Mérida is the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Yucatán, the Yucatán Peninsula, south of Mexico City. It is located in the northwest part of the state, about 35 km (22 miles) from the Gulf of Mexico. In the 2005 census the population of the city was 734,153.
Mérida’s climate is hot, and humidity is moderate to high, depending on the time of year. The average annual high temperature is 91°F (33°C), peaking in May, when temperatures can reach 100°F (38°C) in the afternoon. It is most often a few degrees hotter in Mérida than coastal areas, due to its inland location and low elevation. The Mexican Monsoon season is a pattern of pronounced increase in thunderstorms and rainfall. It runs from June through October. Easterly waves and tropical storms also affect the area during this season.
As the state and regional capital, Mérida is a cultural center, featuring multiple museums, art galleries, restaurants, movie theatres and other cultural activities. These institutions play an important part in day-to-day life. Mérida also is home to the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra, which plays regular seasons featuring classical music, jazz and opera. It is a modern city boasting a comprehensive range of shopping mails, auto dealerships, top quality hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities.
Mérida and the state of Yucatán have always been somewhat isolated from the rest of Mexico by geography, creating a unique culture within the country. The conquistadors found the Mayan culture to be incredibly resilient, and their attempts to eradicate its traditions, religion and culture had limited success. Surviving remnants of Mayan culture are seen every day in speech, dress, and both written and oral histories. Even regional food is different from what most people consider “Mexican” food. It includes influences from the local Mayan culture, as well as Caribbean, Mexican, European and Middle Eastern cultures.
Mérida has many regional hospitals and medical centers, including one of the most prestigious medical faculties in Mexico, and a large number of educational institutions, public and private.