Veracruz, Veracruz

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Veracruz is the name of both a state in Mexico and that state's largest city. This article is about the city. For the state, see: state of Veracruz. For other uses, see Veracruz (disambiguation).
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Veracruz from space, July 1997

The city of Veracruz is a major port city on the Gulf of Mexico in the Mexican state of Veracruz. It is located 105 kilometers (65 miles) along Federal Highway 140 from the state capital Xalapa, and is the state's third most populous city (after the Coatzacoalcos-Minatitlán conurbation and Orizaba), with a population of about 500,000 in 2000. It is often referred to as Puerto de Veracruz to distinguish it from the state.

The sea port was founded by Hernán Cortés, who first landed there in 1519 at the start of his quest to conquer Mexico for Spain. It was named La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz ("The Rich Town of the True Cross"; the name is also occasionally given as La Rica Villa de la Vera Cruz). It was the main port of New Spain, the port where silver from the mines of Mexico was loaded onto the Spanish treasure fleets for shipment to Spain. The port was harassed by hostile powers and by pirates; pirate bands succeeded in pillaging the city in 1653 and in 1712. In response to such dangers the large fortress of San Juan de Ulúa was built on an island in the harbor, beginning in 1565 and substantially expanded several times later.

Veracruz is Mexico's third largest Gulf city (after Tampico and Coatzacoalcos-Minatitlán) and an important port on Mexico's east coast. A natural harbor, Veracruz has been fought over throughout its history, and boasts the title "Four Times Heroic" in reference to the expulsion of the Spanish in 1815, the 1838 occupation of the French Navy in the Pastry War, and resistance to the United States's occupations of 1847 and 1914 (see: Siege of Veracruz and U.S. occupation of Veracruz, 1914).

During the Mexican-American War, US forces led by Gen. Winfield Scott took the city on March 29, 1847 after a siege. It was captured by France in 1838 and again in 1861. In 1914 it was occupied by the United States for seven months, this time under Major General Frederick Funston.

The railroad connecting Veracruz to Mexico City, 264 miles inland over mountain ranges, was constructed during the administration of Benito Juárez and inaugurated in 1873.

The city is known for its rich traditions of music, including marimba bands, and danzonera, comparsa, and la bamba.

The malecón harbor-front walk along the docks draws many tourists, more from within Mexico than foreigners. The city has several beaches as well, like Villa del Mar and Mocambo.da:Veracruz (by) de:Veracruz Llave fr:Veracruz (ville)

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