Quintana Roo (kēntäˈnä rōˈō) [key], state (1990 pop. 493,277), 19,630 sq mi (50,842 sq km), SE Mexico, on the Caribbean. Chetumal is the capital. Occupying most of the eastern part of the Yucatán peninsula, the state was, until recently, wild, sparsely settled, and populated almost entirely by the Maya. In recent years large areas have been cleared for farming and pasture, and the coast has been developed for resorts. It has a hot climate and high rainfall. The economy is dominated by tourism. The resorts of Cancún, Cozumel, and the "Mayan Riviera" are leading international vacation spots. Along the Caribbean coast is the famous Mayan archaeological zone of Tulúm as well as the lare Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. The flat plain with its almost impenetrable ebony and cedar forests and the resistance of the Maya forced Francisco de Montejo to abandon his attempt (1527–28) to conquer Yucatán from the east. Scandalous episodes involving the wholesale purchase of Mayas for what amounted to slave labor in the chicle plantations tarnished the history of the territory in the late 19th and early 20th cent.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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