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The United Mexican States ( ), commonly known as Mexico ( ) ( ), is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United Statesmarker; on the south and west by the Pacific Oceanmarker; on the southeast by Guatemalamarker, Belizemarker, and the Caribbean Seamarker; and on the east by the Gulf of Mexicomarker. Covering almost 2 million square kilometres, Mexico is the fifth-largest country in the Americas by total area and the 14th largest independent nation in the world. With an estimated population of 111 million, it is the 11th most populous country. Mexico is a federation comprising thirty-one states and a Federal Districtmarker, the capital city.

In Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica many cultures matured into advanced civilizations such as the Olmec, the Toltec, the Teotihuacanmarker, the Maya and the Aztec before the first contact with Europeans. In 1521, Spainmarker conquered and colonized the territory, which was administered as the viceroyalty of New Spain which would eventually become Mexico as the colony gained independence in 1821. The post-independence period was characterized by economic instability, territorial secession and civil war, including foreign intervention, two empires and two long domestic dictatorships. The latter led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910, which culminated with the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution and the emergence of the country's current political system. Elections held in July 2000 marked the first time that an opposition party won the presidency from the Institutional Revolutionary Party ( , PRI).

As a regional power and the only Latin American member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since 1994, Mexico is firmly established as an upper middle-income country, considered as a newly industrialized country and has the 13th largest nominal GDP, the 11th largest by purchasing power parity, and also the largest GDP per capita in Latin America according to the International Monetary Fundmarker. The economy is strongly linked to those of its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Uneven income distribution and the increase in drug-related violence are issues of concern in Mexico.


Image of Mexico-Tenochtitlan from the Codex Mendoza

After New Spain won independence from Spainmarker, it was decided that the new country would be named after its capital, Mexico Citymarker, which was founded in 1524 on top of the ancient Aztec capital of México-Tenochtitlan. The name comes from the Nahuatl language, but its meaning is not known. It has been suggested that it is derived from Mextli or Mēxihtli, a secret name for the god of war and patron of the Aztecs, Huitzilopochtli, in which case Mēxihco means "Place where Mēxihtli lives". Another hypothesis suggests that the word Mēxihco derives from the mētztli ("moon"), xictli ("navel", "center" or "son"), and the suffix -co (place), in which case it means "Place at the center of the moon" or "Place at the center of the Lake Moon", in reference to Lake Texcocomarker. The system of interconnected lakes, of which Texcoco was at the center, had the form of a rabbit, the same image that the Aztecs saw in the moon. Tenochtitlan was located at the center (or navel) of the lake (or rabbit/moon). Still another hypothesis suggests that it is derived from Mēctli, the goddess of maguey.

The name of the city was transliterated to Spanish as México with the phonetic value of the x in Medieval Spanish, which represented the voiceless postalveolar fricative . This sound, as well as the voiced postalveolar fricative , represented by a j, evolved into a voiceless velar fricative during the sixteenth century. This led to the use of the variant Méjico in many publications in Spanish, most notably in Spain, whereas in Mexico and most other Spanish–speaking countries México was the preferred spelling. In recent years the Real Academia Española, which regulates the Spanish language, determined that both variants are acceptable in Spanish but that the normative recommended spelling is México. The majority of publications in all Spanish-speaking countries now adhere to the new norm, even though the alternative variant is still occasionally used. In English, the x in Mexico represents neither the original nor the current sound, but the consonant cluster .

The official name of the country has changed as the form of government has changed. On two occasions (1821–1823 and 1863–1867), the country was known as Imperio Mexicano (Mexican Empire). All three federal constitutions (1824, 1857 and 1917, the current constitution) used the name Estados Unidos Mexicanos—or the variants Estados Unidos mexicanos and Estados-Unidos Mexicanos, all of which have been translated as "United Mexican States". The term República Mexicana, "Mexican Republic" was used in the 1836 Constitutional Laws.


The Maya Civilization utilized terrace farming to grow crops in the steep hill regions of southern Mexico
Campfire remains in the Valley of Mexicomarker have been radiocarbon-dated to 21,000 BCE, and a few chips of stone tools have been found near the hearths, indicating the presence of humans at that time. Around 9,000 years ago, ancient indigenous peoples domesticated corn and initiated an agricultural revolution, leading to the formation of many complex civilizations. Between 1,800 and 300 BCE, many matured into advanced pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations such as: the Olmec, the Teotihuacan, the Maya, the Zapotec, the Mixtec, the Toltec and the Aztec, which flourished for nearly 4,000 years before the first contact with Europeans. These civilizations are credited with many inventions and advancements in fields such as architecture (pyramid-temples), mathematics, astronomy, medicine and theology. The Aztecs were noted for practicing human sacrifice on a large scale. At its peak, Teotihuacanmarker, containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas, had a population of more than 150,000 people. Estimates of the population before the Spanish conquest range from 6 million to 25 million.

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla "The Father of Mexico"
In the early 16th century, from the landing of Hernán Cortés, the Aztec civilization was invaded and conquered by the Spaniards. Unintentionally introduced by Spanish conquerors, smallpox ravaged Mexico in the 1520s, killing thousands of Aztecs, including the emperor, and was credited with the victory of Hernán Cortés over the Aztec empire. The territory became part of the Spanish Empire under the name of New Spain. Much of the identity, traditions and architecture of Mexico were created during the colonial period.

On September 16, 1810, independence from Spain was declared by priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, in the small town of Dolores, Guanajuato. The first insurgent group was formed by Hidalgo, the Spanish viceregal army captain Ignacio Allende, the militia captain Juan Aldama and "La Corregidora" Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez. Hidalgo and some of his soldiers were captured and executed by firing squad in Chihuahuamarker, on July 31, 1811. Following his death, the leadership was assumed by priest José María Morelos, who occupied key southern cities.

In 1813, the Congress of Chilpancingo was convened and, on November 6, signed the "Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America". Morelos was captured and executed on December 22, 1815. In subsequent years, the insurgency was near collapse, but in 1820 Viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca sent an army under the criollo general Agustín de Iturbide against the troops of Vicente Guerrero. Instead, Iturbide approached Guerrero to join forces, and in 1821 representatives of the Spanish Crown and Iturbide signed the "Treaty of Córdoba", which recognized the independence of Mexico under the terms of the "Plan of Iguala".

Mexico's Territorial Evolution since 1821

Agustin de Iturbide immediately proclaimed himself emperor of the First Mexican Empire. A revolt against him in 1823 established the United Mexican States. In 1824, a Republican Constitution was drafted and Guadalupe Victoria became the first president of the newly born country. The first decades of the post-independence period were marked by economic instability, which led to the Pastry War in 1836, and a constant strife between liberales, supporters of a federal form of government, and conservadores, proposals of a hierarchical form of government.

General Antonio López de Santa Anna, a centralist and two-time dictator, approved the Siete Leyes in 1836, a radical amendment that institutionalized the centralized form of government. Suspended the 1824 Constitution, civil war spread across the country, and three new governments declared independence: the Republic of Texas, the Republic of the Rio Grande and the Republic of Yucatán. Texas successfully achieved independence and was annexed by the United Statesmarker, a border dispute led to the Mexican–American War, which began in 1846 and lasted for two years, settled via the "Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo" forcing Mexico to give up nearly half of its land to the U.S., including Californiamarker and New Mexicomarker. Further transferred some of its territories, southern Arizonamarker and New Mexicomarker, via the Gadsden Purchase in 1854. The Caste War of Yucatán, the Mayan uprising that began in 1847, was one of the most successful modern Native American revolts. Maya rebels, or Cruzob, maintained the Maya free state until the 1930s.

Dissatisfaction with Santa Anna's return to power led to the liberal "Plan of Ayutla", initiating an era known as La Reforma, after which a new Constitution was drafted in 1857 that established a secular state, federalism as the form of government and several freedoms. As the conservadores refused to recognized, the War of Reform began in 1858, both groups had their own governments, but ended in 1861 with the liberal victory led by Amerindian President Benito Juárez. In the 1860s underwent a military occupation by France, which established the Second Mexican Empire under the rule of Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austriamarker with support from the Roman Catholic clergy and the conservadores, who later switched sides and joined the liberales. Maximilian surrendered, was tried on June 14 and was executed on June 19, 1867.

