Coordinates: 23°N 102°W / 23°N 102°W / 23; -102

Mexico (Spanish: México [ˈmexiko] (About this soundlisten); Nahuan languages: Mēxihco), officially the United Mexican States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos; EUM [esˈtaðos uˈniðoz mexiˈkanos] (About this soundlisten)), is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico.[10] Mexico covers 1,972,550 square kilometers (761,610 sq mi)[11] and has approximately 128,649,565 inhabitants,[4] making it the world's 13th-largest country by area, 10th-most-populous country, and most populous Spanish-speaking nation. It is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City,[12] its capital city and largest metropolis. Other major urban areas include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, and León.[13]

Pre-Columbian Mexico traces its origins to 8,000 BC and is identified as one of six cradles of civilization;[14] it was home to many advanced Mesoamerican civilizations, most well known among them the Maya and the Aztecs. In 1521, the Spanish Empire conquered and colonized the territory from its base in Mexico City, which then became known as New Spain. The Catholic Church played an important role as millions of indigenous inhabitants converted. These populations were heavily exploited to mine rich deposits of precious material, which became a major source of wealth for the Spanish.[15] Mexico became an independent nation state after the successful Mexican War of Independence against Spain in 1821.[16]

The War of Texas Independence in 1836 and the Mexican–American War led to huge territorial losses in Mexico's sparsely populated north, contiguous to the United States. The newly instituted reforms that granted protection to indigenous communities, and curtailed the power of the military and the church, were enshrined in the Constitution of 1857. This triggered the War of the Reform and French intervention. Maximilian Habsburg was installed as emperor by France and Benito Juárez kept an opposing republican government in exile. The following decades were marked by instability and dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, who sought to modernize Mexico and restore order.[16] The Porfiriato ended with the Mexican Revolution in 1910 and the winning Constitutionalist faction drafted a new 1917 Constitution. The revolutionary generals of the winning northern faction dominated the 1920s and served as presidents, but the 1928 assassination of Alvaro Obregón led to the formation of the Institutional Revolutionary Party in 1929, under which Mexico was a de facto one-party state until 2000.[17][18][19][20]

Mexico is a developing country, ranking 76th on the Human Development Index, but is considered a newly industrialized state by several analysts.[21][22][23][24] It has the world's 15th-largest economy by nominal GDP and the 11th-largest by PPP, with the United States being its largest economic partner.[25][26] The large economy, area, population and politics make Mexico a regional power and a middle power,[27][28][29][30] and is often identified as an emerging power.[31] However, Mexico continues to struggle with social inequalities, poverty and extensive crime; the country ranks poorly on the Global Peace Index.[32] Since 2006, the conflict between the government and drug trafficking syndicates has led to over 120,000 deaths.[33]

Mexico ranks first in the Americas and 7th in the world for the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.[34][35][36] Mexico is an ecologically megadiverse country, ranking 5th in the world for its natural biodiversity.[37] Mexico receives a significant number of tourists every year; in 2018, it was the 6th most-visited country in the world, with 39 million international arrivals.[38] Mexico is a member of the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the G8+5, the G20, the Uniting for Consensus group of the UN, and the Pacific Alliance trade bloc.


Depiction of the founding myth of Mexico-Tenochtitlan from the Codex Mendoza

Mēxihco is the Nahuatl term for the heartland of the Aztec Empire, namely the Valley of Mexico and surrounding territories, with its people being known as the Mexica. The terms are plainly linked; it is generally believed that the toponym for the valley was the origin of the primary ethnonym for the Aztec Triple Alliance, but it may have been the other way around.[39] In the colonial era, when Mexico was called New Spain, this central region became the Intendency of Mexico, during the eighteenth-century reorganization of the empire, the Bourbon Reforms. After the colony achieved independence from the Spanish Empire in 1821, said territory came to be known as the State of Mexico, with the new country being named after its capital: Mexico City, which itself was founded in 1524 on the site of the ancient Mexica capital of Mexico-Tenochtitlan.

