Veracruz, city (1990 pop. 303,152), Veracruz state, E central Mexico, on the Gulf of Mexico. Rivaling Tampico as the country's main port, it is also the commercial and industrial center of an important oil region, as well as a major tourist resort with beautiful scenery, fine beaches, and excellent accommodations. The city stands on a low, sandy plain surrounded by dunes and swamps, some of which have been reclaimed and are very fertile. In 1519 the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés landed near the site later chosen (1599) for the present city. Veracruz was easy prey for the buccaneers of the 17th and 18th cent. The harbor is guarded by the fortress of San Juan de Ulúa, which was begun in the 17th cent. and was the last stronghold of the Spanish before their expulsion in 1821. Veracruz was blockaded in 1838 by the French. In 1847, U.S. troops under Gen. Winfield Scott landed at Veracruz to begin the major campaign of the Mexican War. The War of the Reform involved foreign intervention in Veracruz; in Dec., 1861, Spanish troops landed there as the first contingent of a joint European force. French and British forces arrived the following month. When it became apparent that France was bent on actual conquest, the Spanish and British withdrew from the joint force. The adventure of the empire of Maximilian ensued. In 1914 an incident involving U.S. sailors in Tampico led President Woodrow Wilson to land troops in Veracruz, where they remained for six months. Mexico later responded by severing diplomatic relations.
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