Porfirio Diaz and his wife with other members of the Porfirian ruling faction
Porfirio Díaz, a republican general during the French intervention, ruled Mexico from 1876–1880 and then from 1884–1911 in five consecutive reelections, period known as the Porfiriato, characterized by remarkable economic achievements, investments in arts and sciences, but also of economic inequality and political repression. A likely electoral fraud that led to his fifth reelection sparked the 1910 Mexican Revolution, initially led by Francisco I. Madero. Díaz resigned in 1911 and Madero was elected president but overthrown and murdered in a coup d'état two years later directed by conservative general Victoriano Huerta. Event that re-ignited the civil war, involving figures such as Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata, who formed their own forces. A third force, the constitutional army led by Venustiano Carranza, managed to bring an end to the war, and radically amended the 1857 Constitution to include many of the social premises and demands of the revolutionaries into what was eventually called the 1917 Constitution. It is estimated that the war killed 900,000 of the 1910 population of 15 million.

Assassinated in 1920, Carranza was succeeded by another revolutionary hero, Álvaro Obregón, who in turn was succeeded by Plutarco Elías Calles. Obregón was reelected in 1928 but assassinated before he could assume power. In 1929, Calles founded the National Revolutionary Party (PNR), later renamed the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and started a period known as the Maximato, which ended with the election of Lázaro Cárdenas, who implemented many economic and social reforms, and most significantly expropriated the oil industry into PEMEX on March 18, 1938, but sparked a diplomatic crisis with the countries whose citizens had lost businesses by Cárdenas radical measure.

Between 1940 and 1980, Mexico experienced a substantial economic growth that some historians call the "Mexican Miracle". Although the economy continued to flourish, social inequality remained a factor of discontent. Moreover, the PRI rule became increasingly authoritarian and at times oppressive (i.e.: the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, which claimed the life of around 30–800 protesters).

Electoral reforms and high oil prices followed the administration of Luis Echeverría, mismanagement of these revenues led to inflation and exacerbated the 1982 Crisis. That year, oil prices plunged, interest rates soared, and the government defaulted on its debt. President Miguel de la Madrid resorted to currency devaluations which in turn sparked inflation.

In the 1980s, first cracks in the political monopolistic position of PRI were seen such as the election of Ernesto Ruffo Appel in Baja California and the 1988 electoral fraud, which prevented leftist candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas from winning the national presidential elections, who lost to Carlos Salinas de Gortari, leading to massive protests in Mexico City. Salinas embarked on a program of neoliberal reforms which fixed the exchange rate, controlled inflation and culminated with the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which came into effect on January 1, 1994. The same day, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) started a two-week-lived armed rebellion against the federal government, and has continued as a non-violent opposition movement against neoliberalism and globalization.

In December 1994, a month after Salinas was succeeded by Ernesto Zedillo, the Mexican economy collapsed, with a rapid rescue packaged authorized by U.S. President Bill Clinton and major macroeconomic reforms started by president Zedillo, the economy rapidly recovered and growth peaked at almost 7% by the end of 1999. In 2000, after 71 years, the PRI lost a presidential election to Vicente Fox of the opposition National Action Party (PAN). In the subsequent presidential elections, Felipe Calderón from the PAN was declared the winner, with a razor-thin margin over leftist politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). López Obrador, however, contested the election and pledged to create an "alternative government".

Administrative divisions

The United Mexican States are a federation of thirty-one free and sovereign states, which form a union that exercises jurisdiction over the Federal District and other territories. Each state has its own Constitution and Congress, as well as a judiciary, and its citizens elect by direct voting, a governor for a six-year term, as well as representatives to their respective unicameral state congresses, for three-year terms.

The states are also divided into municipalities, the smallest administrative political entity in the country, governed by a mayor or "municipal president", elected by its residents by plurality. Municipalities can be further subdivided into non-autonomous boroughs or in semi-autonomous auxiliary presidencies.

Constitutionally, Mexico City, as the capital and seat of the federal powers, is the Federal District, a special political division that belongs to the federation as a whole and not to a particular state, and as such, has more limited local rule than the nation's states. Since 1987, it has progressively gained a greater degree of autonomy, and residents now elect a head of government and representatives of a Legislative Assembly directly. Unlike the states, the Federal District does not have a Constitution but a Statute of Government. Mexico City is conterminous and coextensive with the Federal District.
Administrative Divisions of Mexico
State Capital State Capital State Capital State Capital
Aguascalientesmarker Mexico Citymarker Cuernavacamarker Culiacánmarker
Mexicalimarker Durangomarker Tepic Hermosillomarker
La Pazmarker Guanajuatomarker Monterreymarker Villahermosa
Campechemarker Chilpancingomarker Oaxacamarker Ciudad Victoriamarker
Tuxtla Gutiérrezmarker Pachucamarker Pueblamarker Tlaxcala
Chihuahuamarker Guadalajaramarker Querétaromarker Xalapamarker
Saltillomarker Tolucamarker Chetumalmarker Méridamarker
Colimamarker Moreliamarker San Luis Potosímarker Zacatecasmarker

Geography and climate

A picture of Mexico as seen from outer space.
Mexico is located at about 23° N and 102° W in the southern portion of North America. Almost all of Mexico lies in the North American Plate, with small parts of the Baja California peninsula on the Pacific and Cocos Plates. Geophysically, some geographers include the territory east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepecmarker (around 12% of the total) within Central America. Geopolitically, however, Mexico is entirely considered part of North America, along with Canada and the United States.

Mexico's total area is 1,972,550 km², making it the world's 14th largest country by total area, and includes approximately 6,000 km² of islands in the Pacific Oceanmarker (including the remote Guadalupe Islandmarker and the Revillagigedo Islandsmarker), Gulf of Mexicomarker, Caribbean Seamarker, and Gulf of Californiamarker. On its north, Mexico shares a 3,141 km border with the United States. The meandering Río Bravo del Norte (known as the Rio Grandemarker in the United States) defines the border from Ciudad Juárezmarker east to the Gulf of Mexico. A series of natural and artificial markers delineate the United States-Mexican border west from Ciudad Juárez to the Pacific Ocean. On its south, Mexico shares an 871 km border with Guatemala and a 251 km border with Belize.


Topographic map of Mexico
Mexico is crossed from north to south by two mountain ranges known as Sierra Madre Oriental and Sierra Madre Occidental, which are the extension of the Rocky Mountains from northern North America. From east to west at the center, the country is crossed by the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt also known as the Sierra Nevada. A fourth mountain range, the Sierra Madre del Sur, runs from Michoacánmarker to Oaxacamarker.

As such, the majority of the Mexican central and northern territories are located at high altitudes, and the highest elevations are found at the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt: Pico de Orizabamarker (5,700 m), Popocatépetlmarker (5,462 m) and Iztaccíhuatlmarker (5,286 m) and the Nevado de Tolucamarker (4,577 m). Three major urban agglomerations are located in the valleys between these four elevations: Tolucamarker, Greater Mexico City and Pueblamarker.


[[File:Mexico Climate.png|thumb|left|Updated Köppen-Geiger climate map (direct: [ Final Revised Paper])

The Tropic of Cancermarker effectively divides the country into temperate and tropical zones. Land north of the twenty-fourth parallel experiences cooler temperatures during the winter months. South of the twenty-fourth parallel, temperatures are fairly constant year round and vary solely as a function of elevation. This gives Mexico one of the world's most diverse weather systems.

Areas south of the twenty-fourth parallel with elevations up to 1,000 meters (the southern parts of both coastal plains as well as the Yucatán Peninsulamarker), have a yearly median temperature between 24 and 28 °C. Temperatures here remain high throughout the year, with only a 5 °C difference between winter and summer median temperatures. Although low-lying areas north of the twentieth-fourth parallel are hot and humid during the summer, they generally have lower yearly temperature averages (from 20 to 24 °C) because of more moderate conditions during the winter.

Many large cities in Mexico are located in the Valley of Mexico or in adjacent valleys with altitudes generally above 2,000 m, this gives them a year-round temperate climate with yearly temperature averages (from 16–18 °C) and cool nighttime temperatures throughout the year.

