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Veracruz, an elongated Mexican state bordering the Gulf of Mexico, is home to numerous beaches as well as the country’s highest peak, Pico de Orizaba, a dormant volcano. The modern port city of Veracruz was founded by Hernán Cortés in 1519 as a base for Spain’s conquest of the Aztec Empire. Today the city is famous for its exuberant annual Carnival festival.