Mérida is the capital of the state of Yucatán and is located in the northwest corner of the Yucatán Peninsula. The Mérida metropolitan area population is estimated to be over 1 million people.
The state of Quintana Roo is just to the east of Mérida and the state of Campeche is west of the city. Beaches on the Gulf of Mexico are about 20 miles north of Mérida. Only 30 feet above sea level, Mérida’s flat topography supports middle and low tropical vegetation, such as smaller scrub trees, as well as pink flamingos, jaguars and tapirs.
The area lacks rivers and creeks but has underground lakes and cenotes, which are natural pits or sinkholes that are a result of collapsing limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater.
The city is also located in the Chicxulub Crater, which was formed by a large asteroid or comet that struck the earth around 66 million years ago, causing a mass extinction event that killed 75 percent of all plant and animal species on the planet.
Mérida also has a historical center typical of colonial Spanish cities. The street grid is based on odd-numbered streets running east to west and even-numbered streets running north to south. The Plaza Grande is the heart of the city. The more affluent neighborhoods are located to the north and the most densely populated areas are to the south of the city.