People of the Yucatan

The Yucatan is home to some of the friendliest folks in the world. Whether in Cancun’s lively restaurants downtown, Merida’s fashionable Paseo de Montejo, Campeche’s old walled forts, or Valladolid’s mercado, you can be sure of a warm welcome from everyone.

The ethnic and cultural make-up of the people who call the Yucatan home is relatively straightforward. A large percentage of the population is Maya, descendants of the original glorious civilization that stretched from the peninsula into the Mexican state of Chiapas, Guatemala, Belize and parts of El Salvador and Honduras. Generally small of stature, with facial structures that resemble the American Indian, most Maya speak their own native tongue as well as Spanish, now required in school.

Mayan Woman

The largest proportion of inhabitants is mestizo, the term used to describe Mexican people whose Spanish- descent bloodline is mixed with that of the indigenous population. An influx of Lebanese merchants into the Yucatan during henequen’s heyday also added to the gene pool. Additionally, recent job opportunities in Cancun have attracted many workers from all over Mexico, especially the Federal District (Mexico City). Many of the newcomers have intermarried, blending into the population.