Puebla (City), the capital city of the Mexican state of the same name. With a population of 1,271,673 (2000), it is situated in a large, volcano-rimmed valley at an altitude of 7,096 feet, 80 miles southeast of Mexico City. The climate is mild, with distinct rainy (May-October) and dry seasons.
Founded on 16 April 1531 as Puebla de los Ángeles by the Spaniards, the city remained the second largest commercial and population center in Mexico until the twentieth century. Although the city has experienced numerous strong earthquakes, many original colonial era structures survive, especially in the city's historic center, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Puebla's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is one of the country's largest and most renowned churches. With its colonial architecture and many churches and museums, Puebla attracts large numbers of tourists.
Puebla has played an important historical role in Mexico. As the principal city between the national capital and the key port of Veracruz, it has been the target of many domestic and foreign armies bent on control of the nation. U.S. General Winfield Scott held the city in 1847, during the Mexican-American War. Mexican forces under General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated the invading French army at Puebla on 5 May 1862, thus establishing the Cinco De Mayo holiday and gaining for Puebla a new official name, Puebla de Zaragoza.
With the establishment of textile manufacturing in the early nineteenth century, Puebla became one of Mexico's earliest industrial areas. Although now the country's fourth largest city, Puebla is still a major business and industrial center known for its cotton and woolen goods, automobiles, steel, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food processing, onyx, pottery, tiles, candies, and leather goods. The state government apparatus and the seat of the archdiocese are located there. The city has several institutions of higher learning, including one of Mexico's principal state universities, the Universidad Autónoma de Puebla. It is also home to various cultural institutions, such as the Regional Museum of Puebla State, the Museum of Religious Art (housed in the Santa Monica convent, built in the seventeenth century), and the José Luis Bello y González Art Museum.
Despite its proximity to Mexico City and its rapidly growing population, Puebla remains a politically and socially conservative city. The Catholic church and old-line Spanish and Lebanese commercial and industrial interests wield a great deal of influence. Familial and long-time personal connections continue to be the principal entrées to society. In recent years the major conservative party, the Partido de Acción Nacional (National Action Party—PAN) has enjoyed substantial backing.
See alsoMexico, Political Parties: National Action Party (PAN); Mexico, Wars and Revolutions: Mexican-American War; Puebla, Battle and Siege of; Puebla (State).
Antonio Carrión, Historia de la ciudad de Puebla de los Ángeles, 2 vols. Puebla, Mexico: Editorial J. M. Cajica, Jr., (1897; 1970).
Carlos Contreras Cruz, comp., Espacio y perfiles: Historia regional mexicana del siglo XIX. Puebla, Mexico: Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Instituto de Ciencias, Centro de Investigaciónes Historicas y Sociales, 1989.
Centro De Investigaciones Históricas y Sociales, Instituto De Ciencias De La Universidad Autónoma De Puebla, Puebla en el siglo XIX: Contribución al estudio de su historia. 1983 and Puebla en la colonia a la revolución: Estudio de historia regional (1987).
Guy P. C. Thomson, Puebla de los Ángeles: Industry and Society in a Mexican City, 1700–1850. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1989.
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Henderson, Timothy J. The Worm in the Wheat: Rosalie Evans and the Agrarian Struggle in the Puebla-Tlaxcala Valley of Mexico, 1906–1927. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1988.
LaFrance, David G. Revolution in Mexico's Heartland: Politics, War, and State Building in Puebla, 1913–1920. Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 2003.
Thomson, Guy P. C. Patriotism, Politics, and Popular Liberalism in Nineteenth-Century Mexico: Juan Francisco Lucas and the Puebla Sierra. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1999.
Vaughan, Mary Kay. Cultural Politics in Revolution: Teachers, Peasants, and Schools in Mexico, 1930–1940. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1997.
David G. LaFrance