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Cancun from 1970 to 2020

When you look around at the towering hotels of the hotel zone and the urban sprawl of downtown, it boggles the mind to think that some 50 years ago there was nothing in Cancún but sand and fishing boats. But the course of history changed dramatically in the early 1970s when Mexico’s ambitious planners decided to outdo Acapulco with a brand-new world-class resort that would be located on the Yucatán Peninsula.

It wasn’t until 1968 when the Mexican government recognized the potential of this peninsula − known as Cancun island − between Nichupte Lagoon and the Caribbean Sea to grow into a popular tourist vacation destination. Development began right away, establishing a connection between Cancun island and the Cancun mainland. The Cancun resort project began on April 20th 1970 with the construction of many hotels and tourist establishments that would extend across 150 kilometers (93 miles) along the clear Caribbean Sea, through Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and more. The wider mexican state included cenotes, white sand beaches, underground cave systems, lush tropical rainforests, and archaeological sites of Mayan ruins.

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Cancun was designed in two sections: Cancun city or El Centro (downtown) to the west and the hotel zone or tourist area to the east. Cancun Centro is the part of the city where most residents live and consists of the normal institutions of daily life, such as banks, schools, churches, hospitals, markets, restaurants, foreign consulates, and homes.


The tourist area or hotel zone is east of Cancun Centro on a peninsula that runs between the Caribbean Sea and Nichupte Lagoon. This area consists of tours, attractions, and water activities, handicraft shops, classy shopping malls, gourmet restaurants, trendy cafes, fun bars, and popular nightclubs, such as Coco Bongo, among others.


Cancun was first introduced in 1974, the same year that Quintana Roo became an official Mexican state, and welcomed travellers from all over the world. Known as the Mexico Caribbean, Cancun has become one of the most popular tourist destinations with thousands of visitors arriving from the USA, UK, Europe, Canada, and of course, Mexico.

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