Veracruz, officially known as Heroica Veracruz, is a major port city and municipality on the Gulf of Mexico in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The city is located in the central part of the state. Located 90 km (56 mi) along Federal Highway 140 from the state capital Xalapa, it is the state's most populous city. The city's population is greater than the municipality's population, since part of the city extends into neighboring Boca del Río Municipality. At the 2010 census, the city had 554,830 inhabitants, 428,323 in Veracruz Municipality and 126,507 in Boca del Río Municipality. Veracruz is Mexico’s oldest, largest, and historically most significant port since European colonization.
When Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico in 1519, he founded a city here, which he named Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz, referring to the area’s gold and dedicated to the "True Cross", because he landed on the Christian holy day of Good Friday, the day of the Crucifixion. It was the first Spanish settlement on the mainland of the Americas and the first to receive a coat-of-arms. During the colonial period, this city had the largest mercantile class and was at times wealthier than the capital of Mexico City. Its wealth attracted the raids of pirates, against which fortifications such as Fort San Juan de Ulúa were built. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Veracruz was invaded on different occasions by France and the United States; the last invasion occurred in 1914. For much of the 20th century, the production of petroleum was most important for the state's economy but, in the latter 20th century and into the 21st, the port has re-emerged as the main economic engine. It has become the principal port for most of Mexico’s imports and exports, especially for the automotive industry.
Veracruz has a blend of cultures, mostly indigenous, ethnic Spanish and Afro-Cuban. The influence of these three is best seen in the food and music of the area, which has strong Spanish, Caribbean and