who travel to Cancún to party. For just about all of these students, drinking alcohol is usually the reason why they come to Cancún. The drinking age in Mexico is 18; while in the United States, it is 21.

Downtown Cancún gives us a different aspect. There are also many clubs for all types of people, including gay clubs like Karamba or Glow, but the hotels are more accessible to all types of travelers, including some with lower rates. International brands in Downtown area are Radisson Hacienda Cancún, Best Western Plaza Caribe, Oasis America.

Ruins in Cancún

The temperature of the city is warm, moderated by the marine breeze which circulates through its avenues. The temperatures are typically between 26°C and 36°C (78.8°F and 96.8°F).

Cancún's hotel zone also has an interactive aquarium where visitors can see the marine diversity of the area, swim with dolphins and feed sharks. Here and there in the hotel zone are some ancient ruins.

The main language in Cancún is Spanish, although English is widely spoken throughout the tourist areas. Mayan dialects are also spoken between some workers and people born in the Yucatán peninsula.

Cancún is served by Cancún International Airport.

Hurricane Wilma

Wilma was the twenty-first named storm, twelfth hurricane, and sixth major hurricane of the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It was also the third Category 5 hurricane of the season, beating the records set by the 1960 and 1961 seasons. At its peak, it was the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Atlantic basin and the tenth most intense globally, with the lowest atmospheric pressure ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere of 882 millibars (26.05 inHg) at sea level, exceeding the record previously held by Hurricane Gilbert that also impacted the Peninsula of Yucatán some years ago.

Visible image of Hurricane Wilma near record intensity with a central pressure of 882 millibars. Image captured by satellite at 1315Z (9:15 EDT) on October 19, 2005.

On October 21, Hurricane Wilma made landfall on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, with winds in excess of 150 mph. The hurricane's eye first passed over the island of Cozumel, and then made an official landfall near Playa del Carmen in the state of Quintana Roo at around midnight on October 22 EDT with winds near 140 mph. 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. Some portions of the Yucatán Peninsula experienced hurricane force winds for well over 24 hours. The hurricane began accelerating in the early morning hours of October 23, exiting the northeastern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula and entering the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 2 storm.

Wilma made several landfalls, with the most destructive effects felt in the Yucatán Peninsula, particularly in Cancun. At least three deaths have been reported, numerous people have disappeared, and the insured damage is estimated at between US$5 and US$8 billion. The devastation was almost total with many of the principal roadways from the Hotel Zone completely flooded and damaged. It has been estimated that 95% of the tourism infrastructure was seriously damaged. Once the storm left the peninsula, some of the beautiful beaches of Cancun had been washed away. Thousands of local and foreign tourists were hosted in improvised refuges. All the Airport and Harbor Operations were cancelled between October 21 to the 25 due to the worst weather conditions.

Photo taken from the balcony of a Cancún hotel at the height of the storm.

It is estimated that after Wilma left Cancun, the local tourist industry lost over US $15 Million daily. Many houses were devastated, and many jobs were lost. However, thanks to the aid and support of local and state governments, the federal government, the Red Cross, and civil associations. reconstruction has been possible. American actor Mel Gibson donated an important amount of money to help the people in distress.

There was an exhaustive campaign by the media that featured public figures, including the President Vicente Fox, actors, musicians, etc. to aid people who suffered. The people's response was immediate and impresionant. People from all social strata helped carry water bottles to donate money in special bank accounts that principal banks created. It was estimated that Cancun will be completely ready to face the demanding vacationist wave on December 2005.

Today, Cancun once more lives and remains an attractive option to local and foreign tourists from all over the world.

Sister cities

  • Miami, Florida, United States
  • Wichita, Kansas, United States

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Today, Cancun once more lives and remains an attractive option to local and foreign tourists from all over the world. At the time, the site had 12 milion registered users, which means that half of all people who have internet access in the UK are registered. It was estimated that Cancun will be completely ready to face the demanding vacationist wave on December 2005. On 6 December 2005 it was reported that ITV plc was buying Friends Reunited for a reported £120 million. People from all social strata helped carry water bottles to donate money in special bank accounts that principal banks created. Friends Reunited features prominently in Ben Elton's detective novel Past Mortem (2004). The people's response was immediate and impresionant. Both services will allow matching from each others' databases in the near future, though this does not appear to functioning as of June 9, 2005.

to aid people who suffered. In 2005, the similar web site SchoolFriends Australia & New Zealand changed its name to Friends Reunited, joining with the UK site. There was an exhaustive campaign by the media that featured public figures, including the President Vicente Fox, actors, musicians, etc. Friends Reunited has been used by bitter partners to get revenge on those who have abandoned them2 and users have even been sued for the comments that they have made on Friends Reunited about other people 3. American actor Mel Gibson donated an important amount of money to help the people in distress. According to the Register, potential employers use entries there to identify weak points in job applicants 1. reconstruction has been possible. Friends Reunited has become popular enough that its uses have gone beyond the intentions of its designers.