The official name of the country has changed as the form of government has changed. The declaration of independence signed on 6 November 1813 by the deputies of the Congress of Anáhuac called the territory América Septentrional (Northern America) in the Plan of Iguala (1821). On two occasions (1821–1823 and 1863–1867), the country was known as Imperio Mexicano (Mexican Empire). All three federal constitutions (1824, 1857 and 1917, the current constitution) used the name Estados Unidos Mexicanos[40]—or the variant Estados-Unidos Mexicanos,[41] all of which have been translated as "United Mexican States". The phrase República Mexicana, "Mexican Republic", was used in the 1836 Constitutional Laws.[42]


Indigenous civilizations

Pyramid of the Sun of Teotihuacan with first human establishment in the area dating back to 600 BC

The earliest human artifacts in Mexico are chips of stone tools found near campfire remains in the Valley of Mexico and radiocarbon-dated to circa 10,000 years ago.[43] Mexico is the site of the domestication of maize, tomato, and beans, which produced an agricultural surplus. This enabled the transition from paleo-Indian hunter-gatherers to sedentary agricultural villages beginning around 5000 BC.[44] In the subsequent formative eras, maize cultivation and cultural traits such as a mythological and religious complex, and a vigesimal (base 20) numeric system, were diffused from the Mexican cultures to the rest of the Mesoamerican culture area.[45] In this period, villages became more dense in terms of population, becoming socially stratified with an artisan class, and developing into chiefdoms. The most powerful rulers had religious and political power, organizing the construction of large ceremonial centers developed.[46]

Cultivation of maize, shown in the Florentine Codex (1576) drawn by an indigenous scribe, with text in Nahuatl on this folio

The earliest complex civilization in Mexico was the Olmec culture, which flourished on the Gulf Coast from around 1500 BC. Olmec cultural traits diffused through Mexico into other formative-era cultures in Chiapas, Oaxaca and the Valley of Mexico. The formative period saw the spread of distinct religious and symbolic traditions, as well as artistic and architectural complexes.[47] The formative-era of Mesoamerica is considered one of the six independent cradles of civilization.[48] In the subsequent pre-classical period, the Maya and Zapotec civilizations developed complex centers at Calakmul and Monte Albán, respectively. During this period the first true Mesoamerican writing systems were developed in the Epi-Olmec and the Zapotec cultures. The Mesoamerican writing tradition reached its height in the Classic Maya Hieroglyphic script. The earliest written histories date from this era. The tradition of writing was important after the Spanish conquest in 1521.[49]

In Central Mexico, the height of the classic period saw the ascendancy of Teotihuacán, which formed a military and commercial empire whose political influence stretched south into the Maya area as well as north. Teotihuacan, with a population of more than 150,000 people, had some of the largest pyramidal structures in the pre-Columbian Americas.[50] After the collapse of Teotihuacán around 600 AD, competition ensued between several important political centers in central Mexico such as Xochicalco and Cholula. At this time, during the Epi-Classic, Nahua peoples began moving south into Mesoamerica from the North, and became politically and culturally dominant in central Mexico, as they displaced speakers of Oto-Manguean languages.

1945 Mural by Diego Rivera depicting the view from the Tlatelolco markets into Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the largest city in the Americas at the time.

During the early post-classic era (ca. 1000-1519 CE), Central Mexico was dominated by the Toltec culture, Oaxaca by the Mixtec, and the lowland Maya area had important centers at Chichén Itzá and Mayapán. Toward the end of the post-Classic period, the Mexica established dominance, establishing a political and economic empire based in the city of Tenochtitlan (modern Mexico City), extending from central Mexico to the border with Guatemala.[51] Alexander von Humboldt popularized the modern usage of "Aztec" as a collective term applied to all the people linked by trade, custom, religion, and language to the Mexica state and Ēxcān Tlahtōlōyān, the Triple Alliance.[52] In 1843, with the publication of the work of William H. Prescott, it was adopted by most of the world, including 19th-century Mexican scholars who considered it a way to distinguish present-day Mexicans from pre-conquest Mexicans. This usage has been the subject of debate since the late 20th century.[53]

The Aztec empire was an informal or hegemonic empire because it did not exert supreme authority over the conquered territories; it was satisfied with the payment of tributes from them. It was a discontinuous empire because not all dominated territories were connected; for example, the southern peripheral zones of Xoconochco were not in direct contact with the center. The hegemonic nature of the Aztec empire was demonstrated by their restoration of local rulers to their former position after their city-state was conquered. The Aztec did not interfere in local affairs, as long as the tributes were paid.[54]

The Aztec of Central Mexico built a tributary empire covering most of central Mexico.[55] The Aztec were noted for practicing human sacrifice on a large scale. Along with this practice, they avoided killing enemies on the battlefield. Their warring casualty rate was far lower than that of their Spanish counterparts, whose principal objective was immediate slaughter during battle.[56] This distinct Mesoamerican cultural tradition of human sacrifice ended with the gradually Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Over the next centuries many other Mexican indigenous cultures were conquered and gradually subjected to Spanish colonial rule.[57]

Conquest of the Aztec Empire (1519–1521)

Depict of Hernán Cortés and his bilingual cultural translator, Doña Marina ("Malinche"), meeting Moctezuma II from the Lienzo de Tlaxcala. This historical document was created c. 1550 by the Tlaxcalans to remind the Spanish of their loyalty and the importance of Tlaxcala during the conquest of the Aztec Empire.

