The Yucatan Peninsula juts into the Atlantic Ocean and separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Carribean Sea. Three
countries are within its boundaries: Mexico, Belize and Guatemala; however, most tourists are drawn to Mexico,
primarily to the ruins of Uxmal and Chichen Itza and the resort districts of Cancun and Cozumel.
Cancun was a quiet ocean side village until the 1970's when the government constructed a string of luxury resorts on a
manmade causeway. Cozumel developed with the government's help as well, spurred on by the thousands of visitors
from around the world searching for sunlit white-sand beaches and clear blue seas.
Uxmul and Chichen Itza are the remains of the great Mayan civilization, a nation that was conquered by the Spanish in
the mid-1500's. The sites are impressive, with massive pyramids and temples, plazas and avenues. The Mayan
descendants still exist, today. Despite the fact that many have integrated into modern life, the traditional language and
customs are practiced and observed.
The northern terrain of the Yucatan Peninsula is mainly limestone and receives little rain. The southern portion has
more rainfall and is forested in certain regions. Climate is hot year 'round. Agriculture crops include tobacco, coffee,
corn and henquen, a plant that produces the material the Mayans use to make hammocks, hats and sandals.
Port cities include Campeche and Chetumal. Cruise ships ports include Costa Maya, Progreso, and Playa del Carmen.
Merida, with more than 500,000 residents, is the largest city in the Peninsula.