Long before Brownsville came into being, Matamoros was an important city for residents of both sides of the river. Matamoros went by name of San Juan de los Esteros and Congregación del Refugio before taking its present name in 1828. Europeans had been in the area since 1519, 1689, respectively, before Jose de Escandón brought the first group of European families to settle the area in 1746. For nearly a century, all of Texas was either a part of Mexico or claimed by Spain. After Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821, it was not long before revolutions and wars brought the Texas boundary to the Nueces River and the Rio Grande.
Matamoros is the second largest city in the state of Tamaulipas. As of 2020, Matamoros had a population of 563,000. In addition, the Matamoros–Brownsville Metropolitan Area has a population of 1,387,985, making it the 4th largest metropolitan area on the Mexico–US border. Matamoros is the 39th largest city in Mexico and anchors the second largest metropolitan area in Tamaulipas.
Matamoros is one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico and has one of the fastest growing economies in the country. The economy of the city is based on its international trade with the United States through the NAFTA agreement and it is home to one of the most promising industrial sectors in Mexico, mainly due to the presence of maquiladoras. In Matamoros, the automotive industry hosts the assembly and accessories plants for brands such as General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, and Mercedes Benz. Likewise, Matamoros’ economy has historically been based on agriculture, since northern Mexico’s biggest irrigation zones are in the municipality. PEMEX announced a multi-billion offshore drilling project for the port of Matamoros, one of the future prospects for Mexico’s oil industry.
Matamoros is the historical site of several battles and events of the Mexican War of Independence, the Mexican Revolution, the Texas Revolution, the Mexican–American War, the American Civil War, and the French Intervention that allowed the city to earn its title of undefeated, loyal, and heroic. The Mexican National Anthem was played for the first time in public at the Teatro de la Reforma in Matamoros. On another note, Matamoros has a semi-arid climate, with mild winters, and hot, humid summers. Matamoros and Brownsville, Texas are home to the Charro Days and Sombrero Festival, two-nation fiestas that commemorate the heritage of the U.S. and Mexico which are celebrated every February.