Oaxaca's Tourist Guide
Oaxaca's Tourist Guide


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(Click to enlarge)
Black&White photos courtesy of Vittorio D'Onofri

Holy Week
San Miguel Panixtlahuaca
Chatinas women
El Encuentro


Historical Background
There is very little information on the history of the Chatino nation. Researchers believe they were one of the first groups to inhabit the State of Oaxaca. In his book, Historia de Oaxaca [Oaxaca's History], Jos Antonio Gay speculates that they probably reached shore in the Chacahua Lagoon, on the banks of Grande River, or some nearby shore, coming from a distant land". At that time, the area was scarcely populated, as the Zapotecs and Mixtecos had not yet settled, which allowed Chatinos to establish themselves in an intermediate area between these two groups. Currently, this zone belongs to the Municipality of Juquila, extending later to Teojomulco and Teozacualco, which were not sought after, as they were part of mountainous terrain.

In ancient times, the Chatinos were considered a military race, having made war on the Zapotecs and Mixtecos, being vanquished by the latter before the arrival of the Spanish.

Location and Environment
The Chatino settlements are located in southwest Oaxaca, in districts formerly known as Juquila and Sola de Vega, and have an area of 3071 square miles (7,677 square kilometres). It borders on the north and east with the Zapotecos, to the north and west with the Mixtecos, and to the south with Afro-indigenous groups from the coast. The region extends from the treacherous mountains, with an altitude of 9,514 feet (2,900 metres) above sea level, to the coast. Several climates exist: cold and damp in the mountains, warm and humid in the central valleys and hot and arid near the coast. Sola de Vega is the rainiest area in the state.

The main rivers flow directly into the Pacific Ocean. The most important, the Atoyac or "Verde" [Green], originally known as Juchatengo surrounds the region. Its tributaries include the Amoltepec, Yutanano, Sola de Vega, and De la Cruz, cutting through the former Sola de Vega region. In the Juquila region are the Chacalapana, Cacalote, Grande and "Piedra Parada" [Standing Stone], Manialtepec and Chacaque. There are some lagoons such as Salinas Grandes, Chacahua, Manialtepec and Pastoria.

Forests with commercial value grow in the mountainous zones, and include pine, cedar, oak, and white oak. Coast varieties include ash, sapodilla, mahogany, ceiba, and bamboo. Animal life is comprised of deer, racoons, wild cats, armadillos, and a variety of reptiles.