Chiapas and Tabasco Feature

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People and Culture

In Chiapas you'll still find remote clusters of grass-roofed huts and cornfields planted on near-vertical hillsides. Things haven't changed much in centuries. Women still wrap themselves in traditional deep-blue shawls and coarsely woven wool skirts, and sunburned children sell fruit and flowers by the road. The region has nine distinct linguistic groups, most notably the highland-dwelling Tzotzils and the Tzeltals, who live in both highland and lowland areas. In more isolated regions, many villagers speak only their native language. In the past few years many more of the state's 4,224,800 residents have moved to the cities in search of work.

The 1,889,370 residents of Tabasco are much better off than their counterparts in Chiapas, because of the presence of the petroleum industry. Villahermosa, the capital, is a sprawling metropolis that looks forward, not back. But the people here haven't completely forgotten the past. The Parque-Museo La Venta, an open-air museum filled with stone heads carved by the Olmec people, is a place of pride for the residents.

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