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Mexico

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Mexico (Spanish: México, pronounced [me.xi.ko]), formally the United Mexican States, is a federal republic in North America’s southern half. It is bounded by the United States to the north; the Pacific Ocean to the south and west; Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea to the southeast; and the Gulf of Mexico to the east. Mexico is the sixth biggest country in the Americas by total size and the thirteenth largest sovereign nation in the world, covering almost two million square kilometers (over 760,000 square miles). It is the tenth most populous nation in the world and the most populous Spanish-speaking country, as well as the second most populous country in Latin America, with an estimated population of about 120 million. Mexico is a federation composed of 31 states and a federal district that serves as the country’s capital and largest metropolis. Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana, and León are more metropolises.

Prior to European contact, pre-Columbian Mexico was home to many sophisticated Mesoamerican civilizations, including the Olmec, Toltec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Maya, and Aztec. In 1521, the Spanish Empire invaded and occupied the area, which was governed as the viceroyalty of New Spain, from its base in Mexico-Tenochtitlan. Three centuries later, in 1821, after the colony’s Mexican War of Independence, this area became Mexico. Economic instability and many political upheavals typified the turbulent post-independence era. The Mexican–American War (1846–48) resulted in the United States gaining control of Mexico’s vast northern borders, which comprised one-third of its territory. Through the nineteenth century, the Pastry War, the Franco-Mexican War, a civil war, two empires, and a domestic tyranny happened. The dictatorship was deposed during the Mexican Revolution of 1910, which resulted in the adoption of the 1917 Constitution and the establishment of the country’s present political structure.

Mexico has a nominal GDP of $15 billion and a purchasing power parity GDP of $11 billion. Mexico’s economy is inextricably tied to those of its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, most notably the US. Mexico was the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) first Latin American member, joining in 1994. The World Bank classifies it as an upper-middle income nation, although some experts classify it as a recently industrialized country. Mexico’s economy may grow to be the fifth or seventh biggest in the world by 2050. The nation is seen as a regional power as well as a middle power, and is often referred to as a rising world power. Mexico ranks first in the Americas and eighth in the world in terms of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, owing to its diverse culture and history. With 32.1 million foreign arrivals in 2015, it was the ninth most visited country in the world. Mexico is a member of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Group of Eight Plus Five, the Group of Twenty, and Uniting for Consensus, and has been an observer of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie since 2014.

Tourism

Mexico is traditionally one of the most visited countries in the world, according to the World Tourism Organization, and is the most visited country in the Americas after the United States. The most remarkable attractions in Mexico include Mesoamerican ruins, cultural festivals, its colonial cities, nature reserves and beautiful beach resorts. With a wide variety of climates, ranging from temperate to tropical, and its unique culture – which is a fusion of European and Meso-American – is what makes Mexico such an attractive destination. The peak season for tourism in the country is December and mid-summer, with a brief upswing during the week before Easter and spring break, when many of the beach resorts become popular destinations for students from the United States.

In terms of income from tourism, Mexico has the 23rd high income in the world as well as the highest in Latin America. Most of the tourists coming to Mexico from the US and Canada, then from Europe and Asia. Also, a smaller number visit Mexico from other Latin American countries. In 2011, Mexico ranked 43rd in the world and 4th in the Americas in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index.

Mexico’s coasts have many stretches of beach frequented by sunbathers and other visitors. On the Yucatán Peninsula, the resort of Cancún is one of the most popular beach destinations, especially among university students during spring break. Just off the coast is the beach island of Isla Mujeres, and to the east is Isla Holbox. South of Cancún is the coastal strip called the Riviera Maya, which includes the beach town of Playa del Carmen and the ecological parks of Xcaret and Xel-Há. A day trip to the south of Cancún is the historic port city of Tulum. In addition to its beaches, the city of Tulum is also known for its Mayan ruins on the cliffs.

