About Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is an island located 11 kilometers north of Cancun in the state of Quintana Roo. Its name was attributed by the first Spanish conquistadors who were impressed by the thousands of statues of women there were on the beach of the island. Nowadays, it is a small painteresque community that is tourist oriented, trying to maintain its origins intact, which makes it an obligatory stop for the millions of tourist that visit Cancun or Playa del Carmen and want to get away for a moment from the busy beaches, to a tranquil atmosphere.

The first news about this territory make reference to the prehispanic period about 546 and 516 after Christ, when it was part of the Ekab territory (one of the four regions of the Mayan period that formed what is today Quintana Roo). Isla Mujeres at that time was not a human settlement, it was a sanctuary dedicated to the Mayan goddess Ixchel, who was the deity of happiness, of the moon, of abundance and fertility, and other virtues. There the Spanish found many feminine figurines, offerings left by the Mayan women as part of their passing through this place, symbol of their passing from childhood to womanhood.

During the period of the Spanish Conquista, between March 1st and 4th 1517, an expedition led by Francisco Fernandez de Cordoba discovered this precious island and Cabo Catoche. Initially in 1527 Cordoba suffered a defeat in Cabo Catoche, but in 1542 this whole region was rapidly conquered and submitted under Francisco de Montejo (the nephew). It is said that the province of Ekab rapidly swore obedience to Francisco de Montejo (in representation of the Spanish crown), for this reason Isla Mujeres was not a scenario to bloody battles, maintaining its habitual tranquility. In the following years, during the colony, due to the inexistence of mines, this zone basically dedicated itself to agriculture. It is worth mentioning that during this period, this island was home to the famous pirate Mundaca, who according to history, fell in love with a local and had an hacienda built in this zone, known today as Hacienda Mundaca. This story is important because it is in this hacienda that the main economical activities of this small population began.

In mid century XIX, Isla Mujeres is the center of a strong migration of the Yucatecas, due to the fact that the Battle of the Castes was affecting many territories, while this island was isolated from conflict making it a safe zone. In 1850 the town of Dolores was founded fisherman, pirates and Mayas formed a settlement of approximately 250 people.

Towards the end of the XIX century, Isla Mujeres had 651 inhabitants and a defined urban area where the marine scene, the multitude of birds, sailboats and fisherman formed a picturesque scene. In 1902, Porfirio Diaz created the territory of Quintana Roo, of which Isla Mujeres was a part of. In the following years the economy of this area was based mainly on the exploitation of sugar, salt, cotton, and gum.

This beautiful island became world famous in the 70´s when the renowned Mexican Ramon Bravo introduced the world to the Cueva de Los Tiburones Dormidos (Cave of the Sleeping Sharks). From that point on Isla Mujeres has developed on basically two activities, tourism and commerce generated by the first.

Today the county of Isla Mujeres (whose capital is Isla Mujeres) has an extension of 1,100 squared kilometers and is formed of Isla Mujeres, Isla Blanca, Isla Contoy and a continental part, and represents a little over 2% of the state territory. Isla Mujeres (city) is the principal island and has an extension of 7 kilometers long by 1 kilometer wide. The total population of the county is over 13,000 (according to the census 2005) of which 90% are found on one island. Of the total population approximately half are men and half women. Its population is economically active and is esteemed 7,000 inhabitants of which 60% work in tourism and commerce.

So now you know, if your in Cancun or another part of Rivera Maya, and your looking for a more tranquil place where to spend a couple of days away from the busy cities, this island is the ideal place to rest among picturesque scenery and friendly people.

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