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Chinampas are created by piling up swamp-bottom mud to make islands that can be used for farming, leaving canals between them.

Chinampas are artificial islands created in swampy areas by piling up mud from the bottom of a shallow swamp to make islands with clear canals running between them.

The canals among the cultivated islands easily become choked with reeds and require constant maintenance. But the reeds themselves can be a crop.

The chinampas forming much of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan eventually became solid ground, producing huge residential islands in the lake in addition to the functioning agricultural chinampas.

Chinampas are most famous in the Valley of Mexico, where they still exist in the Xochimilco region of Mexico City. Flowers are raised on them and there is an ecological park devoted to them (in which these pictures were taken). But chinampas have been important to agriculture also in other parts of Mesoamerica. The Maya of Belize seem to have made use of this system in pre-Columbian times, for example.

Photos by DKJ



Content Revised: 2006-04-22
Software Last Modified: 2022-05-30
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