Culiacán is located in the center of the Pacifc Coast state of Sinaloa, and is an equal distance from Mazatlán on its southern side and Los Mochis to the north.
If you're driving down the West Coast, you'll probably pass through Culiacán. You'll certainly know it when you're getting close. The roads become wide, the pavement becomes dark and smooth and the desert dust of Sonora eventually gives way to lush green countryside. The signs of major agribusiness are everywhere, not so different from what one might find driving through the U.S. heartland. After the seemingly endless isolation of the Sonoran desert highways, the comparative civilization of Sinaloa becomes a most welcome sight.
Culiacán is both the capital and largest city in Sinaloa. There is some debate over how Culiacan came upon its name. Some say it comes from the indigenous Nahuatl language word “colhuacan”, which means “Place where the God Coltzin is worshipped”. Others say it means “Place of the crooked paths”, refering to the fact that the city of Culiacán is located at the merging point of the Humaya and Tamazula Rivers, which then become the Culiacan River.
While the city's history is steeped in a succession of Indian tribes, it was also a significant Spanish colony. Once inhabited by an Aztec tribe by the name of Huey Colhuacan, the town was formally established when the Spanish arrived in 1531. Over time, Culiacan attracted a large number of northern European immigrants, particularly Germans, attracted by the comfortable climate and fantastic agricultural land who have left an indelible imprint on the area.
The area's economic base was primarily based on fishing until irrigation systems were put in place turning the area into one of Mexico's most productive agricultural regions. Today many inhabitants are employed in agriculture and it remains the city's economic engine. In fact, agriculture is so central to the life of Culiacán (and Sinaloa more generally) that the state of Sinaloa bears one of its prime agricultural products - the tomato - on its license plates.
However, Culiacán's agricultural tradition also bears a darker side. Culiacán has been the epicenter of Mexico's marijuana cultivation for decades and most of the kingpins of Mexico's major drug cartels trace their roots back to the rural areas around Culiacán where groups have practiced the art of smuggling for generations.
Culiacán is famous for more than its world-class agriculture and its narcos. Culiacán is also famous in Mexico for producing a seemingly endless stream of beauty queens. In any given national beauty pageant, chances are good that a Culiacanense (a person from Culiacán) will be among the finalists.
Another bright spot is government's continued investment in higher learning. The area boasts some 15 government-funded universities which have helped the city grow quickly in the last several decades and have attracted students from such diverse regions as China, Greece, Japan, Italy and France giving the city of 600,000 inhabitants a multi-cultural atmosphere.
Education isn’t the only thing that interests Culiacan. Their baseball team, the Culiacan Tomateros (in English: Tomato Growers) are part of the Mexican Pacific League (Liga Mexicana del Pacífico or LMP). LMP is Mexico's most important winter baseball league. There are eight teams in the league and regular seasons run from October to December, which is followed by a playoff series in January to determine the league champion. The league's winner takes part in the Caribbean World Series each year. The Tomateros have won nine domestic titles and two Caribbean World Series, in 1996 and in 2002.
Attractions & Things To Do in Culiacán
The Cathedral – of 19th Spanish architecture.
La Lomita or Templo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe – visitors can enjoy the view of the entire city from the tallest church in Culiacan.
Plazuela Alvaro Obregón – was historically the place for social gatherings.
The Regional History Museum in the “Parque Constitución” – visitors can view regional archeological, flora and fauna exhibits; also includes small art galleries owned by local universities.
Centro de Ciencias de Sinaloa – this science museum is home to the fifth largest meteriorite on earth.
Sports Stadiums – sports enthusiasts can visit baseball stadium Estadio Angel Flores, football stadium Estadio Banorte, or university stadiums.
Beaches – sister beaches Altala and Nuevo Altala, El Conchal, Medano Blanco, Robalar, Playa del Tambor and Las Arenitas; they are also good areas for bird-watching and hiking.
Sport Fishing – at Playas Boca del Rio, Playa San, and Playa La Puntilla.
Imala Hot Springs – about 30 minutes from the city.