Cancún is a city in southeastern Mexico, located on the southeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It is a major world-renowned tourist destination, as well as being the seat of the municipality of Benito Juárez. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, and is one of the easternmost points in Mexico. Cancún is located just north of Mexico's Caribbean coast resort band known as the Riviera Maya.There are two possible translations of Cancún, based on the Mayan pronunciation kaan kun. The first translation is "nest of snakes." The second version and less accepted is "place of the gold snake.The shield of the municipality of Benito Juárez, who represents the city of Cancun, was designed by the artist vital Jesús Carmichael Jiménez. It is divided into three parts: The color blue symbolizes the Caribbean Sea, the yellow the sand and the red the sun with its rays.As documented in the earliest colonial sources, the island of Cancún was originally known to its Maya inhabitants as Nizuc meaning either "promontory" or "point of grass". In the years after the Conquest, much of the population died off or left as a result of disease, warfare, piracy, and famines, leaving only small settlements on Isla Mujeres and Cozumel Island.The name Cancún, Cancum or Cankun first appears on 18th century maps.The meaning of Cancún is unknown, and it is also unknown whether the name is of Maya origin. If it is of Maya origin, possible translations include "Place/Seat/Throne of the Snake" or "Enchanted Snake". Snake iconography was prevalent at the pre-Columbian site of Nizuc.When development was started on January 23, 1970, Isla Cancún had only three residents, caretakers of the coconut plantation of Don José de Jesús Lima Gutiérrez, who lived on Isla Mujeres, and there were only 117 people living in nearby Puerto Juarez, a fishing village and military base.Due to the reluctance of investors to bet on an unknown area, the Mexican government had to finance the first nine hotels.The first hotel financed was the Hyatt Cancún Caribe, but the first hotel actually built was the Playa Blanca, which later became a Blue Bay hotel, and is now Temptation Resort. At the time it was an elite destination, famous for its virgin white sand beaches.
The city began as a tourism project in 1974 as an Integrally Planned Center, a pioneer of FONATUR , formerly known as INFRATUR. Since then, it has undergone a comprehensive transformation from being a fisherman's island surrounded by virgin forest and undiscovered shores to being one of the two most well-known Mexican resorts, along with Acapulco. The World Tourism Organization, through its foundation UNWTO-Themis, awarded the Best of the Best award "for excellence and good governance" to the Trust for Tourism Promotion of Cancun on February 3, 2007. This award Cancún ensured the ongoing support of the Department of Education and Knowledge Management of the WTO.
Most 'Cancúnenses' are from Yucatán and other Mexican states. A growing number are from the rest of the Americas and Europe. The municipal authorities have struggled to provide public services for the constant influx of people, as well as limiting squatters and irregular developments, which now occupy an estimated ten to fifteen percent of the mainland area on the fringes of the city.
In the 21st century, Cancún had largely avoided bloodshed associated with the trade of illegal drugs and reportedly known for retail drug sales to tourists and as a center of money laundering.The links with Cancún date from the 1990s and early 2000s, when the area was controlled by the Juárez and Gulf drug cartels. In recent years Los Zetas, a group that broke away from the Gulf Cartel, has taken control of many smuggling routes through the Yucatán, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.