Update 5 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes, the successor to FIPS PUB 10-4, was issued on 2011-08-31. It changes the name of
Veracruz-Llave to Veracruz.
Thanks to hints from Neil Parker and Lowell G. McManus, I found several problems with names. The formal name of the capital city of
Querétaro is Santiago de Querétaro. The formal name of the state is Querétaro Arteaga, not Querétaro de Arteaga, although Google finds
more references to the latter by eleven to one. The
constitution of Veracruz gives the formal name as "Veracruz-Llave", but the
state government website uses the name "Veracruz de
Ignacio de la Llave". The capital of Veracruz state is sometimes called Jalapa, sometimes Xalapa, sometimes Jalapa Enríquez, and
sometimes Xalapa Enríquez. The fashion seems to have turned from Jalapa to Xalapa recently. There were official city websites at both
www.xalapa.gob.mx and www.jalapa.gob.mx, both of them using the
spelling Xalapa; the latter site seems to be offline now. Ten years ago, almost all sources, including Mexican ones, used Jalapa.
Webster's Geographical Dictionary said "Jalapa, formerly Xalapa".
International standard ISO 3166-2 was published on December 15, 1998. It superseded ISO/DIS 3166-2 (draft international standard). For
Mexico, the draft standard showed 31 states and one federal district. The final standard shows the same divisions and the same codes, except
for the federal district. The code for Distrito Federal has been changed from
Mexico has been independent during the whole of the 20th century.
Other names of country:
- Danish: Mexico
- Dutch: Mexico, Verenigde Mexicaanse Staten (formal)
- English: United Mexican States (formal)
- Finnish: Meksiko
- French: Mexique m
- German: Mexiko n
- Icelandic: Mexíkó
- Italian: Messico m
- Norwegian: De forente stater Mexico (formal) (Bokmål), Dei sameinte statane Mexico (formal) (Nynorsk), Mexico
- Portuguese: México m, Estados mp Unidos Mexicanos (formal)
- Russian: Мексика, Мексиканские Соединенные Штаты (formal)
- Spanish: Méjico m, México m, Estados m Unidos Mexicanos (formal)
- Swedish: Mexiko
- Turkish: Birleşik Meksika Devletleri (formal)
Origin of name:
from ethnic name, Mexic; said to mean "moon-navel-place" in Aztec
Mexico is divided into 31 estados (states) and one distrito federal (federal district).
|Baja California Sur|
|8,720,916||1,479||571||-6~||(Ciudad de) México|
|1,509,117||123,181||47,560||-6~||(Victoria de) Durango|
|3,115,202||64,281||24,819||-6~||Chilpancingo (de los Bravos)|
|2,345,514||20,813||8,036||-6~||Pachuca (de Soto)|
|14,007,495||21,355||8,245||-6~||Toluca (de Lerdo)|
|3,506,821||93,952||36,275||-6~||Oaxaca (de Juárez)|
|5,383,133||33,902||13,090||-6~||(Heroica) Puebla (de Zaragoza)|
|1,598,139||11,449||4,420||-6~||(Santiago de) Querétaro|
|San Luis Potosí|
|2,410,414||63,068||24,351||-6~||San Luis Potosí|
|1,068,207||4,016||1,551||-6~||Tlaxcala (de Xicohténcatl)|
- State: Except for Distrito Federal, which is a federal district.
- HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
- ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
- FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
- Conv: Conventional abbreviation.
- INEGI: Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informatica uses a two-digit code to represent each state. Most
are the same as the two digits in the FIPS codes. In both cases, the states are numbered from
order. However, alphabetical order isn't quite the same in English and Spanish.
- Population: 2005-10-17 census. Source: INEGI
- Tz: Time zone (hours offset from Greenwich; ~ indicates daylight saving time observed)
- Capital: Common name is not in parentheses; adding parenthetical parts gives formal name. The English name of
México is Mexico City.
