Culiacán is a city in northwestern Mexico, the largest city in the state of Sinaloa as well as its capital and capital of the municipality of Culiacán. With 605,304 inhabitants in the city (census of 2005), and 793,703 in the municipality, it is one of the largest cities in the country. The municipality includes such outlying communities as Costa Rica and El Dorado and has a total area of 4,758 km² (1,837 sq mi).

The city is located in a valley at the confluence of the Tamazula River and Humaya River, where the two meet to form the Culiacán River, and is located 55 m above sea level. It is located in the center of the state with almost equal distance to the other urban centers of the state: Los Mochis to the north, and Mazatlán to the south.


Pre-Colonial Period

Most people agree that the name Culiacán apparently comes from the word colhuacan, which can mean "place where roads turn" or "place of snakes", but traditionally the most accepted translation would be "place of those who adore the god Coltzin". Before the Spaniards arrived from Europe, this site had been a small Indian settlement since 628 when Amerindians had first founded it.


The city existing today was founded in 1531 by the Spanish captain Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán and named San Miguel de Culiacán. In the same decade, it was the terminus of the long journey of Cabeza de Vaca and company among natives. Explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado set out from Culiacán to explore what is now the southwestern United States. Settlers from Europe came to Culiacán, and in the following centuries, Culiacán continued to be a quiet town. It was only after the federal government built dams in the adjacent areas in the 1950s that agriculture exploded and the city began to grow exponentially. Some of Mexico's largest agricultural conglomerates operate in the vast and fertile coastal plains. The agro-industrial economy continues to be the single largest contributor to the region's legal economy. While the vast majority of technical and skilled labor is educated locally, the once-seasonal field labor pool now experiences a yearly shortage of workers. International patterns of migration now draw laborers from deep within Mexico's south to the northern border states and into the United States.

Post War Era

Beginning in the late 1950s, Culiacán became the birthplace of an incipient underground economy based on illicit drugs exported to the United States. The completion of the PanAmerican Highway and the regional airport in the 1960s accelerated the expansion of a workable distribution infrastructure for the enterprising few families that would later come to dominate the international drug cartels along Mexico's Pacific Northwest.

Illegal Drugs path

During the turbulent 1970s the well-entrenched 'gomeros' enjoyed the fruits of their criminal enterprises which linked opium farmers in the Sierra with local black tar heroin refineries. This, coupled with the thriving demand for marijuana stuffed local banks and private coffers with enough local capital to expand the 'above the board' economies. During the presidency of Luis Echeverria, federal policy attempted to break the growing alliances that were forged between revolutionary student uprisings and the drug dealers. Frequent confrontations between government soldiers on one side and local drug dealers were commonplace in Culiacán's streets. Drug traffickers during the 1980s diversified into legitimate infrastructure investments in banking, agriculture, transportation, international money exchanges, United States real estate, and import brokerage businesses. The diversification included alliance building efforts that resulted in the formation of powerful cartels based on traditional clan and familial relationships of the founding families. This continued into collaborative relationships that linked the Culiacán-based drug trade with other networks in Latin America, Asia, and Europe. In part due to US-led successes against the Colombian distribution networks in the Caribbean and in South Florida, the 1980s also saw the rise in the fortunes of the Pacific Coast cartels as they filled the vacuum created in the cocaine trade. Later, in a concerted effort to escape scrutiny and consolidate regional markets, the Culiacán cartels relocated into Jalisco state and Baja California while maintaining a low profile presence in the hometown. More recently, the influence of the cartel networks along the US-Mexico border expanded through the 1990s and into the current decade. Diversification now also includes both legitimate US-registered enterprises and the usurpation of many regional markets of the illicit methamphetamine trade. Although sometimes referred to as the Guadalajara Cartel, the Tijuana Cartel, and by other monikers, the key players continue to be Culiacán's native sons. The corrupting influence of the drug trade on government institutions is well documented on both sides of the border and continues to flourish despite efforts and infrequent successes of United States federal law enforcement agencies.


Companies headquartered in Culiacán


The total population of the city is 605,304 reaching almost a million adding the inhabitants of the satellite cities of Navolato (a municipality of its own), Costa Rica and Eldorado and those of the rural villages such as El Salado, Quila, Culiacancito, Imala and San Pedro. Immigration to Culiacán comes from all parts of the world, but especially from southern Mexico and Europe. There are Italian, Greek, German, French, Eastern-European and Sephardic Jews, Chinese and Japanese communities in Culiacán, largely due to the economic boom of the last 50 years.