On the Pacific coast is the well-known tourist destination of Acapulco. Once the destination for the rich and famous, the beaches are now crowded and the shores are dotted with multi-story hotels and vendors. Acapulco is home to the famous cliff divers: trained divers who jump off the side of a vertical cliff into the surf below.

At the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula is the resort town of Cabo San Lucas, known for its beaches and marlin fishing. Further north along the Sea of Cortés is Bahía de La Concepción, another beach town known for its sport fishing. Closer to the border with the United States is the weekend town of San Felipe, Baja California.

Geography

Mexico is situated in the Southern part of North America at latitudes 14° and 33°N and longitudes 86° and 119°W. Almost all of Mexico is on the North American plate, with small parts of the Baja California peninsula on the Pacific and the Coconut Plates. From a geophysical point of view, some geographers count the area east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (about 12% of the total area) as part of Central America, but from a geopolitical point of view, Mexico is counted entirely as part of North America, along with Canada and the United States.

Mexico’s total surface area is 1,972,550 km2 (761,606 square miles), making it the 14th largest country in the world in total, and includes approximately 6,000 km2 (2,317 square miles) on Pacific islands, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of California.

To the north, Mexico shares a 2,000-mile border with the United States. The winding Rio Bravo del Norte (known in the United States as the Rio Grande) defines the border from Ciudad Juarez eastward to the Gulf of Mexico. A number of natural and man-made border markers outline the U.S.-Mexico state line west of Ciudad Juárez all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Mexico shares a 871 km border with Guatemala as well as a 251 km border with Belize to the South.

From north to south, Mexico is crossed by 2 mountain ranges called the Sierra Madre Oriental and the Sierra Madre Occidental, and these are extensions of the Rocky Mountains in North America. The country is crossed from east to west in the center with the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, which is also known as the Sierra Nevada. A fourth mountain range, the Sierra Madre del Sur, extends from Michoacán to Oaxaca.

Most of central and northern Mexico has a high altitude in which the highest peaks are located in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt.

Demographics

According to the 2010 census, Mexico has a population of 112,336,538 people, which makes it the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world. Between 2005 and 2010, the Mexican population grew at an average rate of 1.70% per year, compared to 1.16% per year between 2000 and 2005.

Prior to 2015, the Mexican government did not ask about the ethnicity or race of its citizens (most recently in 1921). The number of indígenas (indigenous peoples) was narrowly defined as speakers of one of Mexico’s 62 indigenous languages or members of established indigenous communities. For example, the 2010 census found that 14.86% of the population was indigenous. However, since the 2015 census, the government has asked whether a person identifies as indigenous (21.5% of the population) and/or Afro-Mexican (1.2% of the population). These categories are not exclusive, and a person may report both indigenous and Afro-Mexican heritage. Other groups (such as mestizo, white, or Asian-descended) are not quantified by the government.

In 2015, the foreign-born population was 1,007,063. Most of these people were born in the US, and Mexico has the largest number of US citizens living abroad. Following Americans, among the largest immigrant communities are Guatemalans, Spaniards, and Colombians. In addition to Spaniards, the largest immigrant groups are French, Germans, Lebanese, and Chinese. For the United States, Mexico is the largest immigration source. 11.6 million residents of the United States hold Mexican citizenship (as of 2014).

Ethnicity and race

Depictions of the three main castas resulting from the miscegenation of Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans. The pinturas de castas emerged during the Age of Enlightenment and were an attempt to “rationally categorize” the racial diversity of colonial Mexico.

México has considerable ethnic diversity; several indigenous peoples, Caucasians, Afro-descendants, and mestizos are all united under one national identity. The core part of Mexican national identity is formed based on a synthesis of cultures, primarily European and indigenous, in a process known as mestizaje, alluding to the mixed biological origins of the majority of Mexicans.