However, thanks to the aid and support of local and state governments, the federal government, the Red Cross, and civil associations. The site has also lent its name to various CDs specialising in popular music of the past (specifically the years 1970 to 1989.) It has branched out to include a dating service, a genealogy element, Genes Reunited which allows users to trace their family tree, and a recruitment service for users to find new jobs. Many houses were devastated, and many jobs were lost. For an annual fee, users can send messages to other users. It is estimated that after Wilma left Cancun, the local tourist industry lost over US $15 Million daily. Registered users can search schools, universities, streets and various other places in order to locate old friends. All the Airport and Harbor Operations were cancelled between October 21 to the 25 due to the worst weather conditions. Founded by Steve and Julie Pankhurst, Friends Reunited is a British web site that helps users get in contact with people from their past.

Thousands of local and foreign tourists were hosted in improvised refuges. Note 3: Friends Reunited user in libel payout, John Leyden, [The Register], 21 May 2002, verified 27 January 2005 from http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/05/21/friends_reunited_user_in_libel/. Once the storm left the peninsula, some of the beautiful beaches of Cancun had been washed away. Note 2: Web hath no fury like a woman scorned, Amelia Hill, The Observer, 5 May 2002, verified 27 January 2005 from http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,710179,00.html. It has been estimated that 95% of the tourism infrastructure was seriously damaged. Note 1: Friends Reunited gives third reference, Startups.co.uk (sic), The Register, 24 June 2003, verified 27 January 2005 from http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/06/24/friends_reunited_gives_third_reference/. The devastation was almost total with many of the principal roadways from the Hotel Zone completely flooded and damaged.

At least three deaths have been reported, numerous people have disappeared, and the insured damage is estimated at between US$5 and US$8 billion. Wilma made several landfalls, with the most destructive effects felt in the Yucatán Peninsula, particularly in Cancun. The hurricane began accelerating in the early morning hours of October 23, exiting the northeastern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula and entering the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 2 storm. Some portions of the Yucatán Peninsula experienced hurricane force winds for well over 24 hours.

The eye slowly drifted northward, with the center passing just to the west of Cancún, Quintana Roo. 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 hurricane's eye first passed over the island of Cozumel, and then made an official landfall near Playa del Carmen in the state of Quintana Roo at around midnight on October 22 EDT with winds near 140 mph. On October 21, Hurricane Wilma made landfall on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, with winds in excess of 150 mph.

At its peak, it was the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Atlantic basin and the tenth most intense globally, with the lowest atmospheric pressure ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere of 882 millibars (26.05 inHg) at sea level, exceeding the record previously held by Hurricane Gilbert that also impacted the Peninsula of Yucatán some years ago. It was also the third Category 5 hurricane of the season, beating the records set by the 1960 and 1961 seasons. Wilma was the twenty-first named storm, twelfth hurricane, and sixth major hurricane of the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. Cancún is served by Cancún International Airport.

Mayan dialects are also spoken between some workers and people born in the Yucatán peninsula. The main language in Cancún is Spanish, although English is widely spoken throughout the tourist areas. Here and there in the hotel zone are some ancient ruins. Cancún's hotel zone also has an interactive aquarium where visitors can see the marine diversity of the area, swim with dolphins and feed sharks.

The temperatures are typically between 26°C and 36°C (78.8°F and 96.8°F). The temperature of the city is warm, moderated by the marine breeze which circulates through its avenues. International brands in Downtown area are Radisson Hacienda Cancún, Best Western Plaza Caribe, Oasis America. There are also many clubs for all types of people, including gay clubs like Karamba or Glow, but the hotels are more accessible to all types of travelers, including some with lower rates.

Downtown Cancún gives us a different aspect. The drinking age in Mexico is 18; while in the United States, it is 21. For just about all of these students, drinking alcohol is usually the reason why they come to Cancún. Around March and April, Cancún experiences a flood of college students (usually from the United States) who travel to Cancún to party.

Downtown is home to less expensive places to shop like Walmart, Comercial Mexicana and Soriana, not to mention several flea markets like the one in the hotel zone. The hotel zone tends to be rather expensive as it is aimed at visitors and relies on the all inclusive hotels to keep them all in this area allowing prices to soar. The hotel zone is one of the most exclusive internationally, with upmarket restaurants, bars, and the like which have catered for quite a number of the rich and famous. Four million visitors arrive each year in an average of 190 flights daily.

