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Published on Aug 13, 2010
Chiapas is the southernmost state of Mexico, located towards the southeast of the country. Chiapas is bordered by the states of Tabasco to the north, Veracruz to the northwest, and Oaxaca to the west. To the east Chiapas borders Guatemala, and to the south the Pacific Ocean, Chiapas has an area of about 74,211 km2 (28,653 sq mi). The 2005 Mexican census population was 4,293,459 people.
In general Chiapas has a humid, tropical climate. In the north, in the area bordering Tabasco, near Teapa, rainfall can average more than 3,000 mm (120 in) per year. In the past, natural vegetation at this region was lowland, tall perennial rainforest, but this vegetation has been destroyed almost completely to give way to agriculture and ranching. Rainfall decreases moving towards the Pacific Ocean, but it is still abundant enough to allow the farming of bananas and many other tropical crops near Tapachula. On the several parallel "sierras" or mountain ranges running along the center of Chiapas, climate can be quite temperate and foggy, allowing the development of cloud forests like those of the Reserva de la Biosfera el Triunfo, home to a handful of Resplendent Quetzals and Horned Guans.
The state capital city is Tuxtla Gutiérrez; other cities and towns in Chiapas include San Cristóbal de las Casas, Comitán, and Tapachula. Chiapas is home to the ancient Mayan ruins of Palenque, Yaxchilán, Bonampak, Chinkultic, and Toniná.
As of the mid 1990s, most people in Chiapas were poor, rural small farmers. About one quarter of the population were of full or predominant Maya descent, and in rural areas many did not speak Spanish. The state suffers from the highest rate of malnutrition in Mexico, estimated to affect more than 40% of the population. "Without roads, cities or even small towns, eastern Chiapas is a kind of dumping ground for the marginalized, in which all of the hardships peasants confront in the highlands are exacerbated."
The increasing presence of Central American gangs known as Maras, and illegal immigration from Central America in general (mostly immigrants on their way to the United States), stresses an already poor state. These immigrants are subject to human rights violations from Mexican authorities.
In 1994, violence erupted between the Mexican Government and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). There are currently 32 Rebel Autonomous Zapatista Municipalities (MAREZ) affiliated with the EZLN in Chiapas. ( source Wikipedia )