Many parts of Mexico, particularly the north, have a dry climate with sporadic rainfall while parts of the tropical lowlands in the south average more than 200 cm of annual precipitation. For example, many cities in the north like Monterreymarker, Hermosillomarker, and Mexicalimarker experience 40 °C or more in summer time. In the Sonoran desertmarker temperatures reach 50 °C or more. Northern Mexico is characterized by desert because it is located in a latitude where all deserts around the globe are formed.


Mexico is one of the 18 megadiverse countries of the world. With over 200,000 different species, Mexico is home of 10–12% of the world's biodiversity. Mexico ranks first in biodiversity in reptiles with 707 known species, second in mammals with 438 species, fourth in amphibians with 290 species, and fourth in flora, with 26,000 different species. Mexico is also considered the second country in the world in ecosystems and fourth in overall species. Approximately 2,500 species are protected by Mexican legislations.

The Mexican government created the National System of Information about Biodiversity, in order to study and promote the sustainable use of ecosystems. Deforestation is one of the most serious environmental issues in Mexico, with more than one million hectares of forest being lost each year. As of 2002, Mexico had the second fastest rate of deforestation in the world, second only to Brazil.

In Mexico, 170,000 square kilometres are considered "Protected Natural Areas." These include 34 reserve biospheres (unaltered ecosystems), 64 national parks, 4 natural monuments (protected in perpetuity for their aesthetic, scientific or historical value), 26 areas of protected flora and fauna, 4 areas for natural resource protection (conservation of soil, hydrological basins and forests) and 17 sanctuaries (zones rich in diverse species).

The discovery of the Americas brought to the rest of the world many widely used food crop and edible plants. Some of Mexico's native culinary ingredients include: chocolate, tomato, maize, vanilla, avocado, guava, chayote, epazote, camote, jícama, nopal, tejocote, huitlacoche, sapote, mamey sapote, many varieties of beans, and an even greater variety of chiles, such as the Habanero. Most of these names come from indigenous languages like Nahuatl.

Government and politics

The United Mexican States are a federation whose government is representative, democratic and republican based on a presidential system according to the 1917 Constitution. The constitution establishes three levels of government: the federal Union, the state governments and the municipal governments. All officials at the three levels are elected by voters through first-past-the-post plurality, proportional representation or are appointed by other elected officials.

The federal government is constituted by the Powers of the Union, the three separate branches of government:


Legislative: the bicameral Congress of the Union, composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies, which makes federal law, declares war, imposes taxes, approves the national budget and international treaties, and ratifies diplomatic appointments.


Executive: the President of the United Mexican States, who is the head of state and government, as well as the commander-in-chief of the Mexican military forces. The President also appoints the Cabinet and other officers. The President is responsible for executing and enforcing the law, and has the authority of vetoing bills.


Judiciary: The Supreme Court of Justice, comprised by eleven judges appointed by the President with Senate approval, who interpret laws and judge cases of federal competency. Other institutions of the judiciary are the Electoral Tribunal, collegiate, unitary and district tribunals, and the Council of the Federal Judiciary.

Mexican Congress
All elected executive officials are elected by plurality (first-past-the-post). Seats to federal and state legislatures are elected by a system of parallel voting that includes plurality and proportional representation. The Chamber of Deputies of the Congress of the Union is conformed by 300 deputies elected by plurality and 200 deputies by proportional representation with closed party lists for which the country is divided into 5 electoral constituencies or circumscriptions.

The Senate is conformed by a total of 128 senators: 64 senators, two for each state and two for the Federal District, elected by plurality in pairs; 32 senators assigned to the first minority or first-runner up (one for each state and one for the Federal District), and 32 are assigned by proportional representation with closed party lists for which the country conforms a single electoral constituency.

According to the constitution, all constituent states of the federation must have a republican form of government composed of three branches: the executive, represented by a governor and an appointed cabinet, the legislative branch constituted by a unicameral congress and the judiciary, which will include called state Supreme Court of Justice. They also have their own civil and judicial codes.

In the 2009-20012 Congress of the Union, seven parties are therein represented; four of them, however, have not received neither in this nor in previous congresses more than 4% of the national votes. The other three parties have historically been the dominant parties in Mexican politics:

President Felipe Calderón

The PRI held an almost hegemonic power in Mexican politics since 1929. Since 1977 consecutive electoral reforms allowed opposition parties to win more posts at the local and federal level. This process culminated in the 2000 presidential elections in which Vicente Fox, candidate of the PAN, became the first non-PRI president to be elected in 71 years.

In 2006, Felipe Calderón of the PAN faced Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the PRD in a very close election (0.58% difference), by simple plurality—the Mexican electoral system does not include runoff voting. López Obrador contested the elections, but on September 6, 2006, Felipe Calderón was declared President-elect by the Electoral Tribunal. His cabinet was sworn in at midnight on December 1, 2006 and Calderón was handed the presidential band by outgoing Vicente Fox at Los Pinos. He was officially sworn as President on the morning of December 1, 2006 in Congress.

Foreign relations

The foreign policy of Mexico is directed by the President and managed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairsmarker, whose constitutionally recognized principles are: respect for international law and legal equality of states, their sovereignty and independence, non-intervention, peaceful resolution of conflicts and promotion of collective security through active participation in international organizations.

Since the 1930s, the Estrada Doctrine has served as a crucial complement to these principles. The foreign relations of Mexico have been focused primarily on the United Statesmarker and its historically tied neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the 20th century, Mexico developed a foreign policy based on hemispheric prestige. However, in the second millennium, former President Vicente Fox adopted a new foreign policy that called for an openness and an acceptance of criticism from the international community and the increase of Mexican involvement in foreign affairs, as well as a further integration towards its northern neighbors. A greater priority to Latin America and the Caribbeanmarker has been given in the administration of President Felipe Calderón.

In addition, since the 1990s Mexico has sought a reform of the United Nations Security Council and its working methods with the support of Canadamarker, Italymarker, Pakistanmarker and other nine countries, which form a group informally called the Coffee Club. As an regional and emerging power, Mexico has a significant global presence and is a member of several international organizations and forums such as the United Nations, the Organization of American Statesmarker, the G8+5, the G-20 major economies, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.


Mexico has the third largest defense budget in Latin America, with annual military expenditures of USD $24.944 billion or about 1.6% GDP. Mexico's military includes 1,203,777 total personnel including paramilitary forces and military police, of which around 192,770 are active in the frontline. Since the 1990s, when the military escalated its role in the war on drugs, increasing importance has been placed on acquiring airborne surveillance platforms, light aircraft, helicopters and rapid troop transport.

The Mexican Military has two branches: the Mexican Army (which includes the Mexican Air Force), and the Mexican Navy. The Mexican armed forces maintain significant infrastructure, including small electronics and weapons testing and research facilities, weapons and vehicle manufacturing centers, and naval dockyards that have the capability of building heavy military vessels. These dockyards and facilities have a significant employment and economic impact in the local economies. In recent years, Mexico has improved its training techniques, military command and information structures and has taken steps to becoming more self-reliant in supplying its military by designing as well as manufacturing its own guns, missiles, unmanned air vehicles and naval ships.

Historically, Mexico has remained neutral in international conflicts with the exception of World War II. However, in recent years some political parties have proposed an amendment of the Constitution in order to allow the Mexican army, air force or navy to collaborate with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions, or to provide military help to countries that officially ask for it.

Law enforcement

Public security is enacted at the three levels of government, each of which has different prerogatives and responsibilities. Local and state police department are primarily in charge of law enforcement, whereas the Federal Preventive Police is in charge of specialized duties. All levels report to the Secretaría de Seguridad Pública (Secretariat of Public Security). The General Attorney's Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) is the executive power's agency in charge of investigating and prosecuting crimes at the federal level, mainly those related to drug and arms trafficking, espionage, and bank robberies. The PGR operates the Federal Investigations Agency (Agencia Federal de Investigación, AFI) an investigative and preventive agency.

While the government respects the human rights of most citizens, serious abuses of power have been reported in security operations in indigenous communities and poor urban neighborhoods. The National Human Rights Commission has had little impact in reversing this trend, engaging mostly in documentation but failing to use its powers to issue public condemnations to the officials who ignore its recommendations. By law, all defendants have the rights that assure them fair trials and human treatment; however, the system is overburdened and overwhelmed with several problems.

