|Municipality and town|
|• Total||102.82 km2 (39.70 sq mi)|
|Time zone||Central Standard Time (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||Central Daylight Time (UTC-5)|
Yanga is a municipality located in the southern area of the State of Veracruz, Mexico, about 80 km from the state capital of Xalapa. It was formerly known as San Lorenzo de los Negros (after a colony of cimarrons in the early 17th century) or San Lorenzo de Cerralvo (after a 17th c. Spanish colonial priest). In 1932 it was renamed after Yanga, the cimarron leader who in 1609 resisted attack by Spanish forces trying to regain control of the area. Captured in the area of present-day Guinea in West Africa before 1570, he was a chief of the Yang-Bara tribe before being old into slavery.
Gaspar Yanga had been in the highlands since leading escape by a band of slaves in 1570. After fighting off the Spanish forces in 1609, and having a series of bloody skirmishers over nearly a decade, in 1618 he finally agreement by Spanish officials to grant freedom to the fugitive slaves and independence to their village, a few kilometers from the city of Cordoba, Veracruz. It became known as San Lorenzo de los Negros (named after the cimmarons) or San Lorenzo de Cerralvo (named after Juan Laurencio, a Jesuit friar who had accompanied the 1609 expedition sent by the Viceroy). They gave the town of San Lorenzo its "small independence".
The black inhabitants of San Lorenzo proclaimed their loyalty to the Church and the King of Spain, but refused to pay tribute to the Spanish government. They also agreed to capture fugitive slaves and return them to their masters in return for a fee. They were among the many free blacks of Mexico, which had the second-highest slave population of the Americas after Brazil.
Every February, a festival is held to celebrate Virgen de Candelaria, the patron of the town. Every December is a festival in honour of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
A festivity for San Lorenzo, the saint of the town, takes place each August. Every year in mid-August, a carnival is held to celebrate Gaspar Yanga, the former slave and leader who held off the Spanish in their attack of 1609 on his maroon settlement in the highlands. Several years later, in 1618 he gained the founding of a free village and freedom for his band of maroons; it was said to be the first free black city in the Americas. The 400th anniversary carnival was held in August 2009, four centuries after the Spanish had attacked the early maroon settlement and burned its dwellings.
The climate in Yanga is warm and humid, with an average temperature of 18 °C and rains mainly in the summer and fall.
- Charles Henry Rowell, “El Primer Libertador de las Americas: Editor's Notes”, Callaloo 31:1 (Winter 2008)
- "Enciclopedia de los Municipios de México: Yanga" (in Spanish). Gobierno Estatal. Retrieved 2009-06-18.[dead link]