One of the most defining landmarks in the region is Palenque City, which has some of the most preserved Mayan architecture in the world. Palenque city was called Lakamha or “Big Water” for the abundant water found in the region. Tourists from all over flock to see the towering stone ruins and learn about the ancient Mayan and Tzeltal people.
The region boasts high biodiversity with native fauna including hummingbirds, anteaters, ocelots and saraguatos (black howler monkey).
Cajpe (coffee in the Tzeltal language) is the main economic activity in the communities and is the main link for the community with the international markets. Coffee is the primary cash-crop here but it is often produced with food staples like corn, beans, and spicy chilies, mainly for consumption .
The coffee bushes are grown under partial shade of native trees & intercropped with beans, bananas, pumpkin, citrus & plums. Organic fertilisers are used, comprising of cherry coffee pulp, dry leaves & wood ashes. Cherries are picked ripe, de-pulped & fermented between 12-17 hours, washed & then sun dried on farmers’ yards or zarandas (sieves).
With seeds from the Caribbean, cultivation began in Veracruz, where custom house records indicate a few hundred bags of coffee were exported as early as 1802. However these exports were apparently anomalous because after 1805 coffee would not be exported again for 20 years, after the war of independence. Production did increase over this period, presumably for domestic trade & consumption. In 1817 a planter, Don Juan Gomez started " intensive cultivation" further south, where coffee thrived at high altitude. By 1826 there were 1/2 million trees in Cordoba & Mexican coffee was being exported. In 1828, seeds - possibly plants from the Yemen were planted in Uruapan, near the pasific coast west of Mexico City, by Jose Mariano Michelena. Trees were brought from Guatemala to be planted in the southern state of Chiapas in 1847, & Oaxaca would become the third largest producer of Mexican coffee by 1889.
Mexican coffee grows in 15 states throughout the southern half of the country, but 90% comes from 4 states, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas & Puebla. Speciality coffee comes from the highlands of Veracruz on the gulf coast, the mountains of Oaxaca & Chiapas at the southern tip of Mexico. In Veracruz coffee grows from 1100-1660 m.a.s.l. In Chiapas coffee grows from 1300- 1700 m.a.s.l. In Oaxaca coffee grows from 900-1650 m.a.s.l. Coffee is grown by half a million farmers, 95% of these being smallholders cultivating less than 3 hectares & 85% of Mexico's coffee farmers are indigenous Mexicans. Most Mexican coffee is shade grown, Mexico is also one of the worlds largest producers of certified organic, & fairtrade coffee. The majority of Mexican coffee is Bourbon, Catura, Maragogype, or Mundo Novo, though other varieties can be found.