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Mexico City (Spanish: Ciudad de México, or Distrito Federal) is the capital city of Mexicomarker. It is the economic, industrial, and cultural center in the country, and the most populous city, with about 8,836,045 inhabitants in 2008. Greater Mexico City (Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México) incorporates 59 adjacent municipalities of the State of Mexicomarker and 29 municipalities of the state of Hidalgomarker, according to the most recent definition agreed upon by the federal and state governments. Greater Mexico City has a population exceeding 19 million people, making it the second largest metropolitan area in the Americas and the third largest agglomeration in the world. In 2005, it ranked the eighth in terms of GDP (PPP) among urban agglomerations in the world. Mexico City is a major global city in Latin America and ranked 25th among global cities by Foreign Policy's 2008 Global Cities Index.

According to a 2008 study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mexico City had a GDP of $391 billion, making Mexico city alone the 25th largest economy in the world making Mexico city wealthier than Taiwan and Iran. Mexico city is the eighth wealthiest city in the world after the greater areas of Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, London and Osaka/Kobe, and the highest in Latin America. In 2020, it is expected to rank seventh with a $608 billion GDP, displacing Osaka/Kobe.

As of 2008, the city had a GDP of about $391 billion , with an income per capita of $25,258, well above the national average and on par with income economies such as South Koreamarker or the Czech Republicmarker.

Mexico City is located in the Valley of Mexicomarker, also called the Valley of Anáhuac, a large valley in the high plateaus at the center of Mexico, at an altitude of . The city was originally built as Tenochtitlan by the Aztecs in 1325 on an island of Lake Texcocomarker. It was almost completely destroyed in the siege of 1521, and was subsequently redesigned and rebuilt in accordance with the Spanish urban standards. In 1524 the municipality of Mexico City was established, known as México Tenustitlán, and as of 1585 it was officially known as ciudad de México.


The city now known as Mexico City was founded by the Mexica, also called the Aztecs, in 1325. The old Mexica city is now referred to as Tenochtitlan. The Mexica were one of the last of the Nahuatl-speaking peoples who migrated to this part of the Valley of Mexicomarker after the fall of the Toltec Empire. Their presence was resisted by the peoples who were already in the valley, but the Mexica were able to establish a city on a small island on the western side of Lake Texcocomarker. The Mexica themselves had a story about how their city was founded after being led to the island by their principal god, Huitzilopochtli. According to the story, the god indicated their new home with a sign, an eagle perched on a nopal cactus with a snake in its beak. Between 1325 and 1521, Tenochtitlan grew in size and strength, eventually dominating the other city-states around Lake Texcoco, and in the Valley of Mexico. When the Spaniards arrived, the Aztec Empire reached much of Mesoamerica, touching both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.

Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán

After landing in Veracruzmarker, Hernán Cortés heard about the great city and the long-standing rivalries and grievances against it. Although Cortés came to Mexico with a very small army, he was able to persuade many of the other native peoples to help him destroy Tenochtitlán.
Templo Mayor de Tenochtitlan
Cortés first saw Tenochtitlán on 8 November 1519. Upon viewing it for the first time, Cortés and his men were stunned by its beauty and size. The Spaniards marched along the causeway leading into the city from Iztapalapa. Although Montezuma came out from the center of Tenochtitlán to greet them and exchange gifts, the camaraderie did not last long.Cortés put Montezuma under house arrest, hoping to rule through him. Tensions increased until, on the night of June 30, 1520 - during a struggle commonly known as "La Noche Triste" - the Aztec revolted against the Spanish intrusion and managed to capture or drive out the Europeans and their Tlaxcalan allies. Cortés regrouped at Tlaxcala. The Aztecs thought the Spaniards were permanently gone. They elected a new king, Cuauhtémoc. Cortés decided to lay siege to Tenochtitlán in May 1521. For three months, the city suffered from the lack of food and water as well as the spread of smallpox brought by the Europeans. Cortés and his allies landed their forces in the south of the island and fought their way through the city, street by street, and house by house. Finally, Cuauhtémoc had to surrender in August 1521.

City's rebuilding as Mexico City

Mexico City in 1628
The Spaniards practically razed Tenochtitlán. Cortés first settled in Coyoacanmarker, but decided to rebuild the Aztec site in order to erase all traces of the old order. Cortés did not establish an independent, conquered territory under his own personal rule, but remained loyal to the Spanish crown. The first viceroy of the new domain arrived in Mexico City fourteen years later. By that time, the city had again become a city-state, having power that extended far beyond the city's established borders.Although the Spanish preserved Tenochtitlán's basic layout, they built Catholic churches over the old Aztec temples and claimed the imperial palaces for themselves. Tenochtitlán was renamed "Mixico", its alternative form name, as the Spanish found this easier to say.

Growth of the colonial city

The city grew as the population did, coming up against the lake's waters. The 16th century saw a proliferation of churches, many of which can still be seen today in the historic centermarker. However, flooding was a constant problem, and in the 17th century projects to drain and fill in parts of the lake were begun in earnest. This process would continue for most of the city's history until the lakes disappeared.Economically, Mexico City prospered as a result of trade. Unlike Brazil or Perumarker, Mexico had easy contact with both the Atlantic and Pacific worlds. Although the Spanish crown tried to completely regulate all commerce in the city, it had only partial success.One way the Spanish tried to completely rule was religion, but even here success was not complete. Native practices survived incorporated in the indigenous’ practice ofRoman Catholicism. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupemarker, which originated with the vision at Tepeyac Hill to the north of the city's borders in 1531; some scholars suggest that this vision was particularly effective owing to the existence of a pre-Conquest Aztec cult of Tonantzin, a mother goddess.
The Angel de la Independencia was built to celebrate the victory in gaining independence from Spain
The concept of nobility transferred to New Spain in a way not seen in other parts of the Americas. A noble title in Mexico did not mean one exercised great political power as one's power was limited even if the accumulation of wealth was not. The concept of nobility in Mexico was not political but rather a very conservative Spanish social one, based on proving the worthiness of the family. Most of these families proved their worth by making fortunes in New Spain outside of the city itself, then spending the revenues in the capital, building churches, supporting charities and building extravagant palatial homes. The craze to build the most opulent home possible reached its height in the last half of the 18th century. Many of these homes can still be seen today, leading to Mexico City's nickname of "The city of palaces" given by Charles Joseph Latrobe in his book "A rambler in Mexico".

Independence for Mexico was declared by Agustin de Iturbide in 1821 after he and his army marched into the city. While Iturbide's regime tried to keep as much of the old order as possible, he soon had to abdicate and Mexico was declared a republic in 1824, with Mexico City as its capital. Unrest followed for the next several decades, as different factions fought for control of Mexico. The Mexican Federal District was established by the new government and by the signing of their new constitution, where the concept of a federal district was adapted from the American constitution. Before this designation, Mexico City had served as the seat of government for both the State of Mexicomarker and the nation as a whole. Texcocomarker and then Tolucamarker became the capital of the state of Mexico.During the Mexican-American War, American forces marched toward Mexico City itself after capturing Veracruzmarker. The invasion culminated with the storming of Chapultepec Castlemarker in the city itself. The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in what is now the far north of the city.Events such as the Reform War left the city relatively untouched and it continued to grow, especially during the rule of President Porfirio Díaz. During this time, the city developed modern infrastructure, such as roads, schools, transportation, and communication systems. However, the regime concentrated resources and wealth into the city while the rest languished in poverty. This eventually led to the Mexican Revolution. The most significant episode of this period for the city was the La decena trágica ("The Ten Tragic Days"), a coup against President Francisco I. Madero and his vice president, José María Pino Suárez. Victoriano Huerta, chief general of the Federal Army saw a chance to take power, forcing Madero and Pino Suarez to sign resignations. The two were murdered later while on their way to prison.

