Reefs off the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. The 80-mile stretch of coastline south of Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico -- now called the Riviera Maya -- has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past decade, becoming Mexico's fastest-growing resort area. Places like Playa de Carmen and Tulum have gone from small towns to booming resort developments as developers bypass bureaucratic approvals to buy and build up beachfront lands as fast as possible. Mangrove swamps, which are largely responsible for the region's sparkling clear waters and biologically rich coral reefs, are the primary victims of land clearing for hotels and condominiums.
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