- Postcode: The Mexican postal service has defined a five-digit postal code (Código Postal). The first two digits represent
state, a part of a state, or (in Distrito Federal) a political delegation. The range of postal codes for each state is shown.
Notes on codes:
In the 1960s, the U.S. and Canadian postal authorities developed two-letter state and province codes, with care to avoid overlap. That is, no state
code was the same as any province code. Computer systems very frequently used these sets of codes. Many companies and government agencies have to
deal with data from all of North America. The Mexican authorities never got around to deciding on an official set of two-letter state codes, so anyone
who wanted to use such a set, made up their own. It's not very hard to find a set of two-letter, mnemonic state/province codes for all three countries
with no overlap, so some groups did just that; others didn't care about the overlap, because they were using a combination of state and country code to
identify a particular division. I recently did a search and found a dozen different systems of state codes or abbreviations for Mexico, most of which
were two-letter codes. They were used by industry groups (railroads, airlines) and governments (state police departments, military), among others. No
two of them were identical. The 'C' states were especially mixed, so that in different systems, CP might represent Campeche or Chiapas, CH might mean
Chiapas, Chihuaha, or Coahuila, etc.
A new problem has recently arisen. Almost all code systems use NL for Nuevo León. In 2002, as a result of Newfoundland changing its official
name to Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian postal service changed the official abbreviation from NF to NL. Now, maintainers of computer systems
that use two-letter codes as a primary key for the states and provinces of North America are in a quandary. If they leave the code for Newfoundland
unchanged, they're no longer in compliance with Canadian postal standards. If they change it to NL to comply with Canada, they will also have to change
their code for Nuevo León. If there are old archived records that don't get updated, they will have incorrect data when they are retrieved.
"Postal addressing systems" is a document available online from the Universal Postal Union. Its entry for Mexico has a list of states and their codes.
Most of the codes are the same as the conventional abbreviations, converted to all capitals, unaccented. Exceptions are BC for Baja California, CAM
for Campeche, and QROO for Quintana Roo.
See the Municipalities of Mexico page.
The states are divided into municipios (municipalities), and the federal district is divided into delegaciones (delegations). There are also
uninhabited islands (about 5,073 sq. km.) that are directly owned by the federal government.
- The states of Coahuila and San Luis Potosí make contact along a border a little over a kilometer long, not apparent on small-scale maps.
- Baja California includes Islas Angel de la Guarda, Montague, San Lorenzo, Salsipuedes, Smith, and other islands in the Gulf of California; and
Cedros and Guadalupe in the Pacific Ocean.
- Baja California Sur includes Islas El Carmen, San José, Cerralvo, Espíritu Santo, San Marcos, and other islands in the Gulf of California; and Santa
Margarita and Magdalena in the Pacific Ocean.
- Campeche includes Isla del Carmen, and some isolated cays up to Cayo Arcas.
- Colima includes the Revillagigedo Islands (Socorro, Clarión, San Benedicto, and Roca Partida).
- Jalisco broke into two separate parts, the smaller one containing Colotlán, when Nayarit split off in 1917. A few years later, some territory was
annexed to form a corridor between the two.
- Nayarit includes the Islas Marías, or Tres Marías Islands, consisting of Isla María Madre, Isla María Magdalena, and Isla María Cleofas, named for
the three women who stood by the cross in the Gospel of John; as well as Islas San Juanito, Isabela, and the Marietas.
- Quintana Roo includes Islas Cozumel, Mujeres, Holbox, Contoy, Tamalcas, Cayo Chelén, and the Banco Chinchorro (a ring of islands, including Cayos
Lobos and Norte, around Cayo Centro).
- Sinaloa includes a number of barrier islands, of which the largest are Islas Talchichilte, de Altamura, Santa Maria, and San Ignacio.
- Sonora includes Islas Tiburon, San Esteban, Pelicano, Lobos, and other islands in the Gulf of California.
- Tamaulipas includes a series of barrier islands, such as Barras Soto la Marina and Los Americanos.
- Veracruz includes some small barrier islands and reefs. Isla El Idolo is behind a sandspit.
