MEXICO

by Matthew Schroeder

capital

The capital of Mexico is Mexico City

GEOGRAPHY

Mexico is bordered by the United States to the north and Belize and Guatemala to the southeast. Mexico is about one-fifth the size of the United States. Baja California in the west is an 800-mile (1,287-km) peninsula that forms the Gulf of California.


Some Volcanos are:

Volcan de Colima

Popocatepetl

Pico de Orizaba

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Location

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Major cities

Mexico City

La Paz

Oaxaca

Monterrey

Acaputco

Historical Sites and Landmarkes

Alhondiga de Granaditas was the site of a rebel attack against the Spanish in the Mexican War of Independence.


Angostura Battlefield marks the location of an important clash in the Mexican-American War, the Battle of Buena Vista.


Calixtlahuaca is an Aztec archaeological site near Toluca in Mexico.


Chacchoben is a Maya site in Mexico housing some impressive pyramid temples.

Economy

The economy of Mexico is the 15th largest in the world in nominal terms and the 11th largest by purchasing power parity, according to the International Monetary Fund.


Currency: Mexican peso

Monetary Unit: National monetary unit of Mexico, the peso which makes 100 centavo is Mexican. In the cash circulation there are denominations dignities 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 peso. The international designation of Mexican peso


Conversion to US:

1.00 USD =17.1157 MXN (peso)

Language

Several different languages are spoken in Mexico, with a large majority of the population fluent in Spanish while some indigenous Mexicans are monolingual in indigenous languages. Most Mexicans are monolingual Spanish-speakers

Food

Mexican food has a unique taste, which is a blend of the Native American and Spanish food. Mexico is famous for its chili, which makes this cuisine spicy. More than 140 varieties of chili are grown in Mexico and are included in the Mexican cuisine.

Mexican cuisine is not only spicy but has also introduced corn, chocolate, peanuts, vanilla, coconut, tomatoes, and beans, which are some of main ingredients of the famous desserts in world. These ingredients are a gift of the rich Aztec culture that developed here. The fine culinary traditions of Mexico were nurtured when the Spanish introduced their cuisine to Mexico. The Spanish invaded the Aztec civilization in the 16th century and brought with them sheep, pork, wine, vinegar, and cheese from Europe. The Spanish also introduced the method of frying in animal fat. Thereafter, sautéing and frying became the usual culinary activities of Mexico. Some ingredients in the Mexican cuisine are from South America, Caribbean, and Africa. This cuisine is made with different quantities of spices and a variety of staple ingredients used in different regions of Mexico. Usually, Mexicans eat food served on a banana leaf.

Important People

Hernán Cortés. Public Domain Image

Hernan Cortes

Hernán Cortés (1485-1547) was a Spanish conquistador who conquered native populations in the Caribbean before setting his sights on the Aztec Empire. Cortés landed on the Mexican mainland in 1519 with only 600 men. They marched inland, making friends with disgruntled Aztec vassal states along the way. When they reached the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán, he was able to take the city without a battle. Capturing Emperor Montezuma, Cortes held the city until his men outraged the local population so greatly that they revolted, but Cortés took the city again in 1521 and held it this time. He served as the first Governor of New Spain and died a wealthy man.


Antonio López de Santa Anna. Public Domain Image

Antonio López de Santa Anna

Antonio López de Santa Anna (1794-1876) joined the army during Mexico's War of Independence…the Spanish army, that is. He would eventually switch sides and over the next few decades he rose to prominence as a soldier and politician. He would eventually be President of Mexico on no fewer than eleven occasions between 1833 and 1855. Santa Anna was crooked but charismatic and the people loved him in spite of his legendary ineptitude on the field of battle. He lost Texas to rebels in 1836, lost every major engagement in which he participated during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and in between managed to lose a war to France (1839). Still, Santa Anna was a dedicated Mexican who always came when his people needed him (and sometimes when they didn't).

Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. Public Domain Image

Miguel Hidalgo

Father Miguel Hidalgo (1753-1811) was the last person you would have thought would kick off a revolution in Spanish colonial Mexico. A respected parish priest, Hidalgo was already in his fifties in 1810 and was a valued member of his community. Nevertheless, inside the body of the dignified priest known for his command of the complicated Catholic theology there beat the heart of a true revolutionary. On September 16, 1810, he took to the pulpit in the town of Dolores and informed his flock that he was taking up arms against the hated Spanish…and he invited them to join him. Angry mobs turned into an irresistible army and before long, Hidalgo and his supporters were at the very gates of Mexico City. Hidalgo was captured and executed in 1811, but the revolution lived on, and today Mexicans see him as the father of their nation

Music

Ranchera is a genre of the traditional Mexican music originally sung by only one performer with a guitar. It dates to the years of the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century. It later became closely associated with the mariachi groups which evolved in Jalisco.

Seasons / Climate

In Mexico there are two main seasons. Although there is some variation in temperature over the year, the most obvious difference is between rainy and dry seasons. The rainy season through most of Mexico falls roughly from May through September or October. During the rest of the year there is little or no rain. Don't be discouraged from visiting during rainy season, when you'll see lush, green landscape, as opposed to the dry season's parched, brown landscape - and it often only rains in the late afternoons and evenings


When planning travel to Mexico you should consider the weather and seasons so you can make informed decisions about where to go and what to pack. Many people automatically assume that the weather throughout Mexico is always hot, but that's not the case. Mexico is a large country and its weather can vary greatly from one destination to another

Sports

The most popular sport in Mexico is association football, followed by boxing. Charrería is Mexico's national sport, baseball the most popular sport in the northwest and southeast regions, basketball and bullfighting are also highly popular and appreciated.

Religion

Roman Catholicism is the main religion in Mexico; 88 percent of the population five years of age and older identified themselves as Roman Catholic in the 2000 census. Protestants and Evangelicals were the second largest religious group, accounting for approximately 5 percent of the population.

Brief History

The history of Mexico, a country in the southern portion of North America, covers a period of more than three millennia. First populated more than 13,000 years ago,[1] the territory had complex indigenous civilizations before being conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century. One of the important aspects of Mesoamerican civilizations was their development of a form of writing, so that Mexico's written history stretches back hundreds of years before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1519. This era before the arrival of Europeans is called variously the prehispanic era or the precolumbian era.

The Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan became the Spanish capital Mexico City, which was and remains the most populous city in Mexico.

From 1521, the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire incorporated the region into the Spanish empire, with New Spain its colonial era name and Mexico City the center of colonial rule. It was built on the ruins of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan and became the capital of New Spain. During the colonial era, Mexico's long-established Mesoamerican civilizations mixed with European culture. Perhaps nothing better represents this hybrid background than Mexico's languages: the country is both the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world and home to the largest number of Native American language speakers in North America. For three centuries Mexico was part of the Spanish Empire, whose legacy is a country with a Spanish-speaking, Catholic and largely Western culture.

After a protracted struggle (1810-1821) for independence, New Spain became the sovereign nation of Mexico, with the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba. A brief period of monarchy (1821–23), called the First Mexican Empire, was followed by the founding of the Republic of Mexico, established under a federal constitution in 1824. Legal racial categories were eliminated, abolishing the system of castas. Slavery was not abolished at independence in 1821 or with the constitution in 1824, but was eliminated in 1829. Mexico continues to be constituted as a federated republic, under the Mexican Constitution of 1917.

The Age of Santa Anna is the period of the late 1820s to the early 1850s that was dominated by criollo military man turned president Antonio López de Santa Anna. In 1846, the Mexican American War was provoked by the United States, ending two years later with Mexico ceding almost half of its territory via the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to the United States. Even though Santa Anna bore significant responsibility for the disastrous defeat, he returned to office.

The Liberal Reform began with the overthrow of Santa Anna by Mexican liberals, ushering in La Reforma beginning in 1854. The Mexican Constitution of 1857 codified the principles of liberalism in law, especially separation of church and state, equality before the law, that included stripping corporate entities (the Catholic Church and indigenous communities) of special status. The Reform sparked a civil war between liberals defending the constitution and conservatives, who opposed it. The War of the Reform saw the defeat of the conservatives on the battlefield, but conservatives remained strong and took the opportunity to invite foreign intervention against the liberals in order to forward their own cause.