In 1810, toward the end of the colonial period, the population of Mexico was estimated at about 6 million (based on the 1793 Revillagigedo census and the 1803 estimate of geographer Alexander Humboldt and the 1810 estimate of royal accountant Francisco Navarro y Noriega). From these population estimates, anthropologist Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán estimated the following in terms of race and ethnicity There were about 15,000 “peninsulares” (displaced after independence), fewer than 10. 000 Africans (mostly enslaved, legally freed in 1829), more than one million “Euromestizos” (criollos and individuals of primarily European ancestry, such as castizos), about 700,000 “Indomestizos” (individuals of significant indigenous ancestry), about 600,000 “Afromestizos” (individuals of significant African ancestry, such as mulatos), and about 3. 7 million indigenous peoples. Mexico does not ask about race in its census, in part because it abolished the legal basis of the colonial caste system (based on race and birth) after independence.

A large majority of Mexicans were classified as “mestizos” (between 50% and 67% according to the Encyclopædia Britannica). In modern Mexico, the term “mestizo” is primarily a cultural identity rather than the racial identity it was during the colonial period, resulting in individuals with different phenotypes being classified under the same identity. The term is not widely used in Mexican society, although it is frequently used in the literature on Mexican social identities. Because the term has a variety of sociocultural, economic, racial, and biological meanings, it has been deemed too imprecise for ethnic classification and has been abandoned in Mexican censuses. Various genetic studies have shown that Mexico’s population is not uniform in its genetic composition and that there are significant regional differences. According to the Instituto Nacional de Medicina Genómica, mestizos of European descent predominate on average in the northern part of the country, while mestizos from the southern region are predominantly of indigenous descent; mestizos from the center of the country have a more equal proportion of Europeans and indigenous people, while the highest proportion of Africans has been found in the southwest and in Veracruz. In the Yucatán Peninsula, the word mestizo is even used about the Mayan-speaking population living in traditional communities, since during the caste war in the late 19th century, those Mayans who did not join the rebellion were classified as mestizos.

Estimates of the number of whites range from 10% to 20%, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica. The numbers vary widely because the criteria used to define mestizo can vary from study to study, and in Mexico a certain number of whites have historically been classified as mestizo because the Mexican government defined ethnicity by cultural rather than racial standards. During the colonial period and independence, most European immigration to Mexico was Spanish. However, during the 19th and 20th centuries, significant numbers of non-Hispanic Europeans also immigrated to the country. At its peak, however, the percentage of immigrants in Mexico never exceeded two percent of the total population. Some of these immigrants, along with the non-European immigrants, were expelled from the country during the Mexican Revolution. The northern regions of Mexico have the largest European population and admixture. According to the last racial census in Mexico, taken in 1921, there was no state in Mexico that had a majority “white” population, and in virtually every state in the north, mestizos were the largest population group. The only state where “whites” outnumbered mestizos was Sonora, where “whites” comprised 41.85% of the population and mestizos 40.38%.

The absolute indigenous population of Mexico (26,694,928 persons as of 2015) is growing, but at a slower rate than the rest of the population, so the percentage of indigenous peoples in the total population is nevertheless decreasing. Most of the indigenous population is concentrated in the central and southern states, especially in rural areas. Some indigenous communities have some autonomy under the legislation of “usos y costumbres,” which allows them to regulate some internal affairs under customary law. According to the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples, the states with the largest percentage of indigenous inhabitants are: Yucatán with 59%, Quintana Roo 39% and Campeche 27%, mainly Maya; Oaxaca with 48% of the population, the most numerous groups are Mixtec and Zapotec; Chiapas with 28%, the majority are Tzeltal and Tzotzil Maya; Hidalgo 24%, majority Otomi; Puebla 19% and Guerrero 17%, majority Nahua peoples; and the states of San Luis Potosí and Veracruz each host a population that is 15% indigenous, majority from the Totonac, Nahua and Teenek (Huastec) groups. All indices of social development for the indigenous population are significantly lower than the national average. In all states, indigenous people have higher infant mortality rates, in some states almost twice as high as the non-indigenous population. Literacy rates are also significantly lower, with 27% of Indigenous children between the ages of 6 and 14 illiterate, compared to a national average of 12%. The indigenous population is in the labor force longer than the national average, starting earlier and staying in the labor force longer. However, 55% of the indigenous population receives less than a minimum wage, compared to a national average of 20%. Many engage in subsistence agriculture and do not receive wages. Indigenous populations also have poorer access to health care and lower quality housing.

