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The Mexica (Nahuatl: Mēxihcah, ) or Mexicans ( ) were an indigenous people of the Valley of Mexicomarker, known today as the rulers of the Aztec empire. The Mexica were a Nahua people who founded their two cities Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco on raised islets in Lake Texcoco around AD 1200. After the rise of the Tenochca Mexica they came to dominate the other Mexica citystate Tlatelolco. Often Mexica is used as a synonym to Aztec, especially by modern political activists such as the Mexica Movement who claim a Mexica heritage and attempt to vindicate and reimplement "Mexica culture" in a modern-day society.


There is much disagreement over the etymology and meaning of the name Mexica (Nahuatl Mēxihcah, which is plural; the singular is Mēxihcatl), and the related place name Mexico (Mēxihco) where they lived.

The name of the modern nation of Mexicomarker and its capital Mexico Citymarker are derived from the Nahuatl name Mēxihco.


Like many of the peoples around them, the Mexica spoke Nahuatl. The form of Nahuatl used in the 16th century, when it began to be written in the alphabet brought by the Spanish, is known as Classical Nahuatl. Nahuatl is still spoken today by over 1.5 million people.


  1. Andrews (2003): p. 500.


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