- Yucatán includes the Arrecife Alacran, a group of islands of which Isla Pérez is the largest; and Cayo Arenas.
Origins of names:
- Aguascalientes: Spanish aguas: waters, calientes: hot, for thermal springs near the city
- Baja California: the 1824 Constitution created the territories of Alta and Baja California (Spanish for Upper and Lower California). Alta
California was later acquired by the United States. See the United States entry for the derivation of California.
- Campeche: after the Mayan domain of Ah Kin Pech
- Chiapas: from Nahuatl for "in the Chía River"
- Chihuahua: native word for dry or sandy spot
- Coahuila (de Zaragoza): after the ethnic name Coahuiltec, and General Ignacio Zaragoza (1829-1862)
- Colima: from native name Colliman, meaning that which our ancestors conquered
- Distrito Federal: Spanish for federal district
- Durango: after the city, which was named by Francisco de Ibarra in 1563 for Durango, Spain
- Guanajuato: from Tarasco quanas: frogs, huato: mountainous, i.e. high place with many frogs
- Guerrero: after Vicente Guerrero (1783-1831), fighter for independence (it happens that guerrero is Spanish for "warrior").
- Hidalgo: after Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753-1811), Mexican founding father. Incidentally, Hidalgo is a Spanish word for nobleman. It
originated as a contraction of the sarcastic phrase "hijo de algo" (son of something).
- Jalisco: native word for "over the sand"
- Mexico: see country name
- Michoacán (de Ocampo): after Melchor Ocampo (1814-1861), statesman
- Morelos: after José Maria Morelos y Pavón (1765-1815), fighter for independence
- Nayarit: named for Nayar, a Cora chief and priest
- Nuevo León: after the kingdom of León in Spain (nuevo: new)
- Oaxaca: from Aztec huaxyacac: at the point of the robinia trees
- Puebla: for the city, originally Ciudad de Puebla de los Angeles (city of the village of the angels)
- Querétaro (Arteaga): from Tarasco for "place where they play ball", and General José María Arteaga (1827?-1865)
- Quintana Roo: after Andrés Quintana Roo, a Yucatec fighter for Mexican independence
- San Luis Potosí: after Potosí in Bolivia, in the hope that it, too, would have rich mines
- Sonora: Spanish for sonorous, to note the sound made by local marble when struck
- Tabasco: probably named for Tabscoob, native chief
- Tamaulipas: native word for "high mountains"
- Tlaxcala: after the ethnic name Tlaxcaltec
- Veracruz(-Llave): for its largest city, originally Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz (rich city of the true cross), and the governor, General
Ignacio de la Llave (1818-1863). Incidentally, llave is Spanish for key.
- Zacatecas: Nahuatl for "where zacate grass grows"
- Guadalajara: named for its capital, which was named for the birthplace in Spain of its founder, Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán, in 1531. The
Spanish name, in turn, comes from Arabic wadi al-hijarah: river of stones.
The Mexican government's archive site had a series of maps at http://www.agn.gob.mx/archivos/circunsc.html (dead link, retrieved
2004-05-05) showing changes in the country's administrative subdivisions. Nuevo Atlas Porrúa de la República Mexicana (Editorial Porrúa,
México, 1979) has a similar series of historical maps. The information below was put together from both sources. The Mexican archives are
now at Portal de Mapas, Planos e Ilustraciones , but I
haven't been able to navigate the site with either Firefox or Internet Explorer.