The Afro-Mexican population (1,381,853 people, from 2015) is an ethnic group made up of descendants of colonial slaves and more recent immigrants of African origin from the sub-Saharan region. Mexico had an active slave trade during the colonial period and about 200,000 Africans were deported there, mainly in the 17th century. The establishment of a Mexican national identity, most notably since the Mexican Revolution, emphasized Mexico’s indigenous and European past, it passively removed African descent with its contributions. Most of the African population was absorbed by the surrounding mestizo (mixed European/indigenous) and indigenous people through the mixing of groups. The evidence of this long history of blending with mestizo and native Mexicans comprises the fact that 64.9% (896,829) among the Afro-Mexicans were also recognized as being indigenous for the 2015 census. Additionally, a 9.3% of Afro-Mexicans are recognized to speak an indigenous language. The states with the highest self-esteem of Afro-Mexicans were Guerrero (6.5% of the population), Oaxaca (4.95%) and Veracruz (3.28%). The Afro-Mexican culture is strongest in the Costa Chica of Oaxaca and Costa Chica of Guerrero.

Smaller ethnic groups in Mexico include the South and East Asians, who have been present since colonial times. During the colonial period Asians were referred to as Chino (regardless of their ethnic origin) and came as traders, craftsmen and slaves. Filipinos were the largest group, and about 200,000 Mexicans can trace their Filipino ancestry. Modern Asian immigration began at the end of the 19th century and at some point in the beginning of the 20th century the Chinese were the second largest immigrant group. The largest group were the Lebanese and an estimated 400,000 Mexicans are of Lebanese descent.

Religion

According to the 2010 census), Roman Catholicism was the main religion, with 83% of the population, while 10% (10,924.103) belong to other Christian denominations. 172,891 (or less than 0.2% of the total) belonged to other, non-Christian religions; 4.7% reported no religion; 2.7% did not report.

Mexico’s 92,924,489 Catholics constitute the second largest Catholic community in the world in absolute numbers, after Brazil’s. 47% percent of them attend religious services weekly. The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, is celebrated on December 12 and is considered by many Mexicans to be their country’s most important religious holiday.

The 2010 census counted 314,932 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, although in 2009 the church claimed to have over one million registered members.

Based on the 2010 census, the Jewish population in Mexico is 67,476.  Islam in Mexico is practiced by a small population in the city of Torreón, Coahuila, and there are an estimated 300 Muslims in the region of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas.

Economy

Mexico has the 15th largest national GDP and the 11th largest based on purchasing power parity. The average annual GDP growth rate over the period 1995-2002 was 5.1%. Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP) in purchasing power parities (PPS) was estimated at 2.2602 trillion U.S. dollars in 2015 and 1.3673 trillion U.S. dollars in nominal exchange rates. Mexico’s GDP in PPS per capita was $18,714.05. In 2009, the World Bank reports that the country’s gross national income at market prices is $1,830.392 billion, 2nd highest in Latin America after Brazil, and has the highest per capita income in the region at $14,400. Currently, Mexico stands as an upper-middle class country. After the 2001 slowdown, the country recovered and grew by 4.2, 3.0 and 4.8 percent in 2004, 2005 and 2006, even though the country is considered to be far below Mexico’s potential growth rate. Moreover, after the 2008-2009 recession, the economy grew at an average rate of 3.32 percent per year from 2010 to 2014.