20th century to present

Paseo de la Reforma and Polanco district
The history of the rest of the 20th century to the present focuses on the phenomenal growth of the city and its environmental and political consequences. In 1900, the population of Mexico City was about 500,000. The city began to grow rapidly westward in the early part of the 20th century. and then began to grow upwards in the 1950s, with the Torre Latinoamericanamarker as the first skyscraper. The 1968 Olympic Games brought about the construction of large sporting facilities. In 1969, the Metro system was inaugurated.Explosive growth in the population of the city started from the 1960s, with the population overflowing the boundaries of the Federal District into the neighboring state of Mexico, especially to the north, northwest and northeast. Between 1960 and 1980 the city's population more than doubled to 8,831,079. 1980 - half of all the industrial jobs in Mexico were located in Mexico City. Under relentless growth, the Mexico City government could barely keep up with services. Villagers from the countryside who continued to pour into the city to escape poverty only compounded the city's problems. With no housing available, they took over lands surrounding the city, creating huge shantytowns that extended for many miles. This caused serious air and water pollution problems, as well as a sinking city due to overextraction of groundwater. Air and water pollution has been contained and improved in some several areas due to government programs, the renovation of vehicles and the modernization of the public transport.

The autocratic government that ruled Mexico City since the Revolution was tolerated, mostly because of the continued economic expansion since World War II. This was the case even though this government could not handle the population and pollution problems adequately. Nevertheless, discontent and protests began in the 1960s leading to the massacre of an unknown number of protesting students in Tlatelolco.

However, the last straw may have been the 1985 Mexico City earthquakemarker. On Thursday, 19 September 1985, at 7:19 am local time, Mexico City was struck by an earthquake of magnitude 8.1 on the Richter scale. While this earthquake was not as deadly or destructive as many similar events in Asia and other parts of Latin America it proved to be a disaster politically for the one-party government. The government was paralyzed by its own bureaucracy and corruption, forcing ordinary citizens to not only create and direct their own rescue efforts but efforts to reconstruct much of the housing that was lost as well.This discontent eventually led to Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, a member of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, becoming the first elected mayor of Mexico City in 1997. Cárdenas promised a more democratic government, and his party claimed some victories against crime, pollution, and other major problems. He resigned in 1999 to run for the presidency.


Popocatépetl volcano seen from the city
Mexico City is located in the Valley of Mexico, sometimes called the Basin of Mexico. This valley is located in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt located in the high plateaus of south-central Mexico. It has a minimum altitude of 2,200 meters above sea level and surrounded by mountains and volcanoes that reach elevations of over 5,000 meters. This valley has no natural drainage outlet for the waters that flow from the mountainsides, making the city vulnerable to flooding. It was artificially opened through the use of canals and tunnels starting in the 17th century.The city primarily rests on what was Lake Texcocomarker. Seismic activity is frequent here. This lake was drained starting from the 17th century and while none of its waters remain, the city rests on its heavily saturated clay. This soft base is collapsing due to the over-extraction of groundwater and since the beginning of the 20th century, the city has sunk as much as nine meters in some areas. This sinking is causing problems with runoff and wastewater management, leading to flooding problems, especially during the rainy season. The entire lakebed is now paved over and most of the city's remaining forested areas lie in the southern boroughs of Milpa Alta, Tlalpanmarker and Xochimilcomarker.

Geophysical maps of the Federal District
Topography Hydrology Climate patterns


Mexico City has a subtropical highland climate (Koppen climate classification Cwb), due to its tropical location and high elevation. The lower region of the valley receives less rainfall than the upper regions of the south; the lower boroughs of Iztapalapa, Iztacalcomarker, Venustiano Carranzamarker and the west portion of Gustavo A.marker Maderomarker are usually drier and warmer than the upper southern boroughs of Tlalpanmarker and Milpa Alta, a mountainous region of pine and oak trees known as the range of Ajuscomarker.

The average annual temperature varies from , depending on the altitude of the borough. Lowest temperatures, usually registered during January and February, may reach , usually accompanied by snow showers on the southern regions of Ajusco, and the maximum temperatures of late spring and summer may reach up to . Overall precipitation is heavily concentrated in the summer months, including dense hail. The central valley of Mexico rarely gets precipitation in the form of snow during winter; the two last recorded instances of such an event were on March 5, 1940 and January 12, 1967.

The region of the Valley of Mexicomarker receives anti-cyclonic systems, whose weak winds do not allow for the dispersion, outside the basin, of the air pollutants which are produced by the 50,000 industries and 4 million vehicles operating in or around the metropolitan area.

The area receives about 700 millimeters of annual rainfall, which is concentrated from June through September/October with little or no precipitation the remainder of the year. The area has two main seasons. The rainy season runs from June to October when winds bring in tropical moisture from the sea. The dry season runs from November to May, when the air is relatively drier. This dry season subdivides into a cold period from November to February when polar air masses pushing down from the north keep the air fairly dry and a warm period from March to May when tropical winds again dominate but they do not yet carry enough moisture for rain.


Originally, much of the valley lay beneath the waters of Lake Texcocomarker, a system of interconnected saline and freshwater lakes. The Aztecs built dikes to separate the fresh water used to raise crops in chinampas and to prevent recurrent floods. These dikes were destroyed during the siege of Tenochtitlan, and during colonial times the Spanish regularly drained the lake to prevent floods. Only a small section of the original lake remains, located outside the Federal District, in the municipality of Atencomarker, State of Mexicomarker. In recent years, architects Teodoro González De León and Alberto Kalach, along with a group of Mexican urbanists, engineers and biologists, have developed the project plan for Recovering the City of Lakes. The project, if approved by the government, will contribute to the supply of water from natural sources to the Valley of Mexicomarker, the creation of new natural spaces, a great improvement in air quality, and greater population establishment planning.

The federal and local governments have implemented numerous plans to alleviate the problem of air pollution, including the constant monitoring and reporting of environmental conditions, such as ozone and nitrogen oxides. If the levels of these two pollutants reach critical levels, contingency actions are implemented which may include closing factories, changing school hours, and extending the A day without a car program to two days of the week. To control air pollution, the government has instituted industrial technology improvements, a strict biannual vehicle emission inspection and the reformulation of gasoline and diesel fuels. Data from the city's 36 air-quality monitoring stations show lead levels down 95 percent since 1990, while sulfur dioxide has fallen 86 percent, carbon monoxide 74 percent, and peak ozone levels 57 percent since 1991. In 1990, Patricia Saad Sotomayor reported in the Mexico City daily Excélsior that "100,000 children die every year as a result of pollution in the Mexico City metropolitan area, 250,000 people suffer from eye diseases..and life expectancy has been reduced by up to ten years, according to the National Environmentalist Groups." in a report to President Salinas. At the time, according to the United Nations pollution scale "which set 100 as the maximum level before grave health problems begin", Mexico City's level was 97.5, compared to 4.5 for New York City, and 2.5 for Milan, Turin, and Los Angeles.

In 1986, the non-urban forest areas of the southern boroughs were declared National Ecological Reserves by president Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado. Other areas of the Federal District became protected over the following years.


Federal District

Reforma Avenue is one of the city's most important streets
The Acta Constitutiva de la Federación of 31 January 1824 and the Federal Constitution of 4 October 1824 fixed the political and administrative organization of the United Mexican Statesmarker after the Mexican War of Independence. In addition, Section XXVIII of Article 50 gave the new Congress the right to choose where the federal government would be located. This location would then be appropriated as federal land, with the federal government acting as the local authority. The two main candidates to become the capital were Mexico City and Querétaromarker. However, due much to the persuasion of representative Servando Teresa de Mier, Mexico City was chosen because it was the center of the country's population and history, even though Querétaro was closer to the center geographically. The choice was official on 18 November 1824, and Congress delineated a surface area with a radius of two leagues (8,800 km) from the Zocalomarker. This circular area was then separated from the State of Mexicomarker, forcing that state's government to move from the Palace of the Inquisition (now Museum of Mexican Medicine) in the city to Texcocomarker. This radius did not include the population centers of the towns of Coyoacanmarker, Xochimilcomarker, Mexicaltzingomarker and Tlalpanmarker, all of which remained as part of the State of Mexico.

