Oaxaca history goes as far back as 7000 years, when it was occupied by 18 different ethnic groups. The three prevalent groups fighting over Oaxaca were the Mixe, the Zapotecs, and the Mixtecs. The Zapotecs occupied the areas in the central valleys in the Sierra Norte, while the Mixtecs moved to the areas surrounding Sierra Madre. Meanwhile, the Mixe was not able to expand their hold in the upper highlands. The Aztecs then came in the 15th century, dominating Oaxaca for the trade routes to South and Central America.

The Aztecs made their settlement in the areas surrounding Cerro del Fortin, including the current location of the Church of Carmen. The central valley was named Huaxyacac, referring to the huaje trees that dotted the green landscape.

The Spanish forces then arrived in 1521 and made their settlement in Segura de la Frontera. They found Huaxyacac too difficult to pronounce, so the Spanish renamed it Oaxaca. In 1532, the settlement was named and further officially renamed Atequera de Guaxaca by the Spanish King Carlos V. Alonso Garcia Bravo did the mapping of the city, the first in the history of Oaxaca.

The city became prominent during the colonial era because of its strategic location as gateway to South and Central America. It also rose to prominence because of the rumored gold mines, its rich, verdant landscape, and intricate textiles. The people of Oaxaca are proud and mighty and played a major role struggling for freedom during the Mexican War of Independence.

The richness of history of Oaxaca makes the city one of the more interesting places to visit in the Latin American region.