Consisting of 12,900 square km, it is comprised of the districts of Silacayoapan, Huajuapan, Coixtlahuaca, Juxtlahuaca, Teposcolula, Nochixtlán and part of Tlaxiaco, and is located where the Sierra Madre del Sur and the Sierra de Oaxaca meet, referred to by some scholars at the Nudo Mixteco (Mixtec Knot). The region is characterized by its steep mountains, some of which are 3,000 meters above sea level, with landscapes dipping down into narrow valleys and deep ravines. The area appears barren because of its land and the paucity of cultivation, yet has hidden treasures. The mountains of the Mixteca contain deposits of minerals and metals including zinc, lead, silver, gold, tungsten, magnesium, mercury and iron. The physical environment changes from arid and semi-desert to wooded and stepped. The territory is famous for its caves which include the cave of Apoala in Nochixtlán, located at the top of the Yucutotodehui (the hill of the peak of the sky). It’s a large cave with two corridors 35 and 40 meters high, and tied to the origins of the Mixtec village. Despite the region’s poverty and significant erosion, in the smaller valleys and slopes where the land can be worked the inhabitants cultivate corn, beans, potatoes, rice, chili, and some fruit, but not sufficient enough to adequately supply the needs of the populace.
Consisting of 4,300 square km, the principal populations of the Canada are, in the district of Teotitlán: Nanahualipan, Los Cues, San Martín Toxpalan, Santa María Ixcatlán, Santa María Tecomavaca and Teotitlán del Camino; and in the district of Cuicatlán: San Juan Bautista, Jaltepetongo, San Pedro Jocotipac, Santa María Texcatitlan, Necaltepec, Santiago and Valerio Trujano. The region is known for the fertility of its soil. Beginning in May, the smell of mango and cantelope pervades the entire region. Although avocado is cultivated in all of the warm and mild climactic regions, most of the state’s production occurs in the Canada. The region comprises flat lands located on the banks of the Salado and Tomellin rivers which traverse the Canada and whose waters flow in opposite directions. The region is generally quite humid and accordingly fruit trees have a tremendous opportunity to thrive.
Bahías de Huatulco
Finca la Gloria
Finca Monte Carlo
It comprises 10,700 square km and includes all of the district of Jamiltepec and portions of each of Putla, Pochutla, Juquila and Tehuantepec. The coastal area is appropriately described as a humid zone, on one side with many rivers descending from the Sierra Madre del Sur and on the other side the sea. The Pacific Ocean, extensive beaches and an abundance of vegetation mark Oaxaca’s coastline. Beginning with Pinotepa Nacional we find under cultivation the coconut palm, chicozapote, tropical almond and mango. With its numerous rivers running through it, the district of Jamiltepec has an abundance of water. Río Verde empties close to the city of Jamiltepec. It’s there that the beautiful lagoons of Chacahua, la Pastoría and la Tianguis are found. The river flows down to the sea through Ixtlayutla Canyon. Amongst the coast’s natural beaches, noteworthy are those of Puerto Escondido, Puerto Angel, Sacrificios, Tahueca, Pacheco, Zapotengo, Carrizalillo, Zipolite, Ventanilla, and to the east the Bahías de Huatulco, Santa Cruz and Tangola. Amongst other products, under cultivation are cotton, cocoa, coffee and sesame seeds. The most important settlements are at Pinotepa Nacional, Pinotepa de Don Luis, Cacahuatepec, Huaxcaltepec, Pochutla, Rio Grande, Juquila, Puerto Escondido and Huatulco.
The Gulf Region
With a land mass of 10,510 square km, this region is characterized by a warm, humid climate. It’s also known as the region of Tuxtepec and comprises the district of Tuxtepec and parts of Choapan and Mixe districts. To the west one finds the Chinantla, considered by experts to be a subtropical forest. There’s a great deal of rainfall, and in fact one cannot refer to it having a true dry season given that the region remains green almost all year round. Distinctly colored butterflies inhabit the forest, and amongst the birds that grab your attention because of their brilliant colors and calls the guacamayas, tucans with their enormous beaks, and the mimicking parrots stand out. One can also find monkeys, tapirs, boars, armadillos, ocelots, boas, deer and raccoons.
The region known as the Istmo, or Isthmus, is a band of land stretching approximately 100 km separating the Gulf of Mexico from the Pacific. With about 16,700 square km, it’s the second largest region in Oaxaca and is comprised of the districts of Tehuantepec and Juchitan. The landmasses are sandy and dry with strong winds; one also finds saltwater lagoons. To the west are mountains of tobacco, and to the east is Tehuantepec with its flat lands and blowing winds. There are also conical hills. The Oaxacan coastline is 533 km long, approximately 125 km of which consisting of the Isthmus. For the most part the land within which Tehuantepec is found is alluvium, and thus very fertile, often up to 10 meters deep. In any case the Isthmus is subjected to floods during the rainy season, leaving a fertile layer of soil conducive to agricultural endeavors. The region has a tropical climate, with two seasons, dry and rainy. During the dry season the winds lash and whirl about the plains of Juchitan and the grasslands of Tehuantepec.