Although the Spanish had established colonies in the Caribbean starting in 1493, it was not until the second decade of the sixteenth century that they began exploring the coast of Mexico. The Spanish first learned of Mexico during the Juan de Grijalva expedition of 1518. The natives kept "repeating: Colua, Colua, and Mexico, Mexico, but we [explorers] did not know what Colua or Mexico meant", until encountering Montezuma's governor at the mouth of the Rio de las Banderas.[58]:33–36 The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire began in February 1519 when Hernán Cortés landed on the Gulf Coast and founded the Spanish city of Veracruz. Around 500 conquistadores, along with horses, cannons, swords, and long guns gave the Spanish some technological advantages over indigenous warriors, but key to the Spanish victory was making strategic alliances with disgruntled indigenous city-states (altepetl) who supplied the Spaniards and fought with them against the Aztec Triple Alliance. Also important to the Spanish victory was Cortés's cultural translator, Malinche, a Nahua woman enslaved in the Maya area whom the Spanish acquired as a gift. She quickly learned Spanish and gave strategic advise about how to deal with both indigenous allies and indigenous foes.[59] The unconquered city-state of Tlaxcala allied with the Spanish against their enemies, the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan. The Spanish gained other indigenous allies, who also joined in the war for their own reasons.

We know so much about the conquest because it is among the best documented events in world history from multiple points of view. There are accounts by the Spanish leader Cortés[60] and multiple other Spanish participants, including Bernal Díaz del Castillo.[61][62] There are indigenous accounts in Spanish, Nahuatl, and pictorial narratives by allies of the Spanish, most prominently the Tlaxcalans, as well as Texcocans[63] and Huejotzincans, and the defeated Mexican themselves, recorded in the last volume of Bernardino de Sahagún's General History of the Things of New Spain.[64][65][66]

Smallpox depicted by an indigenous artist in the 1556 Florentine Codex in its account of the conquest of Mexico from the point of view of the defeated Mexica.

When the Spaniards arrived, the ruler of the Aztec empire was Moctezuma II, who after a delay allowed the Spanish to proceed inland to Tenochtitlan. The Spanish captured him, holding him hostage. He died while in their custody and the Spanish retreated from Tenochtitlan in great disarray. His successor and brother Cuitláhuac took control of the Aztec empire, but was among the first to fall from the first smallpox epidemic in the area a short time later.[67] Unintentionally introduced by Spanish conquerors, among whom smallpox, measles, and other contagious diseases were endemic, epidemics of Old World infectious diseases ravaged Mesoamerica starting in the 1520s. The exact number of deaths is disputed, but unquestionably more than 3 million natives who they had no immunity.[68] Other sources, however, mentioned that the death toll of the Aztecs might have reached 15 million (out of a population of less than 30 million) although such a high number conflicts with the 350,000 Aztecs who ruled an empire of 5 million or 10 million.[69] Severely weakened, the Aztec empire was easily defeated by Cortés and his forces on his second return with the help of state of Tlaxcala whose population estimate was 300,000.[70] The native population declined 80–90% by 1600 to 1–2.5 million. Any population estimate of pre-Columbian Mexico is bound to be a guess but 8–12 million is often suggested for the area encompassed by the modern nation.

The territory became part of the Spanish Empire under the name of New Spain in 1535.[71] Mexico City was systematically rebuilt by Cortés following the Fall of Tenochtitlan in 1521. Much of the identity, traditions and architecture of Mexico developed during the 300-year colonial period from 1521 to independence in 1821.[72]

Viceroyalty of New Spain (1521–1821)

The National Palace on the east side of Plaza de la Constitución or Zócalo, the main square of Mexico City; it was the residence of viceroys and Presidents of Mexico and now the seat of the Mexican government.

The 1521 capture Tenochtitlan and immediate founding of the Spanish capital Mexico City on its ruins was the beginning of a 300-year-long colonial era during which Mexico was known as Nueva España (New Spain). The Kingdom of New Spain was created from the remnants of the Aztec empire. The two pillars of Spanish rule were the State and the Roman Catholic Church, both under the authority of the Spanish crown. In 1493 the pope had granted sweeping powers to the Spanish crown, with the proviso that the crown spread Christianity in its new realms. In 1524, King Charles I created the Council of the Indies based in Spain to oversee State power its overseas territories; in New Spain the crown established a high court in Mexico City, the Real Audiencia, and then in 1535 created the viceroyalty. The viceroy was highest official of the State. In the religious sphere, the diocese of Mexico was created in 1530 and elevated to the Archdiocese of Mexico in 1546, with the archbishop as the head of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, overseeing Roman Catholic clergy. Castilian Spanish was the language of rulers. The Catholic faith the only one permitted, with non-Catholics (Jews and Protestants) and Catholics (excluding Indians) holding unorthodox views being subject to the Mexican Inquisition, established in 1571.[73]

