Situated in northeastern Mexico, the state of Coahuila borders the Mexican states of San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon, Durango, Zacatecas, and Chihuahua. It also borders the United States for 318 miles along the Rio Grande. Bordering the U.S. state of Texas, Coahuila sees considerable tourist traffic and boasts many natural and cultural attractions. As the third-largest state of Mexico, Coahuila is celebrated for its landscape and natural beauty.
Coahuila has an area of 58,519 square miles. The fifteenth most populous state of the country, Coahuila boasts a population of 2,798,064 people. The state’s capital is Saltillo; however, its most populous city is Torreon. Coahuila was admitted as a state in 1824. In fact, the state of Texas was part of Coahuila until it declared itself a republic in 1835. Eventually Texas was annexed as a U.S. state, while Coahuila grew into one of Mexico’s most important industrial centers producing roughly a third of the country’s steel.
Geography and Landscape
Coahuila is crossed by the Sierra Madre range. Its lands are part of the Chihuahua Desert as well as the Miapi Desert. It also contains a fertile region of land known as Lagunera region which stretches into Durango, as well. Much of the desert lands of the state are well known for their intensely hot temperatures and dry climate. Wildfires are not uncommon in the arid and semi-arid regions of Coahuila. The forested areas of the state, particularly the mountainscapes, are known for their more moderate climate. To the west of the city of Monclova are the state’s wetlands known as Cuatro Cienegas (Four Marshes) which is protected as a national biosphere reserve. The southern region of the state is celebrated for its wine and brandy production. A land of contradictions, there are many pools, lagoons, wells, and rivers located in various sections of the state. The flora of the state consists of desert scrubland, but also cassava and thistle bushes. The forests are known for their stands of oak and pine trees. The state’s fauna includes such animals as rattlesnake, grizzly bear, eagle, puma, wild boar, and deer.
Nomadic hunter gatherers entered the region of Coahuila roughly twelve thousand years ago. Archaeologists have discovered that these people often lived in caves near rivers where they fished and hunted. Eventually, these early Mesoamericans began practicing agriculture and settlements increased in size and became more advanced. Some of the best known tribes of Coahuila include the Huauchichiles, Coahuiltecos, and Rayados. The Spanish did not begin to colonize this northern area of Mexico until long after they conquered the Aztecs. The Spanish began there northern colonization in 1550. Although European diseases resulted in extensive losses of indigenous lives throughout the country, Coahuila was hit especially hard and lost roughly ninety percent of its indigenous population. Like other northern regions, Coahuila was not easily subdued by the invading Spaniards and there were many uprisings in the decades that followed the initial period of colonization. The extreme climate of the region and short supply of water also challenged the Spanish.
Once the Spanish made inroads into the region, they needed to import indigenous people from other areas since the local population had been decimated by disease. Tlaxaltec people of the south were brought northward to help settle Coahuila. In 1856, Coahuila was incorporated into the state of Nuevo Leon but regained jurisdiction over its lands in 1868. Over time, Coahuila became well known for its prosperous ranches and wine producing region.
Many people come to the state to visit one or several of its distinctive regions. The wine-making region is popular with tourists, but so are both of its biosphere reserves. Today, the state is known for its progressive cities and towns that boast historical and cultural attractions alike. Museums, festivals, and other activities lure tourists to the cities while the mountains and extraordinary features of the landscape beckon eco-tourists and adventure-seekers. Moreover, Coahuila has a rich paleontological past that complements its extraordinary geology.
Situated right in the heart of Mexican cattle country, Coahuila is a meat-eating and dairy-loving state. It is also known for its orchards that produce a wide array of fruits. Unlike other states where cornmeal is integral to the diet, Coahuila eats many wheat-based items as it’s is so close to the U.S. where wheat is consumed more widely than corn. Some of the state’s traditional meals include baked goat and rehydrated salt beef known as machaca con huevo. Milk-based candies and desserts are also widely consumed throughout the state.
Sometimes called the Athens of Mexico, Saltillo is rich with cultural attractions that make it one of the most celebrated cities of northern Mexico. Founded in 1577, Saltillo contains colonial architecture that is popular with visitors to the city. The pink marble of Saltillo’s Colonial Center is a recognizable feature of this old city. Its largest park, Alameda Zaragoza, and its artificial lake are some of the most celebrated features of the city. Its cathedral and world-famous museums also draw tourists to the capital throughout the year.
Other Things to See and Do:
Parras: Famed for its wine traditions, the Parras region is also celebrated for its numerous bodies of water that are noted for their extreme natural beauty. Many Mexicans believe the Parras wineries are the best in the country.
Arteaga Mountains: The diverse terrain of these mountains attracts many tourists who visit to not only witness the gorgeous landscape, but also to hike, mountain bike, and camp.
Museo del Desierto: This world-famous museum of the desert ecosystem is celebrated for its excellence. Fusing regional geology, paleontology, biology, art and more, the museum is itself a major draw for visitors to the state.
Torreon: This modern city is one of the nation’s fastest-growing. As a business hub, Torreon is home to international companies; to accommodate its visitors, the city has developed noted restaurants, shopping venues, and vibrant nightlife.
Museo de las Aves Mexico: Located in Saltillo, this famed bird museum represents roughly seventy-three percent of the country’s bird species. Through its acclaimed exhibits and environmental education initiatives, the museum is important for Mexico’s conservation efforts.