The winds in Juchitan are consistently strong. The rainy season on the Isthmus begins between May and June and is characterized by rain almost daily. A variety of timber-yielding trees span the tropics and extend all the way up to the highest peaks…oak, laurel, mahogany, pine, etc. Among the fruit trees there are different varieties of banana, coconut, lime, grapefruit, orange, pineapple, mango, etc.
Among the medicinal plant varieties, the two which stand out are palo mulato which is used as a substitute for quinine in treating malaria, and zarzaparrilla which finds application in the cleaning of blood. In terms of the most sought after undomesticated animals on the market today, the iguana stands out and is found in abundance in the Isthmus. Along the coast fish such as tilapia, grey mullet, red snapper and carp are found, along with all types of seafood such as shrimp, octopus, oyster, crab and lobster.
San Jose del Pacífico
This is a fairly young mountain range which traverses the state. It’s 1,200 km long with an average width of 100 km which expands to 150 km in the state of Oaxaca. The districts forming the region are Sola de Vega and parts of Juxtlahuaca, Tlaxiaco, Etla, Zaachila, Zimatlan, Jamiltepec, Juchila, Pochutla, Muahuatlan, Putla, Tlacolula and Tehuantepec. Most of the region is made up of forests extending from the mountains of Juchila and Jamiltepec. To the inhabitants of the region, every mountain has its own personality. The Yucucasa, which in Mixteco means mountain of the house, borders Tlaxiaco and Putla. The mountain of the Virgin of Juchila is one of the most well-known. In the folds of the mountains where the altitude modest, small valleys traverse, and throughout them corn, beans, some vegetables and flowers are cultivated. In the zone close to San Jose, agapanthas and calla lilies are quite prevalent including areas in which they grow almost wild; one can also find wild azucenas and irises. The region is rich in minerals including gold, silver and iron. Near Etla there are deposits of green onyx. Many are certain that the Sierra Sur has many other rich deposits yet to be discovered. Its rivers and streams flow down towards the coast and empty into the Pacific. In the forests and scrublands, as in the mountains, there is a great deal of fauna such as deer, ocelots, mountain lions, rabbits, squirrels, possums and armadillos, as well as many different kinds of songbirds.
Descending to the Pico de Orizaba one finds the Sierra Norte region, also known as the Sierra Oaxaquena or Sierra de Oaxaca. The territory is 12,700 square km. It includes portions of the districts of Teotitlan, Cuicatlan, Tuxtepec, Etla, Choapan, Mixe, Yautepec, Tlacolula and Tehuantepec, as well as the entire districts of Villa Alta and Ixtlan. It’s an extremely dense range of mountains due to, amongst other things the annual rainfall, with more precipitation here than elsewhere in the state. Various types of trees compete for existence: oak, rosewood, palo de fierro, palo santo and pine, and in the low-lying hollows where there is more humidity, one finds a variety of flowers including many orchids. Not far from Huautla, in San Antonio Eloxochitlan, the caves of Nindo-da-ge are found (in Mazateco this means the highwater hill). The caves were explored in 1898 and in 1905, and many of the corridors were christened by their founders with names such as Boca de Dragon (Dragon’s Mouth), Cuesta Infernal (Infernal Slope), el Fortin (the Bunker), el Caracol (the Snail) and La Filigrana (the Filigree). In this part of the Sierra Norte the areas with rivers are notable for their humidity and are home to many ferns and mosses. In the populated areas (at times cold and at other times damp) fruit trees such as apricot, apple, peach, pear and quince flourish. Root vegetables such as sweet and regular potatoes grow well in the district of Villa Alta. In the district of Yautepec the Sierra Madre del Sur and the Sierra Norte comprise a massive range. This is where three geographical regions of the state converge…the two sierras and the Isthmus.
Teotitlán del Valle
Santa Ana del Valle
San Miguel del Valle
San José el Mogote
With almost 5,000 square km, the central valleys consist of the districts of Zaachila, Zimatlan, Oaxaca proper and environs, Tlacolula, Ocotlan, Ejutla, and the flat portions of Etla and Miahuatlan. It’s noteworthy that between districts there are some small differences such as the climate, the fertility of the land, the humidity, etc. Common to and uniting all of the valleys is the fact that their populations have for generations been planting and cultivating corn, beans and squash. The trees growing in the central valleys are huamuche, peanut, white mulberry, casuarina, laurel, ash, tulipan and framboyan. Of the medicinal plants, the most common are sage, fennel, palo mulato, hierbabuena, thyme, rosemary, ginger, arnica, marjoram, lengua de vaca, ruda, hoja santa, and so on. Other edible herbs which grow wild are chepil, yerba de conejo, verdolaga, watercress and quintolines. Some are absolutely wonderful complements to food and for cooking because of their flavors and the amounts of vitamins, iron and other minerals than they contain.
One of the striking characteristics of the central valleys is their blue skies, with the sun shining brightly most of the year. The oldest tree in the valleys is the famous Tule tree, a rarity at about 2,000 years old, weighing 509,020 kilos, branches ranging up to 40 meters in height, and volume approximately 705 cubic meters, It’s a unique example of the Cypress tree species, and one of the natural wonders producing a sense of pride throughout the state.