- Prior to 1776: The virreinato (viceroyalty) of Nueva España was divided into México (reino), Nueva Galicia (reino), Nueva Vizcaya
(gobernación), Yucatán (gobernación), and Provincias Septentrionales, as well as other divisions outside of Mexico. These in turn were
subdivided into provinces. México consisted of the provinces of Antequera de Oaxaca, México, Michoacán, Puebla de los Ángeles, and
Tlaxcala. Nueva Galicia had Colima, Xalisco, and Zacatecas. Nueva Vizcaya had Chihuahua and Guadiana (or Durango). Yucatán had Campeche,
Mérida de Yucután, and Tabasco. The Provincias Septentrionales (northern provinces) were Colonia del Nuevo Santander (Provincia de los
Tamaulipas), Nuevo Reino de León, Provincia de Coahuila (Nueva Extremadura), Provincia de la Nueva California, Provincia de la Vieja California,
Provincia de los Tejas (Nueva Filipinas), Provincia de Nuevo México de Santa Fe, Provincia de San José de Nayarit (Nuevo Reino de Toledo),
Provincia de Sinaloa, and Provincia de Sonora. The provinces of Chiapas and Soconusco, part of modern Mexico, were then included in the Audiencia of
- 1776: A higher-ranking political entity, named Gobierno Superior y Comandancia General de las Provincias Internas, was created within but independent
of Nueva España. It consisted of the provinces of Nuevo México, Nueva Vizcaya, and Sonora y Sinaloa ("provincias internas de occidente", or
western internal provinces), and Coahuila, Nuevo Reino de León, Nuevo Santander, and Tejas ("provincias internas de oriente", or eastern). Among the
former northern provinces, only Nueva California and Vieja California - and, according to the map, San José de Nayarit - remained directly subject to
the viceroyalty. Comparison of the pre-1776 and post-1776 maps in the Atlas Porrúa indicates that the part of Sonora north of roughly 32° was
transferred to Nueva California; Sinaloa was merged with the remainder of Sonora, forming "Gobierno de las Provincias de Sonora y Sinaloa"; Chihuahua and
Durango provinces disappeared, apparently making Nueva Vizcaya a single entity; the westernmost part of Tejas was transferred to Nueva Vizcaya; the
northern part of Michoacán is marked off as "part of the intendency of San Luis Potosí". On the map, each of the provincias internas is labeled
a "gobierno" (government).
- 1788: Mexico reorganized into twelve intendencias (intendencies) named Arispe, Durango, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, Mérida, México, Oaxaca,
Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Valladolid, Veracruz, and Zacatecas. (Archive site)
- 1796: Compared to the archive site, the Atlas Porrúa shows and describes the following differences: each intendency has a capital shown, with
the same name as the intendency; there are also four gobiernos which were not subject to any intendent but were directly subordinate to the viceroyalty.
The four gobiernos are Nueva California, Nuevo México, Tlaxcala, and Vieja California. All of these fall outside the area shown on the archive site,
except Tlaxcala, which is within Puebla. Some names are different: Arizpe, Santa Fe de Guanajuato, Mérida de Yucután, Antequera de Oaxaca, and
Valladolid de Michoacán (the correspondence should be obvious).
- 1824-10-04: Under the Constitution of 1824, the official name of the country became Estados Unidos Mexicanos. It comprised 19 states (Chiapas,
Chihuahua, Coahuila y Tejas, Durango, Guanajuato, México, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla de los Ángeles, Querétaro, San Luis
Potosí, Sonora y Sinaloa, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Xalisco, Yucatán, and Zacatecas) and four territories (Alta California, Baja California,
Colima, and Santa Fé de Nuevo México). Alta California was the former Nueva California, and Baja was the former Vieja.
- 1824-11-18: Distrito Federal split from México state by decree.
- 1824-11-24: Tlaxcala territory split from Puebla state.
- 1825: Soconusco split from Chiapas state and became neutral territory.
- 1830-10-13: Sonora y Sinaloa state split into Sinaloa and Sonora states.
- 1835-05-23: Aguascalientes provisional territory split from Xalisco state.
- 1836-03-02: Republic of Texas (formerly part of Coahuila y Tejas state) declared independence from Mexico.
- 1842-09-11: Soconusco merged with Mexico and with Chiapas state again.
- 1848-02-02: By the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico ceded land approximately equivalent to its territories of Alta California and
Santa Fe de Nuevo México (New Mexico) and the northern part of Sonora to the United States.
