The name Mexico conjures up images of sombreros, jumping beans, tacos and tequila. Find out about Mexico's population, economy, geography, history and more.
Mexico is a country in the south of North America that is bordered by the United States to the north and Belize and Guatemala to the south. It spans from the North Pacific Ocean in the west to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea in the east. It is also known as the United Mexican States and is home to 111 million people.
The country has an area of 1,972,550 square kilometres (761,601 square miles) which is nearly three times the size of Texas. The coastline is 9,330 kilometres. The capital city is Mexico City in the south-central part of the country and it is also the largest city in Mexico. The metropolitan area was estimated to have a population of over 21 million people in 2009, making it one of the largest metropolises in the world.
Population of Mexico
The population of Mexico was estimated at 111.2 million in July 2010 and around a fifth of the population live in Mexico City. The population is highly urbanized with 77% of the total population living in urban areas. The average life expectancy is 73.3 years for men and 79 years for women. 64.6% of the population are aged between 15 and 64 years of age.
Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world with 92.7% of the population speaking only Spanish. Another 5.7% speak Spanish and indigenous languages. Indigenous languages include Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional languages. Mexico is ethnically diverse with about 60% Amerindian Spanish, 30% predominantly Amerindian, 9% white and 1% other.
Economy of Mexico
Mexico has a large free market economy and its trade regime is one of the most open in the world, with free trade agreements with over 50 countries. The economy is highly dependent on exporting to the US and therefore the economy is linked to the US business cycle. Mexico's largest source of foreign income is oil and the economy contains rapidly developing modern industrial and service sectors.
In late 1994 a devaluation of the peso threw the economy into turmoil and triggered the worst recession in over 50 years. Since then successive Mexican governments have improved the economic fundamentals and inflation and deficits are well under control. The economy is increasingly dominated by the private sector and Mexico is now North Americas largest car-producing nation, having now surpassed Canada and the US. There is a big disparity in income between rural and urban areas with people in urban areas earning about three times as much as people in rural areas.
Mexican Geography and Climate
About two-thirds of Mexico is mountainous and steep with a central high plateau, while the remaining third is low. There are narrow valleys, broad basins, swampy coast and an extensive limestone plain with underground rivers. The highest points are Pico de Orizaba at 5,700m (18,701 ft) and Popocatepetl at 5,462m (17,920 ft).
The Tropic of Cancer crosses the country dividing it into temperate and tropical zones and Mexico has a very diverse weather system. In the south the climate is damp and part of this region consists of tropical rainforests where temperatures are fairly constant throughout the year. In the north there are deserts with dry climates and sporadic rainfall. Temperatures in the Sonoran desert reach 50Â°C (122Â°F) or more.
History of Mexico
The first European to land on the coast of Mexico was the Spaniard Hernando Cortes in 1519. Over the next few years he conquered the Aztec people and millions of Aztecs were killed by smallpox which the Spanish inadvertently introduced. Before the Aztecs there had been other great civilizations such as the Toltecs and before them the Mayans with highly developed cultures.
Spain ruled Mexico for nearly three centuries until the Mexicans revolted and claimed independence from Spain on 16 September 1810. Independence was not recognized by Spain until 27 September 1821 when they signed the Treaty of Cordoba. In 1910 there was a Mexican Revolution and after the tumultuous period following Independence there was a period of reconstruction and renewal leading to modern Mexico. Mexico is a federation comprising thirty one states and the Federal District of the capital city.
The flag of Mexico has three vertical bands of Green, white and red. In the middle is the coat of arms which is an eagle perched on a cactus with a snake in its beak. The official flag was adopted 16 September 1968 as the coat of arms was redeveloped for the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City. The coat of arms is based on a legend that the wandering Aztecs were told to settle where they saw an eagle on a cactus eating a snake and that city was Tenochtitlan, which became Mexico City.
Mexican Food and Drink
Mexican cuisine uses a variety of spices and varies from region to region due to local climate and ethnic differences. Internationally recognised Mexican dishes include tacos, enchiladas, tamales, buritos and quesadillos. Traditional dishes include maize, beans, chilli peppers and sweet potato. Tequila is a Mexican spirit made from the blue agave plant and has been produced since the 16th century.
Main Attractions in Mexico
Mexico has a large tourist industry and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Most tourists come from the United States and Canada and the peak seasons are December and mid-summer. During the spring break many US college students visit the beach resorts. Major attractions are the beach resorts, the Meso American ruins and the colonial cities.
Mexico City gets many visitors and popular tourist attractions there are the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, the Mexican National Palace, the metropolitan cathedral and the National Museum of Anthropology and History. Guadalajara is Mexico's second largest city and is home to many museums, art galleries and theatres. Mexico has a lot of biodiversity and has plenty of national parks and reserves to visit.
2010 World Atlas