The district was incorporated into the federal government as the Department of Mexico officially on 29 November 1836. The District was redefined by President Santa Anna shortly after the Mexican American War, outward to areas bordering Ecatepec, Tlalnepantla and other hilly areas to make the District more defensible. He also divided the District into eight prefectures. In 1898, some other, minor modifications were made to its borders with the State of Mexico and the State of Morelosmarker, bringing them to the current borders. In 1899, the District was divided into the municipality of Mexico and six prefectures. In 1903, this was changed thirteen municipalities. In 1916, then head of the District, Venustiano Carranza tried to annex a number of the communities in what is now the eastern "arm" of the state of Mexico, but did not succeed. In 1941, the organization changed to the City of Mexia and twelve boroughs. In 1978, the 1898 borders were reaffirmed and the current system of sixteen boroughs was instituted.

The government of the District is housed in two buildings on the south side of the Zocalo. One has served as the seat of government for the city almost since the arrival of Hernan Cortes. The other was constructed in the 1940s for the expanding government, and created to fit in with the architecture of the area.

Political structure

Mexico City, being the seat of the powers of the Union, did not belong to any particular state but to all. Therefore, it was the president, representing the federation, who used to designate the head of government of the Federal District, a position which is sometimes presented outside Mexico as the "Mayor" of Mexico City. In the 1980s, given the dramatic increase in population of the previous decades, the inherent political inconsistencies of the system, as well as the dissatisfaction with the inadequate response of the federal government to assist the city after the 1985 earthquake, the residents began to request political and administrative autonomy in order to manage their own local affairs. Some political groups even proposed that the Federal District be converted into the 32nd state of the federation.

In response to the demands, in 1987 the Federal District received a greater degree of autonomy, with the elaboration the first Statute of Government (Estatuto de Gobierno), and the creation of an Assembly of Representatives. In the 1990s, this autonomy was further expanded and, starting from 1997, residents can directly elect the head of government of the Federal District and the representatives of a unicameral Legislative Assembly (which succeeded the previous Assembly) by popular vote. The first elected head of government was Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. Cárdenas resigned in 1999 in order to run in the 2000 presidential elections and designated Rosario Robles to succeed him, who became the first woman (elected or otherwise) to govern Mexico City. In 2000 Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected, and resigned in 2005 to run in the 2006 presidential elections, Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez being designated by the Legislative Assembly to finish the term. In 2006, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon was elected for the 2006–2012 period.

The Federal District does not have a constitution, like the states of the Union, but rather a Statute of Government, and as part of its recent changes in autonomy, the budget is administered locally: it is proposed by the head of government and approved by the Legislative Assembly. Nonetheless, it is the Congress of the Union that sets the ceiling to internal and external public debt issued by the Federal District.

According to the 44th article of the Mexican Constitution, in case the powers of the Union move to another city, the Federal District will be transformed into a new state, which will be called "State of the Valley of Mexico", with the new limits set by the Congress of the Union.

Elections and government

In 2006, elections were held for the post of head of government and the representatives of the Legislative Assembly. The elected and incumbent head of government is now Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Heads of government are elected for a 6-year period without the possibility of reelection. Traditionally, this position has been considered as the second most important executive office in the country.

The Legislative Assembly of the Federal District is formed, as it is the case in all legislatures in Mexico, by both single-seat and proportional seats, making it a system of parallel voting. The Federal District is divided into 40 electoral constituencies of similar population which elect one representative by first-past-the-post plurality (FPP), locally called "uninominal deputies". The Federal District as a whole constitutes a single constituency for the parallel election of 26 representatives by proportionality (PR) with open-party lists, locally called "plurinominal deputies." Even though proportionality is only confined to the proportional seats, to prevent a part from being overrepresented, several restrictions apply in the assignation of the seats; namely, that no party can have more than 63% of all seats, both uninominal and plurinominal. In the 2006 elections leftist PRD got the absolute majority in the direct uninominal elections, securing 34 of the 40 FPP seats. As such, PRD was not assigned any plurinominal seat to comply with the law that prevents overrepresentation. The overall composition of the Legislative Assembly is:
Mexico City's governor Marcelo Ebrard

  • : 34 FPP representatives
  • : 17 representatives (4 FPP, 13 PR)
  • : 4 PR representatives
  • : 4 PR representatives
  • : 3 PR representatives
  • : 2 PR representatives
  • : 1 FPP representative
  • : 1 FPP representative

The politics pursued by the administrations of heads of government in Mexico City since the second half of the 20th century have usually been more liberal than those of the rest of the country, whether with the support of the federal government —as was the case with the approval of several comprehensive environmental laws in the 1980s— or through laws recently approved by the Legislative Assembly. In 2007, the Federal District became the second federal entity in the country, after the state of Coahuilamarker, to approve same-sex union, and the first to allow conjugal visits for homosexual prisoners In April of the same year, the Legislative Assembly expanded provisions on abortions, becoming the first federal entity to expand abortion in Mexico beyond cases of rape and economic reasons, to permit it regardless of the reason should the mother request it before the twelfth week of pregnancy.


The 16 boroughs of Mexico City
For administrative purposes, the Federal District is divided into 16 "delegaciones" or boroughs. While not fully equivalent to a municipality, the 16 boroughs have gained significant autonomy, and since 2000 their heads of government are elected directly by plurality (they were previously appointed by the head of government of the Federal District). Given that Mexico City is organized entirely as a Federal District, most of the city services are provided or organized by the Government of the Federal District and not by the boroughs themselves, while in the constituent states these services would be provided by the municipalities. The 16 boroughs of the Federal District are:

1. Álvaro Obregón

2. Azcapotzalcomarker

3. Benito Juárez

4. Coyoacánmarker

5. Cuajimalpa

6. Cuauhtémocmarker

7. Gustavo A.marker Maderomarker

8. Iztacalcomarker

9. Iztapalapa

10. Magdalena Contreras

11. Miguel Hidalgo

12. Milpa Alta

13. Tláhuac

14. Tlalpanmarker

15. Venustiano Carranzamarker

16. Xochimilcomarker
View of the west
The boroughs are composed by hundreds of colonias or neighborhoods, which have no jurisdictional autonomy or representation. It is plausible that the name, which literally means colony, arose in the late 19th, early 20th centuries, when one of the first urban developments outside the city's core was inhabited by a French colony in the city. Some colonias have identifiable attributes: Historic Center is the oldest quarter in the city, some of the buildings dating back to the 16th century ; Condesamarker is known for its Art Deco architecture, and for being the newest artistic center of the city; Santa Fe is a growing business and financial district (built over old landfills); Roma is a beaux arts neighborhood and probably one of the oldest in the city; Polanco is an important commercial and economic center known for its large Jewish community, and Tepitomarker and La Lagunilla are known for its large flea market.


Mexico City is home to some of the best private hospitals in the country. Hospital Angeles, Hospital ABC and Médica Sur to name a few. The national public healthcare institution for private-sector employees IMSS, has its largest facilities in Mexico City, including the National Medical Center and the La Raza Medical Center, and has an annual budget of over 6 billion pesos. The IMSS and other public health institutions, including the ISSSTE (Public Sector Employees' Social Security Institute) and the National Health Ministry (SSA) maintain large specialty facilities in the city. These include the National Institutes of Cardiology, Nutrition, Psychiatry, Oncology, Pediatrics, Rehabilitation, among others.

The Torre Mayor seen from Reforma.

The World Bank has sponsored a project to curb air pollution through public transport improvements and the Mexican government has started shutting down polluting factories. They have phased out diesel buses and mandated new emission controls on new cars; since 1993 all new cars must be fitted with a catalytic converter, which reduce the emissions released. Trucks must use only liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).Also construction of an underground rail system was begun in order to help curb air pollution problems and alleviate traffic congestion. It has over 201 km of track and carries over 5 million people every day. Fees are kept low to encourage use of the system and during rush hours the crush is so great, that authorities have reserved a special carriage specially for women.Due to these initiatives and others, the air quality in Mexico City has begun to improve, with the air becoming cleaner since 1991, when the air quality was declared to be a public health risk for 355 days of the year.