Despite the efforts of the authorities to fight crime and fraud, few Mexicans have strong confidence in the police or the judicial system, and therefore, few crimes are actually reported by the citizens. In 2008, president Calderón proposed a major reform of the judicial system, which was approved by the Congress of the Union, which included oral trials, the presumption of innocence for defendants, the authority of local police to investigate crime—until then a prerogative of special police units—and several other changes intended to speed up trials.

Granaderos in Mexico City.
Total crimes per capita average 12 per 1,000 people in Mexico, ranking 39 in a survey of 60 countries. Violent crime is a critical issue in Mexico; with a rate of homicide varying from 11 to 14 per 100,000 inhabitants. Drug-traffic and narco-related activities are a major concern in Mexico. The Mexican drug cartels have as many as 100,000 foot soldiers, which is about the size of the Mexican army. Drug cartels are active in the shared border with the US and police corruption and collusion with drug cartels is a crucial problem.

Current president Felipe Calderón made abating drug-trafficking one of the top priorities of his administration. In a very controversial move, Calderón deployed military personnel to cities where drug cartels operate. While this move has been criticized by the opposition parties and the National Human Rights Commission, its effects have been praised by the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs as having obtained "unprecedented results..." with "many important successes". In October 2007, the president Calderón and US president George W. Bush announced the Mérida Initiative a historic plan of law enforcement cooperation between the two countries.


The economy of Mexico is the 11th largest in the world.Since the 1994 crisis, administrations have improved the country's macroeconomic fundamentals. Mexico was not significantly influenced by the recent 2002 South American crisis, and has maintained positive rates of growth after a brief period of stagnation in 2001. Moody's (in March 2000) and Fitch IBCA (in January 2002) issued investment-grade ratings for Mexico's sovereign debt. In spite of its unprecedented macroeconomic stability, which has reduced inflation and interest rates to record lows and has increased per capita income, enormous gaps remain between the urban and the rural population, the northern, central, and southern states, and the rich and the poor although there has been a large growing middle class since the mid 1990's. Some of the government's challenges include the upgrade of infrastructure, the modernization of the tax system and labor laws, and the reduction of income inequality.

The economy contains rapidly developing modern industrial and service sectors, with increasing private ownership. Recent administrations have expanded competition in ports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity generation, natural gas distribution and airports, with the aim of upgrading infrastructure. As an export-oriented economy, more than 90% of Mexican trade is under free trade agreements (FTAs) with more than 40 countries, including the European Union, Japan, Israel, and much of Central and South America. The most influential FTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which came into effect in 1994, and was signed in 1992 by the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico. In 2006, trade with Mexico's two northern partners accounted for almost 50% of its exports and 45% of its imports. Recently, the Congress of the Union approved important tax, pension and judicial reforms, and reform to the oil industry is currently being debated. According to the Forbes Global 2000 list of the world's largest companies in 2008, Mexico had 16 companies in the list.

Mexico has a free market mixed economy, and is firmly established as an upper middle-income country. It is the 11th largest economy in the world as measured in gross domestic product in purchasing power parity. According to the latest information available from the International Monetary Fundmarker, Mexico had the second-highest Gross National Income per capita in Latin America in nominal terms, at $9,716 in 2007, and the highest in purchasing power parity (PPP), at $14,119 in 2007.

Annual income of Mexican citizens in U.S. dollars.
After the 1994 economic debacle, Mexico has made an impressive recovery, building a modern and diversified economy. Oil is Mexico's largest source of foreign income. According to Goldman Sachs, BRIMC review of emerging economies, by 2050 the largest economies in the world will be as follows: Chinamarker, Indiamarker, United Statesmarker, Brazilmarker and Mexico. Mexico is the largest North American auto producing nation, recently surpassing Canadamarker and U.S.marker

According to the director for Mexico at the World Bank, the population in poverty has decreased from 24.2% to 17.6% in the general population and from 42% to 27.9% in rural areas from 2000 to 2004.

Nonetheless, income inequality remains a problem, and huge gaps remain not only between rich and poor but also between the north and the south, and between urban and rural areas. Sharp contrasts in income and Human Development are also a grave problem in Mexico. The 2004 United Nations Human Development Index report for Mexico states that Benito Juárez, a district of Mexico City, and San Pedro Garza Garcíamarker, in the State of Nuevo Leónmarker, would have a similar level of economic, educational and life expectancy development to Germanymarker or New Zealandmarker. In contrast, Metlatonoc, in the state of Guerreromarker, would have an HDI similar to that of Syriamarker.

Electronics now play an important role in the Mexican economy, with over 600 new electronics related companies formed since 2000.
GDP annual average growth for the period of 1995–2002 was 5.1%. The economic downturn in the United States also caused a similar pattern in Mexico, from which it rapidly recovered to grow 4.1% in 2005 and 3% in 2005. Inflation has reached a record low of 3.3% in 2005, and interest rates are low, which have spurred credit-consumption in the middle class. Mexico has experienced in the last decade monetary stability: the budget deficit was further reduced and foreign debt was decreased to less than 20% of GDP. Along with Chilemarker, Mexico has the highest rating of long-term sovereign credit in Latin America.

The remittances from Mexican citizens working in the United States account for only 0.2% of Mexico's GDP which was equal to US$20 billion dollars per year in 2004 and is the ninth largest source of foreign income after oil, industrial exports, manufactured goods, electronics, heavy industry, construction, automobiles, food and banking and financial services. According to Mexico's central bank, remittances fell 3.6% in 2008 to $25bn.

Ongoing economic concerns include the commercial and financial dependence on the US, low real wages, underemployment for a large segment of the population, inequitable income distribution (the top 30% of income earners account for 55% of income), and few advancement opportunities for the largely Maya population in the southern states. Lack of structural reform is further exacerbated by an ever increasing outflow of the population into the United States, decreasing domestic pressure for reform.


Among the most important industrial manufacturers in Mexico is the automotive industry, whose standards of quality are internationally recognized. The automobile sector in Mexico differs from that in other Latin American countries and developing nations in that it does not function as a mere assembly manufacturer. The industry produces technologically complex components and engages in some research and development activities. The "Big Three" (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) have been operating in Mexico since the 1930s, while Volkswagen and Nissan built their plants in the 1960s. Later, Toyota, Honda, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz joined in. Given the high requirements of North American components in the industry, many European and Asian parts suppliers have also moved to Mexico: in Pueblamarker alone, 70 industrial part-makers cluster around Volkswagen. The relatively small domestic car industry still is represented by DINA Camiones S.A. de C.V., that has built buses and trucks for almost half a century and the new car company Mastrettadesign that builds the race car Mastretta MXT.

Some large industries of Mexico include Cemexmarker, the third largest cement conglomerate in the world; the alcohol beverage industries, including world-renowned players like Grupo Modelo; conglomerates like FEMSA, which apart from owning breweries and the OXXO convenience store chain, is also the second-largest Coca-Cola bottler in the world; Grumamarker, the largest producer of corn flour and tortillas in the world; and Grupo Bimbo, Telmex, Televisa, among many others. In 2005, according to the World Bank, high-tech industrial production represented 19.6% of total exports.

The Mexican aerospace industry builds high end aircraft and aircraft systems and parts for foriegn companies.
Maquiladoras (Mexican factories which take in imported raw materials and produce goods for export) have become the landmark of trade in Mexico. This sector has benefited from NAFTA, in that real income in the maquiladora sector has increased 15.5% since 1994, though from the non-maquiladora sector has grown much faster. Contrary to popular belief, this should be no surprise since maquiladora's products could enter the US duty free since the 1960s industry agreement. Other sectors now benefit from the free trade agreement, and the share of exports from non-border states has increased in the last 5 years while the share of exports from maquiladora-border states has decreased.

Currently Mexico is focusing in developing an aerospace industry and the assembly of helicopter and commercial jet aircraft is taking place. Foreign firms such as MD Helicopters and Bombardier build helicopters and commercial jets respectively in Mexico. Although the Mexican aircraft industry is mostly foreign, as is its car industry, Mexican firms have been founded such as Aeromarmi, which builds light propeller airplanes, and Hydra Technologies, which builds Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

As compared with the United States or countries in Western Europe a larger sector of Mexico's industrial economy is food manufacturing which includes several world class companies but the regional industry is undeveloped. There are national brands that have become international and local Mom and Pop producers but little manufacturing in between.


