San Cristóbal de las Casas, also known by its native Tzotzil name, Jovel (Pronunciation: xɤ̞'ve̞l), is a town and municipality located in the Central Highlands region of the Mexican state of Chiapas. It was the capital of the state until 1892, and is still considered the cultural capital of Chiapas.
The municipality is mostly made up of mountainous terrain, but the city sits in a small valley surrounded by hills. The city’s center maintains its Spanish colonial layout and much of its architecture, with red tile roofs, cobblestone streets and wrought iron balconies often with flowers. Most of the city’s economy is based on commerce, services and tourism. Tourism is based on the city’s history, culture and indigenous population, although the tourism itself has affected the city, giving it foreign elements. Major landmarks of the city include the Cathedral, the Santo Domingo church with its large open air crafts market and the Casa Na Bolom museum. The municipality has suffered severe deforestation, but it has natural attractions such as caves and rivers.
Chiapas (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈtʃjapas], [tʃiˈapas]), officially Free and Sovereign State of Chiapas (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de Chiapas), is one of the 31 states that, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 118 municipalities and its capital city is Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Other important cites in Chiapas include San Cristóbal de las Casas, Comitán, and Tapachula. Located in Southwestern Mexico, it is the southernmost State of Mexico. It is bordered by the states of Tabasco to the north, Veracruz to the northwest and Oaxaca to the west. To the east Chiapas borders Guatemala, and to the south the Pacific Ocean.
In general, Chiapas has a humid, tropical climate. In the north, in the area bordering Tabasco, near Teapa, rainfall can average more than 3,000 mm (120 in) per year. In the past, natural vegetation at this region was lowland, tall perennial rainforest, but this vegetation has been destroyed almost completely to give way to agriculture and ranching. Rainfall decreases moving towards the Pacific Ocean, but it is still abundant enough to allow the farming of bananas and many other tropical crops near Tapachula. On the several parallel "sierras" or mountain ranges running along the center of Chiapas, climate can be quite temperate and foggy, allowing the development of cloud forests like those of the Reserva de la Biosfera el Triunfo, home to a handful of Resplendent Quetzals and Horned Guans.