Situated on the Gulf of Mexico at the Tamaulipas-Veracruz border, Tampico's present day economic mainstay centers around the oil industry. Though settled in the sixteenth century on the remains of a Huasteca village plundered and destroyed by Cortes, Tampico has experienced various life cycles.
A complex river and lagoon system form part of Tampico's geography. The Panuco and Tamesis rivers merge and form a series of lagoons popular for the variety of marine and aquatic life fished for seafood.
Tampico's name is derived from a combination of Huasteca words - "tam" meaning place and "piko" meaning "water dogs" or "nutrias" which teemed in the delta waters.
Tampico's port activity rivals that of Veracruz. Oil began to be industrialized at the turn of the century. Mexicana Airlines traces its origin to the mail and payroll services it performed linking Mexico City with Tampico in the 1920's.