Oaxaca can refer to either one of the states in the 32 federative entities of Mexico, or to the capital and largest city of the state. Within the city and state, a multitude of peoples, cultures, flavors, and wildlife abounds. This combination makes for a thriving tourism industry, and a set of experiences that everybody should seek out at least once.There are sixteen recognized indigenous groups within Oaxaca. The largest are the Zapotecs, 350,000 strong and accounting for 31 of the total indigenous population. These people have historically lived in the area, and refer to themselves as Be’ena’a, “The People.” The Mixtecs are the second largest group in the state, with 240,000 members (27 of the indigenous population). This group migrated to the northwest of Oaxaca and southern Puebla 3,000 years ago. Third largest are the Mazatecos, followed by the Mixe, the Chatino, the Trique, the Huave, the Cuicatecos, the Zoque, the Amuzgos, the Chontales, the Tacuates, the Chocholtec, the Ixcatecos, the Popolocas, and the smallest, a tiny population of Nahuatl-speakers near the Puebla border.This strong blend of peoples makes Oaxaca a wonderful place to learn about the history of Central America, since many of the groups were involved in important political shifts in the past. Each group also carries its own respective religion, language, and cuisine, making for a true melting pot.Agriculture is one of the most important parts of Oaxaca’s economy. However, this profession is concentrated in the interior of the state, as mountainous regions in other areas limit the ability to grow crops. In fact, only 9 of Oaxaca is available for agriculture, but 31 of the population is employed in it. Grains, agave, peanuts, and goat meat are all popular products, while coffer and pineapple are grown in more tropical regions. Mining is also an important industry for Oaxaca, with mines located mainly in the cities of Etla, Ixtlan, San Pedro Taviche, Papalo, and Salinas Cruz. Tourism is a growing industry, concentrated in Oaxaca city and the coastal regions.When visiting Oaxaca, be sure to visit the local artisans and performers. Many groups still perform traditional music and dance, while pottery, traditional clothing like huipils, and wooden alebrijes figures can be found for sale and appreciation around the state. The alebrijes represent fantastical creatures that the Mixe artisan Pedro Linares hallucinated in the 1930s.The most popular sports in Oaxaca are football, baseball, and basketball. Surfers also flock to Playa Zicatela beach in Puerto Excondido, especially for the Torneo Internacional de Surf (International Surfing Tournament) held in November. Mountain biking, snorkeling, and scuba diving are also popular recreational sports.Ultimately, you can only see a small piece of Oaxaca through researching it on the internet. The only true way to experience the state is by visiting. What better time to book your trip than now?

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