Nahuatzen is a municipality in the Mexican state of Michoacán, located approximately 75 kilometres (47 mi) west of the state capital of Morelia.

Coat of arms of Nahuatzen
Location in Michoacán
Location in Michoacán
Nahuatzen is located in Mexico
Location in Mexico
Coordinates: 19°39′13″N 101°54′57″W / 19.65361°N 101.91583°W / 19.65361; -101.91583Coordinates: 19°39′13″N 101°54′57″W / 19.65361°N 101.91583°W / 19.65361; -101.91583[1]
Country Mexico
State Michoacán
Established10 December 1831
 • PresidentMayra Lucía Morales Morales
 • Total305.057 km2 (117.783 sq mi)
[1] (of seat)
2,414 m (7,920 ft)
 (2010 Census)[3]
 • Total27,174
 • Estimate 
(2015 Intercensal Survey)[4]
 • Density89/km2 (230/sq mi)
 • Seat
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (Central)
Postal codes
Area code423


The municipality of Nahuatzen is located in the Tarascan Plateau west of Lake Pátzcuaro at an elevation between 2,300 and 3,300 metres (7,500–10,800 ft). It borders the municipalities of Zacapu to the north, Erongarícuaro to the east, Tingambato to the south, Uruapan to the southwest, Paracho to the west, and Cherán to the northwest.[6] The municipality covers an area of 305.057 square kilometres (117.783 sq mi)[3] and comprises 0.52% of the state's area.[6]

As of 2009, the land cover in Nahuatzen consists of temperate forest (47%) and grassland (6%). Another 44% of the land is used for agriculture and 2% consists of urban areas.[6] The western half of Nahuatzen is in the Balsas River basin, the northeastern portion drains into the Lerma River, and the southeastern portion drains into Lake Pátzcuaro.[6]

Nahuatzen has a temperate climate with rain in the summer.[2] Average temperatures in the municipality range between 12 and 16 °C (54–61 °F), and average annual precipitation ranges between 1,000 and 1,500 millimetres (39–59 in).[6]


Participants in a festival in Nahuatzen.

In the Purépecha language, Nahuatzen means "place where it freezes". According to oral tradition, it was founded in the mid-16th century by people from the settlement of Xaracatan located about 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) to the southeast. It is depicted in the Lienzo de Nahuatzen, a cloth painting dating to the 17th or 18th century.[7][8] Nahuatzen was one of the 61 municipalities created in Michoacán in 1831.[2][9]


The governance of Nahuatzen has been a source of tension that has periodically erupted in violence. In principle, resources are to be shared between an Indigenous Citizens' Council, which was set up in 2015 and recognized by the state and federal governments in 2017;[10][11][12] and the municipal government, which comprises a president, a councillor (Spanish: síndico), and seven trustees (regidores), four elected by relative majority and three by proportional representation.[2] The current president of the municipality is Mayra Lucía Morales Morales,[13] who was appointed after the previously elected president David Eduardo Otlica Avilés was murdered in 2019.[14][15]


In the 2010 Mexican Census, the municipality of Nahuatzen recorded a population of 27,174 inhabitants living in 6193 households.[16] The 2015 Intercensal Survey estimated a population of 28,074 inhabitants in Nahuatzen.[4]

There are 10 localities in the municipality,[1] of which five are classified as urban:

  • the municipal seat Nahuatzen, which recorded a population of 10,283 inhabitants in the 2010 Census;
  • Comachuén, which recorded a population of 4762 inhabitants in 2010;
  • Turícuaro, which recorded a population of 3388 inhabitants in 2010;
  • Sevina, which recorded a population of 3344 inhabitants in 2010; and
  • Arantepacua, which recorded a population of 2707 inhabitants in 2010.[16]

In the 2015 Intercensal Survey, 92.86% of people in the municipality identified themselves as indigenous.[4] The 2010 Census recorded 9789 Purépecha speakers constituting 36% of the population in Nahuatzen.[1]

The lack of economic opportunities in Nahuatzen has caused many of people to find work elsewhere in Mexico and the United States. Sarasota, Florida is home to a community of people from Nahuatzen which numbers in the hundreds,[17] Upstate New York is home to vegetable farm workers from Comachuén,[18] and Tijuana has a community of Purépecha who emigrated from Arantepacua beginning in the 1980s.[19]


The main economic activities in Nahuatzen are agriculture, corn being the main crop, and forestry.[20]

Remittances from the United States have enabled families in Comachuén to maintain artisan traditions of embroidered textiles, woodworking and construction.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d "Sistema Nacional de Información Municipal" (in Spanish). SEGOB. 2010. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "Nahuatzen". Enciclopedia de los Municipios y Delegaciones de México (in Spanish). INAFED. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Nahuatzen: Datos generales". Cédulas de información municipal (in Spanish). SEDESOL. 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Panorama sociodemográfico de Michoacán de Ocampo 2015 (PDF) (in Spanish). INEGI. 2016. p. 134. ISBN 978-607-739-850-9. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  5. ^ "Consulta de Códigos Postales". Catálogo Nacional de Códigos Postales. Mexican Postal Service. 26 December 2020. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Nahuatzen, Michoacán de Ocampo" (PDF). Prontuario de información geográfica municipal de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (in Spanish). INEGI. 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  7. ^ "Lienzo de Nahuatzen". INAH. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  8. ^ Roskamp, Hans (2004). "El Lienzo de Nahuatzen: origen y territorio de una comunidad de la Sierra Tarasca, Michoacán" (PDF). Relaciones (in Spanish). 25: 279–311. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  9. ^ Estado de Michoacán de Ocampo. División Territorial de 1810 a 1995 (PDF) (in Spanish). Mexico: INEGI. 1996. pp. 160–161. ISBN 970-13-1501-4.
  10. ^ "Consejo Ciudadano Indígena de Nahuatzen". Front Line Defenders. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  11. ^ Lopez, Oscar (2 January 2020). "A town torn apart: Mexico's indigenous communities fight for autonomy". Thomson Reuters Foundation. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  12. ^ Martínez Elorriaga, Ernesto (26 April 2020). "Indígenas de la Meseta Purépecha solicitarán liberación de comuneros". La Jornada (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  13. ^ Martínez Elorriaga, Ernesto (22 May 2019). "Designan a Mayra Lucía Morales como edil sustituta de Nahuatzen". La Jornada (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  14. ^ "Mayor of Nahuatzen, Michoacán, kidnapped and killed". Mexico News Daily. 23 April 2019. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  15. ^ "Michoacán mayor's slaying triggers violence in divided town". Mexico News Daily. 24 April 2019. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  16. ^ a b "Resumen municipal: Municipio de Nahuatzen". Catálogo de Localidades (in Spanish). SEDESOL. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  17. ^ Wallace, Hannah (30 September 2007). "On the Road". Sarasota Magazine. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  18. ^ a b Stevenson, Mark. "Indigenous town survives on remittances from US". Indian Country Today, Associated Press. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  19. ^ Álvarez Luis, Jonathan Uriel (2020). Asentamiento y liderazgo de mujeres purépechas en Tijuana Baja California: Expresiones étnicas, de poder y agencia (MEC). El Colegio de la Frontera Norte. p. 34. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  20. ^ Nahuatzen Municipal Council (11 August 2020). "Plan de Desarrollo Municipal" (PDF). Periódico Oficial del Estado de Michoacán, 3a. Secc. (in Spanish). Government of Michoacán. pp. 30, 32. Retrieved 27 December 2020.