Free Mexico Travel Guide and Travel Information


Nacajuca is a city in Nacajuca Municipality in the Mexican state of Tabasco. It is located 26 km from the state capital of Villahermosa. Nacajuca is the seat for the municipality of the same name.

Nacajuca also is the location for most state and federal buildings and services. Its main economic activities are commerce and agriculture. It has a population of about 8,200 people.

The name Nacajuca comes from Nahuatl and means “place of pale or discolored faces.” This name was given to the area by the Aztecs, who noticed the pale complexion of most of the people here due to the prevalent malaria.

The Miguel Hidalgo Central Park marks the Historic Center of the city and is the site of most of its civic, cultural, and recreational events. It has a modest kiosk in the center with a monument to Miguel Hidalgo in the southwest corner.

The San Antonio de Padua Temple is located facing the Hidalgo Park.

The current construction dates to 1965 in mostly Gothic style. The main facade has three levels with a triangular crest. The facade is flanked by two towers with four levels and a spire decorated with doves, which support a metallic cross.

The facade has pointed arches with three entrances, windows on the second level of the portal, and the third and fourth levels of the towers. The third level of the portal has a rose window as well as the second level of the towers.

Another is found on the north tower which the south tower has a clock. The interior has a basilica layout with the central nave higher than the side ones. This permits illumination from the windows in the center as well as the side windows.

Geography and Environment

The territory is flat with an elevation of about ten meters above sea level.

There are no notable hills. Its low terrain makes it very vulnerable to flooding. During the 2007 floods, which affected 80% of the state with a million people affected, the city of Nacajuca and other communities on higher ground became islands.

With roads washed out, the only way to reach these islands was with small boats.

This flood affected the entire municipality and destroyed or damaged most of the homes. Flooding from the Samaria River affected Chontal communities such as Guácimo, Pastal, Chcozapote, Guatacalca, and Oxiacaque in the municipality in October 2011.

Residents here blame the flood on discharge from the Peñitas Dam. Twenty-five percent of the state’s freshwater passes through the municipality. It has a large amount of surface water in the form of rivers, streams, and lakes.

The most important rivers include Carrizal, Samaria, Cunduacán, Nacajuca, González, Calzada, San Cipriano, and Jahuactal, and the important lakes are Cantemó, La Ramada, Desagüe, and Pucté.

The dominant ecosystem in the municipality is a wetland with a wide variety of flora and fauna. However, this ecosystem has been badly degraded by overexploitation. In addition, there are some areas with lakes, grassland, and forests.

The little forest area has also been seriously threatened by over–logging for tropical hardwoods and clearing for pasture.

The main fauna of the area includes rabbits, opossums, armadillos, caiman crocodiles, pejelagarto, coral snakes, iguanas, and more, all of which are considered threatened.

Climate and Weather

The climate is hot and humid with abundant rain year-round, especially in the summer.

The average annual temperature is 26.4C. The highest temperatures occur in May with an average of 30.8C and low temperatures generally occur in January with an average of 22.4C.

The highest and lowest temperatures ever recorded are 44C and 12C respectively.

The average annual rainfall for the area is 1707.2mm with September accounting for most of the precipitation at an average of 735.8mm. The driest month is April with 251.2mm.

Average annual relative humidity ranges from 78% in May and June to 85% in January and February. The windiest months are November and December with speeds of up to 32 km/hr. In June and July, the average wind speed is 20 km/hr.

History and Chronology

Nacajuca boasts a rich history that intertwines with the broader narrative of the Maya civilization and Spanish colonization. The roots of human settlement in Nacajuca trace back to the decline of the great Maya cities such as Palenque, Tikal, Uxmal, and Comalcalco.

As these urban centers were abandoned, it is believed that their inhabitants followed the rivers, establishing new communities in the plains of Tabasco and along the Gulf of Mexico coast.

The indigenous population of Nacajuca, originally named Nacaxuxuca, was officially founded on June 13, 1325. By the time the Spanish arrived in 1518, the Maya Chontales had settled in the river deltas of Mezcalapa, Grijalva, and Usumacinta.

Notably, in late 1524 and early 1525, the conquistador Hernán Cortés passed through Tabasco on his way to Honduras. During his journey, he visited a settlement he referred to as Anaxuxuca, which chronicler Bernal Díaz del Castillo called Nacaxuxuca, meaning “place of pale or discolored faces” in Nahuatl. This name was a reference to the local inhabitants, who were often afflicted by malaria due to the abundance of mosquitoes in the swampy region.