According to the World Tourism Organization, Mexico has one of the largest tourism industries in the world. In 2005 it was the seventh most popular. The most notable tourist draws are the ancient Mesoamerican ruins, and popular beach resorts. The coastal climate and unique culture – a fusion of European (particularly Spanish) and Mesoamerican cultures; also make Mexico attractive. The peak tourist seasons in Mexico are during December and during July and August, with brief surges during the week before Easter and during spring break at many of the beach resort sites which are popular among vacationing college students from the United States.

Mexico is the twenty-third highest tourism spender in the world, and the highest in Latin America.


See also: Electricity sector in Mexico
Energy production in Mexico is managed by state-owned companies: the Federal Commission of Electricity (Comisión Federal de Electricidad, CFE) and Pemex (Petróleos Mexicanos). The CFE is in charge of the operation of electricity-generating plants and its distribution all across the territory, with the exception of the states of Morelosmarker, Mexico Statemarker, Hidalgomarker and Mexico City, whose distribution of electricity is in charge of the state-owned Luz y Fuerza del Centro. Most of the electricity is generated in thermoelectrical plants, even though CFE operates several hydroelectric plants, as well as wind power, geothermal and nuclear generators.

Natural resources are the "nation's property" (i.e. public property) by constitution. As such, the oil sector is administered by the government with varying degrees of private investment. Mexico is the sixth-largest oil producer in the world, with 3.7 million barrels per day. Pemex, the public company in charge of exploration, extraction, transportation and marketing of crude oil and natural gas, as well as the refining and distribution of petroleum products and petrochemicals, is one of the largest companies (oil or otherwise) in Latin America, making US $86 billion in sales a year, a sum larger than the GDP of some countries. Nonetheless, the company is heavily taxed, a significant source of revenue for the government, of almost 62 per cent of the company's sales. In 1980 oil exports accounted for 61.6% of total exports; by 2000 it was only 7.3%.


See also: List of Mexican Federal Highways and List of Mexican railroads
Much of Mexico's automotive traffic depends on the national highway system.
The paved-roadway network in Mexico is the most extensive in Latin America at 116,802 km in 2005; 10,474 km were multi-lane freeways or expressways, most of which were tollways. Nonetheless, Mexico's diverse orography—most of the territory is crossed by high-altitude ranges of mountains—as well as economic challenges have led to difficulties in creating an integrated transportation network and even though the network has improved, it still cannot meet national needs adequately.

Being one of the first Latin American countries to promote railway development, the network, though extensive at 30,952 km, is still inefficient to meet the economic demands of transportation. Most of the rail network is mainly used for merchandise or industrial freight and was mostly operated by National Railway of Mexico (Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México, FNM), privatized in 1997.

In 1999, Mexico had 1,806 airports, of which 233 had paved runways; of these, 35 carry 97% of the passenger traffic. The Mexico City International Airportmarker remains the largest in Latin America and the 44th largest in the world transporting 21 million passengers a year. There are more than 30 domestic airline companies of which only two are known internationally: Aeroméxico and Mexicana.

Mass transit in Mexico is modest. Most of the domestic passenger transport needs are served by an extensive bus network with several dozen companies operating by regions. Train passenger transportation between cities is limited. Inner-city rail mass transit is available at Mexico City—with the operation of the metro, elevated and ground train, as well as a Suburban Train connecting the adjacent municipalities of Greater Mexico City—as well as at Guadalajaramarker and Monterreymarker, the first served by a commuter rail and the second by an underground and elevated metro.


The telecommunications industry is mostly dominated by Telmex (Teléfonos de México), privatized in 1990. As of 2006, Telmex had expanded its operations to Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay and the United States. Other players in the domestic industry are Axtel and Maxcom. Due to Mexican orography, providing landline telephone service at remote mountainous areas is expensive, and the penetration of line-phones per capita is low compared to other Latin American countries, at forty-percent, however 82% of Mexicans over the age of 15 own a mobile phone. Mobile telephony has the advantage of reaching all areas at a lower cost, and the total number of mobile lines is almost two times that of landlines, with an estimation of 63 million lines. The telecommunication industry is regulated by the government through Cofetel (Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones).

The mexican satellite system is domestic and operates 120 earth stations. There is also extensive microwave radio relay network and considerable use of fiber-optic and coaxial cable. Mexican satellites are operated by Satélites Mexicanos (Satmex), a private company, leader in Latin America and servicing both North and South America. It offers broadcast, telephone and telecommunication services to 37 countries in the Americas, from Canadamarker to Argentinamarker. Through business partnerships Satmex provides high-speed connectivity to ISPs and Digital Broadcast Services. Satmex maintains it's own satellite fleet with most of the fleet being Mexican designed and built.

Mexico has recently emerged as a major producer of communications technology. In 2008 Mexico manufactured over 130 million mobile phones making it the sixth largest producer of mobile phones.

Usage of radio, television, and Internet in Mexico is prevalent. There are approximately 1,410 radio broadcast stations and 236 television stations (excluding repeaters). Major players in the broadcasting industry are Televisa—the largest Spanish media company in the Spanish-speaking world—and TV Azteca.


According to the latest official estimate, which reported a population of 111 million, Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world. Mexican annual population growth has drastically decreased from a peak of 3.5% in 1965 to 0.99% in 2005. Life expectancy in 2006 was estimated to be at 75.4 years (72.6 male and 78.3 female). The states with the highest life expectancy are Baja California (75.9 years) and Nuevo Leon (75.6 years). The Federal District has a life expectancy of the same level as Baja California.

The lowest levels are found in Chiapas (72.9), Oaxaca (73.2) and Guerrero (73.2 years). The mortality rate in 1970 was 9.7 per 1000 people; by 2001, the rate had dropped to 4.9 men per 1000 men and 3.8 women per 1000 women. The most common reasons for death in 2001 were heart problems (14.6% for men 17.6% for women) and cancer (11% for men and 15.8% for women).

Mexican population is increasingly urban, with close to 75% living in cities. The five largest urban areas in Mexico (Greater Mexico City, Greater Guadalajara, Greater Monterrey, Greater Puebla and Greater Toluca) are home to 30% of the country's population. Migration patterns within the country show positive migration to north-western and south-eastern states, and a negative rate of migration for the Federal District. While the annual population growth is still positive, the national net migration rate is negative (-4.7/1000), attributable to the emigration phenomenon of people from rural communities to the United States.

Metropolitan areas

Metropolitan areas in Mexico have been traditionally defined as the group of municipalities that heavily interact with each other, usually around a core city. In 2004, a joint effort between CONAPO, INEGI and the Ministry of Social Development (SEDESOL) agreed to define metropolitan areas as either:
  • the group of two or more municipalities in which a city with a population of at least 50,000 is located whose urban area extends over the limit of the municipality that originally contained the core city incorporating either physically or under its area of direct influence other adjacent predominantly urban municipalities all of which have a high degree of social and economic integration or are relevant for urban politics and administration; or
  • a single municipality in which a city of a population of at least one million is located and fully contained, (that is, it does not transcend the limits of a single municipality); or
  • a city with a population of at least 250,000 which forms a conurbation with other cities in the United States.

It should be noted, however, that northwestern and southeastern states are divided into a small number of large municipalities whereas central states are divided into a large number of smaller municipalities. As such, metropolitan areas in the northwest usually do not extend over more than one municipality (and figures usually report population for the entire municipality) whereas metropolitan areas in the center extend over many municipalities.

Few metropolitan areas extend beyond the limits of one state, namely: Greater Mexico City (Federal District, Mexico State and Hidalgo), Puebla-Tlaxcala (Puebla and Tlaxcala, but excludes the city of Tlaxcala), Comarca Lagunera (Coahuila and Durango), and Tampico (Tamaulipas and Veracruz).

The following is a list of the major metropolitan areas of Mexico, as reported in the 2005 census.