In the first half-century of Spanish rule, a network of Spanish cities was created, sometimes on pre-Hispanic sites. The capital Mexico City was and remains the premier city. Cities and towns were hubs of civil officials, ecclesiastics, business, Spanish elites, and mixed-race and indigenous artisans and workers. When deposits of silver were discovered in sparsely populated northern Mexico, far from the dense populations of central Mexico, the Spanish secured the region against fiercely resistant indigenous Chichimecas. The Viceroyalty at its greatest extent included the territories of modern Mexico, Central America as far south as Costa Rica, and the western United States. The Viceregal capital Mexico City also administrated the Spanish West Indies (the Caribbean), the Spanish East Indies (that is, the Philippines), and Spanish Florida. In 1819, the Spain signed the Adams-Onís Treaty with the United States, setting New Spain's northern boundary.[74]

Viceroyalty of New Spain following the signing of the 1819 Adams-Onís Treaty

The population of Mexico was overwhelmingly indigenous and rural during the entire colonial period and beyond, despite the massive decrease in their numbers due to epidemic diseases. Diseases such as smallpox, measles, and others were introduced by Europeans and African slaves, especially in the sixteenth century. The indigenous population stabilized around one to one and a half million individuals in the 17th century from the most commonly accepted five to thirty million pre-contact population.[75] During the three hundred years of the colonial era, Mexico received between 400,000 and 500,000 Europeans,[76] between 200,000 and 250,000 African slaves.[77] and between 40,000 and 120,000 Asians.[78][79]

The first census in Mexico (then known as New Spain) that included an ethnic classification was the 1793 census. Also known as the Revillagigedo census. Most of its original datasets have reportedly been lost, thus most of what is known about it nowadays comes from essays and field investigations made by academics who had access to the census data and used it as reference for their works such as German scientist Alexander von Humboldt. Europeans ranged from 18% to 22% of New Spain's population, Mestizos from 21% to 25%, Indians from 51% to 61% and Africans were between 6,000 and 10,000. The total population ranged from 3,799,561 to 6,122,354. It is concluded that the population growth trends of whites and mestizos were even, while the percentage of the indigenous population decreased at a rate of 13%–17% per century, mostly due to the latter having higher mortality rates from living in remote locations and being in constant war with the colonists.[80] Independent-era Mexico eliminated the legal basis of the Colonial caste system which led to exclusion of racial classification in the censuses to come.

Luis de Mena, Virgin of Guadalupe and castas, showing race mixture and hierarchy as well as fruits of the realm,[81] ca. 1750

Colonial law with Spanish roots was introduced and attached to native customs creating a hierarchy between local jurisdiction (the Cabildos) and the Spanish Crown. Upper administrative offices were closed to native-born people, even those of pure Spanish blood (criollos). Administration was based on the racial separation. Society was organized in a racial hierarchy, with whites on top, mixed-race persons and blacks in the middle, and indigenous at the bottom. There were formal legal designations of racial categories. The Republic of Spaniards (República de Españoles) comprised European- and American-born Spaniards, mixed-race castas, and black Africans. The Republic of Indians (República de Indios) comprised the indigenous populations, which the Spanish lumped under the term Indian (indio), a Spanish colonial social construct which indigenous groups and individuals rejected as a category. Spaniards were exempt from paying tribute, Spanish men had access to higher education, could hold civil and ecclesiastical offices, were subject to the Inquisition, and liable for military service when the standing military was established in the late eighteenth century. Indigenous paid tribute, but were exempt from the Inquisition, indigenous men were excluded from the priesthood; and exempt from military service.

Although the racial system appears fixed and rigid, there was some fluidity within it, and racial domination of whites was not complete.[82] Since the indigenous population of New Spain was so large, there was less labor demand for expensive black slaves than other parts of Spanish America.[83][84] In the late eighteenth century the crown instituted reforms that privileged Iberian-born Spaniards (peninsulares) over American-born (criollos), limiting their access to offices. This discrimination between the two became a sparking point of discontent for white elites in the colony.[85]

The Marian apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe said to have appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego in 1531 gave impetus to the evangelization of central Mexico.[86][87] The Virgin of Guadalupe became a symbol for American-born Spaniards' (criollos) patriotism, seeking in her a Mexican source of pride, distinct from Spain.[88] The Virgin of Guadalupe was invoked by the insurgents for independence who followed Father Miguel Hidalgo during the War of Independence.[87]

New Spain was essential to the Spanish global trading system. White represents the route of the Spanish Manila Galleons in the Pacific and the Spanish convoys in the Atlantic. (Blue represents Portuguese routes.)