In his “Fifth Letter of Relation” from 1525, Cortés described the region as abundant in cacao and other provisions, with many fishing opportunities. He noted the challenging terrain, which during the rainy season was impassable except by canoe.

Fast forward to the colonial period, on April 10, 1579, the mayor of Tabasco, Vasco Rodríguez, commissioned Melchor Alfaro Santa Cruz to create the first map of Tabasco province and document its details for the Spanish crown.

The exact date of Nacajuca’s Spanish foundation is unclear, but by 1614, the first church and royal house, made of straw, hedge, and mud, were constructed in the town.

Throughout the 19th century, Nacajuca played a role in the political and military events of the era. On July 31, 1843, local authorities swore allegiance to the constitutional bases sanctioned by President Antonio López de Santa Anna.

In 1844, Manuel Antonio León and Colonel Manuel Plasencia formed a volunteer company to defend Tabasco against an invasion led by Colonel Francisco de Sentmanat y Sayas. By July 15, 1845, the Nacajuca council recognized Juan José Herrera as president of the Republic and Juan de Dios Salazar as governor.

On November 17, 1852, a state decree established Nacajuca as a party, including surrounding villages like Tucta, Mazateupa, and Guaytalpa. The town was elevated to the status of a villa on February 14, 1863, during the governorship of Victorino Dueñas Outruani. Finally, in January 1971, Governor Mario Trujillo García decreed that Nacajuca be raised to the rank of a city.

Today, Nacajuca stands as a testament to the resilience and evolution of its people, from ancient Maya roots to its contemporary status, reflecting a blend of indigenous heritage and colonial influence.

Chontal Maya

Nacajuca is a major center of the state’s Chontal Maya population, which principally lives in the north center of Tabasco.

They call themselves “yoko yinikob” and “yoko ixikob” which mean true men and true women respectively. The name Chontal comes from Nahuatl and means “foreigner” originally how the Aztecs called them.

Their language is of the Mayan family, which is descended from a language spoken in southeastern Mexico four thousand years ago. It belongs to the Ch’ol subgroup and further divides today into several mutually intelligible dialects.

There are three main dialects, North, South, and Tapotzingo, with North and Tapotzingo centered in the Nacajuca area. The number of speakers of Chontal Maya has been increasing since 1980 with about 60% of the ethnic population able to speak it at least somewhat.

These speakers are almost always bilingual. One reason for this is the introduction of bilingual education in the 1970s.

According to the 2010 government census, there are 13,809 speakers of an indigenous language, and almost all indigenous language speakers (over 96%) are speakers of Chontal Maya.

However, government census data, which only counts the number of Chontal speakers over the age of five, does not accurately reflect the size of the Chontal community.

In 2000, the size of the ethnic Chontal Maya community was estimated at 36.9% of the total. Fourteen of the municipality’s communities are considered to be primarily indigenous, another four predominantly indigenous, and six with a large indigenous population.

Those without strong Indigenous presence number 38.

Communities with a strong Chontal Maya presence include Tucta, Tapotzingo, Mazateupa, Guaytalpa, Tecoluta, Oxiacaque, Guatacalca, Olcuatitán, San Isidro, San Simón, El Sitio, Isla Guadalupe, El Tigre, Guanosolo and Saloya.


The municipality’s culture is strongly influenced by the Chontal Maya population, especially in religious traditions which are a syncretism of Catholic and indigenous rituals.

The village of Olcuatitlán is noted for its Candlemas celebration in early February masses, dances, and fireworks. Another aspect is the use of leafy tree branches as offerings to religious images in the hope of good crops and livestock production for the coming year.

Traditional dress for women consists of a long, full-flowered skirt and a white cotton blouse embroidered around the neck. For men, it consists of white cotton pants and a shirt with a red handkerchief around the neck with a hat called “chontal”, carrying back and machete.

Traditional foodstuffs include a plant called guao (Comocladia dentate), turtle, pejelagarto, and other river fish and turkey. Traditional sweets are made from coconut, papaya, lemons, mangos, prunes, and a type of yam (camote).

The most traditional drink is pozol, made from chocolate and corn, along with hot chocolate and fruit drinks. The community of Saloya is known for its palapa-type restaurants specializing in regional dishes and seafood.

Use these tags to read more related posts and reviews:
Let us know if this article was useful for you