Tampico is a city and port in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico; it is located on the north bank of the Pánuco River, about 10 kilometres (6 mi) from the Gulf of Mexico. The city is located in the southeastern part of the state, directly north of the state of Veracruz. Tampico is the fifth-largest city in Tamaulipas with a population of 297,284. The Metropolitan area of Tampico has 859,419 inhabitants.
In the early 20th century during the period of Mexico’s first oil boom, the city was the “chief oil-exporting port of the Americas” and the second in the world, yielding profits that were invested in the city’s “grandiose architecture,” often compared to that of Venice and New Orleans. The first oil well in Mexico was drilled here in 1901 at Ébano. In 1923 the major oil field dried up, leading to an exodus of jobs and investment.
Economic development during the 1920s made the city a pioneer in the aviation and soda industries. The city also is a major exporter of silver, copper, and lumber, together with wool, hemp, and other agricultural products. Containerized cargo, however, is mainly handled by the neighboring ocean port of Altamira.
The name “Tampico” is of Huastec origin: tam-piko, meaning “place of otters” (literally “water dogs”). The city is surrounded by rivers and lagoons of the delta of the Pánuco River, which was the habitat of a large population of otters. There had been successive human settlements in the area for centuries. The region had several early Huastec settlements, among them the important site at Las Flores, which flourished between AD 1000 and 1250.
During colonization, the Spanish Franciscan priest Andrés de Olmos established a mission and monastery in the area during 1532, building over a former Aztec village. At his request, Spanish officials founded a settlement named San Luis de Tampico in 1554. This site was abandoned in 1684 and the population relocated to the south of the Pánuco River because of frequent attacks by European and Americans pirates
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. The area was abandoned for nearly 150 years.
The present Mexican city was founded on April 13, 1823 on the north bank of the Pánuco River about 10 kilometres (6 mi) from the Gulf, after Mexico achieved independence from Spain. It rerouted African slaves to be illegally smuggled into the Deep South of the United States (which had ended its international trade) and also exported silver. In August 1829, Spain sent a force of troops from Cuba to invade Tampico in an effort to regain control. But, in September General Antonio López de Santa Anna led forces that brought the Spanish troops to surrender, and Mexican control of Tampico was re-established. Business development was mostly as a trading center and market town of an agricultural region
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The first oil well in Mexico was drilled near here at Ébano S.L.P. in 1901, by Californian Edward Doheny, who founded Mexican Petroleum Corporation. In the early 20th century, there was extensive US investment in oil development in Tampico, with a sizable United States expatriate community developing in relation to the industry. With the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution, which lasted roughly from 1910 to 1920, the US monitored the situation to protect its citizens and investments. Doheny sold some of his businesses to the Standard Oil Company which operated its monopoly here. The oil-producing area was so productive it was called the “Golden Belt.”
The oil fields known as Ébano, Pánuco, Huasteca, and Túxpan are all situated within a 160-kilometre (99 mi) radius of the city. Oil was often shipped on barges along the rivers. To improve transportation of oil to the port, the government built the Chijol Canal, beginning in 1901. It is 1.8 m (6 ft) deep and 7.6 m (25 ft) wide and runs 120 km (75 mi) southward through the oil fields to Tuxpan.
During the Mexican Revolution, on April 9, 1914, 10 Mexican troops and nine U.S. Navy sailors from the USS Dolphin confronted each other in a failure to communicate as US forces tried to get fuel supplies. General Victoriano Huerta’s forces in the city were threatened by different groups from both north and south. The Americans were arrested; they were freed but the US resented Huerta’s demands for some recognition. In the resulting Tampico Affair, the US sent navy and marine forces into Veracruz and occupied the city for seven months in a show of force. Due to resulting anti-American demonstrations on each coast, other US Navy ships were used to evacuate some American citizens to refugee camps in southern US cities. The US occupation contributed to the downfall of Huerta, and Venustiano Carranza became president. He ensured that Mexico maintained neutrality during the Great War, in part due to lingering animosity against the US for these actions.
The Mexican government nationalized the oil industry in 1939 and has maintained that for 75 years. In November 2014, President Enrique Pena Nieto announced a policy change of ending Pemex’s monopoly and inviting private companies back into the oil and gas industry. While analysts believe the largest finds are likely to be offshore, new techniques should yield oil even at mature fields such as those of Tampico. In early 2015 the government plans to accept bids on 169 blocks, 47 of which are within 110 kilometres (70 mi) of Tampico. It is expected that smaller companies will be active in the mature fields
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, such as those in this region. This area has extensive shale-oil deposits, and the “U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that Mexico has the world’s eighth-largest shale-oil resources.”
