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In pre-Hispanic times Mazatlán (which means 'place of deer' in Náhuatl) was populated by Totorames, who lived by hunting, gathering, fishing and agriculture. A group of 25 Spaniards led by Nuño de Guzmán officially founded a settlement here on Easter Sunday in 1531, but almost three centuries elapsed before a permanent colony was established in the early 1820s.

The Mazatlan port was blockaded by US forces in 1847, and by the French in 1864, but Mazatlán was little more than a fishing village for the next 80 years. 'Old' Mazatlán, the traditional town center, dates from the 19th century.

Tourist's vacationsin Mazatlan started coming in the 1930s, mainly for fishing and hunting, and some hotels appeared along Playa Olas Altas, Mazatlán's first tourist beach, in the 1950s. From the 1970s onward, a long strip of modern hotels and tourist facilities has spread north along the coast.

For thousands of years prior to the first Spanish arrival in 1531, Native Americans migrated through the region following game herds. (Its name translates to "land of deer" in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs). By the 1700's gold and silver shipments from the nearby mines at Rosario and Copala poured through the Mazatlan harbor making it one of Mexico's most important ports. Frequent pirate attacks stifled early development. By the 1840's hoards of American settlers were flowing through Mazatlan on their way to the gold fields of California.

The port began to slowly grow. It was besieged by the U.S. Navy in 1847 and attacked again by the French in 1864, the small pueblo of Mazatlan was able to thwart the attack. Following the American civil war, a group of southerners tried unsuccessfully to convert the area into a slave state.

Mazatlan served as the capital of Sinaloa (Culiacan is today's capital) from 1859 to 1873. Late in the 19th century, railroads reached Mazatlan, increasing the shipping importance of the town. This led to a steady growth until the Mexican Revolution.

The 1900's saw Mazatlan as a working port and agricultural shipment point by both ship and train. The fishing industry began to boom and only the war years of 1910-1920 saw the industry take a drop off.

Mazatlan was "discovered" by foreigners in the 1940's as a great place for fishing and it's climate, and became one of Mexico's first large vacation resorts in the 1950's.

The Zapotec civilization thrived in the Valley of Oaxaca, in the state of Oaxaca, from around 500 B.C. to 900 A.D., but 500,000 Zapotecs still live in this area today. Their traditional art included carved stones, textiles, murals ceramic urns, stuccoed sculptures and engraved bones. Today, Mexico art produced by the Zapotec comes in the form of beautiful black pottery and woven textiles that incorporate pre-Columbian designs and patterns.

Mesoamerican indigenous art thrived until the Spanish Conquest in the early 16th century. As Spain began to colonize modern-day Mexico, the native art began to change, and much of Mexican art, including painting and architecture, was soon paralleling the styles found in Europe, creating a new genre called Mexican Baroque. This period of Mexico art, which lasted until the end of the 19th century, produced some spectacularly grand architecture, the most stunning example being the Sagrario Metropolitano (Metropolitan Cathedral) in Mexico City

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