Mexico City is one of the most important economic hubs in Latin America. The city proper (Federal District) produces 21.8% of the country's gross domestic product. According to a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopersmarker, Greater Mexico City (with a population of 18.3 million) had a GDP of $315 billion in 2005 (at purchasing power parity), ranking as the eighth-richest urban agglomeration in the world after the greater areas of Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, London and Osaka/Kobe, and the richest in Latin America. In 2020 it is predicted to displace Osaka/Kobe to rank seventh. Mexico City alone would be the 30th largest economy in the world. In terms of GDP per sector, the Federal District is the greatest contributor to the country's industrial GDP (15.8%) and also the greatest contributor to the country's GDP in the service sector (25.3%). Due to the limited non-urbanized space at the south—most of which is protected through environmental laws—the contribution of the Federal District in agriculture is the smallest of all federal entities in the country. Mexico City has one of the world's fastest-growing economies outside China and its GDP is set to double by 2020.

The Federal District is the country's richest and most developed region, in the 2009 UNDP-MHDI Human Development Report Mexico City had an index of 0.9327 similar to that of the Republic of Korea. Although only 9.2% of total Mexican households are located there, it accounts for 21.1% of total household expenditure. Average household spending in the city was US$52,389 in 2006, up to five times of some of the provinces and twenty percent higher then the next-highest spending region (Nuevo Leon). This level of expenditure is close to that of an average household in Italy or France. Households in the capital have fewer members – (3.7 compared to the national average of 4.0) and have better access to employment than those in the rest of the country. They spend comparatively more on education, hotels and catering and transport than outside the capital accounting for almost one third of total national consumption in these categories.The city's GDP per capita is $22,696, the highest of any city in Latin America. However, this number is skewed by the small number of extremely rich households that shift the mean income upwards. The top decile of households in the entire country had a mean disposable income of US $98,517 in 2007, most of these are located in Mexico City. Their extremely high spending power makes the city attractive for luxury goods companies. The growth of luxury stores established in Mexico D.F. has been impressive since 2003, especially those dealing in luxury cars, designer clothes and expensive jewellery.

The economic reforms of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari had a tremendous effect on the city, privatizing banks and with the government selling off many of the businesses it owned. He also signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This led to the decentralization and a shift in Mexico City's economic base, from manufacturing to services, as many factories moved to the State of Mexicomarker and to the northern border. The government also encouraged this with tax incentives and new environmental regulations for manufacturing within the Federal District.


Skyscrapers under construction
Santa Fe Financial District
Greater Mexico City, extending to the states of Mexico and Hidalgo
Historically, and since pre-Hispanic times, the valley of Anáhuac has been one of the most densely populated areas in Mexico. When the Federal District was created in 1824, the urban area of Mexico City extended approximately to the area of today's Cuauhtémoc borough. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the elites began migrating to the south and west and soon the small towns of Mixcoac and San Ángelmarker were incorporated by the growing conurbation. According to the 1921 census, 30.79% of the population was White, 54.78% was Mestizo, 11.74% was Indigenous and 2.69% other races (mostly Mulattoes, Blacks and some Cantonese Chinese Immigrants). Today the city could be clearly divided into a middle and high-class area (south and west, including Polanco, Lomas de Chapultepec and Santa Fe), and a lower class area to the east (Ciudad Nezahualcóyotlmarker, Pantitlán, Chalcomarker and Moctezuma).

Apartments buildings in Santa Fe neighborhood of Mexico City
Low income apartment blocks in the Azcapotzalco neighborhood of Mexico City
Lomas de Chapultepec residential area
Up to the 1980s, the Federal District was the most populated federal entity in Mexico, but since then its population has remained stable at around 8.7 million. The growth of the city has extended beyond the limits of the Federal District to 59 municipalities of the state of Mexicomarker and 1 in the state of Hidalgomarker. With a population of approximately 19.8 million inhabitants (2008), it is one of the most populated conurbations in the world. Nonetheless, the annual rate of growth of the Metropolitan Area of Mexico City is much lower than that of other large urban agglomerations in Mexico, a phenomenon most likely attributable to the environmental policy of decentralization. The net migration rate of the Federal District from 1995 to 2000 was negative.

While they represent around 1.3% of the city's population, indigenous peoples from different regions of Mexico have immigrated to the capital in search of better economic opportunities. Náhuatl, Otomí, Mixteco, Zapoteco, and Mazahua are the indigenous languages with the greatest number of speakers in Mexico City.

On the other hand, Mexico City is home to large communities of expatriates and immigrants, most notably from South America (mainly from Argentinamarker, but also from Chilemarker, Uruguaymarker, Colombiamarker, Brazil and Venezuelamarker), from Europe (mainly from Spain and Germany, but also from France, Italy, Turkey, Poland and Romania), the Middle East (mainly from Lebanonmarker and Syriamarker), and recently from Asia (mainly from China and South Koreamarker). While no official figures have been reported, population estimates of each of these communities are quite significant. Mexico City is home to the largest population of U.S. Americans living outside the United States. Some estimates are as high as 600,000 U.S. Americans living in Mexico City, while in 1999 the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs estimates over 440,000 Americans lived in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area.

The majority (90.5%) of the residents in Mexico City are Roman Catholic, higher than the national percentage, even though it has been decreasing over the last decades. However, many other religions and philosophies are also practiced in the city: many different types of Protestant groups, different types of Jewish communities, Buddhist and Islam and other philosophical groups, as well as atheism.

  • 1950 - 3 million people lived in Mexico City.
  • 1975 - 12 million people lived in Mexico City.
  • 2000 - 22 million people lived in Mexico City.


Xochimilco Floating Gardens
The Teatro de la Ciudad de Mexico
The Historic Centre (Centro Histórico) and the "floating gardens" of Xochimilcomarker in the southern borough have been declared World Heritage Sites by the UNESCOmarker. Famous landmarks in the Historic Center include the Plaza de la Constituciónmarker (Zócalo), the main central square with its time clashing Spanish-era Metropolitan Cathedralmarker and National Palacemarker, and Delran, and ancient Aztec temple ruins Templo Mayormarker ("Major Temple") are all within a few steps of one another. (The Templo Mayor was discovered in 1978 while workers were digging to place underground electric cables.)

Paris building, neoclassic style
The most recognizable icon of Mexico City is the golden Angel of Independencemarker, found on the wide, elegant avenue Paseo de la Reforma, modeled by the order of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico after the Champs-Élyséesmarker in Paris. This avenue was designed over Americas' oldest passage in the XIX Century to connect the National Palacemarker (seat of government) with the Castle of Chapultepecmarker, the imperial residence. Today, this avenue is an important financial district in which the Mexican Stock Exchange as several corporate headquarters are located. Another important avenue is the Avenida de los Insurgentes, which extends and is one of the longest single avenues in the world.

The Chapultepecmarker park houses the Castle of Chapultepecmarker, now a museum on a hill that overlooks the park and its numerous museums, monuments and the national zoo and the National Museum of Anthropologymarker (which houses the Aztec Calendar Stone). Another magnificent piece of architecture is the Fine Arts Palacemarker, a stunning white marble theatre/museum whose weight is such that it has gradually been sinking into the soft ground below. Its construction began during the presidency of Porfirio Díaz and ended, after being interrupted by the Mexican Revolution in the 1920s. The Plaza of the Three Culturesmarker in the Tlatelolco neighbourhood, and the shrine and Basilicas of Our Lady of Guadalupemarker are also important sites. There is a double-decker bus, known as the "Turibus", that circles most of these sites, and has timed audio describing the sites in multiple languages as they are passed.

Palace of Fine Arts
Monument to Benito Juarez
In addition, the city has around 160 museums, over 100 art galleries, and some 30 concert halls, all of which maintain a constant cultural activity during the whole year. It has the fourth highest number of theatres in the world after New York, London and Toronto, and it is the city with the highest number of museums in the world. In many locales (Palacio Nacional and the Instituto Nacional de Cardiología, to name a few), there are murals painted by Diego Rivera. He and his wife Frida Kahlo lived in the southern suburb of Coyoacánmarker, where several of their homes, studios, and art collections are open to the public. The house where Leon Trotsky was initially granted asylum and finally murdered in 1940 is also in Coyoacán.

