What You Need To Know
Mérida is the capital of Yucatan, a state in Mexico. Merida is also the largest city of the Yucatán Peninsula. It is located in the northwest part of the state, about 35 kilometres (22 miles) off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.The city is also the municipal seat of the Municipality of Mérida, which includes the city and the areas around it. According to the 2015 census, the population of Mérida was 892,363, ranking 14th among the most populous Mexican cities. Among the four cities that share the same name around the world, it is the largest -the other three being in Spain, Venezuela, and the Philippines. The city, similarly to much of the state, has heavy Mayan, Spanish, French, British, Lebanese and to a lesser extent Dutch influences. Mérida has the highest percentage of indigenous population within any large city in Mexico. The percentage of the indigenous people was approximately 60% of all inhabitants being of Maya ethnicity.
The Yucatan Peninsula, in particular the capital city Merida, is in a prime location which allows for economic growth. Merida has been a popular location for investment. This, in turn, has allowed the Yucatan economy to grow at three times the rate of the national average. Since Merida is the capital city of Yucatan and one of the largest cities in this section of Mexico, region-based urbanization is highly influential, in comparison to city-based urbanization. As the capital city of the state of Yucatan, Merida has its advantages, “Cities, particularly capital cities, are where the vast majority of modern productive activities are concentrated in the developing world and where the vast majority of paid employment opportunities are located.” Many resources have been allocated to this region, but not everyone prospers with the influx of these resources. High rates of urban poverty can be attributed to the rapid development of these cities and resource and service allocation can be disproportionate between the rich and the poor of the area. Due to the rapid expansion of these cities, there is uneven distribution of services among members of the community. Due to the developing economy, based on urbanization of the city, high rates between the social classes are present; notable zones throughout the city are visible marking where the upper or lower class are present.
Interior of the government palace building decorated with murals by Fernando Castro Pacheco
Mérida is the constitutional capital of the state of Yucatán. State government officials reside here. The municipal or local government is designed as “Ayuntamiento” (in English translation is City Hall) and it’s seated at the Municipal Palace of Merida, located downtown. The “Ayuntamiento” is constituted of an elected mayor, assembly representatives and síndicos. The current mayor is María Fritz Sierra, an independent politician, who took office on January 7, 2018 as acting Mayor, after Mauricio Vila resigned.
Mérida has many regional hospitals and medical centers. All of them offer full services for the city and in case of the Regional Hospitals for the whole Yucatán peninsula and neighboring states. The city has one of the most prestigious medical faculties in Mexico (UADY). Proximity to American cities like Houston allow local Doctors to crosstrain and practice in both countries making Mérida one of the best cities in Mexico in terms of health services availability.
The Spanish language spoken in the Yucatán is readily identifiable as different in comparison to the Spanish spoken all over the country, and even to non-native ears. It is heavily influenced by the Yucatec Maya language, which is spoken by a third of the population of the State of Yucatán. The Mayan language is melodic, filled with plosive consonants (p’, k’, and t’) and “sh” sounds (represented by the letter “x” in the Mayan language). Even though the case being that so many people speak with the Mayan dialect, or in some instances the Mayan language, there is much stigma associated with it. It can be seen that elders were associated with higher status with knowledge of the language, but the younger generation saw more negative attitudes with knowledge of the language. This was also in direct correlation with the socioeconomic status and their overall placement in society. There is also the idea that one is not speaking in the correct manner of legitimate Mayan dialect, which also causes for more differences in the accent and overall language of the area. Being enclosed by the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, and with poor land communication with the rest of Mexico, Yucatecan Spanish has also preserved many words that are no longer used in many other Spanish-speaking areas of the world. However, over the years with the improvement of transportation and technology with the presence ofradio, internet, and TV, their isolation has eroded, and many elements of the culture and language of the rest of Mexico are now slowly but consistently permeating the culture. Apart from the Mayan language, which is the mother-tongue of many Yucatecans, students now choose to learn a foreign language like English, which is taught in most schools.
City service is mostly provided by four local transportation companies: Unión de Camioneros de Yucatán (UCY), Alianza de Camioneros de Yucatán (ACY), Rápidos de Mérida, and Minis 2000. Bus transportation is at the same level or better than that of bigger cities like Guadalajara or Mexico City. Climate-controlled buses and micro-buses (smaller in size) are not uncommon. The main bus terminal (CAME) offers first-class (ADO) and luxury services (ADO PLATINO, ADO GL) to most southern Mexico cities outside Yucatán with a fleet consisting of Mercedes Benz and Volvo buses. Shorter intrastate routes are serviced by many smaller terminals around the city, mainly in downtown.
Several groups and unions offer Taxi transportation: Frente Único de los Trabajadores del Volante (FUTV) (white taxis), Unión de Taxistas Independientes (UTI), and Radiotaxímetros de Yucatán, among others. Some of them offer metered service, but most work based on a flat rate depending on destination. Competition has made it of more common use than it was years ago. Taxis can be either found at one of many predefined places around the city (Taxi de Sitio), waved off along the way or called in by Radio. Unlike the sophisticated RF counterparts in the US, a Civil Band radio is used and is equally effective. Usually a taxi will respond and arrive within 5 minutes. Another type of Taxi service is called “Colectivo”. Colectivo taxis work like small buses on a predefined route and for a small fare. Usually accommodating 8 to 10 people. Uber also offers services in Mérida.
Merida Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport: a view of the check-in room. Mérida is serviced by Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport with daily non-stop services to major cities in Mexico (Mexico City, Monterrey, Villahermosa, Cancún, Guadalajara, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Toluca) and international (Miami, Houston, Dallas, La Havana, Atlanta) and usually receiving charter flight services to and from Europe and Canada. Also there is a good amount of freight and cargo planes moving in and out. As of 2006 more than a million passengers were using this airport every year, (1.3 in 2007) and it is under ASUR administration.
There was passenger train service to the city. The Meridano train ran from Mexico City to Mérida but does not run at this time.
Mérida features a tropical wet and dry climate (Köppen: Aw). The city lies in the trade wind belt close to the Tropic of Cancer, with the prevailing wind from the east. Mérida’s climate is hot and its humidity is moderate to high, depending on the time of year. The average annual high temperature is 33 °C (91 °F), ranging from 28 °C (82 °F) in January to 36 °C (97 °F) in May, but temperatures often rise above 38 °C (100 °F) in the afternoon in this time. Low temperatures range between 18 °C (64 °F) in January to 23 °C (73 °F) in May and June. It is most often a few degrees hotter in Mérida than in coastal areas due to its inland location and low elevation. The rainy season runs from June through October, associated with the Mexican monsoon which draws warm, moist air landward. Easterly waves and tropical storms also affect the area during this season.