Located on the northwest coast of Mexico on the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean, the state of Sinaloa is home to famed Mexican destinations such as Mazatlan and its nearby islands. Sinaloa borders the states of Durango, Sonora, Chihuahua, and Nayarit. Its capital of Culiacan Rosales is also its largest city. Famous for its banda music and several thousand year-old game known as ulama, the state is filled with both cultural and historical attractions. Its position on the sea makes it popular among vacationers.
Admitted as a state in 1830, Sinaloa is home to a population of 2,788,423 people. It boasts an area of 22,153 square miles, making it the eighteenth largest state in the country. The state is home to eighteen municipalities and also has jurisdiction over various islands like Palmito de la Virgen, Santa Maria, and San Ignacio.
Geography and Landscape
With its nearly four hundred miles of coastline, Sinaloa lies on both the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California) and the Pacific Ocean. The state’s coastal lands are mainly plains and prairies interspersed with hills. The gentle slope of the coastal region is ideal for agriculture and pastures. Heading inland, Sinaloa is crossed by the Western Sierra Madre that feature various deep canyons and peaks. Various shallow rivers like the Culiacan, Presidio, Tamazula, Fuerte, and Sinaloa also cross the state. The mountainous regions boast a hot climate and are home to animals like wild cats, deer, and wild boar. The coast is home to extensive fishing; coastal waters are home to sea bass, grouper, snapper, and shrimp to name a few types of marine life. The capital, located in the western region of the state, is surrounded by agricultural lands where vegetables, fruit, and even cotton are grown.
Essentially six major indigenous tribes made their home in the state before the arrival of the Spanish. These tribes included the Cahita, Pacaxee, Totorame, Tahue, Xixime, and Acaxee and were primarily hunter gatherer peoples. Though most of these tribes were peaceful and lived in scattered settlements throughout the region, the Cahita were known as notorious cannibals and fierce warriors. Little is known, however, of the earliest groups who entered the region and study and excavation of the states ancient peoples and sites still continues. The Spanish, under the mantle of hated Conquistador Nuno Beltran de Guzman fought its way to the Pacific Ocean through Sinaloa in 1529. Guzman’s army was able to defeat many Cahita warriors; however, the army was greatly dwindled by an epidemic that plagued them during their time in Sinaloa. Nevertheless, Guzman managed to found the city of San Miguel de Culiacan. In spite of continued uprisings and fighting between the indigenous people and the Spanish, the Spanish still managed to found other import cities like El Fuerte.
After the Mexican War for Independence, Sinaloa eventually achieved statehood in its own right and began to prosper from its poppy production, selling opium to the U.S. as it was still legal at that time. Today, Sinaloa is renowned as Mexico’s bread basket since more than seventy percent of the land is used for agriculture. Its beautiful coast and cultural attractions attract many visitors today.
Like many states of Mexico, Sinaloa has many dishes that are particular to the state. With its acres and acres of fresh produce and waters teeming with fish and shrimp, it isn’t surprising that Mexicans revere Sinaloa for its delectable cuisine. Chilorio is a famous dish made from fried pulled pork and many spices. The state is also well known for its milk candies and other desserts. Cities like the capital and Mazatlan are also known for many types of international cuisines like Japanese, Italian, and Thai.
Many tourists visit the state to enjoy its beaches or other state attractions. Its most popularly visited city is Mazatlan, a coastal resort town known for its beaches of lustrous white sand and spectacular surfing. Santa Maria Island and its surrounding islands are also noted tourist destinations. Sport fishing for mahi-mahi, sailfish, and swordfish. There are also cultural and historical attractions throughout the state.
Founded at the confluence of the Humaya and Tamazula Rivers where they flow into the Culiacan River, the capital was founded by Guzman when it initially went by the name of San Miguel de Culiacan. Centrally located in the state, Culiacan is an important food processing and distribution hub for the northern section of the country. The capital is known for its cathedral, but most especially for its thermal baths that draw tourists from far and wide to experience the city’s spas and resorts based on these therapeutic waters.
This beach-lovers’ city is filled with fabulous tourist venues. Sport fishing, scuba, surfing, or enjoying life in the city’s spas and resorts is popular with many visitors. The restaurants are filled with fresh seafood as well as both traditional and fusion cuisines. The coast around Mazatlan and island cliffs are popular for cliff diving. Surrounding villages offer glimpses of traditional life and also where native handcrafts can be purchased. The rural communities of Mazatlan are also famous for their games of ulama; tourists can glimpse a game that has been continuously played in the region for more than three thousand years.
Other Things to See and Do
Isla de Piedra: Situated to the south of Mazatlan, this island is noted for its paradise-like atmosphere. Pristine beaches and a landscape brimming with toucans, parrots, and other majestic birds beckon many eco-friendly tourists who appreciate the timeless beauty of the island.
Los Mochis: Famed as a great city for sports, Los Mochis is noted in Mexico as a premier wrestling city. It’s also noted for baseball and soccer; many tourists and sports fans visit the city to catch a performance by their favorite sports teams.
Topolopambo Bay: This remarkable bay is located less than twenty miles from Los Mochis. It’s a favorite Sea of Cortez destination for fishing. The port is famous for its fresh seafood dishes as well!
Sinaloa Art Museum: Located in the capital, the state art museum is a popular attraction set in a nineteenth century building. Its impressive collection includes works by artists like Diego Rivera and Francisco Toledo.