In addition, there are several restored haciendas that are now restaurants, such as the San Ángel Inn, the Hacienda de Tlalpan and the Hacienda de los Morales, all of which are stunning remnants of Mexican history and house some of the best food in the world.


Tren Suburbano
Mexico City Light Rail
Inter-terminal shuttle train at Mexico City International Airport

Mexico City is served by the Sistema de Transporte Colectivo Metro, a 207 km metro system, which is the largest in Latin America. The first portions were opened in 1969 and it has expanded to 11 lines with 175 stations. A suburban rail system, known as the Tren Suburbano, similar to the French RERmarker started operations in 2008 connecting the city downtown to the Northern suburbs. A twelfth (gold color) metro line is currently in construction, and will add an additional 25 km to the network. The metro is one of the busiest in the world transporting approximately 4.5 million people every day, surpassed only by subway lines in Moscow (7.5 million), Tokyo (5.9 million), and New York City (5.1 million). It is heavily subsidized, and has the lowest fares in the world, each trip costing 2.00Mex$ and taking each passenger to almost any place in this enormous city from 05:00 am to midnight. Several stations display pre-Columbian artifacts and architecture that were discovered during the metro's construction. However, the Metro does not extend outside the limits of the Federal District and, therefore, an extensive network of bus routes has been implemented. These are mostly managed by private companies which are allowed to operate buses as long as they adhere to certain minimal service quality standards.

The city government also operates a network of large buses, in contrast with the privately operated microbuses, with fares barely exceeding that of the metro. Electric transport other than the metro also exists, in the form of trolleybuses and the Xochimilco Light Rail line. The city's first bus rapid transit line, the Metrobús, began operations on June 2005 in Avenida Insurgentes (a second line is under construction on Eje 4 Sur). As the microbuses were removed from its route, it was hoped that the Metrobús could reduce pollution and decrease transit time for passengers. Also, since late 2002, the white and green taxis have been joined by red and white ones as part of a program to replace older vehicles with new ones.

Terminal 2 of Mexico City International Airport
Mexico City is served by Mexico City International Airportmarker (IATA Airport Code: MEX). This airport is Latin America's busiest and largest in traffic, with daily flights to North America, mainland Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Asia. Aeroméxico (Skyteam) and Mexicana (Oneworld) are based at this airport, and provide codeshare agreements with non-Mexican airlines that span the entire globe. It is used by over 26 million passengers per year. This traffic exceeds the current capacity of the airport, which has historically centralized the majority of air traffic in the country. An alternate option is Lic.marker Adolfo López Mateos International Airportmarker (IATA Airport Code: TLC) located in the nearby Tolucamarker, State of Mexicomarker with about 4.5 million passengers transported last year. In 2008, about 31 million people went through the city's airports. The government engaged in an extensive restructuring program that includes the new second adjacent terminal, which began operations in 2007, and the enlargement of four other airports (at the nearby cities of Tolucamarker, Querétaromarker, Pueblamarker and Cuernavacamarker) that, along with Mexico City's airport, comprise the Grupo Aeroportuario del Valle de México, distributing traffic to different regions in Mexico. The city of Pachucamarker will also provide additional expansion to central Mexico's airport network. Mexico City's airport is the main hub for 11 of the 21 national airline companies.

Areal view of the elevated freeway running from the northern area of the city to the southern area
The city has four major bus stations (North, South, Observatorio, TAPO), which comprise one of the world's largest transportation agglomerations, with bus service to many cities across the country and international connections. The city has one train station, used for commercial and industrial purposes (interstate passenger trains are now virtually non-existent in Mexico). A suburban rail system, the Tren Suburbano serves the metropolitan area, beyond the city limits of the metro, to municipalities such as Tlalnepantlamarker and Cuautitlán Izcallimarker, with future extensions to Chalcomarker and La Paz.

There are also several toll expressways which directly connect Mexico City with several other major cities throughout the country.

Lower level of the freeway
In the late 70's many arterial roads were redesigned as ejes viales; high-volume one-way roads that cross, in theory, Mexico City proper from side to side. The eje vial network is based on a quasi-Cartesian grid, with the ejes themselves being called Eje 1 Poniente, Eje Central, and Eje 1 Oriente, for example, for the north-south roads, and Eje 2 Sur and Eje 3 Norte, for example, for east-west roads. Two freeway ring-roads serve to connect points within the city and the metropolitan area: Circuito Interior (the inner ring) and Periférico, which connect to one straight freeway: the Viaducto (Viaduct) (connecting west with east, from Observatorio to the Airport). Traffic in this system is so dense that an elevated highway that runs on top and parallel to a part of the Periférico, had to be constructed and finished in 2007. This elevated highway is colloquially called segundo piso ("second level") of the Periférico.

There is an environmental program, called Hoy No Circula ("Not To Run Today", or "One Day without a Car"), whereby only vehicles with certain ending numbers on their license plates are allowed to circulate on certain days, in an attempt to cut down on pollution and traffic congestion.


Football is the Mexico's most popular and most televised sport. The important venues in Mexico City for this sport include the Aztec Stadiummarker, home to the Mexico national football team and América, which has a capacity to seat 105,000 fans, the Olympic Stadiummarker in Ciudad Universitariamarker, home to the U.N.A.M., with a seating capacity of over 63,000, and a few blocks from the WTCmarker the Estadio Azulmarker, located in the Colonia Nochebuena, home to the C.D.S.C. Cruz Azul, which seats 35,000 fans. The three teams are based in Mexico City and play in the Primera Division (First Division) and are part of the "Big Four" of Mexico.The country hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1970 and 1986 and the Aztec Stadium is the only stadium in World Cup history to host the final match twice. Mexico City was the first city in Latin America to host an Olympic Games, having organized the Summer Olympics in 1968, winning bids against Buenos Airesmarker, Lyonmarker and Detroitmarker, and remains the only Latin American city to host such an event. Mexico City hosted the 1955 Pan American Games and then the 1975 Pan American Games after Santiagomarker and São Paulomarker withdrew. The ICF Flatwater Racing World Championships have been hosted here twice, in 1974 and in 1994.

Lucha Libre (wrestling) is also one of the more popular sports in Mexico, where the main venue is Arena Mexicomarker and also Arena Coliseo.Baseball is also another sport professionally played in the city, however, it has a dwindling fan base. Mexico City is home to the México Red Devils and used to home the Quintana Roo Tigers of the MBL. The Devils still play their home games at the Foro Solmarker sports and concert venue. Also in Mexico City are located around 10 little leagues for young baseball players.

Adjacent to Foro Solmarker is Mexico City's Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguezmarker. From 1962 to 1970 and again from 1986 to 1992, the track hosted the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix. From 1980-1981 and again from 2002 to 2007, it hosted the Champ Car World Series Gran Premio de México. Beginning in 2005, the NASCAR Nationwide Series ran the Telcel-Motorola México 200. 2005 also marked the first running of the Mexico City 250 by the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Both races were removed from their series' schedules for 2009.

In 2005, Mexico City became the first city to host a NFL regular season game outside of the United States, at the Aztec Stadiummarker. To date, the 103,467 people attending this game is the largest ever for a regular season game in NFL history. The city has also hosted several NBA pre-season exhibition games along with exhibition matches among MLB teams at the Foro Solmarker. The FIBA Americas Championship has also been hosted here.

Other sports facilities in Mexico City are the Palacio de los Deportesmarker indoor arena, Francisco Márquez Olympic Swimming Poolmarker, the Hipódromo de Las Américas, the Velodromo Agustín Melgar, and venues for equestrianism and horse racing, Ice Hockey, Rugby, American football, baseball, and basketball for which what is widely regarded as the best International Basketball Tournament has been held in the city.

Bullfighting takes place every Sunday during bullfighting season at the 50,000-seat Plaza Méxicomarker, the largest bullfight ring in the world.