- 1850-04-25: Two partidos (secondary administrative divisions), named Norte and Sur, created within Baja California territory.
- 1853-12-30: Gadsden Purchase (known as La Mesilla to Mexicans) transferred from Mexico to the United States, becoming part of New Mexico
- 1857-02-05: Constitution of 1857 took effect. Comparing the list of states and territories under this constitution to the previous situation, it
appears that Nuevo León state was incorporated into Coahuila; Aguascalientes, Colima, and Tlaxcala changed status from territories to states; Guerrero
state was formed from parts of México, Michoacán, and Puebla.
- 1863-04-29: Campeche state split from Yucután. Campeche had been provisionally created on 1862-02-19.
- 1864-02-26: Nuevo León state split from Coahuila.
- 1869-01-15: Hidalgo state split from México state.
- 1869-04-16: Morelos state split from México state.
- 1884-12-12: Tepic territory split from Jalisco state.
- 1887-12-14: Status of the two partidos of Baja California changed to distritos (districts).
- 1902-11-24: Quintana Roo territory split from Yucatán state. Its de facto capital was Campamento General Vega.
- 1904-02-27: Santa Cruz de Bravo became official capital of Quintana Roo.
- 1915-06: Capital of Quintana Roo moved to Payo Obispo.
- 1916-02-03: Name of capital of Tabasco state changed from San Juan Bautista (de Villahermosa de Tabasco) to Villahermosa.
- 1917-02-05: Under the Constitution of 1917, Tepic territory became Nayarit state. (The constitution also provides, in Article 44, that if the seat
of government should move to some other place, Distrito Federal would become the state of Valle de México.)
- 1931-02-07: Baja California territory (capital La Paz) split into Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur territories. They had previously
been districts of Baja California territory. The official names were Territorio Norte (Sur) de la Baja California.
- 1936-09-28: Name of capital of Quintana Roo territory changed from Payo Obispo to Chetumal.
- 1953-08-16: Baja California Norte territory became Baja California state. (Federal constitution changed on 1952-01-16; Diario Oficial announced the
formation of the new state on 1952-11-21; constitution of Baja California state promulgated on 1953-08-16.)
- 1974-10-08: Status of Baja California Sur and Quintana Roo changed from territories to states.
Other names of subdivisions:
- There are two Baja Californias. If the name Baja California is used without either Norte or Sur, Norte is usually meant. There are three Méxicos:
the country, the state, and the city. When it's necessary to distinguish the latter two, Estado de México and Ciudad de México are used.
- Baja California: Baixa Califórnia Norte (Portuguese); Baja California Norte (variant); Bassa California del Nord (Italian); Basse-Californie du Nord
(French); Lower California (variant); Niederkalifornien (German); Territorio Norte (obsolete)
- Baja California Sur: Baixa Califórnia Sul (Portuguese); Bassa California del Sud (Italian); Basse-Californie du Sud (French); Territorio Sur
- Campeche: Campeachy (obsolete); Campêche (French-variant)
- Coahuila: Coahuila de Saragoza (variant); Coahuila de Zaragoza (formal)
- Distrito Federal: Federal District (variant); Distretto Federale (Italian)
- México: Edo. de Mexico, Estado de México (variant)
- Michoacán: Michoacán de Ocampo (formal)
- Nayarit: Tepic (obsolete)
- Nuevo León: Neu-Leon (German); Nouveau-Léon (French)
- Querétaro: Querétaro Arteaga (formal)
- Veracruz: Veracruz-Llave, Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave (formal)
|Baja California N||30,000||47,624||48,327||78,907||226,965||520,165||870,421||1,177,886||1,657,927||2,746,010|
|Baja California S|| ||47,089||51,471||60,864||81,594||128,019||215,139||317,326||418,962|
|Quintana Roo|| ||10,620||18,752||26,967||50,169||88,150||225,985||493,605||870,918|
|San Luis Potosí||516,000||575,432||579,831||678,779||856,066||1,048,297||1,281,996||1,673,893||2,001,966||2,290,332|