Sinaloa (Spanish pronunciation: [sinaˈloa] (listen)), officially the Estado Libre y Soberano de Sinaloa (English: Free and Sovereign State of Sinaloa), is one of the 31 states which, along with Mexico City, comprise the Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 18 municipalities and its capital city is Culiacán Rosales.

Free and Sovereign State of Sinaloa
Estado Libre y Soberano de Sinaloa (Spanish)
The Land of the 11 Rivers
Anthem: State of Sinaloa Anthem
State of Sinaloa within Mexico
Coordinates: 25°0′N 107°30′W
Country Mexico
Capital and largest cityCuliacán
AdmissionOctober 14, 1830[1]
  Governor Rubén Rocha Moya
  • Raúl de Jesús Elenes Angulo
  • Imelda Castro Castro
  • Mario Zamora Gastélum
Federal Deputies
  Total58,328 km2 (22,521 sq mi)
 Ranked 17th
Highest elevation
[5] (Cerro La Cueva Gacha)
2,815 m (9,236 ft)
  Density52/km2 (130/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−7 (MST)
  Summer (DST)UTC−6 (MDT)
Postal code
Area code
Area codes
ISO 3166 codeMX-SIN
HDI 0.804 very high Ranked 5th
GDPUS$ 13,749,376,250 [a]
WebsiteOfficial Web Site
^ a. The state's GDP was $175,992,016 thousand of pesos in 2008,[7] amount corresponding to $13,749,376.25 thousand of dollars, being a dollar worth 12.80 pesos (value of June 3, 2010).[8]

It is located in northwest Mexico, and is bordered by the states of Sonora to the north, Chihuahua and Durango to the east (separated from them by the Sierra Madre Occidental) and Nayarit to the south. To the west, Sinaloa faces Baja California Sur across the Gulf of California. The state covers an area of 58,328 square kilometers (22,521 sq mi), and includes the Islands of Palmito Verde, Palmito de la Virgen, Altamura, Santa María, Saliaca, Macapule and San Ignacio. In addition to the capital city, the state's important cities include Mazatlán and Los Mochis.


Litograph of Mazatlán in 1845

Sinaloa belongs to the northern limit of Mesoamerica. From the Fuerte River to the north is the region known as Aridoamerica, which includes the desert and arid places of northern Mexico. Before European contact, the territory of Sinaloa was inhabited by groups such as the Cahitas, the Tahues, the Acaxees, the Xiximes, the Totorames, the Achires and the Guasaves.[9]

In 1531, Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán, with a force of over 10,000 men, established a Spanish and allied Indian outpost at San Miguel de Culiacán. Over the next decade, the Cahíta suffered severe depopulation from conquest, smallpox and other diseases brought by Europeans.[10]

The Spanish organized Sinaloa as part of the gobierno of Nueva Galicia. In 1564, the area was realigned: the area of Culiacán and Cosalá remained in control of Nueva Galicia, while the areas to the north, south and west were made part of the newly formed Nueva Vizcaya province, making the Culiacán area an exclave of Nueva Galicia. The first capital of Nueva Vizcaya was located in San Sebastián, near Copala, but was moved to Durango in 1583.[11]

Starting in 1599, Jesuit missionaries spread out from a base at what is now Sinaloa de Leyva and by 1610, the Spanish influence had been extended to the northern edge of Sinaloa. In 1601, the Jesuits' movement into the eastern part of Sinaloa led to the Acaxee going to war. The Spanish eventually managed to reassert authority in the Sierra Madre Occidental region and executed 48 Acaxee leaders.[12]

After the Mexican War of independence, Sinaloa was joined with Sonora as Estado de Occidente, but became a separate, sovereign state in 1830.[10] The Porfiriato era was marked by the administration of Francisco Cañedo, who served multiple non-consecutive terms from 1877 to 1909. After the Mexican Revolultion, infrastructure projects and land reform consolidated the agrarian sector, which led to the state being named "the granary of Mexico".[13]


The coastal plain is a narrow strip of land that stretches along the length of the state and lies between the Gulf of California and the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range, which dominates the eastern part of the state. Sinaloa is traversed by many rivers, which carve broad valleys into the foothills. The largest of these rivers are the Culiacán, Fuerte, and Sinaloa.[14]