Mexico City's golf courses have held both the Women's LPGA tour, as well as two Men's Golf World Cup. These, and other golf courses throughout the city are available as private, as well as public venues.


The second oldest university in the Americas, established in 1551, the National Autonomous University of Mexicomarker (UNAM), is located in Mexico City. It is the largest university on the continent, with 305,969 students from all backgrounds enrolled. Three Nobel laureates, several Mexican entrepreneurs and most of Mexico's modern-day presidents are among its former students. UNAM conducts 50% of Mexico's scientific research and has presence all across the country with satellite campuses, observatories and research centers. The National Autonomous University of Mexico ranks 74th in the Top 200 World University Ranking published by The Times Higher Education Supplement in 2006, making it the highest ranked Spanish-speaking university in the world. The sprawling main campus of the university, known as Ciudad Universitariamarker, was named a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 2007.

The second largest higher-education institution is the National Polytechnic Institutemarker (IPN) (which includes, among many other relevant centers, the Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados (Cinvestav), where high-level research is performed about very different scientific and technological disciplines. Other major higher-education institutions in the city include the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM), the ITAMmarker, the ITESMmarker (3 campuses), the Universidad Panamericana (UP), the Universidad La Salle, the Universidad del Valle de Mexico (UVM), the Universidad Anáhuac, the Alliant International University, the Universidad Iberoamericanamarker, El Colegio de Méxicomarker (Colmex), Escuela Libre de Derecho and the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica, (CIDE).The most prestigious private universities in the country including Universidad Anáhuac, Universidad Iberoamericana, Universidad Panamericana and Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México have their flagship campus located in Mexico City. In addition, the prestigious University of California maintains a campus known as "Casa de California" in the city. 1

Contrary to what occurs in the constituent states of the Mexican federation, the curriculum of Mexico City's public schools is managed by the federal level Secretary of Public Educationmarker. The whole funding is allocated by the government of Mexico City (in some specific cases, such as El Colegio de Méxicomarker, funding comes from both the city's government and other public and private national and international entities).

A very special case is that of El Colegio Nacionalmarker, created during the governmental period of Miguel Alemán Valdés to have, in Mexico, an institution very similar to the College of Francemarker. The very selected and privileged group of Mexican scientists and artists belonging to this institution (the membership is lifelong; some of the current members are Mario Lavista, Ruy Pérez Tamayo, José Emilio Pacheco, Marcos Moshinsky, Guillermo Soberón Acevedo, and many others) have the obligation of disclosing their works among the general population, through conferences and public events such as concerts and recitals.

Amongst its many public and private schools (K-13), the city offers multi-cultural, multi-lingual and international schools which are attended by Mexican and foreign students. Best known are the Colegio Alemán (German school with 3 main campuses), the Liceo Mexicano Japonés (Japanese), the Escuela Coreana (Korean), the Lycée Français de Mexique (French), the American School, the Edron Academymarker and the Greengates School (British).


Mexico City is the leading center in Iberoamerica for the television, music and film industries. It is also the most important center in Mexico for the printed media and book publishing industries. Dozens of daily newspapers are published here, including El Universal, Excélsior, Reforma and La Jornada. Other major papers include Milenio, Crónica, El Economista and El Financiero. Leading magazines include Expansión, Proceso, Poder, as well as dozens of entertainment publications, such as Vanidades, Quién, Chilango, TV y Novelas, and local editions of Vogue, GQ, and Architectural Digest.

The two largest media companies in the Spanish-speaking world, Televisa and TV Azteca, are headquartered in Mexico City. Other local television networks include Canal 11, Canal 22, Cadena Tres, Teveunam and 11 free-access channels.

It is also a leading center of the advertising industry. Most international ad firms have offices in the city, including Grey, JWT, Leo Burnett, Euro RSCG, BBDO, Ogilvy, Saatchi & Saatchi, and McCann Erickson. Many local firms also compete in the sector, including Alazraki, Olabuenaga/Chemistri, Terán, Augusto Elías, and Clemente Cámara, among others.

There are 60 radio stations operating in the city and a huge number of local community radio stations.

Retail market

Mexico City has a huge and varied retail market, with thousands of options for everything from basic foodstuffs to high-end luxury goods.

Wholesale Produce

The city's main source of fresh produce is the Central de Abastos. This is a self-contained mini-city in the southeastern neighborhood of Iztapalapa covering an area equivalent to several dozen city blocks. The wholesale market supplies most of the city's "mercados", supermarkets, and restaurants. Tons of fresh produce are trucked in from all over Mexico everyday.

The principal fish market is known as La Viga and is located in the southern part of the city, about 5 kilometers west of the Central de Abastos.


El-Parian Market
A staple for consumers in the city is the omnipresent "mercado." Every major neighborhood in the city has its own borough-regulated market, often more than one. These are large well-established facilities offering most basic products, such as fresh produce and meat/poultry, dry goods, tortillerías, and many other services, such as locksmiths, herbal medicine, hardware goods, sewing implements, and a multitude of stands offering freshly made, home-style cooking and drinks in the tradition of aguas frescas and atole.

In addition, "mercados sobre ruedas" or mobile markets, set up shop on city streets in many neighborhoods, depending on the day of the week. Sundays are the day in which the largest number of these markets are set-up. The stalls generally use awnings of a single color or shade (pink and red, for example), making them easily identifiable from several blocks away.

Small "mom-and-pop" corner stores (known as "abarroterías" or more colloquially as "changarros") abound in all neighborhoods, including many finer residential neighborhoods. These are small shops offering basics such as soft drinks, packaged snacks, canned goods, and dairy products. Thousands of C-stores or corner stores, such as Oxxo, 7-Eleven, and Extra are located throughout the city.


Shops in downtown Mexico City

The downtown area of the city is widely known as an area for lower-cost, specialized retailers. Certain streets, for example, are known for having many lighting stores, or hardware shops, or yarn shops. The Mercado La Merced is one of city's oldest and is considered a smaller, older version of the Central de Abastos, where thousands of items are sold. The Mercado de Jamaica specializes in fresh flowers.

Calle Dolores, one block off Avenida Juárez, has one block known as Mexico City's Chinatown. The one block contains numerous stores selling imported Chinese knick-knacks, and restaurants selling lacquered Peking duck. Farther afield, the city's Zona Rosamarker neighborhood is home to several blocks that represent Mexico City's Little Korea. A number of Korean restaurants, shops and even video rental shops are located here.

Supermarkets & Malls

Centro Comercial Antara Polanco Shopping Mall

There are also hundreds of modern supermarkets throughout the city. Many are large, stand-alone stores from chains including Wal-martmarker, Soriana, Comercial Mexicana and Superama. Others are located within mini-malls, in which the supermarket anchors a number of other shops, including shoe shops, dry-cleaners, banks, and fast-food restaurants.

There are a number of large shopping centers and malls, including the Santa Fe mall in the Santa Fe district with several department stores and over 300 stores, restaurants and cinemas. Others include Plaza Universidad, Plaza Satélite, Galerías Insurgentes, Galerías Coapa, Parque Delta, Parque Lindavista, Pabellón Polanco, Pabellón Bosques, Mundo E, Perinorte and Plaza Lindavista, with anchor stores such as Liverpoolmarker, Suburbia, Sears and Fábricas de Francia. The Punta Norte Outlet Mall is located north of the city and includes many upscale outlet stores for brands such as Max Mara, Salvatore Ferragamo, Hugo Boss and Zegna. All malls have a variety of Mexican brands and shops, such as Scappino, Pineda Covalín, Soho, and many more.

Upper-scale malls such as Santa Fe, Perisurmarker and Antara Polanco are the most modern and swank in Latin America. Top-end department stores include El Palacio de Hierro and Saks Fifth Avenue (whose store in the Santa Fe mall is the only one in Latin America and one of only three outside the U.S.). The Plaza Satélite mall is Latin America's highest profitable shopping center.

Luxury Goods

No other city in Latin America offers the breadth of high-end shopping available in Mexico City, only the city of Sao Paulomarker that comes in a close second place.

