Lázaro Cárdenas is a port city that with its surrounding municipality is located in the southern part of the Mexican state of Michoacán. It was formerly known as Los Llanitos, but changed its name as a tribute to Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, a Michoacán-born politician who was president of Mexico from 1934 to 1940.
The city is located at , where the Río Balsas drains into the Pacific Ocean. In the 2005 census, the city's population was 74,884. It is served by Lázaro Cárdenas Airport. The municipality of Lázaro Cárdenas, which has an area of , had a total population of 162,997 in 2005, and includes extensive territory outside the city, including the communities of Las Guacamayas, La Orilla, and La Mira.
When known as Los Llanitos, it formed part of the municipality of Arteaga. In 1932 it was given town status and named Melchor Ocampo, after politician Melchor Ocampo. On April 12, 1937, during the governorship of José María Mendoza Prado, the state congress decreed the creation of the municipality of Melchor Ocampo del Balsas. The name of the municipality changed again on November 17, 1970, to Lázaro Cárdenas, in honor of the popular former president who had died the previous month.
In 2006, steelworkers in a Lázaro Cárdenas steel plant went on strike, causing numerous injuries and deaths.
In July 2007, a ship was caught by Mexican officials at the port of Lázaro Cárdenas, originating in Hong Kong, after traveling through the Port of Long Beach with 19 tons of pseudoephedrine, a raw material needed for the manufacturing process of the drug methamphetamine. The Chinese owner Zhenli Ye Gon was found to have $206 million at his Mexico City mansion. It went undetected at Long Beach.