Although the ruins scattered throughout the area tell of an ancient Mayan civilization across the region, Cancun itself was only developed as a resort island in the 1960s from what was once a sliver of sand off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula. Recognizing a rising outburst of tourism from the US, the Mexican Government carved Cancun out of the deep jungle of the Quintana Roo region, building causeways to connect the island to the mainland and constructing an international airport. Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, the island was carefully developed with hotels, resorts, restaurants and gardens until it was opened to tourism in 1974. Advertised as a tropical paradise, Cancun soon attracted tourists from Canada, the US and Europe.

More recently, Cancun has been the site of interesting turns in history as the host of the 2003 World Trade Organization talks. The grand scale protests surrounding the talks and the refusal on the parts of multiple developing nations to sign the agreement aroused much controversy.

In October of 2005, Hurricane Wilma made landfall on Cancun as a category 4 hurricane, causing at least three deaths and multiple disappearances, as well as millions of dollars of damages to homes and businesses. However, thanks to an exhaustive public campaign and vigorous restoration efforts, much of the tourist industry has been recovered. Rebuilding is ongoing, but already many of Cancun’s major attractions are up and running again.