The French Intervention is the period when France invaded Mexico (1861), nominally to collect on defaulted loans to the liberal government of Benito Juárez, but it went further and at the invitation of Mexican conservatives seeking to restore monarchy in Mexico set Maximilian I on the Mexican throne. The US was engaged in its own Civil War (1861–65), so did not attempt to block the foreign intervention. Abraham Lincoln consistently supported the Mexican liberals. At the end of the civil war in the US and the triumph of the Union forces, the US actively aided Mexican liberals against Maximilian's regime. France withdrew its support of Maximilian in 1867 and his monarchist rule collapsed in 1867 and Maximilian was executed.

With the end of the Second Mexican Empire, the period often called the Restored Republic (1867-1876) brought back Benito Juárez as president. Following his death from a heart attack, Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada succeed him. He was overthrown by liberal military man Porfirio Diaz, who after consolidating power ushered in a period of stability and economic growth. The half-century of economic stagnation and political chaos following independence ended.

The Porfiriate is the era when army hero Porfirio Díaz held power as president of Mexico almost continuously from 1876-1911. He promoted "order and progress" that saw the modernization of the economy and the flow of foreign investment to the country. The period is generally called the Porfiriato, which ended with the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution in 1910. Under Díaz, Mexico's industry and infrastructure was modernized by a strong, stable but autocratic central government. Increased tax revenues and better administration brought dramatic improvements in public safety, public health, railways, mining, industry, foreign trade, and national finances.

The Mexican Revolution is the chaotic period between 1910 and 1920 when Mexicans fought to determine future after the end of the Díaz era. Although little had been done for the nation's poor, the sparking forces of the Mexican Revolution were elites outside Díaz's inner circle, such as Francisco Madero, a member of one of the richest land owning families in Mexico, plus liberal intellectuals, and industrial labor activists. The fraudulent election of 1910 keeping 80-year-old Díaz in power brought opposition elements together, unleashing a 10-year civil war known as the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920). The conflict was not a unified one, but took place mainly in Mexico's north with organized armies of movement under leaders such as Pancho Villa and Alvaro Obregón and in the center of Mexico, particularly the state of Morelos with guerrilla peasants fighting under the leadership of Emiliano Zapata. The war killed a tenth of the nation's population and drove many northern Mexicans across the U.S. border to escape the fighting. The Revolution ended the system of large landed estates, or haciendas that had originated with the Spanish Conquest.

A new legal framework was established in the Constitution of 1917, which reversed the principle established under Porfirio Díaz that gave absolute property rights to individuals. Article 27 of the Constitution, empowered the State to expropriate owners and gave the State subsoil rights, which had been the principle during the colonial era. Organized labor's contribution to the revolution was recognized in Article 123, guaranteeing labor unions' rights. In Article 3, the State strengthened its anticlerical measures to control the power of the Roman Catholic Church. Northern revolutionary generals Alvaro Obregón and Plutarco Elías Calles each served a four-year presidential term following the end of the military conflict in 1920. The assassination of president-elect Obregón in 1928 led to a crisis on succession, solved by the creation of a party structure in 1929.

The post-revolutionary era is generally marked by political peace whereby conflicts are not resolved by violence. This new period has been marked by changes in policy and amendments to the 1917 Mexican Constitution to allow for neoliberal economic policies. Following the formation in 1929 of the precursor to the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), this single party controlled national and state politics after 1929, and nationalized the oil industry in the 1930s. Following World War II, where Mexico had been a strong ally of the United States and had benefited significantly by supplying metals to build war materiel as well as guest farm workers, who freed U.S. American men to fight in the two front war. Mexico emerged from World War II with wealth and political stability and unleashed a major period of economic growth, often called the Mexican Miracle. It was organized around the principles of import substitution industrialization, with the creation of many state-owned industrial enterprises. The population grew rapidly and became more urbanized while many others moved to the United States.

A new era began in Mexico following the fraudulent 1988 presidential elections. The Institutional Revolutionary Party barely won the presidential election, and President Carlos Salinas de Gortari began implementing sweeping neoliberal reforms in Mexico. These reforms required the amendment of the constitution, especially curtailing the power of the Mexican state to regulate foreign business enterprises, but also lifted the suppression of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico. Mexico's economy was further integrated with that of U.S. and also Canada after the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA agreement began lowering trade barriers in 1994. Seven decades of PRI rule ended in the year 2000 with the election of Vicente Fox of the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN). His successor, Felipe Calderón, also of the PAN, embarked of a war on drug mafias in Mexico, which has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths. In the face of extremely violent drug wars, the PRI returned to power in 2012, promising that it had reformed itself.