Though there are several high speed roads, most of the city’s streets are rather narrow and traffic jams are common at rush hours. The city has a total of nine bridges: six across the Tamazula river, two spanning the Humaya River and the longest one crossing the Culiacán river. Efforts to solve traffic problems have been made but most of the city streets and bridges are now crowded and insufficient to handle regular and rush hours traffic; a forty km/h speed limit in most parts of the city worsens the situation. It was recently published that there are 300,000 cars in Culiacán making the per capita number of cars one of the highest in the country considering the 745,000 inhabitants.

Culiacán is a rail junction and is located on the Panamerican Highway that runs north to the United States and South to Guadalajara and Mexico City and the Benito Juárez Highway or Maxipista, which is a toll road that runs parallel to the toll-free Federal highway. Culiacán is linked to the satellite city of Navolato by an excellent Freeway that that now reaches Altata, in the Pacific Ocean coast. Culiacán is served by Aeropuerto Internacional de Culiacán and Central Internacional de Autobuses Millennium.

Culiacan is linked to Tamazula de Victoria in Durango state.



  • Imala's hot springs, which are about a 30 minute ride from the city and close to several dams and reservoirs where you can fish large mouth bass all year round.
  • Altata beach located 30 minutes from Culiacán where there has been extensive development over the last couple of years. It has a "sister" Beach called Nuevo Altata where this project of travel destination, has Begun with some Restaurants, and Private Areas.
  • The Cathedral, a 19th century church which began construction in the 1830s.
  • Plazuela Alvaro Obregón, which was the place for social gatherings in the 1800s.
  • La Lomita or Templo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is the tallest church in Culiacán, placed over a hill, and it has a view of the entire city.
  • The Centro Cultural Genaro Estrada known by the locals as "Difocur" encompasses a theater, movie theater, a cafe and a group of museums specialized in local culture. DIFOCUR is also the home of the Orquesta Sinfonica Sinaloa de las Artes. An award winning orchestrafact, the OSSLA performs a 42 week season (September to June) of symphony, pops, opera, ballet, and chamber music, and features musicians from more than fifteen different countries, including Mexico, the United States, England, Scotland, Canada, Romania, Argentina, and others. Working under the auspicies of the government of Sinaloa, the OSSLA also performs many outreach and educational programs around the state of Sinaloa, as well as throughout Mexico.
  • Regional History Museum in the "Parque Constitución", a large art museum downtown and a number of small art galleries owned by several of the local universities.
  • Botanical Garden and Centro de Ciencias de Sinaloa, a science museum that holds the fifth largest meteorite on earth.
  • A baseball stadium, the "Estadio Angel Flores" home of Los Tomateros de Culiacán, a bigger football arena called "Estadio Banorte"(Former Estadio Carlos González ) home of Los Dorados de Sinaloa, Mexican Football Team , and several university stadiums.
  • In Downtown the best preserved old street is the "calle Rosales", between Rosales square and the Cathedral.
  • Karla'zz Jazz Dance Studio, a famous dance studio in Culiacan, Sinaloa.


Malls: Forum Culiacán Mall, Plaza Galerias Mall, Plaza Fiesta, and Plaza La Campiña.

Movie theaters: Cinépolis, MM Cinemas, & Citi Cinemas.

Parks: The huge Parque Ernesto Millán Escalante (previously knows as Culiacán '87) with pools, attractions, an artificial lake, gardens, sports courts, the longest water slide in northern Mexico, an open air Hellenic theatre, etc. Other parks include Parque Revolución, Parque Constitución Civic Center.

International Restaurants: Burger King, McDonalds, Applebee's, Domino's Pizza, Subway, Baskin Robbins, Häagen-Dazs, Italianni's, Shooter's (Bar), Dairy Queen, TGI Fridays,El Pollo Loco,Starbucks Coffee,Peter Piper Pizza.

Casino's Franchises: Caliente(3), Royal Yak, Ermitage, Las Palmas (Nuevo Leon franchise), and Play City (2008).

Ice ring coming soon (autum 2008)

El Conchal and other small villages with a population of 500 hundred or less are located 8 kilometers from El Dorado. There people live on fishing and tourism. People charge 350 pesos to give people a tour.

A 2 hour drive south will make your trip worthwhile toward Mazatlan. The beaches are beautiful. At night, the several clubs on the strip (Malecon) will more than satisfy your clubbing needs.


The city is home of two professional league sport teams: baseball with Tomateros de Culiacán from the Liga Mexicana del Pacífico,two championship in Caribbean series in 1996 and 2002; and soccer with Los Dorados de Sinaloa from the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación who play at the Estadio Banorte (Estadio Carlos González). Duck, dove and goose hunting season goes from early November through March. Culiacán also holds a yearly international marathon.

Famous people from Culiacán



External links

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