Sinaloa has a warm climate on the coast; moderately warm climate in the valleys and foothills; moderately cold in the lower mountains, and cold in the higher elevations. Its weather characteristics vary from subtropical and tropical, found on coastal plains, to cold in the nearby mountains. Temperatures range from 22 °C (72 °F) to 43 °C (109 °F) with rain and thunderstorms during the rainy season (June to October) and dry conditions throughout most of the year. Its average annual precipitation is 790 millimetres.[15]

Numerous species of plants and animals are found within Sinaloa. Notable among the tree species is the elephant tree, Bursera microphylla.[16]

Botanic garden "Benjamín F. Johnston" of Parque Sinaloa


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1895 261,050    
1900 296,701+2.59%
1910 323,642+0.87%
1921 341,265+0.48%
1930 395,618+1.66%
1940 492,821+2.22%
1950 635,681+2.58%
1960 838,404+2.81%
1970 1,266,528+4.21%
1980 1,849,879+3.86%
1990 2,204,054+1.77%
1995 2,425,675+1.93%
2000 2,536,844+0.90%
2005 2,608,442+0.56%
2010 2,767,761+1.19%
2015 2,966,700+1.40%
2020 3,026,943+0.40%
Source: [6]

According to the 2020 census, Sinaloa is home to 3,026,943 inhabitants, 60% of whom reside in the capital city of Culiacán and the municipalities of Mazatlán and Ahome. It is a young state in terms of population, 56% of which is younger than 30 years of age.[17]

Other demographic particulars report 87% of the state practices the Catholic faith. Also, 1% of those over five years of age speak an indigenous language alongside Spanish; the main indigenous ethnic group still residing in the state is the Mayo or "Yoreme" (Cáhita language) people. Life expectancy in the state follows the national tendency of higher rates for women than men, a difference of almost five years in the case of Sinaloa, at 72.5 and 77.4 years respectively.

In ethnic composition, Sinaloa has received large historic waves of immigration from Europe (mainly Spain, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Russia) and Asia (namely China, Japan, the Philippines, Lebanon and Syria). The latter two countries also make up most of the Arab Mexican community in the state. In recent years, retirees from the U.S., Canada and South America have arrived and made Sinaloa their home.

There was also a sizable influx of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews in the first decades of the twentieth century.

Greeks form a notable presence in Sinaloa, where one can find local cuisine with kalamari and a few Greek Orthodox churches along the state's coast.[18]

According to the 2020 Census, 1.39% of Sinaloa's population identified as Black, Afro-Mexican, or having African descent.[19]

Sinaloenses have moved to the United States in large numbers since 1970; a large community lives in the twin towns of Indio, California and Coachella, California about 25 miles east of the resort city of Palm Springs, California in the Colorado Desert of Southern California.


The main economic activities of Sinaloa are agriculture, fishing, livestock breeding, tourism and food processing.[20] Sinaloa has on its license plates the image of a tomato, as the state is widely recognized for harvesting this particular fruit in great abundance from Los Mochis in the North to Culiacán in the central region of the state. Agriculture produce aside from tomatoes include cotton, beans, corn, wheat, sorghum, potatoes, soybeans, mangos, sugarcane, peanuts and squash.[21] Sinaloa is the most prominent state in Mexico in terms of agriculture and is known as "Mexico's breadbasket". Additionally, Sinaloa has the second largest fishing fleet in the country.[22] Livestock produces meat, sausages, cheese, milk as well as sour cream.


In terms of education, average schooling reaches 8.27 years; 4.2% of those over 15 years of age are illiterate, and 3.18% of children under 14 years of age do not attend school.[23]

Institutions of higher education include Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, TecMilenio University, Universidad Politécnica de Sinaloa, Universidad Politécnica del Mar y la Sierra, Universidad Politécnica del Valle del Evora, Universidad Autónoma de Durango, Instituto Tecnológico Superior de Sinaloa, Universidad Autónoma de Occidente and Universidad Casa Blanca.

Government and politics

The current governor of Sinaloa is Rubén Rocha Moya.[24] The state is represented in the Mexican Congress by three Senators in the upper house and fourteen federal deputies in the lower house.


Sinaloa is divided into 18 municipalities. Each municipality has a city council, headed by the municipal president. The aforementioned positions have a duration of three years.[25]

The state's major cities include the capital and largest city, Culiacán, Mazatlán, a famous tourist resort and destination, and Los Mochis, an agricultural hub in Northwestern Mexico. Other cities include Guasave, Guamúchil, Escuinapa, El Fuerte, Sinaloa de Leyva, El Rosario, San Ignacio de Piaxtla and Choix.


