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Nayarit (Spanish pronunciation: [naʝaˈɾit]), officially the Free and Sovereign State of Nayarit (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de Nayarit), is one of the 31 states which, together with the Mexico City, make up the 32 federal entities of Mexico. It is divided in 20 municipalities and its capital city is Tepic.

It is bordered by the states of Sinaloa to the northwest, Durango to the north, Zacatecas to the northeast and Jalisco to the south. To the west, Nayarit has a significant share of coastline on the Pacific Ocean, including the islands of Marías and Marietas. The beaches of San Blas and the so-called "Riviera Nayarit" are popular with tourists. Besides tourism, the economy of the state is based mainly on agriculture and fishing.

Home to Uto-Aztecan indigenous peoples such as the Huichol and Cora, the region was exposed to the conquistadores, Hernán Cortés and Nuño de Guzmán, in the 16th century. Spanish governance was made difficult by indigenous rebellions and by the inhospitable terrain of the Sierra del Nayar. The last independent Cora communities were subjugated in 1722. The state's name recalls the Cora people's label for themselves: Náayerite, commemorating Nayar, a resistance leader.

History

Nayarit precolombino
Map of Nayarit before the Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire
Jardín de La Contaduría, en San Blas.
The colonial contaduría (accounting offices) in the old port town of San Blas

Radiocarbon dating estimate Aztatlán colonization of the western Mexican coast – including parts of Sinaloa, Nayarit and Jalisco – as occurring as early as 900 AD, with some evidence suggesting it might have been as early as 520 AD. Encountered on the western coast by the Spanish invaders in 1500, the cultures were descended from these original Aztatlán settlements and other Classic stage cultures who had merged with them.

Hernán Cortés was the first known European to enter into the area now known as Nayarit, which he claimed for Spain as part Nueva Galicia. Under Nuño de Guzman, Spaniards took the region with considerable brutality, causing the indigenous inhabitants to revolt, in what was later referred to as the Mixtón War. After almost two centuries of resistance, the last independent Cora communities were incorporated into Spanish administration by force in 1722. Then followed intense missionary efforts by Jesuits to convert the indigenous.

In the colonial period, the port of San Blas was one of the most important trade ports on the American Pacific coast. Galleons transporting goods from Manila, the Philippines arrived here before the rise of the port of Acapulco. Today, the town still boasts colonial architecture from the its heyday, such as the aduana (customs office), contaduria (accounting offices) and the fortress that protected the port against pirates.

In Nayarit, the struggle for independence from Spain was initiated by the priest José María Mercado, who conquered Tepic and San Blas before being defeated and executed by Spanish royalists. In 1824, in the first constitution of the Mexican republic, Nayarit was a part of Jalisco state. During the second half of the 19th century, Nayarit was one of the most turbulent territories in Mexico. The population was in open revolt, demanding access to land. Nayarit was one of the last territories admitted as a state of the Mexican federation, which occurred on May 1, 1917.

Geography

Sayulita-nanzalview
Sayulita off Nayarit's Pacific coast, a former fishing village now mostly given over to tourism, part of the area now marketed as "La Riviera Nayarita" or "Nuevo Vallarta"

Nayarit covers 27,815 square kilometers (10,739 sq mi), making it one of the smaller states in Mexico. Nayarit is located between latitude lines 23°05' north and 20°36' south and longitude lines 103°43' east and 105°46' west. Its terrain is broken up by the western ends of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. Its highest mountains are: San Juan, Sanguangüey, El Ceboruco, Cumbre de Pajaritos and Picachos. Nayarit has two volcanoes, Ceboruco and Sangangüey. In the northeast are broad, tropical plains watered by the Río Grande de Santiago, a continuation of the Lerma River. The main state rivers are the Río Grande de Santiago, San Pedro, Acaponeta, Ameca and Las Cañas. The Río Grande de Santiago is the largest river in Nayarit. The Santiago and its tributaries are of major importance for agricultural irrigation. The Ameca and the Las Cañas lie on the border between Nayarit and the states of Jalisco and Sinaloa, respectively. Notable lagoons in Nayarit include Santa María del Oro, San Pedro Lagunillas and Agua Brava.

Municipalities

Cerro de la cruz
The state capital Tepic seen from the Cerro de la Cruz. Tepic is home to some 340,000 people.

Nayarit – as with all states of Mexico – is geographically divided into municipalities (municipios), creating twenty municipalities in Nayarit:

  • Acaponeta
  • Ahuacatlán
  • Amatlán de Cañas
  • Bahía de Banderas
  • Compostela
  • El Nayar
  • Huajicori
  • Ixtlán del Río
  • Jala
  • La Yesca
  • Rosamorada
  • Ruíz
  • San Blas
  • San Pedro Lagunillas
  • Santa María del Oro
  • Santiago Ixcuintla
  • Tecuala
  • Tepic
  • Tuxpan
  • Xalisco

Environment

Nayarit contains hundreds of miles of rain forest in the sierra. Its wildlife includes hundreds of bird species including the lilac-crowned amazon (Amazona finschi) and Mexican woodnymph (Thalurania ridgwayi). There are also 119 registered species of mammals, including white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), collared peccary (Pecari tajacu), caymans, armadillos and wild felines such as jaguarundi (Puma yagouarundi) and ocelot (Felis pardalis) and many more. Unfortunately, most of the rain forest has been exploited, especially around the region of Santa María del Oro. The conservation and protection of the rain forest and wildlife of Nayarit is an issue of crucial importance.

The Islas Marías were designated as the Islas Marías Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2010.

Flora and fauna

Flora and fauna of Nayarit
Jaguarundi.jpg Micrurus tener.jpg Bark Scorpion.jpg Aquila chrysaetos Flickr.jpg Zenaida macroura2.jpg
Puma yagouaroundi,
eyra cat
Micrurus,
coral snake
Centruroides suffusus,
bark scorpion
Aquila chrysaetos,
golden eagle
Zenaida macroura,
mourning dove
Amazona finschi -Xcaret Eco Park -Mexico-8a.jpg Crotalus basiliscus.jpg Odocoileus hemionus 20.JPG Canis latrans.jpg Falco peregrinus - 01.jpg
Amazona finschi,
lilac-crowned amazon
Crotalus basiliscus,
green rattler
Odocoileus hemionus,
mule deer
Canis latrans,
coyote
Falco peregrinus,
peregrine
Agave tequilana 1.jpg Figa de moro 01.JPG Singapore Botanic Gardens Cactus Garden 2.jpg Cylindropuntia spinosior, with flower, Albuquerque.jpg Pinus ponderosa 9681.JPG
Agave tequilana,
tequila agave
Opuntia ficus-indica,
cactus pear
Echinocactus grusonii,
golden barrel cactus
Cylindropuntia imbricata,
cane cholla
Pinus ponderosa,
ponderosa pine

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