Veracruz, Mexico, a city in Veracruz state and the leading port of the republic. It is on the Gulf of Mexico, 200 miles (320 km) east of Mexico City. Veracruz is one of the oldest cities in Mexico, and its streets and buildings provide a striking contrast of colonial and modern construction. The city has several plazas and parks, and fine bathing beaches. The old fort of San Juan de Ulúa is on Gallega Island, about one mile (1.6 km) from the mainland. Not far away is La Isla de los Sacrificios (Island of Sacrifices), a resort area containing ancient Aztec ruins. Veracruz has a well-protected harbor and is the terminus of several railways.
Veracruz was founded by Hernando Cortez in 1519. The settlement was moved several times before 1599, when it was rebuilt at the site of Cortez's first landing. Pirates raided Veracruz in the 1700's and 1800's. It was taken by the French in 1838 and 1861. During the Mexican War United States forces under Major General Winfield Scott took Veracruz (1847). United States forces again occupied Veracruz briefly in 1914, following an incident involving the arrest of American citizens there.