Cool Facts

All About Cancún


Cancún is a beautiful place to visit – or dream about visiting! Have you ever been there or wanted to go? Before you visit, take a look at all these facts about Cancún!

What used to be jungles and a deserted island is now one of the most popular places to visit!


Cancún was founded April 20, 1970. Four decades ago, Cancún was a deserted island, and very few people knew it existed. Its name wasn’t even clear: some maps called it “Kankun” (a single word written with the two “k’s”), which means “pot of snakes” or “nest of snakes” in Maya. Today, the island’s name is spelled “Cancún.”


The Cancún Project was approved in 1969, but it didn’t start until January, 1970, when the first Infratur technicians arrived. The basic goals of the project were to open up a road from Puerto Juarez to the island, design a Master Development Plan, and build a provisional air strip.

The basic Master Plan called for three items:

1) build a tourism zone without permanent residential areas, like a tourism corridor (given the characteristics of the land itself), with hotel installations, shopping centers, golf courses and marinas;

2) build a residential zone for permanent residents. In other words, an integral city, in the northern part of the territorial reserve, with residential and commercial areas, roads, public buildings, schools, hospitals and markets; and

3) build an international airport to one side of the Cancún-Tulum highway (under construction at the time), on the mainland south of the island.

The first hotel in Cancun (The Cancun Caribe) was set in 1972 and offered 208 rooms and 23 cabanas when it opened. The beautiful seas of the Caribbean started to attract people. A second hotel opened called Playa Blanca (which is now know as Temptation Resort and Spa) opened on the beach with 72 rooms. Due to the high demand, hotels began popping up everywhere.


In 1974 Quintana Roo was granted statehood and the Cancún project (under the Isla Mujeres district government) became part of Benito Juarez district.

From 1989 to this day, Cancún has been the nation’s most popular city. Cancún has become the country’s largest tourism resort and is the most prosperous city in the Yucatán Peninsula. It is also the Caribbean’s premier destination, surpassing even the Bahamas and Puerto Rico!

Year Pop. ±%
1990 167,730
1995 297,183 +77.2%
2000 397,191 +33.7%
2005 526,701 +32.6%
2010 628,306 +19.3%
2014 722,800 +15.0%


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