Oaxaca's Tourist Guide
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Black&White photos courtesy of Vittorio D'Onofri

Amuzgo women


Historical Background
Nothing is known about ancient dwellers of the region currently occupied by the Amuzgos. The first information about this group dates from the first years of the Spanish conquest. They resided in part of the province of Ayacastla and had Igualapa as their capital city. Their territory extended from the banks of the Ayutla River to the west, the Manialtepec to the north, and reached the sea in the south. The Amuzgos inhabited the towns of Xiyacan, Ayotzinapa and Xochistlahuaca, and lived mutually with the Ayacastecas, in Ometepec and Igualapa

Moctezuma Ilhuicamina probably conquered this province in 1457, when the Aztecs defeated and submitted the Mixtecs, and towns subject to them. However, rebellions against the invaders were frequent, but were quickly oppressed by Ahuizotl, in 1494, and Cuitlahuac between 1504 and 1507. It seems that the Aztecs never had complete control over the province, and the Amuzgo people, at the time of the conquest, were partially subjected to the Ayacastecas, and partly to the Mixteca domains of Ipactepec, linked to that of Tutepec.

Location and Environment
Amuzgos currently inhabit a small section in the southeastern part of the State of Guerrero, in the municipalities of Ometepec, Tlacoachistlahuaca and Xochistlahuaca. They also live in San Pedro Amuzgos and Santa Mara Ipalapa municipalities of Oaxaca, occupying a total of 1,200 square miles (3,000 square kilometres).

Amuzgo territory, in spite of its low altitude (between 1,640 and 2,953 feet (500 and 900 metres) above sea level) is quite treacherous, especially in the Oaxaca area, which is crossed by the Sierra Yucuyagua (mountain area). Several small rivers and streams flow through it. The Ometepec River, and its tributaries the Tres Rios (Three Rivers), Quetzalapa, Arena (Sand) River, Putla, Sordo, San Pedro and the Santa Catarina, whose waters flow into the Pacific Ocean.

The weather is warm and humid, with abundant rainfall from June to November. Short vegetation is predominant, with species such as "barrequillo","malva"," chia", and "sapodilla" trees. There are royal and coconut palms in some areas. Animal life comprises small mammals such as badger, fox, raccoon, aardvark, and to a smaller degree, wild cat, wild boar, and deer. Parrots and parakeets abound.