Michoacán

Resting on the west coast of Mexico, on the Pacific Ocean the state of Michoacán is beautiful with a rich history and culture.  Michoacán borders the states of Jalisco, Colima, Guanajuato, Queretaro, Mexico, and Guerrero.  Michoacán is famous for its indigenous peoples, landscape, and major cities like the capital, Morelia, and Patzcuaro.  In spite of the state’s natural beauty, the inhabitants of the region are notably against Cancun-like development.  Instead, the region has a serene air of enchantment. This is one of many reasons why visitors love to witness everyday life there.

Michoacan on Map
Michoacan (Orange) is bordered by Colima to the north and Guerrero to the south.

Important Facts about Michoacán

Morelia alley leading to cathedral
A street leading to Catedral Morelia, Morelia Michoacán

Michoacán became a state of Mexico in 1823.  It has an area of 22,642 square miles on the mainland and also retains some marine territory off the coast.  The population of the state is 4,383,769; it is the ninth most populous state of Mexico.  Large indigenous populations in the state include the Purepecha, Otomi, and Nahua.

Catedral de Morelia in Michoacan
Catedral de Morelia in magical Michoacán

Geography and Environment

With mountains to the east and the ocean to the west, Michoacán is is a lovely year-round climate.  It has more than 130 miles of Pacific coastline including stretches of the Sierra Madre del Sur; these mountains cross the state as does the Trans-Mexican Volcano Belt.  The area’s best known volcano is Paricutin, a cinder-cone volcano that last erupted in 1952.  The state also boasts various waterways like the Lerma River.  Beautiful Lake Patzcuaro and its islands attract many tourists.  With its varying ecosystems, the state is home to many kinds of animals like mountain lions, foxes, armadillos, and various reptiles.  The state is home to conifer forests as well as tropical forests.

Maruate Michoacan
Maruate Michoacán

History of Michoacán

The Purepecha Indians are the most important of the region’s pre-Columbian civilizations.  They were one of the few highland tribes to repel the Aztec expansion.  The tribe intrigues modern-day historians and linguists because the language of the Purepecha is like none other in Mexico.  Linguistically, the closest match is in Ecuador.  After the Spanish conquered the area, missionaries began to settle throughout the region. 

The Spanish kept nearly all the land and restricted education to those born in Spain or descended from Spanish families.  The region is famous for producing thinkers like Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. Miguel Hidalgo was a Spanish priest who lead an army of poor people against the Spanish.  Although he ultimately suffered execution, his role in the Mexican War for Independence gave him a reputation as the Father of Mexico.  The archeological sites and historical landmarks scattered throughout the state draw many visitors as does the colonial architecture of many cities and towns of the region.

Camecuaro Michoacán - Lake Picnic
Picnics on the Shore of Lake Camecuaro. Michoacán

Food of Michoacán

The indigenous influence on the food here is lasting and deep.   Centuries of regional recipes have pass down to create what many call Mexico’s most soulful cuisine.  Fish from the Pacific, as well as the rivers and lakes of the state, play a major role in the food of Michoacán.  When the Spanish settled in the region, their flavors enhanced, but never replaced the regional staples.  Today, a rich cuisine greets travelers to this state.  Corn, beans, rice, and popular items like tamales with unique flavors and ingredients of Michoacán. These extraordinary tastes are unique to Mexico.

Tourism

While Michoacán is famous for its stunning beauty, it has not been commercially exploited like so many other areas of Mexico.  For this reason, it attracts tourists who appreciate culture and history.  Miles of lovely beaches and enchanting forestlands make this state a true stand out for those considering a Mexican vacation.

Statue of Jose Maria Morelos atop Janitzio
Statue of Jose María Morelos atop Janitzio

Morelia

As well as the capital, Morelia is also the state’s largest city.  Morelia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991 due to its historic center and Spanish Colonial architecture.  It sits in the eastern part of the state and contains many important interesting tourist sites.  The city’s cathedral, large plazas, and museums offer considerable tourist appeal.  The Museo del Estado and the Museo de Arte Colonial draw big crowds. But, the unique Orquidario of Morelia is a must-see attraction if you have an interest in botanicals. It contains more than 3,400 species of orchids.  With its festivals—especially is film festival—and its myriad of colonial architecture, Morelia is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the state.

church destroyed by paricutin volcano lava flow
church destroyed by paricutin volcano lava flow

Things to See and Do in the Michoacán

El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary:  This internationally acclaimed sanctuary is one of the state’s most famous attractions.  Located on the state’s eastern border near the village of Angangueo, this haven welcomes migrating butterflies who have traveled south from as far north as Canada.

Maruata:  This coastal town is home to a Nahuat indigenous population.  This breathtaking area is nesting grounds for Pacific green sea turtles that attract many backpackers to the shoreline.

maruate michoacan rocks
Maruata Michoacán rocks

Patzcuaro:  Situated on the shores of beautiful Lago de Patzcuaro, this village is located roughly between the cities of Morelia and Uruapan.  Archeological ruins and its contemporary Day of the Dead celebration lure travelers from all over the globe as well as from other Mexican states.

Janitzio Lake, Patzcuaro Michoacán
Janitzio Lake, Patzcuaro Michoacán

Uruapan:  The state’s second largest city, Uruapan is famous for its avocados.  It is also one of the country’s oldest cities and attracts many visitors each year.

Parque Nacional Eduardo Ruiz:  This unique national park is in the city of Uruapan.  It is famous for its river spring as well as many fountains and cascades and lush tropical growth.

Paricutin:  From academic volcano experts to adventuresome thrill seekers, this volcano offers climbers an extraordinary experience amidst a scenic paradise.

Camecuaro (lago) Zamora de Hidalgo Michoacán
Camecuaro (lago) Zamora de Hidalgo Michoacán

Los Azufres Nacional Parque:  With its refreshing pools and curative hot springs, this national park is a naturals spa.  It’s in the city of Hidalgo.

Paracho:  This village honors centuries-old traditions as well as its handicraft items.  The artisans of Paracho are particularly famous for their skill in instrument-making—especially guitars!

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