Indigenous Group

Indigenous peoples of Mexico (Spanish: pueblos indígenas de México), Native Mexicans (Spanish: nativos mexicanos), or Mexican Indians (Spanish: indios mexicanos) are those who are part of communities that trace their roots back to populations and communities that existed in what is now Mexico prior to the arrival of Europeans.

According to the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas, or CDI in Spanish) and the INEGI (official census institute), there are 25,694,928 indigenous people in Mexico,[3] of many different ethnic groups,[4] which constitute 21.5% of Mexico's population.

Natural Resources

The availability of zinc as a natural resource in Mexico has allowed the country to profit from steel production. As with lead, silver, and copper, zinc is most often found in the arid northern and central states. Most of Mexico's zinc is mined in the states of Chihuahua and Zacatecas.

Exploration

Born in Medellín, Spain, conquistador Hernán Cortés (c. 1485-1547) first served as a soldier in an expedition of Cuba led by Diego Velázquez in 1511. He ignored orders and traveled to Mexico with about 500 men and 11 ships in 1519, setting his sights on overthrowing ruler Montezuma II in the Aztec capital of Tenochitilán. The Aztecs eventually drove the Spanish from Tenochitilán, but Cortés returned to defeat the natives and take the city in 1521. He spent much of his later years seeking recognition for his achievements and support from the Spanish royal court.


Cortés became allies with some of the native peoples he encountered, but with others he used deadly force to conquer Mexico. He fought Tlaxacan and Cholula warriors and then set his sights on taking over the Aztec empire. He marched to Tenochitilán, the Aztec capital and home to ruler Montezuma II. Cortés took Montezuma hostage and his soldiers raided the city. Cortés left the city after learning that Spanish troops were coming to arrest him for disobeying orders. He returned to Tenochitilán to find a rebellion in progress. The Aztecs eventually drove the Spanish from the city, but Cortés returned again to defeat them and take the city in 1521. After this victory, Cortés continued to seek opportunities to gain wealth and land. He sent more expeditions out into new areas, including what is present-day Honduras. He spent much of his later years seeking recognition for his achievements and support from the Spanish royal court. He died in Spain in 1547.

Government

The Politics of Mexico take place in a framework of a federal presidential representative democratic republic whose government is based on a congressional system, whereby the president of Mexico is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. The federal government represents the United Mexican States and is divided into three branches: executive, legislative and judicial, as established by the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, published in 1917. The constituent states of the federation must also have a republican form of government based on a congressional system as established by their respective constitutions.

The executive power is exercised by the executive branch, which is headed by the President, advised by a cabinet of secretaries that are independent of the legislature. Legislative power is vested upon the Congress of the Union, a two-chamber legislature comprising the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Judicial power is exercised by the judiciary, consisting of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, the Council of the Federal Judiciary and the collegiate, unitary and district tribunals.

The politics of Mexico are dominated by three political parties: National Action Party (PAN), the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

Touristic Places

Cancún, a Mexican city on the Yucatán Peninsula bordering the Caribbean Sea, is known for its beaches, numerous resorts and energetic nightlife.


Mexico City is the densely populated, high-altitude capital of Mexico. It's known for its Templo Mayor (a 13th-century Aztec temple), the baroque Catedral Metropolitana of the Spanish conquistadors and the Palacio Nacional, which houses historic murals by Diego Rivera.


Playa del Carmen is a coastal resort town in Mexico, along the Yucatán Peninsula's Riviera Maya strip of Caribbean shoreline. In the state of Quintana Roo, it’s known for its palm-lined beaches, coral reefs and scuba diving.


Cabo San Lucas, a resort city on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, is known for its beaches, water-based activities and nightlife.


Puerto Vallarta is a resort town on Mexico’s Pacific coast, known for its beaches, water sports and robust nightlife scene. Its historic, cobblestoned center is home to the ornate church Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, boutiques and a wide range of restaurants and bars.

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