The municipality of Tlacotalpan is located in the eastern coastal region of the Mexican state of Veracruz, at 18°37' N, 95°40' W. The municipality's total surface area is 646.51 km², with a population (year 2000 figure) of some 15,000.

Tlacotalpan borders with the municipalities of Alvarado to the north; José Azueta, Isla, and Santiago Tuxtla to the south; Lerdo de Tejada, Saltabarranca, and Santiago Tuxtla to the east; and Acula and Amatitlán to the west.

The municipality is drained by the San Juan and Tuxpan rivers, which are tributaries of the larger River Papaloapan.

The Town

The municipal seat, the town of Tlacotalpan, was founded as a river port on the banks of the Papaloapan in the mid-16th century. It was chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 because the "urban layout and architecture of Tlacotalpan represent a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean traditions of exceptional importance and quality... Its outstanding character lies in its townscape of wide streets, modest houses in an exuberant variety of styles and colours, and many mature trees in public and private open spaces." (UNESCO, 1998.)