Costa Chica of Guerrero

Location of the Costa Chica region in Guerrero

The Costa Chica of Guerrero (Spanish for “small coast of Guerrero") is an area along the south coast of the state of Guerrero, Mexico, extending from just south of Acapulco to the Oaxaca border. Geographically, it consists of part of the Sierra Madre del Sur, a strip of rolling hills that lowers to coastal plains to the Pacific Ocean. Various rivers here form large estuaries and lagoons that host various species of commercial fish.

This area is paired with the Costa Chica of Oaxaca as both have significant populations of Afro-Mexicans, who settled in the area as escaped slaves. The Afro-Mexican presence in Guerrero is strongest in this region, especially in the coastal municipalities from Marquelia to Cuajinicuilapa. Another important ethnic group is the Amuzgo, who are by far the largest indigenous ethnicity in the region, in the municipalities of Xochistlahuaca, Tlacoachistlahuaca and Ometepec. The Amuzgo, especially in Xochistlahuca, still wear traditional clothing and speak the Amuzgo language. Many women still weave cloth on backstrap looms. The region is one of the poorest in Mexico, with an economy based on subsistence agriculture and fishing, with some commerce, especially along Highway 200, which parallels the coast.

Geography and environment

Ravine in the mountains of Xochistlahuaca
View of the beach at Punta Maldonado - El Faro

The Costa Chica of Guerrero is a coastal region beginning just southeast of Acapulco, and ending at the Oaxaca state border to the south. It is culturally paired with the Costa Chica of Oaxaca as both have significant populations of Afro-Mexicans, who often also have indigenous ancestry.[1][2]

The Costa Chica is one of the seven regions of the state along with Zona Norte, Tierra Caliente, Centro, La Montaña, Acapulco and Costa Grande. The largest metropolitan area of the region is San Marcos .[3] There are fifteen municipalities in the region:Ayutla, Azoyú, Copala, Cuautepec, Florencio Villarreal, Igualapa, Ometepec, San Luis Acatlán, San Marcos, Tecoanapa, Tlacoachistlahuaca, Xochistlahuaca, Cuajinicuilapa, Marquelia and Juchitán.[4]

Most of the terrain is dominated by the Sierra Madre del Sur as it parallels the coast. Between the mountains and the ocean is a narrow strip of hilly land called the Lomérios de la Vertiente del Pacífico and coastal plains called the Planicies Costeras. The region is filled with winding rivers which empty into the Pacific. The vegetation is deciduous low height tropical forest that loses most of its leaves during the dry season from November to May.[5] Oceanside municipalities include San Marcos, Florencio Villarreal, Copala, Marquelia and Cuajinicuilapa. The three main lagoons are Tecomate, Chautengo and Tres Palos.[2] The largest bay is the Bay of Puerto Marques next to Acapulco.[5]

The area has a hot climate that reaches an average high temperature of 32C.[6] The dry season extends from November to May and a rainy season from June to October. The area is prone to cyclones from June to October.[2] In 1997, Hurricane Pauline devastated the Costa Chica in both Guerrero and Oaxaca with winds reaching between 166 and 200km /hr. The toll was 120 dead, and 8,700 other victims. The region was left with partially destroyed roads with left a number of communities physically isolated for days.[7]

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