Mexico is home to the largest number of U.S. citizens abroad (estimated at one million as of 1999), which represents 1% of the Mexican population and 25% of all U.S. citizens abroad. Other significant communities of foreigners are those of Central and South America, most notably from Argentinamarker, Brazilmarker, Chilemarker, Colombiamarker, Perumarker, Cubamarker, Venezuelamarker, Guatemalamarker, and Belizemarker. Though estimations vary, the Argentine community is considered to be the second largest foreign community in the country (estimated somewhere between 30,000 and 150,000). Throughout the 20th century, the country followed a policy of granting asylum to fellow Latin Americans and Europeans (mostly Spaniards in the 1940s) fleeing political persecution in their home countries. In October 2008, Mexico tightened its immigration rules and agreed to deport Cubansmarker using the country as an entry point to the US. Large numbers of Central American migrants who have crossed Guatemala's northern border into Mexico are deported every year.

Discrepancies between the figures for official legal aliens and those of all foreign-born residents regardless of their immigration status are quite large. The official figure for foreign-born legal residents in Mexico is 493,000 (since 2004), with a majority (86.9%) of these born in the United States (except Chiapas, where the majority of immigrants are from Central America). The five states with the most immigrants are Baja California (12.1% of total immigrants), Mexico City (the Federal District; 11.4%), Jalisco (9.9%), Chihuahua (9%) and Tamaulipas (7.3%). More than 54.6% of the immigrant population are fifteen years old or younger, while 9% are fifty or older.

Mexico represents the largest source of immigration to the United Statesmarker. About 9% of the population born in Mexico is now living in the United States. 28.3 million Americans listed their ancestry as Mexican as of 2006.


See also: Demographics of Mexico
Demographic diversity in school children
Mexico is ethnically diverse, and the constitution defines the country to be a pluricultural nation.
  • Mestizos (those of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry) form the largest group, comprising up to 60–80% of the total population.
  • Amerindians called indigenous peoples (indígenas) are estimated to be between 16%-30% of the population. Indigenous peoples are considered the foundation of the Mexican pluricultural nation and therefore enjoy self-determination in certain areas. Indigenous languages are also considered "national languages" and are protected by law. The CDI identifies 62 indigenous groups in Mexico, each with a unique language.
  • Whites make up 9%-16% of the population, mostly descendants of the first Spanish settlers; although there are Mexicans of French, Italian, Portuguese, Basque, German, Irish, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Arab (mainly Lebanese and Syrian) and British descents from contemporary migration after the waves of immigration that brought many Europeans at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, along with some Canadians and European Americans from the United States and Argentina. Most are found in major cities and northern states. There are some 80,000 German-speaking Mennonites in Mexico.

Mexico also received a large number of Lebanese, Syrian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino immigrants.

Afro-Mexicans, mostly of mixed ancestry, live in the coastal areas of the states of Veracruz, Tabasco and Guerrero.

In 2004, the Mexican government founded the National Institute of Genomic Medicine (INMEGEN) which launched the Mexican Genome Diversity Project. In May 2009, the Institute issued a report on a major genomic study of the Mexican population. Among the findings, it was reported that of the 80% of the population that is mestizo, the proportions of European and indigenous ancestry are approximately even, with the indigenous component slightly, but significantly predominating overall. The proportions of admixture were found to vary geographically from north to south, as previous pre-genomic studies had surmised, with the European contribution predominating in the north and the indigenous component greater in central and southern regions. One of the significant conclusions of the study as reported was that even while it is composed of diverse ancestral genetic groups, the Mexican population is genetically distinctive among the world's populations.


There is no de jure constitutional official language at the federal level in Mexico. Spanish, spoken by 97% of the population, is considered a national language by The General Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, which also grants all indigenous minority languages spoken in Mexico, regardless of the number of speakers, the same validity as Spanish in all territories in which they are spoken, and indigenous peoples are entitled to request some public services and documents in their native languages.

Along with Spanish, the law has granted them the status of "national languages". The law includes all Amerindian languages regardless of origin; that is, it includes the Amerindian languages of ethnic groups non-native to the territory. As such the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples recognizes the language of the Kickapoo, who immigrated from the United States, and recognizes the languages of the Guatemalanmarker Amerindian refugees. The Mexican government has promoted and established bilingual primary and secondary education in some indigenous rural communities. Approximately 7.1% of the population speaks an indigenous language and 1.2% do not speak Spanish.

Mexico has the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world with more than twice as many as the second largest Spanish-speaking country. (Spain, Argentina, and Colombia all have about 40 million speakers each.) Almost a third of all Spanish native speakers in the world live in Mexico. Nahuatl is spoken by 1.5 million people and Yucatec Maya by 800,000. Some of the national languages are in danger of extinction; Lacandon is spoken by fewer than one hundred people.

English is widely used in business at the border cities, as well as by the one million U.S. citizens that live in Mexico, mostly retirees in small towns in Baja California, Guanajuato and Chiapas . Other European languages spoken by sizable communities in Mexico are Venetian, Plautdietsch, German, French and Romani.


Metropolitan Cathedral of Guadalajara, Jalisco

Mexico has no official religion, and the Constitution of 1917 and the anti-clerical laws imposed limitations on the church and sometimes codified state intrusion into church matters. The government does not provide any financial contributions to the church, and the church does not participate in public education.

The last census reported, by self-ascription, that 95% of the population is Christian. Roman Catholics are 89% of the total population, 47% percent of whom attend church services weekly. In absolute terms, Mexico has the world's second largest number of Catholics after Brazilmarker.

About 6% of the population (more than 4.4 million people) is Protestant, of whom Pentecostals and Charismatics (called Neo-Pentecostals in the census), are the largest group (1.37 million people). There are also a sizeable number of Seventh-day Adventists (0.6 million people). The 2000 national census counted more than one million Jehovah's Witnesses.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims over one million registered members as of 2009. About 25% of registered members attend a weekly sacrament service although this can fluctuate up and down.

Islam in Mexico is practiced by a small Muslim population in the city of Torreon, Coahuila, and there are an estimated 300 Muslims in the San Cristobal de las Casas area in Chiapas.

The presence of Jews in Mexico dates back to 1521, when Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztecs, accompanied by several Conversos. According to the last national census by the INEGI, there are now more than 45,000 Mexican Jews. Almost three million people in the 2000 National Census reported having no religion.

Mexico’s Buddhist population currently makes up a tiny minority, some 108,000 according to latest accounts. Some of its members are of Asian descent, others people of various other walks of life that have turned toward Buddhism in the recent past.

In 1992, Mexico lifted almost all restrictions on the Catholic Church and other religions, including granting all religious groups legal status, conceding them limited property rights, and lifting restrictions on the number of priests in the country. Until recently, priests did not have the right to vote, and even now they cannot be elected to public office.


Mexican culture reflects the complexity of the country's history through the blending of pre-Hispanic civilizations and the culture of Spain, imparted during Spain's 300-year colonization of Mexico. Exogenous cultural elements mainly from the United States have been incorporated into Mexican culture. As was the case in most Latin American countries, when Mexico became an independent nation, it had to slowly create a national identity, being an ethnically diverse country in which, for the most part, the only connecting element amongst the newly independent inhabitants was Catholicism .

The Porfirian era (el Porfiriato), in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth century, was marked by economic progress and peace. After four decades of civil unrest and war, Mexico saw the development of philosophy and the arts, promoted by President Díaz himself. Since that time, as accentuated during the Mexican Revolution, cultural identity has had its foundation in the mestizaje, of which the indigenous (i.e. Amerindian) element is the core. In light of the various ethnicities that formed the Mexican people, José Vasconcelos in his publication La Raza Cósmica (The Cosmic Race) (1925) defined Mexico to be the melting pot of all races (thus extending the definition of the mestizo) not only biologically but culturally as well. This exalting of mestizaje was a revolutionary idea that sharply contrasted with the idea of a superior pure race prevalent in Europe at the time.


Mexican films from the Golden Age in the 1940s and 1950s are the greatest examples of Latin American cinema, with a huge industry comparable to the Hollywoodmarker of those years. Mexican films were exported and exhibited in all of Latin America and Europe. Maria Candelaria (1944) by Emilio Fernández, was one of the first films awarded a Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festivalmarker in 1946, the first time the event was held after World War II. Famous actors and actresses from this period include María Félix, Pedro Infante, Dolores del Río, Jorge Negrete and the comedian Cantinflas.

