The state of Colima, Mexico – basic information

articles Living, Working, Retiring

General Information About Colima

Colima is the third smallest of Mexico’s 32 states. Nestled between Jalisco to the north, Michoacán to the east, and hugged on its western boundary by the Pacific Ocean, it covers an area of 2,106 square miles (5,455 kilometers), with a coastline extending 97.5 miles (157 kilometers) and territorial waters claiming 823.5 square miles (2,133 square kilometers).From atop their thrones of fire and ice high above the Valley of Colima, legends say, the gods look down upon their ancient domain.

The name “Colima” itself echoes the tradition: from the Nahuatl ” collimaitl” (colli = ancestors or gods, and maitl = domain of). The state territory also includes the Archipelago of Revillagigedo, consisting of the islands of Benito Juarez, Clarión, San Benedicto, and Roca Partida.


Sources listing the state’s population contradict one another. Some claim that the population clicks in at 542,000 inhabitants (INEGI census, 2000 : 542,627), others claim a million. The majority of people live in ten municipalities.


A branch of the southern Sierra Madre mountain range runs through three-quarters of the state creating a region of hills and mountains. Two volcanoes, one active and one dormant dominate the landscape near the capital city of Colima. Two major rivers flow through the state. The Marabasco-Cihuatlán and Coahuayana rivers form the border between Jalisco and Michoacán and the Armería River that originates in Jalisco travels 183 miles (294 kilometers) south before reaching Boca de Pascuales in the municipality of Armería, Colima.


Bordering on the Pacific Ocean, and nestled up against against Jalisco and Michoacan, the small state of Colima enjoys the best of both culinary worlds: the ocean’s bounty of fresh seafood, and the typical ranch dishes of western Mexico. In addition, Colima boasts a legacy of over 3,000 years of continuous civilization, and the attendant deeply-rooted food traditions that go with this heritage.


First inhabited by a group of Olmec people, Colima was also home to Nahuatl, Toltec and Chichimec cultures before being dominated by Tarascans, the principal culture when the Spaniards arrived during Cortes’ Pacific campaign, beginning in 1522. The shaft tombs and artistically crafted pottery, known as Colima ceramics, are evidence of a rich and flourishing culture. The famous perros cebados, the ancient, round little clay dogs are discovered in abundance in the area.


Because of its nearly 100-mile (160 kilometer) coastline the state is endowed with a wealth of beaches ranging from pebbles to powdery white and black volcanic sand.


The state’s average yearly temperature is 79.52ºF (26.4ºC). During the rainy season, between the months of June and October, an average 39.6 inches (1,007 millimeters) of rain falls on the state.

Major Cities

Colima city, with a population of approximately 130,000, is the state’s capital city and is located 64 miles (103 kilometers) northeast of the state’s second major city, Manzanillo. A fishing, tourist, and port city, Manzanillo dominates this area of Mexico’s Pacific coast.

Major Industries

The principal industries of the state are service, tourism, agriculture, agro-industry, mining and fishing. The state produces the sour Mexican lemon (limón), melons, mangoes, papaya, watermelon, yellow seedless watermelons, coconuts and specialty candies made from coconuts, fresh and dried bananas, corn, sugar cane, jalapeño chiles, and organic cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. The Danish company Danisco Cultor near Tecomán is a world leader in the production of pectin that is exported mainly to the US, Europe and Asia. Colima is Mexico’s second-largest producer of coconuts, yielding an astonishing 0.7 tons of coconuts per acre. Three species of palms are cultivated: the High Pacific Palm, the Yellow Malayan palm, and a hybrid of the two. Other important industries include beverages, metallic structures, food preservatives, cereal milling, wooden furniture, printing and publishing, cement, lime and gypsum production, and dairy products.

Tecomán is also the center for cement production. The Apasco Group opened their sixth and largest cement plant in 1993 there with a capacity to produce 2,500,000 tons of cement a year.


Colima has major technological industry with companies involved with software development, information technology, and biotechnical development.

Port of Manzanillo

Geographically located at Latitude 19º 02′ 43″ North and Longitude 104º 18′ 53″ West, Manzanillo is Mexico’s principal deep-sea port handling the highest volume of cargo on the country’s Pacific coast. The port covers 437 hectares and is outfitted with world-class navigational and cargo equipment. The port facilities are privately owned and operated. It is the only Mexican port that has a double-stowage train service that moves its high volume of container cargo on 8.4 miles (13.5 kms) of tracks privately owned by FERROMEX (Ferrocarriles Mexicanos.)

Long distance railway connections carry cargo to Mexico City, Guadalajara and Aguascalientes. Port activity is a significant factor in Mexico’s industrial and commercial corridor carrying goods from Aguascaliente, Querétero, Morelos, Zacatecas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, Mexico City, Mexico State, Hidalgo, Nayarit, Durango, Michoacán and Colima. Internationally, the port has shipping lanes to Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the U. S., Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia and Peru. Besides container facilities, the port handles agricultural grains, plant and animal fluids, cement and raw materials, and has cold storage for perishables. A massive Pemex refueling station dominates the southwest curve of the port’s bay.

A portion of the port is reserved for fishing. The corporation, Marindustrias, operates a tuna fleet that can catch up to 20,000 tons of tuna a year and includes other vessels to catch species such as giant squid and shark. The company’s processing plants are located within the port area.


Colima has a total of 1,225 miles (1,971.5 kilometers) of highways that link the state’s ten municipalities, eight of which have four-lane highways. Spectacular panoramic toll highways span gorges approaching Colima city from Guadalajara. Dubbed “Red Carretera”, or Highway Network, the state’s highways connect with the NAFTA route, beginning in Manzanillo, passing through the cities of Tecomán and Colima and continuing on to Jalisco state where it joins the Guadalajara-Mexico highway to the U.S. and Canada.


Passenger service is no longer available in Colima or Mexico except for tourist routes in the Copper Canyon, Tequila, and in the Yucatán. One hundred and forty seven miles (237 kilometers) of railroads in Colima carrying cargo connect the major cities of the state with the rest of the country.


The state has two airports. The Playa del Oro International Airport with domestic and international flights is located in the municipality of Manzanillo. The Miguel de la Madrid Airport is near the capital city, Colima, in the municipality of Cuauhtémoc.


Colima state has post offices, telegraph offices, cellular and hard line telephone service, radio stations and four local television channels. Internet service, private cable and television service are available in and near the main cities of Colima and Manzanillo.


Colima has two massive coal powered thermoelectric power plants located in Manzanillo. The plants supply the entire state with electrical energy. In addition, 95% of the power they generate goes to the rest of Mexico and is sold to other countries.


Three major universities educate students in Colima city: the University of Colima, The Technological Institute of Colima, and the Monterey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Colima campus.

Published or Updated on: January 1, 2006
Share This:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *