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Zapata, Texas
U.S. Highway 83 in Zapata
U.S. Highway 83 in Zapata
Zapata County Zapata.svg
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Coordinates: 26°54′22″N 99°16′12″W / 26.90611°N 99.27000°W / 26.90611; -99.27000Coordinates: 26°54′22″N 99°16′12″W / 26.90611°N 99.27000°W / 26.90611; -99.27000
Country  United States
State  Texas
County Zapata
 • Total 9.6 sq mi (25 km2)
 • Land 7.6 sq mi (20 km2)
 • Water 2.0 sq mi (5 km2)
394 ft (120 m)
 • Total 14,390
 • Density 1,499/sq mi (579/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 956
FIPS code 48-80716
GNIS feature ID 1350720

Zapata is a census-designated place (CDP) in and the county seat of Zapata County, Texas, United States. The population was 14,018 at the 2010 census. As an unincorporated community, Zapata has no municipal government but like all 254 Texas counties has four elected county commissioners chosen by single-member districts and a countywide elected administrative judge.


Zapata was named for José Antonio de Zapata (died 1839), the revolutionary commander who served in the cavalry of the Republic of the Rio Grande, of which the town was a part.


Zapata is located at 26°54′22″N 99°16′12″W / 26.90611°N 99.27000°W / 26.90611; -99.27000 (26.906244, -99.270007).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 9.6 square miles (25 km2), of which, 7.6 square miles (20 km2) of it is land and 2.0 square miles (5.2 km2) is water.


The city is located right on Falcon International Reservoir which is at the center of multiple, fishing events throughout the year

The city also served by a number of parks, most notably, Romeo Flores Park.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1950 343 —    
1960 2,031 +492.1%
1970 2,102 +3.5%
1980 3,831 +82.3%
1990 4,594 +19.9%
2000 4,856 +5.7%
2010 5,089 +4.8%
2012 5,173 +1.7%

At the 2010 census, there were 5,089 people, 4,328 households and 1,265 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 629.9 per square mile (243.2/km2). There were 2,239 housing units at an average density of 290.4 per square mile (112.1/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 92.38% White, 0.02% African American, 0.06% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 6.82% from other races, and 0.55% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 94.99% of the population.

At the 2000 census, there were 1,574 households, of which 41.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.7% were married couples living together, 15.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.6% were non-families. 18.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.07 and the average family size was 3.50.

31% of the population were under the age of 18, 7.4% from 20 to 24, 30.1% from 25 to 49, 15.2% from 50 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.8 males.

The median household income was $24,136 and the median family income was $27,708. Males had a median income of $30,833 compared with $12,604 for females. The per capita income was $11,863. About 29.1% of families and 33.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 45.1% of those under the age of 18 and 27.0% of those ages 65 and older.

Youth groups

Hang gliding

More world records in hang gliding have been set from Zapata than any other location in the world. The World Record Encampment has been taking place at the Zapata County Airport since 2000, and the first hang glider flights to break the 308-mile barrier took place there the first year. A distance record of 438 miles was set by Mike Barber in 2002. Three new world records were set in 2005, with the current world record, 472 miles, set by Dustin Martin in July, 2012.


Major highways in Zapata and their starting and ending points:

Zapata County Airport (FAA: APY) provides general aviation services to Zapata.

Nearby cities

City Population Distance (km)
Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas 373,725 50 mi (81 km)
Laredo, Texas 236,091 50 mi (81 km)
Monterrey, Nuevo Leon 4,080,329 141 mi (227 km)
Reynosa, Tamaulipas 589,466 101 mi (163 km)
Corpus Christi, Texas 305,215 164 mi (264 km)
San Antonio, Texas 1,327,407 205 mi (330 km)
Heroica Matamoros, Tamaulipas 449,815 159 mi (256 km)
Brownsville, Texas 175,023 154 mi (248 km)
Dallas, Texas 1,197,816 482 mi (776 km)

Bass fishing

Falcon International Reservoir located in Zapata is becoming well known for its bass fishing. The community hosts numerous "Winter Texans" between November and April, most residing in travel camper trailers.



Leading employers in Zapata County are the educational, health and social services, natural gas and oil, and retail trade industries.

The county’s present economy is mainly centered on oil and gas production, ranching, trading and services, and tourism. Its primary employers are in the mining/energy, construction, retail trade, health care, social welfare, and the services sector. Government is also a major employer in the county.


All of Zapata County is within the Zapata County Independent School District. ZCISD is designated as Class 4A, and participates in numerous UIL academic and athletic events. Sports offered by the school include cross country, volleyball, football, basketball, tennis, golf, track & field, softball, baseball, as well as powerlifting through the THSPA/THSWPA.

The Zapata High School Mariachi Band, Mariachi Halcon, has won the state championship in division 3A. It was the subject of a film, Mariachi High, which was broadcast nationally on PBS in 2012 and is rated 4.5 stars on Amazon Prime.

Colleges and universities

The city is served by schools in Laredo, fifty miles to the north on U.S. Highway 83 through Laredo Community College, Main and South campuses, and Texas A&M International University. In addition, educational institutions are also available fifty miles to the south in Rio Grande City, through the Starr County campuses of both South Texas College of McAllen and the University of Texas–Rio Grande Valley of Edinburg.

Public school districts

Zapata has one school district within the county Zapata County Independent School District.

Zapata County Independent School District

All of the schools listed here are in the city of Zapata. All of the ZCISD section of Zapata is zoned to Zapata High School:

Public elementary and middle schools

middle high schools that serve the ZCISD portion are:

  • Zapata Middle School

The elementary schools that serve the ZCISD portion are:

  • Arturo L. Benavides Elementary School
  • Fidel and Andrea R. Villarreal Elementary School
  • Zapata North Elementary School
  • Zapata South Elementary School
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