More recently, films such as Como agua para chocolate (1992), Cronos (1993), Amores perros (2000), Y tu mamá también (2001), El Crimen del Padre Amaro (2002), Pan's Labyrinth (2006) and Babel (2006) have been successful in creating universal stories about contemporary subjects, and were internationally recognised, as in the prestigious Cannes Film Festivalmarker. Mexican directors Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores perros, Babel), Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Guillermo del Toro, Carlos Carrera (The Crime of Father Amaro), and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga are some of the most known present-day film makers.


Jalisco Symphony Orchestra

Mexican society enjoys a vast array of music genres, showing the diversity of Mexican culture. Traditional music includes Mariachi, Banda, Norteño, Ranchera and Corridos; on an every-day basis most Mexicans listen to contemporary music such as pop, rock, etc. in both English and Spanish. Mexico has the largest media industry in Latin America, producing Mexican artists who are famous in Central and South America and parts of Europe, especially Spain. Some well-known Mexican singers areThalía, Luis Miguel, Alejandro Fernández and Paulina Rubio. Popular groups are Café Tacuba, Molotov and Maná, among others.

According to the Sistema Nacional de Fomento Musical, there are between 120 and 140 youth orchestras affiliated to this federal agency from all federal states. Some states, through their state agencies in charge of culture and the arts—Ministry or Secretariat or Institute or Council of Culture, in some cases Secretariat of Education or the State University—sponsor the activities of a professional Symphony Orchestra or Philharmonic Orchestra so all citizens can have access to this artistic expression from the field of classical music. There is no public information about the exact number of professional orchestras in the country (probably 40 ensembles of very diverse caliber). Mexico City is the most intense hub of this activity hosting 12 professional orchestras sponsored by different agencies such as the National Intitute of Fine Arts, the Secretariat of Culture of the Federal District, The National University, the National Polytechnic Institute, a Delegación Política (Coyoacán) and very few are a kind of private ventures.

Orquestas in Mexico are mainly subsidized by a governmental body or agency, unlike their American counterparts, therefore, these organizations do not have departments such as marketing or development. States such as Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chiapas, Colima, Morelos, Nayarit, Quintana Roo, Sonora, Tabasco, and Tlaxcala do not have a professional Symphony orchestra. The only permanent opera company belongs to the National Institute of Fine Artsmarker, offering six productions yearly, however, some cities such as Guadalajara, Monterrey or Morelia make important efforts to present this kind of expression to local audiences.

Fine arts

Post-revolutionary art in Mexico had its expression in the works of renowned artists such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo, Federico Cantú Garza, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Juan O'Gorman. Diego Rivera, the most well-known figure of Mexican Muralism, painted the Man at the Crossroads at the Rockefeller Centermarker in New York City, a huge mural that was destroyed the next year due to the inclusion of a portrait of Russian communist leader Lenin. Some of Rivera's murals are displayed at the Mexican National Palacemarker and the Palace of Fine Artsmarker.

Academic music composers of Mexico include Manuel María Ponce, José Pablo Moncayo, Julián Carrillo, Mario Lavista, Carlos Chávez, Silvestre Revueltas, Arturo Márquez, and Juventino Rosas, many of whom incorporated traditional elements into their music. Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Juan Rulfo, Elena Poniatowska, and José Emilio Pacheco, are some of the most recognized authors of Mexican literature.

Broadcast media

Two of the major television networks based in Mexico are Televisa and TV Azteca. Televisa is also the largest producer of Spanish-language content in the world and also the world's largest Spanish-language media network. Grupo Multimedios is another media conglomerate with Spanish-language broadcasting in Mexico, Spain, and the United States. Soap operas (telenovelas) are translated to many languages and seen all over the world with renowned names like Verónica Castro, Lucía Méndez, Lucero, and Thalía. Even Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna from Y tu mamá también and current Zegna model have appeared in some of them.

Some of their TV shows are modeled after counterparts from the U.S. like Family Feud (100 Mexicanos Dijeron or "A hundred Mexicans said" in Spanish) and ¿Qué dice la gente?, Big Brother, American Idol, Saturday Night Live and others. Nationwide news shows like Las Noticias por Adela on Televisa resemble a hybrid between Donahue and Nightline. Local news shows are modeled after counterparts from the U.S. like the Eyewitness News and Action News formats. Border cities receive television and radio stations from the U.S., while satellite and cable subscription is common for the middle-classes in most cities, and they often watch movies and TV shows from the U.S.


Cabrito con Tamales
Mexican cuisine is known for its intense and varied flavors, colorful decoration, and variety of spices. Most of today's Mexican food is based on pre-Columbian traditions, including the Aztecs and Maya, combined with culinary trends introduced by Spanish colonists.

The conquistadores eventually combined their imported diet of rice, beef, pork, chicken, wine, garlic and onions with the native pre-Columbian food, including maize, tomato, vanilla, avocado, papaya, pineapple, chili pepper, beans, squash, limes (limón in Mexican Spanish), sweet potato, peanut and turkey.

Mexican food varies by region, because of local climate and geography and ethnic differences among the indigenous inhabitants and because these different populations were influenced by the Spaniards in varying degrees. The north of Mexico is known for its beef, goat and ostrich production and meat dishes, in particular the well-known Arrachera cut.

Central Mexico's cuisine is largely made up of influences from the rest of the country, but also has its authentics, such as barbacoa, pozole, menudo, tamales, and carnitas.

Southeastern Mexico, on the other hand, is known for its spicy vegetable and chicken-based dishes. The cuisine of Southeastern Mexico also has quite a bit of Caribbeanmarker influence, given its geographical location.

Seafood is commonly prepared in the states that border the Pacific Oceanmarker or the Gulf of Mexicomarker, the latter having a famous reputation for its fish dishes, a la veracruzana.

In modern times, other cuisines of the world have become very popular in Mexico, thus adopting a Mexican fusion. For example, sushi in Mexico is often made with a variety of sauces based on mango or tamarind, and very often served with serrano-chili-blended soy sauce, or complimented with vinegar, habanero and chipotle peppers

The most internationally recognized dishes include chocolate, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos, tamales and mole among others. Regional dishes include mole poblano, chiles en nogada and chalupas from Pueblamarker; cabrito and machaca from Monterreymarker, cochinita pibil from Yucatánmarker, Tlayudas from Oaxacamarker, as well as barbacoa, chilaquiles, milanesas, and many others.


Baseball stadium in Monterrey, home to Monterrey Sultans.

Mexico City hosted the XIX Olympic Games in 1968, making it the first Latin American city to do so (Rio de Janeiro will be the second in 2016). The country has also hosted the FIFA World Cup twice, in 1970 and 1986.

Mexico’s most popular sport is association football (soccer). It is commonly believed that Football was introduced in Mexico by Cornishmarker miners at the end of the 19th century. By 1902 a five-team league had emerged with a strong English influence. Football became a professional sport in 1943. Since the “Era Professional” started, Mexico’s top clubs have been Guadalajara with 11 championships, América with 10 and Toluca with 9. In Mexican Football many players have been raised to the level of legend, but two of them have received international recognition above others. Antonio Carbajal was the first player to appear in five World Cups, and Hugo Sánchez was named best CONCACAF player of the 20th century by IFFHS. Mexican’s biggest stadiums are Estadio Aztecamarker, Estadio Olímpico Universitariomarker and Jalisco Stadiummarker. Notable achievements by Mexican national soccer teams include winning the 1999 Confederations Cup, the 2005 U-17 World Cup, and being runners-up in the 1977 U-20 World Cup, 1993 Copa America, and 2001 Copa America. The Mexican team was also a runner-up in the 2007 Beach Soccer World Cup. Mexican football clubs have achieved good results in international competitions like the Copa Libertadores and the FIFA Club World Championship.

The national sport of Mexico is Charreada. Bullfighting is also a popular sport in the country, and almost all large cities have bullrings. Plaza Méxicomarker in Mexico Citymarker, is the largest bullring in the world, which seats 55,000 people. Professional wrestling (or Lucha libre in Spanish) is a major crowd draw with national promotions such as AAA, LLL, CMLL and others.

