Iztapalapa is one of the 16 territorial demarcations of Mexico City. It has a surface slightly greater than 116 km² and is located in the east of the Mexican capital, occupying the southern portion of the Texcoco lake. In the census of population and housing carried out by the INEGI in 2010, it registered a population of 1,815,786 inhabitants, with this being the most populated demarcation in the whole country. The name of this delegation is due to the ancient city of Iztapallapan, which means "on the earthenware in the water", founded by the Culhuas between the northern slope of Cerro de la Estrella and the shore of Lake Texcoco.
The oldest known evidence of human presence in Iztapalapa is called the Man of Aztahuacán, which is attributed an age of 9400 years. Throughout the pre-Columbian history, the iztapalapense territory knew the development of diverse sedentary communities dedicated to agriculture. During the Mesoamerican Classic period, a Teotihuacan culture village was established in the north of Cerro de la Estrella. Culhuacán, population founded in the seventh century, received a part of the diaspora that began with the decline of Teotihuacan. During the following centuries, Culhuacán was one of the most important altépetl in the valley of Mexico, had a very prominent role in the development of Toltec culture and its ruling house gave Mexico-Tenochtitlan its first tlatoani. At the time of the Conquest, Iztapallapan was ruled by Cuitláhuac, brother of Moctezuma Xocoyotzin.
Upon his death, Cuitláhuac assumed command of the Mexicas and managed to defeat the Spaniards in the Noche Triste. After the defeat of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the old Iztapalapa was destroyed. With the independence of Mexico, Iztapalapa became one of the municipalities of the state of Mexico until the creation of the Federal District in 1824. Compared with the rest of Mexico City, Iztapalapa presents less favorable socioeconomic indicators. Although it houses a fifth of the population, its participation in the economy is much lower. The service sector is the most important component of its GDP, and a significant number of its inhabitants must move outside the demarcation to get work. Infrastructure and urban services are less developed or deficient, particularly in the case of the distribution of drinking water, one of the most important challenges for local governments.
In general terms, the delegation has a high human development, but there are many contrasts within it. The marginalization of the neighborhoods in the western area is much lower compared to the popular colonies of the Sierra de Santa Catarina. Like other peripheral demarcations of the Mexican capital, Iztapalapa received waves of immigration from the rest of the country, including the center of Mexico City. This situation was accentuated in the decade of 1960 with the economic boom of the country and in the decade of 1980 after the earthquake of 1985. The newcomers settled down in lands that had been dedicated to the culture until then, including the chinampas of their original towns.
In the new popular neighborhoods there was an important phenomenon of civil organization, very notable in the case of the colonies of the Sierra de Santa Catarina and the south of San Lorenzo Tezonco. The name of the delegation is due to its header. Iztapalapa is a place name of Nahuatl origin. It derives from the words iztapal-li 'cobblestone, carved stone',ā-tl 'water', and -pa 'over'. Therefore, it is translated as 'Cobbled on water'. Montemayor and collaborators believe that the place name can be translated as 'Place where the waters cross', from the words ixtlápal 'crossed',ā-tl 'water' and -pan 'locative'. This is because this demarcation along with other surrounding spaces, had its settlements partly firm and in water through chinampas. The emblem of the Iztapalapa delegation is the glyph that appears in some manuscripts of the first years after the conquest of Mexico, elaborated by Nahua Indians. This glyph and its variations represent a stone surrounded by water.
In some versions the slab becomes the nahua tépetl glyph, whose tip is curved downwards and from which water flows. During the second half of the 1980s, the emblem of the delegational government was replaced by the image of Cuitláhuac, former lord of Iztapallapan who led the Mexicas in their confrontation against the Spaniards on June 30,1520 and was later invested as a tlatoani. Of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. As of 1988, the Itztapallapan glyph was again used.