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Mazatlán, Mexican port in the state of Sinaloa with a population of 403,888 (2005). A simple landing after 1806, after independence it quickly became the country's leading port on the west coast. At the entrance to the Gulf of California, centrally located on the Pacific Coast, Mazatlán steadily expanded its commercial hinterland into the interior, becoming the commercial entrepôt for western Mexico. Foreign merchants quickly came to dominate the port's commerce. Their mercantile rivalry with Culiacán (with its satellite port of Altata) resulted in a forty-year struggle between the two cities for control of the state government and location of the state capital. Mazatlán's relative commercial position declined in the late nineteenth century, as railroads took away its competitive advantage in the interior and San Francisco, California, gradually absorbed the direct trade in Asian commerce. In 1873 the Porfirio Díaz-backed political clique led by Francisco Cañedo secured the permanent location of the capital in Culiacán but strove to promote the interests of both cities. The port's merchant-capitalists (by then a blend of native and foreign) began diversifying into other economic sectors (especially industry) and captured more and more of the wholesale trade generated by the growing economic activity within the state.

A railroad link with Guadalajara (1912) provided better access to the western interior of the country, but through the twentieth century, the rise of Mazatlán as a major tourist center has been a driving force in the city's continuing growth.

See alsoDíaz, Porfirio .


John R. Southworth, El Estado de Sinaloa—sus industrias, comerciales, mineras y manufacturas (1898).

Stuart F. Voss, "Towns and Enterprise in Northwestern Mexico: A History of Urban Elites in Sonora and Sinaloa, 1830–1910" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1972), and On the Periphery of Nineteenth-Century Mexico: Sonora and Sinaloa, 1810–1877 (1982).

Additional Bibliography

Carrillo Rojas, Arturo, and Guillermo Ibarra Escobar, eds. Historia de Mazatlán. Ayuntamiento de Mazatlán/UAS. Culiacán Rosales: Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, Facultad de Historia; Mazatlán: H. Ayuntamiento de Mazatlán, 1998.

Román Alarcón, Rigoberto Arturo. Comerciantes extranjeros de Mazatlan, 1880–1910. Culiacán: Colegio de Bachilleres del Estado de Sinaloa, 1998.

                                          Stuart F. Voss

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