In addition to the large-scale Santa Fé mall with Saks and numerous luxury boutiques, Antara Polanco is a high-end mall in Polanco with restaurants, cinemas, and boutiques, including Burberry, Longchamp, Just Cavalli, Etro, Emporio Armani, Brooks Brothers, Thomas Pink, Hackett, and Coach.

Altavista 147 is a small shopping center in the southern neighborhood of San Angelmarker, with Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo, Carolina Herrera, Max Mara, Hugo Boss, and luxury Mexican silversmith Tane. The mall is located on Avenida Altavista which houses many other high-end retailers, focusing on furniture shops and interior decorators, restaurants, and silversmiths such as Christofle.

Most of the city's luxury boutiques are located on Avenida Presidente Masaryk or Mazaryk in Polanco. Here, stand-alone shops include Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Chanel, Tiffany & Co., Hermés, Frette, Ermenegildo Zegna, Etro, Marc Jacobs, Corneliani, Chopard, Bulgari, Gucci, and Roberto Cavalli. Other stores include furniture retailers Roche-Bobois, Bang & Olufsen, Natuzzi, and Kartell. On smaller side streets, one can find stores such as Assouline, a luxury French book publisher, Adolfo Dominguez, and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.



Mexico City is one of the most important cultural centers in the world, boasting more museums than any other city. It also comes first in the number of theaters in the world. Having been the capital of a vast pre-Hispanic empire, the richest viceroyalty within the Spanish Empire, and capital of the Mexican federation, Mexico City has a rich history of artistic expressions. Since the Mesoamerican pre-Classical period the inhabitants of the settlements around Lake Texcoco produced many works of arts, some of which are today displayed at the world-renown National Museum of Anthropologymarker and the Templo Mayor Museum. While many pieces of pottery and stone-engraving have survived, the great majority of the Amerindian iconography was destroyed during the Conquest of Mexico.

During colonial times the first art produced was that of the codices generated to preserve or recuperate Amerindian iconography and history. From then, artistic expressions in Mexico were mostly religious in theme. The Metropolitan Cathedralmarker still displays works by Juan de Rojas, Juan Correa and an oil painting whose authorship has been attributed to Murillo. Secular works of art of this period include the equestrian sculpture of Charles IV of Spain, locally known as El Caballito ("The little horse"). This piece, in bronze, was the work of Manuel Tolsá and it has been placed at the Plaza Tolsá, in front of the Palacio de Minería (Mining Palace). Directly in front of this building is the beautiful Museo Nacional de Artemarker (Munal) (the National Museum of Art).

During the 19th century, an important producer of art was the Academia de San Carlos (San Carlos Art Academy), founded during colonial times, and which later became the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas (the National School of Visual Arts), which is currently one of the art schools of UNAM. Many of the works produced by the students and faculty of that time are now displayed in the Museo Nacional de San Carlos (National Museum of San Carlos). One of the students, José María Velasco, is considered one of the greatest Mexican landscape painters of the 19th century. It was during Porfirio Diaz's regime that the government sponsored arts, especially those that followed the French school. In spite of that, popular arts in the form of cartoons and illustrations flourished like those of José Guadalupe Posada and Manuel Manilla. The permanent collection of the San Carlos Museum also includes paintings by European masters such as Rembrandt, Velázquez, Murillo, and Rubens.
Diego Rivera's mural depicting Mexico's history at the National Palace in Mexico City
After the Mexican Revolution, an avant-garde artistic movement originated in Mexico City: muralism. Many of the works of muralists José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera are displayed in numerous buildings in the city, most notably at the National Palacemarker and the Palacio de Bellas Artesmarker. Frida Kahlo, wife of Rivera, with a strong nationalist expression, was also one of the most renowned of Mexican painters. Her house has become a museum that displays many of her works.

The former home of Rivera muse Dolores Olmedo house the namesake museum. The facility lies in the Xochimilco precinct in the southern part of the city and includes several buildings surrounded by sprawling manicured lawns. It houses a large collection of Rivera and Kahlo paintings and drawings, as well as living Xoloizcuintles (Mexican Hairless Dog). It also regularly hosts small but important temporary exhibits of classical and modern art (e.g. Venetian Masters and Contemporary New York artists).

During the 20th century, many artists immigrated to Mexico City from different regions of Mexico, like Leopoldo Méndez, an engraver from Veracruz, who supported the creation of the socialist Taller de la Gráfica Popular (Popular Graphics Workshop), designed to help blue-collar workers find a venue to express their art. Other painters came from abroad, like Catalan painter Remedios Varo and other Spanish and Jewish exiles. It was in the second half of the 20th century that the artistic movement began to drift apart from the Revolutionary theme. José Luis Cuevas opted for a modernist style in contrast to the muralist movement associated with social politics.

Mexico City has numerous museums dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The Museo Tamayo was opened in the mid-1980s to house the collection of international contemporary art donated by famed Mexican (born in the state of Oaxaca) painter Rufino Tamayo. The collection includes pieces by Picasso, Klee, Kandinsky, Warhol and many others, though most of the collection is stored while visiting exhibits are shown. The Museo de Arte Modernomarker (Museum of Modern Artmarker) is a repository of Mexican artists from the 20th century, including Rivera, Orozco, Siqueiros, Kahlo, Gerzso, Carrington, Tamayo, among others, and also regularly hosts temporary exhibits of international modern art. In southern Mexico City, the Museo Carrillo Gil (Carrillo Gil Museum) showcases avant-garde artists, as does the University Museum/Contemporary Art (Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo - or MUAC), designed by famed Mexican architect Teodoro González de León, inaugurated in late 2008. The Museo Soumaya (Soumaya Museum), named after the wife of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, has the largest private collection of original Rodin sculptures outside Paris. It also has a large collection of Dalí sculptures, and recently began showing pieces in its masters collection including El Greco, Velázquez, Picasso and Canaletto. La Colección Jumex (The Jumex Collection) is a museum housed on the grounds of the Jumex juice company in the northern industrial suburb of Ecatepec (within the State of Mexicomarker). It shows pieces from its permanent collection and hosts traveling exhibits by leading contemporary artists.

Jack Kerouac, the noted American author, spent extended periods of time in the city, and wrote his masterpiece volume of poetry Mexico City Blues here. Another American author,William S. Burroughs also lived in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of the city for some time. It was here that he accidentally shot his wife.

Music, movies and entertainment

Palacio de los Deportes
OFUNAM playing at Sala Nezahualcóyotl.

Mexico City is a mecca of classical music, with a number of orchestras offering season programs. These include the Mexico City Philharmonic, which performs at the Sala Ollin Yoliztli; the National Symphony Orchestra, whose home base is the Palacio de Bellas Artesmarker (Palace of the Fine Arts), a masterpiece of art nouveau and art decó styles; the Philharmonic Orchestra of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (OFUNAM), and the Minería Symphony Orchestra, both of which perform at the acoustically renown Sala Nezahualcóyotl, which was the first wrap-around concert hall in the Western Hemisphere when inaugurated in 1976. There are also many smaller ensembles that enrich the city's musical scene, including the Carlos Chávez Youth Symphony, the New World Orchestra (Orquesta del Nuevo Mundo), the National Polytechnical Symphony and the Bellas Artes Chamber Orchestra (Orquesta de Cámara de Bellas Artes).

The city is also a leading center of popular culture and music. There are a multitude of venues hosting the top Spanish and English-language performers. These include the 10,000-seat National Auditoriummarker that regularly schedules the top Spanish and English-language pop and rock artists, as well as many of the world's leading performing arts ensembles. Other popular sites for pop-artist performances include the Teatro Metropolitan, the 15,000-seat Palacio de los Deportesmarker, and the larger Foro Sol Stadiummarker, where top-name international artists perform on a regular basis. The Cirque du Soleil has held several seasons at the Carpa Santa Fe, in the Santa Fe district in the western part of the city. There are numerous venues for smaller musical ensembles and solo performers. These include the Hard Rock Live, Bataclán, Foro Scotiabank, and Voilá Acoustique.

