​Isla Mujeres

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Description

Isla Mujeres (Spanish pronunciation: ['izla mu'xeɾes], Spanish for "Island of the Women") is an island in the Caribbean Sea, about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) off the Yucatán Peninsula coast. The island is some 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) long and 650 metres (2,130 ft) wide. To the east is the Caribbean Sea with a strong surf and rocky coast, and to the west the skyline of Cancún can be seen across the clear waters. In the 2010 census, the namesake town on the island had a population of 12,642 inhabitants.

The island is part of the Isla Mujeres Municipality in the State of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

In Pre-Columbian times the island was sacred to the Maya goddess of childbirth and medicine, Ix Chel. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century they named it "Isla Mujeres" because of the many images of goddesses. The first information available about Isla Mujeres is from the period between 564 - 1516 AC, when it was part of the Maya province called Ekab. There were 4 Maya provinces in what is today the State of Quintana Roo. The Maya also exploited the salt that the island produced in the "salinas" (small interior lagoons). The salt was used not only for the conservation of food and medicine but also as a generally accepted currency for commerce of goods along the whole Maya region. The Maya goddess Ixchel had a temple in what is today the Hacienda Mundaca (Mundaca's Plantation House).

A small Maya temple was once located on the southern tip of the island. However, in 1988, Hurricane Gilbert caused extensive damage, leaving most of the foundation but only a very small portion of the temple.

Since the 1970s, along with close-by Cancún, there has been substantial tourist development in Isla Mujeres.

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