An early 20th century banda
An ulama player in Sinaloa

Culturally, Sinaloa is part of Northern Mexico. Famous entertainers from the state include actor Pedro Infante, born in Mazatlán; singer Ana Gabriel, born in Guamúchil; singer and actress Lola Beltrán from Rosario; Cruz Lizárraga, the founder of Banda el Recodo; baseball player Jorge Orta, from Mazatlán; actress/comedian/singer Sheyla Tadeo, born in Culiacán; actress Sabine Moussier; actress/singer Lorena Herrera, from Mazatlán; and singer-songwriter Chalino Sánchez, from Las Flechas, Culiacán.


The state is known for its popular styles of music banda and norteño.[26] Banda was established in the early 1920s, influenced by the organological style of the European fanfare, and incorporating traditional sones, ranchera, corrido, polka, waltz, mazurka and schottische predominate, as well as more contemporary genres such as cumbia.[27]

The first bandas were formed by members of military and municipal bands who settled in the Sierra Madre Occidental during the Mexican Revolution, and were influenced by traditional Yoreme music.[27]


Its rich cuisine is well known for its variety particularly in regard to mariscos (seafood) and vegetables. Famous dishes include aguachile.[28][29] Sinaloan sushi is a popular dish.[30]


Newspapers of Sinaloa include: El Debate de Culiacán, El Debate de Guamúchil, El Debate de Guasave, El Debate de los Mochis, El Debate de Mazatlán, El Sol de Culiacán, El Sol de Sinaloa, La I Noticias para Mí Culiacán, Noroeste (Culiacán), Noroeste de Mazatlán, and Primera Hora.[31][32]


Sinaloa is one of the few places where the ancient Mesoamerican ballgame is still played, in a handful of small, rural communities not far from Mazatlán. The ritual ballgame was central in the society, religion and cosmology of all the great Mesoamerican cultures including the Mixtecs, Aztecs, and Maya. The Sinaloa version of the game is called ulama and is very similar to the original.[33] There are efforts to preserve this 3500-year-old unique tradition by supporting the communities and children who play it.[34]

The state is home to several baseball teams such as Tomateros de Culiacán, Venados de Mazatlán, Cañeros de Los Mochis and Algodoneros de Guasave which take part in the Mexican Pacific League.[35]

Organized crime

The Sinaloa Cartel (Cártel de Sinaloa or CDS) has significantly influenced the culture of Sinaloa.[36] The cartel is reportedly the largest drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime syndicate in the Americas; it is based in the city of Culiacán, Sinaloa.[37]

Notable residents

  • Banda MS - Banda Sinaloense
  • Arrolladora Banda el Limón - Banda Sinaloense
  • Banda Los Recoditos - Banda Sinaloense
  • José Manuel López Castro - Norteño Singer

See also

  • Sinaloa Cartel
  • Las Labradas, an archaeological site located in southern Sinaloa


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  2. "Senadores por Sinaloa LXI Legislatura". Senado de la Republica. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  3. "Listado de Diputados por Grupo Parlamentario del Estado de Sinaloa". Camara de Diputados. Archived from the original on March 16, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  4. "Resumen". Cuentame INEGI. Archived from the original on May 14, 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
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  6. "México en cifras". January 2016.
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  8. "Reporte: Jueves 3 de Junio del 2010. Cierre del peso mexicano". Retrieved August 10, 2010.
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  11. Peter Gerhard, The Northern Frontier of New Spain (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982) p. 245
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  13. Carton de Grammont, Hubert (1990). Los empresarios agrícolas y el Estado: Sinaloa 1893-1984 (in Spanish).
  14. Burian, Edward (2021-10-01). "The Geography and Landscapes of Northern Mexico". The Architecture and Cities of Northern Mexico from Independence to the Present. University of Texas Press. pp. 6–10. doi:10.7560/771901-004. ISBN 978-1-4773-0722-9.
  15. "Clima de Sinaloa". Cuéntame... Información por entidad. INEGI. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  16. C. Michael Hogan. 2009
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  19. "Panorama sociodemográfico de México".
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  34. Asociacion de Gestores del Patrimonio Historico y Cultural de Mazatlan. 2009
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