It is said that Mexico City has more theatres than any other city in the Spanish-speaking world. At any given time, dozens of plays are staged which run the gamut from Spanish versions of Broadway showsmarker to mainstream and alternative Spanish-language originals.

The Centro Nacional de las Artes (National Center for the Arts), in southern Mexico City, has several venues for music, theatre, dance. UNAM's main campus, also in the southern part of the city, is home to the Centro Cultural Universitario (the University Culture Center) (CCU). The CCU also houses the National Library, the interactive Universum, Museo de las Ciencias, the Sala Nezahualcóyotl concert hall, several theatres and cinemas, and the new University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC). A branch of the National University's CCU cultural center was inaugurated in 2007 in the facilities of the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs, known as Tlatelolco, in north-central Mexico City.

The (José Vasconcelos Librarymarker), a national library, is located on the grounds of the former Buenavistamarker railroad station in the northern part of the city.

The Papalote children's museum, which houses the world's largest dome screen, is located in the wooded park of Chapultepecmarker, near the Museo Tecnológico, and La Feriamarker amusement park. The theme park Six Flags Méxicomarker (the largest amusement park in Latin America) is located in the Ajuscomarker borough, in southern Mexico City. During the winter, the main square of the Zócalomarker is transformed into a gigantic ice skating rink, which is said to be the largest in the world behind that of Moscow's Red Squaremarker.

The Cineteca Nacional (the Mexican Film Library), near the Coyoacán suburb, shows a wide variety of films, and stages many film festivals, including the annual International Showcase, and many smaller ones ranging from Scandinavian and Uruguayan cinema, to Jewish and GLBT-themed films. Cinépolis and Cinemex, the two biggest film business chains, also have several film festivals throughout the year, with both national and international movies. No other city in the world has the amount of IMAX theaters as are in Mexico City, this gives access to cinematographic documentaries as well as blockbusters on the world's largest screens.


Mexico City offers a vast array of culinary experiences. Restaurants specializing in the regional cuisines of Mexico's 31 states are available in the city. Also available are restaurants representing a very broad spectrum of international cuisines, including French, Italian, Croatian, German, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish (including Spanish regional variations such as Castilian, Asturian, Galician, and Basque), Turkish, Chinese (including regional variations such as Cantonese, Hunan, and Sichuan), Indian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Tibetan, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Moroccan, as well as Argentine, Brazilian, Cuban, Peruvian, and Uruguayan.Haute, Fusion, Kosher, Vegetarian and Vegan cuisines are also commonly available.

The city also has several branches of renowned international restaurants and chefs. These include Paris' Au Pied de Cochon and Brasserie Lipp, Philippe (by Philippe Chow, who has restaurants in NY and Las Vegas); Nobu; and Pámpano, owned by Mexican-raised Opera legend Plácido Domingo. There are branches of the exclusive Japanese restaurant Suntory, Rome's famed Alfredo, as well as New York steakhouses Morton's and The Palm, and Madrid's L'Albúfera. Three of the most famous Lima-based haute Peruvian restaurants, La Mar, Segundo Muelle and Astrid y Gastón have Mexico City branches. Mexico City is also one of the few cities in the world with a Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and restaurant.

Mexico's award winning wines are offered at many restaurants. And the city offers unique experiences for tasting the regional spirits, with wealthy selections of Tequila and Mezcal, as well as Pulque bars known as pulquerías.


Mexico City was traditionally known as La Ciudad de los Palacios ("the City of the Palaces"), a nickname attributed to Baron Alexander von Humboldt when visiting the city in the 19th century who sending a letter back to Europe said Mexico city could rival any major city in Europe .

During López Obrador's administration a political slogan was introduced: la Ciudad de la Esperanza ("The City of Hope"). This slogan was quickly adopted as a nickname to the city under López Obrador's term, although it has lost popularity since the new slogan Capital en Movimiento ("Capital in Movement") was adopted by the recently elected administration headed by Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon; the latter is not treated as often as a nickname in media.

The city is colloquially known as Chilangolandia after the locals' nickname chilangos, which is used either as a pejorative term by people living outside Mexico City or as a proud adjective by Mexico City's dwellers.

Residents of Mexico City are more formally called capitalinos (in reference to the city being the capital of the country) or, more recently defeños (a word which derives from the postal abbreviation of the Federal District in Spanish: D.F., which is read "De-Efe".)

Law enforcement

The Secretariat of Public Security of the Federal District (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública del Distrito Federal – SSP), unlike the previous two, does not have national reach, but it does manage a combined force of over 90,000 officers in the Federal District (DF). The SSP is charged with maintaining public order and safety in the center of Mexico City.

The investigative Judicial Police of the Federal District .(Policía Judicial del Distrito Federal – PJDF) is organized under the Office of the Attorney General of the DF (the Procuraduría General de Justicia del Distrito Federal). The PGJDF maintains 16 precincts (delegaciones) with an estimated 3,500 judicial police, 1,100 investigating agents for prosecuting attorneys (agentes del ministerio público), and 941 experts or specialists (peritos).

The principal police force of Mexico City is the Protection and Transit Directorate, also known as the Traffic Police, which consists of some 32,000 officers organized into thirty-three precincts. It is the largest single law enforcement organization in Mexico.

Between 2000 and 2004 an average of 478 crimes were reported each day in Mexico City; however, the actual crime rate is thought to be much higher "since most people are reluctant to report crime." On average in the Federal District in the first quarter of 1997 one police officer was killed and one injured weekly. A sense of insecurity prevails among many citizens because of the lack of confidence in the police and the fear of police misbehavior and crime.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Mexico City is twinned with:

See also


  1. In Mexican Spanish, for simplicity, the city is typically called el DF.
  2. Secretaria de Desarrollo Metropolitano, México; Delimitación de la Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
  3. World Urbanization Prospects: 2007 revision. Retrieved 2009-03-01.
  4. The 2008 Global Cities Index
  7. Historia de la Ciudad de México Gobierno del Distrito Federal
  8. Secretaría del Medio Ambiente del Distrito Federal, SMA (2002) Programa para Mejorar la Calidad del Aire de la Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México, Gobierno del Distrito Federal
  9. [1] Pollution Kills 100,000 Children In Mexico City Each Year, by Patricia Saad Sotomayor, Excélsior
  10. Código Financiero del Distrito Federal
  11. Hamnett, Brian (1999) A Concise History of Mexico Cambridge University Press; Cambridge, UK, p. 293
  12. 150 Richest Cities in the World, 2005
  13. Índices de Desarrollo Humano 2000, Consejo Nacional de Población, Ciudad de México.
  14. Consejo Nacional de Población, México; Delimitación de las zonas metropolitanas de México 2005. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
  15. Consejo Nacional de Población, México; Proyecciones de la Población de México 2005-2050 Total projected population of Distrito Federal and the 60 other municipalities of Zona metropolitana del Valle de México, as defined in 2005. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
  16. Síntesis de Resultados del Conteo 2005 INEGI
  17. Tasa de emigración, inmigración y migración neta de las entidades federativas
  18. Población de 5 y más años hablante de lengua indígena por principales lenguas, 2005 INEGI
  19. Asociaciones de Inmigrantes Extranjeros en la Ciudad de México. Una Mirada a Fines del Siglo XX
  20. Los extranjeros en México, la inmigración y el gobierno ¿Tolerancia o intolerancia religiosa?
  21. Los árabes de México. Asimilación y herencia cultural
  22. Conmemoran 100 años de inmigración coreana
  23. How Many Americans Live in Mexico?
  24. Private American Citizens Residing Abroad
  25. Volumen y porcentaje de la población de 5 y más años católica por entidad federativa, 2000 INEGI
  26. Aeropuertos Mexico
  27. Times Higher Education Supplement, 2006
  28. Mexico City Philharmonic
  29. Philharmonic Orchestra of the National Autonomous University of Mexico
  30. Minería Symphony Orchestra
  31. Universum, Museo de las Ciencias
  32. University Museum of Contemporary Art
  33. 1994 Oxford Spanish-English Dictionary

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