Since the end of the 1990s, the majority of the population has been part of the growing middle class. However, from 2004 to 2008, the proportion of the population that received less than half of the median income rose from 17 to 21 percent and the absolute level of poverty increased between 2006 and 2010, with the number of people living in extreme or moderate poverty rising from 35 to 46 percent (52 million people). This is also reflected in the fact that the infant mortality rate in Mexico is three times higher than the average of OECD countries and that literacy levels are in the median range of OECD countries. Nevertheless, according to Goldman Sachs, Mexico will have the fifth largest economy in the world by 2050.

Of the OECD countries, Mexico has the second largest economic disparity between the extremely poor and the extremely rich after Chile – although the country has declined over the past decade as one of the few countries where this is the case. The bottom ten percent in the income hierarchy holds 1.36 percent of the country’s resources, while the top ten percent holds nearly 36 percent. The OECD also notes that Mexico’s budgeted spending on poverty reduction and social development is only about a third of the OECD average – both in absolute and relative terms.

Mexico’s electronics industry has grown enormously over the last decade. The Mexican electronics industry has increased enormously over the last decade. Mexico has the 6th largest electronics industry of the world. It is the world’ s 2nd largest electronics exporter to the US, with 71.4 billion dollars worth of electronics being exported to the US in 2011. Today, electronics represent 30% of Mexico’s exports.

Mexico is the country with the largest production of automobiles in all of North America. The industry manufactures technologically complex components and engages in some research and development activities. Big Three (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) operating in Mexico since the 1930′ s, and Volkswagen and Nissan build their factories in the 1960′ s. In Puebla alone, 70 industrial parts manufacturers are clustered around Volkswagen. The sector expanded rapidly in the 2010s. In 2014 alone, more than $10 billion in investments were made. Kia Motors announced plans for a $1 billion factory in Nuevo León in August 2014. Mercedes-Benz and Nissan at the time had already built a $1.4 billion factory in the vicinity of Puebla, while BMW was also making a plan for a $1 billion assembly factory in San Luis Potosí. Additionally, Audi began construction of a $1.3 billion factory near Puebla in 2013.

The domestic auto industry is represented by DINA S.A., which has been building buses and trucks since 1962, and the new Mastretta company, which produces the high-performance Mastretta MXT sports car. In 2006, trade with the United States and Canada accounted for nearly 50% of Mexico’s exports and 45% of its imports. In the first three quarters of 2010, the United States has a trade deficit of $46.0 billion with Mexico. In August 2010, Mexico overtook France to become the ninth largest holder of U.S. debt. Commercial and financial dependence on the United States is a concern.

Remittances from Mexican citizens working in the U.S. represent 0.2% of Mexico’s GDP, equivalent to $20 billion per year in 2004, and are the 10th largest source of foreign revenue. In 2008, remittances totaled US$25 billion, according to Mexico’s central bank.

Major players in the broadcasting industry include Televisa, the largest Spanish media company in the Spanish-speaking world, and TV Azteca.

How To Travel To Mexico

By planeFrom the United States and CanadaHundreds of daily flights connect Mexico with cities and towns across North America. These include traditional airlines such as Air Canada, Aeromexico, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, etc., as well as low-cost carriers such as JetBlue, Spirit, WestJet, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines....

How To Travel Around Mexico

It is more convenient to travel to Mexico by bus, car or plane. Passenger transport by train is almost non-existent. Except for the Chihuahua del Pacifico train line, which leaves each morning at both ends of the line, one from Los Mochis on the Pacific coast, opposite Baja California,...

Visa & Passport Requirements for Mexico

According to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores), some foreign nationals who intend to stay in Mexico for less than 180 days for tourism purposes or 30 days for business purposes can fill out a tourist card for $22 at the border or when landing...

Destinations in Mexico

Regions in MexicoBaja California (Baja California, Baja California South)The western peninsula bordering the US state of California...Northern Mexico (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas).This includes the vast deserts and mountains of the border states; the "unknown Mexico" mostly ignored by tourists.The Bajío (Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, San Luis...

