Tamaulipas, officially Free and Sovereign State of Tamaulipas, is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 43 municipalities and its capital city is Ciudad Victoria. The capital city was named after Guadalupe Victoria, the first President of Mexico.
It is located in Northeastern Mexico. It is bordered by the states of Veracruz to the southeast, San Luis Potosí to the southwest and Nuevo León to the west. To the north, it has a 370 km (142.9 mi) stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border along the state of Texas.
The name Tamaulipas is derived from Tamaholipa, a Huastec term in which the tam- prefix signifies "place where." As yet, there is no scholarly agreement on the meaning of holipa, but "high hills" is a common interpretation. Another explanation of the state name is Ta ma ho'lipam – “place, where the Lipan prey”.
The area known as Tamaulipas has been inhabited for at least 8,000 years. Several different cultures (north coastal, south coastal, lowlands, and mountains) have come and gone during that period.
Tamaulipas was originally populated by the Olmec people and later by Chichimec and Huastec tribes. Between 1445 and 1466, Mexica (or Aztec) armies commanded by Moctezuma I Ilhuicamina conquered much of the territory and transformed it into a tributary region for the Mexica empire. However, the Aztecs never fully conquered certain mostly nomadic indigenous groups in the area.
Although Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztecs rather quickly, it took a gradual process for Spain to subjugate the inhabitants of Tamaulipas in the 16th and 17th centuries. The first permanent Spanish settlement in the area was Tampico in 1554. Further settlement was done by Franciscan missionaries, widespread cattle and sheep ranching by the Spanish bolstered the area’s economy while forcing native populations from their original lands. Repeated indigenous rebellions kept the area unstable and weakened colonial interest in the region. What is now Tamaulipas was first incorporated as a separate province of New Spain in 1746 with the name Nuevo Santander. The local government capital during this time moved from Santander to San Carlos, and finally to Aguayo. The territory of this time spanned from the San Antonio river to the north east to the Gulf of Mexico, then south to the Panuco River near Tampico and west to the Sierra Madre Mountains. This area became a haven for rebellious Indians who fled here after increased Spanish settlements in Nuevo Leon and Coahuila.
In the middle 17th century various Apache bands from the southern Plains, after acquiring horses from Spaniards in New Mexico, moved southeastward into the Edwards Plateau, displacing the native hunting and gathering groups. One of these groups was known as Lipan (see Hodge 1907 Vol. I:769 for a confusing list of synonyms). After 1750, when most Apache groups of the central Texas highlands were displaced by Comanche and moved into the coastal plain of southern Texas, the Spaniards of the San Antonio area began referring to all Apache groups in southern Texas as Lipan or Lipan Apache (Campbell and Campbell 1981:62-64).
Many Indian groups of missions in southern Texas and northeastern Mexico had recently been displaced from their territory through the southward push by the Lipan Apaches and were still hostile toward Apaches, linking arms with the local Spanish authorities against their common foe.
By 1790 Spaniards turned their attention from the aboriginal groups and focused on containing the Apache invaders. In northeastern Coahuila and adjacent Texas, Spanish and Apache displacements created an unusual ethnic mix. Here the local Indians mixed with displaced groups from Coahuila and Chihuahua and Texas. Some groups, to escape the pressure, combined and migrated north into the Central Texas highlands.
In 1824, after the Mexican War of Independence from Spain, and the fall of the Mexican Empire, Tamaulipas was one of the 19 founder states of the new United Mexican States. During the fights between centralists and federalists that soon followed, the successful Texas Revolution lead to the creation of the Republic of Texas in 1836. The new Republic claimed as part of its territory northern Tamaulipas.
The French occupation and reign of Emperor Maximilian during the 1860s was difficult for Tamaulipas, at least on the borders and in the city of Tampico. Portions of Tamaulipas supported the republican forces lead by president Benito Juarez in resisting the French, especially in the north. It was not until two years after French occupation began that Tamaulipas as a state finally acceded to Maximilian's rule, and it was not until 1866 that the last French soldiers left the state, leading up to Maximilian's execution and fall of the Second Mexican Empire in 1867.
However, the years after Maximilian's defeat were ones of rebuilding and great growth in Tamaulipas. International trade began to blossom, especially with the coming of the railroad to Tampico, which was developing as not only a port city, but an industrial and commercial center as well. The railroad allowed goods to flow quickly from the mines and cities of the interior and the Texas border to Tampico for processing and shipment. This in turn caused significant growth in towns such as Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo.
Since the revolution of 1910, successive governments have dedicated themselves to building industry and infrastructure in Tamaulipas, including communications and educational systems. Norberto Treviño Zapata founded the state university system as well as reformed the state oil industry. Marte Gómez provided increased farm sizes for private family farmers. And more recently, Emilio Martínez Manautou led industrial growth. Lately a push has been to strengthen fishing, including efforts to increase the price of fish and shellfish on the international market.