Zapata is a census-designated place (CDP) in and the county seat of Zapata County, Texas, United States. The population was 4,856 at the 2000 census. As an unincorporated community, Zapata has no municipal government but like all 254 Texas counties has four elected county commissioners chosen by single-member districts and a countywide elected administrative judge. Zapata was named for Colonel Jose Antonio de Zapata, the revolutionary commander who served in the cavalry of the Republic of the Rio Grande, of which the town was a part. Zapata is served by the Zapata County Airport (T86). U.S. Highway 83, running north and south, is the main thoroughfare of Zapata. It intersects Texas State Highway 16, an east-west link, in Zapata.