Ciudad del Carmen is a city in the southwest of the Mexican state of Campeche and the head of Carmen municipality. Ciudad del Carmen is located southwest of Carmen Island, which stands in the Laguna de Términos on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
The city is nicknamed “The Pearl of the Gulf”.
Ciudad del Carmen was a small city mostly devoted to fishing until the 1970s when oil was discovered in the region; since then it has grown and developed substantially. To this day Carmen is known as one of the best locations to find seafood in Mexico.
The city is also the seat of the state of Campeche’s Carmen municipality, which includes the city and the surrounding area. The 2010 census population of the municipality of Carmen was 221,094 people, second only to the capital municipality of Campeche.
Ciudad del Carmen is located on an island covering an area of 11,513 hectares.
The island is 40 kilometers in length and is 6 to 8 kilometers in its widest parts.
The island is mainly 2 to 3 meters above sea level.
Like most of the cities along the Yucatan’s gulf coast, Ciudad del Carmen exhibits a Tropical savanna climate. The city, situated on Carmen Island, has a pronounced dry season that lasts from January through May, with the wet season finishing out the year.
September and October bring copious rainfall, with both months averaging well over 200 millimeters.
As of 2010, Ciudad del Carmen had a population of 169,466, up from the 2005 census of 154,197.
The vast majority of habitants in Ciudad del Carmen come from other places.
This extreme emigration and immigration pattern displays diversity in culture and lifestyle, the petroleum industry is in part responsibility for this phenomenon that results in a rich and extraordinary culture mix.
Founded in the pre-Hispanic era, Ciudad del Carmen was an important location that served to connect the Aztec and Mayan civilizations.
Between the 16th and 18th centuries when the city of Campeche was a trade hub between Spain and New Spain (Mexico), Ciudad del Carmen was inhabited by pirates and served as a port for repairing ships and planning attacks against the Spanish.
The city got its current name on July 16, 1717, in honor of the Virgin of Carmen, believed to be the protector of the island, when the Spanish forces, commanded by Alonso Felipe de Andrade evicted the pirates from the island and took control the city after a long period of occupation.
Since then, every year at the end of July, Ciudad del Carmen turns into the very center of the regional social, cultural, and religious festivities, on the fair that celebrates the island’s protector virgin.
In 1840 the city had a population of about 7000.
This border area at the western edge of the Yucatán Peninsula was previously part of the state of Yucatán, then of Tabasco. Since 1863 it has been part of the state of Campeche.
In the mid-1970s Ciudad del Carmen was transformed from a fishing and shrimping city into a hub for oil when Pemex discovered large amounts of petroleum off the coast. Ever since, Carmen has become a home for Mexican and foreign oil workers alike, including many Texans, and now houses many foreign companies.
As late as the early 1980s the city could long be reached only by ferry boats called “pangas” or small motorboats operating between Ciudad del Carmen and Zacatal.
This changed with the construction of a causeway bridge to the mainland in the 1980s (eastbound) and another one in 1994 (westbound).
The construction of the first bridge was motivated by the sinking of one of the island’s pangas which resulted in the death of nearly everyone on board.
The bridge Puente El Zacatal, constructed in 1994, is one of the longest in Latin America.
You can dial 078 from any phone, where you can find free information about tourist attractions, airports, travel agencies, car rental companies, embassies and consulates, fairs and exhibitions, hotels, hospitals, financial services, migratory and other issues.
Or dial the toll-free (in Mexico) number 01-800-006-8839.
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MORE EMERGENCY NUMBERS:
General Information: 040 (not free)
National Emergency Service: 911