Baseball, is also popular, especially in the Gulf of Mexico, Yucatan Peninsula and the Northern States. The season runs from March to July with playoffs held in August. The Mexican professional league is named the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol. Current champions (2007) are Sultanes de Monterrey who defeated in a tight series Leones de Yucatán. However, the best level of baseball is played in Liga Mexicana del Pacífico, played in Sinaloa, Sonora and Baja California. Given that it is played during the MLB off-season, some of its players are signed to play with the league 8 teams. Current champions (2007) are Yaquis de Obregon. The league champion participates in the Caribbean Series, a tournament between the Champions of Winter Leagues of Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic; the 2009 Caribbean Series edition will be held in Mexicalimarker. While usually not as strong as the United States, the Caribbean countries and Japan, Mexico has nonetheless achieved several international baseball titles. Mexico has had several players signed by Major League teams, the most famous of them being Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela.

Mexican clubs (such as Monterrey La Raza) participate in North American indoor soccer leagues. Mexico is also a leading country in Basque Pelota. Tennis has also traditionally been popular in Mexico, having produced some great players like Rafael Osuna, though international successes have been very few in recent years.

Mexico is an international power in professional boxing (at the amateur level, several Olympic boxing medals have also been won by Mexico). Vicente Saldivar, Ruben Olivares, Salvador Sanchez, Julio Cesar Chavez and Ricardo Lopez are but a few Mexican fighters who have been ranked among the best of all time.

The most important professional basketball league is the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional and covers the whole Mexican territory, where the Soles de Mexicali are the current champions. In 2007 three Mexican teams will be competing in the American Basketball Association. In the northwestern states is the CIBACOPA Competition, with professional basketball players from Mexico and the U.S. Universities and some teams from the NBA.

Mexico is a major international power in Taekwondo. Mexican athletes have achieved renown in disciplines like marathon running, racewalking and diving.

American football is played at the major universities like ITESMmarker, UANLmarker, UDLA, IPNmarker and UNAMmarker. The college league in Mexico is called ONEFA. Several Mexican players have been signed by the NFL over the years. Rugby is played at the amateur level throughout the country with the majority of clubs in Mexico City and others in Monterrey, Guadalajara, Celaya, Guanajuato and Oaxaca.

Formula one race car of team Mexico at the 2007 Sepang circuit.
Auto racing is very popular in Mexico. Throughout the years, Mexico has hosted races for some of the most important international championships such as Formula One, NASCAR, Champ Car, A1 Grand Prix, among others. Mexico also has its own NASCAR-sanctioned stock car series, the NASCAR Mexico, which runs 14 events in different cities, drawing large crowds. Other forms of racing include Formula Renault, Formula Vee, touring cars, Pick-up trucks, endurance racing, rallying, and off-road.

Ice hockey is played in larger cities like Monterrey, Guadalajara, Villahermosa, Culiacan and Mexico City.

Notable Mexican athletes include golfer Lorena Ochoa, who is currently ranked first in the LPGA world rankings, Ana Guevara, former world champion of the 400 metres and Olympic subchampion in Athens 2004, and Fernando Platas, a numerous Olympic medal winning diver.

Sport fishing is popular in Baja California and the big Pacific coast resorts, while freshwater bass fishing is growing in popularity too. The gentler arts of diving and snorkeling are big around the Caribbean, with famous dive sites at Cozumel and on the reefs further south. The Pacific coast is becoming something of a center for surfing, with few facilities as yet; all these sports attract tourists to Mexico.

Healthcare and education

Main articles: Health care in Mexico and Education in Mexico. See also 2009 swine flu outbreak.

Since the early 1990s, Mexico entered a transitional stage in the health of its population and some indicators such as mortality patterns are identical to those found in highly developed countries like Germany or Japan. Although all Mexicans are entitled to receive medical care by the state, 50.3 million Mexicans had no medical insurance as of 2002. Efforts to increase the number of people are being made, and the current administration intends to achieve universal health care by 2011.

Mexico's medical infrastructure is highly rated for the most part and is usually excellent in major cities, but rural areas and indigenous communities still have lack equioment for advanced medical procedures , forcing them to travel to the closest urban area to get specialized medical care.

State-funded institutions such as Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) and the Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers (ISSSTE) play a major role in health and social security. Private health services are also very important and account for 13% of all medical units in the country.

La Raza Medical Center, an average public hospital in Mexico City
Medical training is done mostly at public universities with some specializations done abroad. Some public universities in Mexico, such as the University of Guadalajara, have signed agreements with the U.S. to receive and train American students in Medicine. Health care costs in private institutions and prescription drugs in Mexico are on average lower than that of its North American economic partners.

In 2004, the literacy rate was at 97% for youth under the age of 14 and 91% for people over 15, placing Mexico at the 24th place in the world rank accordingly to UNESCOmarker. Primary and secondary education (9 years) is free and mandatory. Even though different bilingual education programs have existed since the 1960s for the indigenous communities, after a constitutional reform in the late 1990s, these programs have had a new thrust, and free text books are produced in more than a dozen indigenous languages.

In the 1970s, Mexico established a system of "distance-learning" through satellite communications to reach otherwise inaccessible small rural and indigenous communities. Schools that use this system are known as telesecundarias in Mexico. The Mexican distance learning secondary education is also transmitted to some Central American countries and to Colombia, and it is used in some southern regions of the United States as a method of bilingual education. There are approximately 30,000 telesecundarias and approximately a million telesecundaria students in the country.

The largest and most prestigious public university in Mexico, today numbering over 269,000 students, is the National Autonomous University of Mexicomarker (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM) founded in 1910. Three Nobel laureates and most of Mexico's modern-day presidents are among its former students. UNAM conducts an astounding 50% of Mexico's scientific research and has presence all across the country with satellite campuses and research centers. The National Autonomous University of Mexico ranks 15th place in the Top 200 World University Ranking published by The Times Higher Education Supplement in 2008, making it the highest ranked Spanish-speaking university in the world and the highest ranked in Latin America. The second largest university is the National Polytechnic Institutemarker (IPN). These institutions are public, and there are at least a couple of public universities per state.

One of the most prestigious private universities is Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Educationmarker (ITESM). It was ranked by the Wall Street Journal as the 7th top International Business School worldwide and 74th among the world's top arts and humanities universities ranking of The Times Higher Education Supplement, published in 2005. ITESM has thirty-two secondary campuses, apart from its Monterrey Campus. Other important private universities include Mexico's Autonomous Technological Institutemarker (ITAM), ranked as the best economics school in Latin America, Fundación Universidad de las Américas, Puebla (UDLAP) and the Ibero-American University (Universidad Iberoamericanamarker).

In April 2009 Mexico saw the outbreak of a new strain of H1N1 influenza, which has infected up to 800 people and infected over 140,000 worldwide as of July 20.

Science and technology

A photograph of the Large Millimeter Telescope in the state of Puebla

Notable Mexican technologists include Luis E. Miramontes, the inventor of the contraceptive pill, Manuel Mondragon, inventor of the first automatic rifle, Guillermo González Camarena, who invented the "Chromoscopic adapter for television equipment" and the "Tricolor System", both early color television transmission systems, and Mario J. Molina, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Rodolfo Neri Vela, an UNAMmarker graduate, was the first Mexican to enter space (as part of the STS-61-B mission in 1985.)

In recent years, the biggest scientific project being developed in Mexico was the construction of the Large Millimeter Telescopemarker (Gran Telescopio Milimétrico, GMT), the world's largest and most sensitive single-aperture telescope in its frequency range. It was designed to observe regions of space obscured by stellar dust.

In 1962, the National Commission of Outer Space (Comisión Nacional del Espacio Exterior, CONNE) was established, but was dismantled in 1977. In 2007, a project was presented to re-open a new Mexican Space Agency and it was approved at the end of 2008 with the headquarters set to be located in the state of Hidalgo.

Mexico is also a producer of microprocessors and chip sets producing these systems for both domestic corporations and foreign companies such as AMDmarker and Intelmarker.

Government institutions such as SEMAR and SEDENAmarker have also developed advanced microprocessors, imaging systems, military A.I. systems, rockets, software, long range ballistic missles, electronic devices and electronic military subsystems many of which have been sold to other Latin American nations. Other consumer electronics companies such as Mabe have been fuctioning since the nineteen fifties and have expanded out of Latin America into markets around the world such as Asia and Europe and even into the United States where a large percentage of american branded appliances are actually of Mexican design and origin but sold under local brand names. In fact as of 2008 one out of every four consumer appliances sold in the United States was of Mexican origin.

See also


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