Lakes are very rare on the Yucatán peninsula. There are seasonal waterholes in some places, but, in general, there is an absence of groundwater. The major source of drinking water in the Yucatán is the cenote. This word was presumably corrupted from the Maya word dzonot by the Spanish. The cenote are circular sinkholes in the limestone caused by the collapse of underground caves, which, in turn, were caused by the dissolution of the limestone by the water percolating through it. These sinkholes are permanently filled by the water percolating through underground. Therefore they have served as focal points for settlement since this peninsula was first occupied.

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© 1995 - Karen M. Strom