A northeastern Mexican state, bordering Texas on the north, and the Gulf of Mexico on the east. Its area is about 30,000 square miles (or slightly smaller than South Carolina), with a population of about 2.25 million. Its capital is Ciudad Victoria.

Northern Tamaulipas shares its culture with that of Texas, and is primarily characterized by agriculture and industrial growth. This region is home to many of the maquiladoras, factories owned by US companies but worked primarily by Mexicans. Its principal cities are Matamoros, Reynosa, and Nuevo Laredo. Nearly half the population lives in this border area.

Southern Tamaulipas' economy is based primarily on petroleum drilling and processing, which takes place largely in the city of Ciudad Madero. Also of importance are the tourism and fishing industries, as well as much commercial shipping, based in Tampico. A quarter of the population lives in this pleasant coastal area.

The central zone contains the capital, Ciudad Victoria, and is home to much foresting and farming, as well as some industrial development. About 30% of the population lives here, both in the capital and in Ciudad Mante. Ciudad Victoria is a significant educational center, home to the Autonomous University of Tamaulipas(which also has campuses in other cities in the state), the Regional Technical Institute of Ciudad Victoria, the University of Valle de Bravo, and other institutions of learning.

Not all is rosy, however. As of the 1990 census, 13 percent of the homes have only dirt floors, nearly 19 percent have no running water, and over 15 percent of the homes have no electricity. This is better than the national average, but is skewed because of the high rate of development in the urban centers -- in rural communities in Tamaulipas, access to running water is available in less than 40 percent of homes.


The area currently known as Tamaulipas has been inhabited for at least 8000 years. Several different cultures existed back then, the north coastal, south coastal, lowlands, and mountains.

After Cortez conquered the Aztecs rather quickly, it was a gradual process by which Spain subjugated the inhabitants of Tamaulipas in the 16th and 17th centuries. More work along these lines was done by Franciscan missionaries, although repeated indigenous rebellions kept the area unstable. The local government capital during this time moved from Santander, to San Carlos, and finally to Aguayo.

After Mexico's independence from Spain, Tamaulipas continued to be an unstable region. The fight in national government between federalist and centralist factions resulted in repeated rebellions. In January of 1854 Tamaulipas was declared a state of the union, during the civil war between Santa Anna and the liberal guerrilla factions that had been in power before him. Its capital was kept as Aguayo, which would later be renamed Ciudad Victoria.

The French occupation and reign of Emperor Maximilian during the 1860's was difficult for Tamaulipas, at least on the borders and in the city of Tampico. Portions of Tamaulipas supported the guerrilla fighters resisting the French, especially in the north. It was not until two years after French occupation began, that Tamaulipas as a state finally acceded to Maximilian's rule, and it was not until 1866 that the last French soldiers left the state, leading up to Maximilian's execution in 1867.

However, the years after Maximilian's defeat were ones of rebuilding and great growth in Tamaulipas. International trade began to blossom, especially with the coming of the railroad to Tampico, which was developing as not only a port city, but an industrial and commercial center as well. The railroad allowed goods to flow quickly from the mines and cities of the interior and the Texas border to Tampico for processing and shipment. This in turn caused significant growth in towns such as Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo.

Since the revolution of 1910, successive governments have been dedicated to building industry and infrastructure in Tamaulipas, including communications and educational systems. Norberto Trevino Zapata founded the state university system as well as reforming the state oil industry. Marte Gomez provided increased farm sizes for private family farmers. And more recently, Emilio Martinez Manautou led industrial growth. Lately a push has been to strengthen fishing, including fights to increase the price of fish and shellfish on the international market.

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