The first Maya settled in Cozumel 2,000 years ago. During the classic period (300-900 AC) Cozumel became one of the most important sanctuaries in the Yucatan region. Religious pilgrimages were common to the island especially from women who were either pregnant or wanted to get pregnant. They paid homage to the goddess X CHEL, the deity of the moon, pregnancy and childbirth.
In 1518 that the Spanish explorer Juan de Grijalva arrived to the island and proclaimed the land as property of the Spanish crown. Cozumel was the first site touched by the army of Hernán Cortés in what is now Mexican territory, becoming the starting point for the conquest of Mexico. The conqueror proceeded to destroy many of the Mayan temples. By the time, Cortés left Cozumel, the ancient civilization lie in ruins. At the same time, an outbreak of smallpox killed thousands.
Although several pirates used Cozumel as a base of operations in the 17th century, including the notorious Henry Morgan and Jean Lafitte, the island was not resettled until 1848. During the caste war, refugees fled to the island. From mid-19th century to the beginning of the 20th, Cozumel´s economy boomed and it become an important port. Jacques Cousteau's declarations in 1960 about the richness of the coral reef surrounding the island made underwater enthusiasts aware of Cozumel's existence.
-- adapted from the Fideicomiso de Promoción Turística de Cozumel
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