In Cancún there are about 140 hotels with 24,000 rooms and 380 restaurants. He discusses this and other issues at length on his website, http://www.cafecancun.com. "You can see the bottom of the Caribbean off Cancún in satellite photographs," Siegel says. The underground water table is beginning to show symptoms of contamination, but by the standards of most populated areas in the United States the water is still relatively clean.

Although approximately 75% of the city has public sewer lines, many homes rely on septic tanks. Sewage treatment is another danger point, he says. There has obviously been environmental damage and the situation could deteriorate rapidly, he reports, but at present (February 2005) Cancún's main problem is a breakdown of garbage collection and disposal as a result of political conflicts that will hopefully be solved by a new administration elected February 6, 2005. Although some environmentalists claim that Cancún is an environmental disaster, Siegel says that is not true.

The city Cancun and its flourishing tourism industry were heavily damaged by Hurricane Wilma, which hit the area on October 22, 2005. A growing number are from the rest of America and Europe. Most 'cancunenses' here are from Yucatán and other Mexican states. The city has grown rapidly over the past thirty years to become a city of approximately 750,000 residents, covering the former island and the nearby mainland.

Even outlets of restaurant chains such as McDonald's and Domino's Pizza are Mexican-owned. They do not usually own the hotels themselves. Some observers believe that the resort is foreign-owned because they are confused by the hotel operating companies, which are international companies that supply administration and marketing services. The figure is close to 100% for the mainland.

Despite initial skepticism that forced the Mexican government to finance the first eight hotels, Cancún soon attracted investors from all over the world, but approximately 70% of the Hotel Zone properties are owned by Mexicans, many of them local residents, Siegel says. Siegel who was the translator of Fernando Martí's "Cancun, Fantasy of Bankers," municipal authorities have struggled to provide public services for the constant influx of people, as well as to control squatters and irregular developments, which now occupy an estimated ten to fifteen percent of the mainland area on the fringes of the city, he says. Unfortunately, the original very sensible master plan was repeatedly modified and, on the mainland, often ignored. Development of Cancun started in 1970 and grew rapidly in the 1980s.

The belief that Cancun means "nido de viboras" (nest of snakes) is modern folklore, according to according to long-time resident Jules Siegel, author of the Cancun User's Guide. It is probable that some Yucatecan or Mexican Mayanist wrote the name as Cancu'en, which was turned into Cancún by someone at the predecessor of Fonatur, the Mexican government tourism development fund that created Cancun. The romanization of Mayan words varies, but it is common to use an apostrophe to indicate a kind of glottal stop. Cancuen refers to a snake totem, usually identified with Kukulcan or Quetzalcoatl (the Plumed Serpent).

There's also a site in Guatemala called Cancuen. The earliest known reference to Cancun called it Cancuen. In the case of a two-syllable word, you would only use an accent to indicate that the stress falls on the first syllable, as in López. In Spanish, the accent usually falls on the second syllable.

The Spanish is not really correct either. This is probably a result of the fact that English-language type faces available in the early days of Cancun did not have accented characters, or the operators did not know how to access them because the keyboard codes were different from the ones they were accustomed to using. Although many international publications now spell Cancun as Cancún, in the area itself it is usually Cancún in Spanish and Cancun in English. On the opposite side of the island from the Caribbean Sea is Nichupte Lagoon, which is used for boat and snorkelling tours of the area.

A causeway was built to link Cancun to the mainland, and an international airport was built, along with what was at first a model city for workers, complete with housing, schools and medical facilities. The government of Mexico decided to develop a tourist resort on Cancun, which was originally financed by a USD $27 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank. In the early 1950s Cancun was an almost unpopulated and undeveloped island just off the Caribbean Sea coast of the Yucatán peninsula, home to three caretakers of a coconut plantation and small Pre-Columbian ruins of the Maya civilization. The mainland downtown commercial section (Cancún City), connected to the island by two bridges, has broad avenues lined with whitewashed shops, restaurants, and hotels.

Cancún is divided into two parts: The narrow 23-kilometer-long (14-mile) island section (Cancún Island) is lined with modern beachfront hotels surrounded by the Bahía de Mujeres (Bay of Women), the Caribbean Sea, and the Nichupte and Bojorquez lagoons. The beaches are almost 100 percent limestone; the porous quality of the limestone makes for cool sand even under the intense tropical sun. The average temperature in Cancún is 27° C (80° F) with more than 240 days of sunshine, and rain is rare, with late August through early October being the rainy season. .

It is the municipal seat of Benito Juárez municipality and a world renowned tourist resort. Cancún is a coastal city in Mexico's easternmost state, Quintana Roo. Wichita, Kansas, United States. Miami, Florida, United States.

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