Cancún (/kaːnˈkuːn/; Spanish pronunciation: [kaŋˈkun]) is a city in southeastern Mexico, located on the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It is an important renowned tourist destination in Mexico, as well as being the seat of the municipality of Benito Juárez. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, and is one of the easternmost points in Mexico. Cancún is located just north of Mexico’s Caribbean coast resort band known as the Riviera Maya. In older English-language documents, the city’s name is sometimes spelled “Cancoon,” an attempt to convey the sound of the name.
As documented in the earliest colonial sources, the island of Cancún was originally known to its Maya inhabitants as Nizuc (Yucatec Maya [niʔ suʔuk]) meaning either “promontory” or “point of grass”. In the years after the Conquest, much of the Maya population died off or left as a result of disease, warfare, piracy, and famines, leaving only small settlements on Isla Mujeres and Cozumel Island.
The name Cancún, Cancum or Cankun first appears on 18th-century maps. The meaning of Cancún is unknown, and it is also unknown whether the name is of Maya origin. If it is of Maya origin, possible translations include “Place/Seat/Throne of the Snake” or “Enchanted Snake”. Snake iconography was prevalent at the pre-Columbian site of Nizuc.