In the 1970s, Tampico annexed the port city and suburb of Ciudad Madero. Tampico has a modern port with excellent facilities, with rail and air connections to Mexico City and the United States.
Tampico’s downtown architecture is an eclectic mix, reflecting the growth of the city during the Porfiriato (the period of rule by President and dictator Porfirio Díaz). During the oil boom of the first decades of the 20th century, much “grandiose” architecture was built, inviting comparisons with Venice, Italy
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, and New Orleans in the United States. Many buildings feature wrought-iron balconies (in the 20th-century, these were mostly built of English cast iron). Similar balconies are characteristic of the French and Spanish-influenced architecture in New Orleans. Some of the balconies in Plaza de la libertad bear the original plaques showing their manufacture at the Derbyshire forge of Andrew Handyside and Company.
Notable buildings include the Neo-classical Town Hall (or Palacio Municipal) in Plaza de Armas, and the English redbrick Customs House in the docks. The prevalence of New Orleans-style architecture is attributed to the oil boom years. Not only was there money to spend, but many building supplies, including pre-built housing components, were shipped from New Orleans to this area during that period of rapid development. The historical downtown areas of Plaza de Armas and Plaza de Libertad have been restored and improved in recent years to emphasize their historic appeal, in part to encourage more heritage tourism.
The Cathedral of Tampico, also known as the Temple of the Immaculate Conception, located in Plaza de Armas, dates to the late 19th century. It has undergone several restorations. It is of the Neo-classical style in light brown canter, with Corinthian-style columns and three enormous doors that form the entrance. Its two towers are made of three bodies. The eastern one has a large, London-made, public chiming clock, a gift from Don Angel Sainz Trapaga. Its recently refurbished interior holds several wall paintings and other works of art. The altar is of white Carrara marble. The United States oil tycoon Edward Doheny of California, who drilled the first oil well in Mexico near Tampico, donated substantial funds for the Cathedral’s construction and maintenance after 1902, when he based his Mexican oil operations in Tampico.
According to the INEGI 2010 census, the population of the city of Tampico was 297,284, and that of the municipality of Tampico was 297,554, both ranking fifth in the state. Its metropolitan area population was 803,196 people. The municipality has an area of 92.73 km² (35.8 sq mi).
Tampico has a Tropical savanna climate, with a Köppen climate classification of Aw based on the mean average temperature of 18 °C (65 °F) for January as well as on precipitation patterns. Its weather, though reasonably pleasant in spring and autumn, is hot in the summer; the average high reaches 32 °C (90 °F) in August, with an average low of 23 °C (74 °F). Winters are pleasantly cool. The average January high is 23 °C (73 °F) and the average low in January is 15 °C (59 °F). Rainfall is frequent from May through September.
Tampico is an extremely humid city, with summer heat indices reaching 40 °C (104 °F). It is located on the Pánuco River and among extensive wetlands that extend to the Gulf of Mexico. During autumn and winter, it is affected by cold fronts that pass through the gulf and bring high winds that can reach 50 km/h (37 mph) with gusts of 70 to 80 km/h (43 to 50 mph). Tampico is located in a hurricane area, but it has not been affected directly by one in more than 50 years. On rare occasions, such as during late January and early February 2011, the city experiences surprisingly low temperatures for its zone. The temperatures were from 10 °C and the lowest being of 2 °C in the morning and noon of 4 February.
In February 1895, snow was reported to have fallen in Tampico. This is the North American record for the furthest south report of snow at a coastal location, and one of the few places that snow has fallen in the tropics at sea level.
The metropolitan area of Tampico, Ciudad Madero, and Altamira is served by General Francisco Javier Mina International Airport (IATA airport code: TAM), which is located in the northern part of the city of Tampico. It serves routes to Mexican cities, mainly Mexico City and Monterrey. It also has international services, with daily flights to Houston, Texas.
The city also has excellent railway facilities serving the port, which is well-developed with warehouses and equipment for loading oil tankers. Major roads connect to the Pan-American Highway.
Seafood is important in the city. The locals are informally known as Jaibas (crab), and the crab emblem is seen in many places, from the sides of buses to park benches.
The Autonomous University of Tamaulipas has one of its two largest campuses in Tampico, the other being in Ciudad Victoria. The major schools of medicine, engineering, nursing, dentistry, architecture, and business are based here.
Multiple high schools, both private and public, are located in Tampico.
The local professional soccer team was founded in 1945 and is named Tampico Madero, also known as Jaiba Brava. In 1953 the team was Champion of the México Primera División and also won the Campeón de Campeones title. In 1961 la Jaiba Brava won the Copa Mexico trophy. They won the Primera División trophy 2 times under Chilean manager Carlos Reinoso.