Weather & Climate in Mexico

Mexico uses the metric system for all measurements. For all weather reports, the temperature is in Celsius (°C).The temperature of the desert regions in the northwest of the country and the temperate zones in the northeast vary, but it must be taken into account that a large part of...

Accommodation & Hotels in Mexico

A number of hotel chains are represented throughout Mexico, including Palace Resorts, Le Blanc Spa Resort, Best Western, Holiday Inn, CityExpress, Fiesta Inn, Fairmont, Hilton, Ritz, Camino Real, Starwood (Sheraton, W, Westin, Four Points) and many others. Prices have risen considerably in recent years, although most are still cheap...

Things To See in Mexico

Mexico has 32 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than anywhere else in the Americas. Most of them belong to the cultural category and relate either to the pre-Columbian civilisations of the region or to the first cities founded by the Spanish conquistadores and missionaries. Much of Mexico is mountainous,...

Things to do in Mexico

Mexico's warm climate, spectacular nature and long coastline make it ideal for outdoor living, especially water sports.Surfing - Baja California, Vallarta, OaxacaSea Kayaking - Baja CaliforniaSnorkelling - Baja California, Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, etc.Diving - Baja California, Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas etc. and diving in...

Food & Drinks in Mexico

Food in MexicoMexican cuisine is best described as a collection of different regional cuisines rather than a standard list of dishes for the entire country. Due to climate, geography and ethnic differences, we can divide Mexican cuisine into four broad categories, depending on the region:North - Meat dishes, mainly...

Money & Shopping in Mexico

Currency in MexicoThe currency of Mexico is the peso (MXN), which is divided into 100 centavos.Coins are issued in 5, 10 (steel), 20, 50 centavo (brass; the new 50 centavo coins issued from 2011 are steel and smaller) and in 1, 2, 5 (steel ring, brass core), 10, 20,...

Festivals & Holidays in Mexico

Holidays1 January: New Year's Day6 January: Magi Day, celebrating the arrival of the Magi who see the baby Jesus and bring him gifts (this is not an official holiday).2 February: Candelaria Day ("Day of the Candle"), celebrated in many places in the country (not an official holiday)5 February: Constitution...

Internet & Communications in Mexico

You can make calls from public telephones using prepaid Tarjetas Ladatel phone cards, which you can buy on magazine shelves. The cards can be purchased in denominations of 30, 50 or 100 pesos. The rate for calls to the United States is about US$0.50 per minute. Be careful, these...

Language & Phrasebook in Mexico

There are almost 70 indigenous languages in Mexico, many of which are still in use. However, Spanish is the de facto national language. Spanish is used by almost the entire population and all public communication (signs, documents, media, etc.) is in Spanish. Bilingual signs in Spanish and English may...

Traditions & Customs in Mexico

Mexicans have a somewhat relaxed sense of time, so be patient. It is common to be 15 minutes late.When someone, even a complete stranger, sneezes, you always say "¡salud! ("to your wishes" or, more literally, "to your health"): otherwise it is considered rude. In rural areas, especially in central...

Culture Of Mexico

Mexican culture reflects the complexity of the country's history through the mixture of indigenous cultures and Spanish culture transmitted during the 300 years of Spanish colonisation of Mexico. Exogenous cultural elements were incorporated into Mexican culture over time.The Porfirian era (el Porfiriato), in the last quarter of the nineteenth...

History Of Mexico

Pre-ColumbianAmong the first complex civilisations in Mexico is the Olmec culture, which flourished on the Gulf Coast around 1500 BC. The Olmec culture spread throughout Mexico in the formative cultures of Chiapas, Oaxaca and the Mexico Valley.In central Mexico, the heyday of the classical period saw the rise of...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Mexico

Stay Safe in MexicoWARNINGAffected regions : Baja California Norte, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Guerrero, Michoacán, Nuevo Leon, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas.Most of those killed in drug-related violence since 2006 have been members of transnational criminal organizations. The Mexican government is making significant efforts to protect visitors to major tourist destinations. Recreational...

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