The rich deposits of silver, particularly in Zacatecas and Guanajuato, resulted in silver extraction dominating the economy of New Spain. Taxes on silver production became a major source of income for Spain. Other important industries were the haciendas and mercantile activities in the main cities and ports.[89] Wealth created during the colonial era spurred the development of New Spanish Baroque.[citation needed]

As a result of its trade links with Asia, the rest of the Americas, Africa and Europe and the profound effect of New World silver, central Mexico was one of the first regions to be incorporated into a globalized economy. Being at the crossroads of trade, people and cultures, Mexico City has been called the "first world city".[90] The Nao de China (Manila Galleons) operated for two and a half centuries and connected New Spain with Asia. Silver and the red dye cochineal were shipped from Veracruz to Atlantic ports in the Americas and Spain. Veracruz was also the main port of entry in mainland New Spain for European goods, immigrants from Spain, and African slaves. The Camino Real de Tierra Adentro connected Mexico City with the interior of New Spain. Mexican silver pesos became the first globally used currency.

Silver peso mined and minted in colonial Mexico, which became a global currency.

Spanish forces, sometimes accompanied by native allies, led expeditions to conquer territory or quell rebellions through the colonial era. Notable Amerindian revolts in sporadically populated northern New Spain include the Chichimeca War (1576–1606),[91] Tepehuán Revolt (1616–1620),[92] and the Pueblo Revolt (1680), the Tzeltal Rebellion of 1712 was a regional Maya revolt.[93] Most rebellions were small-scale and local, posing no major threat to the ruling elites.[94] To protect Mexico from the attacks of English, French, and Dutch pirates and protect the Crown's monopoly of revenue, only two ports were open to foreign trade—Veracruz on the Atlantic and Acapulco on the Pacific. Among the best-known pirate attacks are the 1663 Sack of Campeche[95] and 1683 Attack on Veracruz.[96] Of greater concern to the crown was of foreign invasion, especially after Britain seized in 1762 the Spanish ports of Havana, Cuba and Manila, the Philippines in the Seven Years' War. It created a standing military, increased coastal fortifications, and expanded the northern presidios and missions into Alta California. The volatility of the urban poor in Mexico City was evident in the 1692 riot in the Zócalo. The riot over the price of maize escalated to a full-scale attack on the seats of power, with the viceregal palace and the archbishop's residence attacked by the mob.[82]

Due to the importance of New Spain administrative base, Mexico was the location of the first printing shop (1539),[97] first university (1551),[98] first public park (1592),[99] and first public library (1640) in the Americas,[100] among other institutions. Important artists of the colonial period, include the writers Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, painters Cristóbal de Villalpando and Miguel Cabrera, and architect Manuel Tolsá. The Academy of San Carlos (1781) was the first major school and museum of art in the Americas.[101] German scientist Alexander von Humboldt spent a year in Mexico, finding the scientific community in the capital active and learned. He met Mexican scientist Andrés Manuel del Río Fernández, who discovered the element vanadium in 1801.[102] Many Mexican cultural features including tequila,[103] first distilled in the 16th century, charreria (17th),[104] mariachi (18th) and Mexican cuisine, a fusion of American and European (particularly Spanish) cuisine, arose during the colonial era.

War of Independence (1810–1821)

Father Miguel Hidalgo with the banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Antonio Fabrés, 1905

On 16 September 1810, a "loyalist revolt" against the ruling junta was declared by priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, in the small town of Dolores, Guanajuato.[105] This event, known as the Cry of Dolores (Spanish: Grito de Dolores) is commemorated each year, on 16 September, as Mexico's independence day.[106] The first insurgent group was formed by Hidalgo, the Spanish viceregal army captain Ignacio Allende, the militia captain Juan Aldama and La Corregidora (English: "The Magistrate") Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez. Hidalgo and some of his soldiers were captured and executed by firing squad in Chihuahua, on 31 July 1811.[107]:17–27

Following Hidalgo's death, the leadership was assumed by Ignacio López Rayón and then by the priest José María Morelos, who occupied key southern cities with the support of Mariano Matamoros and Nicolás Bravo. Being a Catholic priest himself, José María Morelos called for Roman Catholicism to be the exclusive faith in Mexico.[107]:35–37 In one notable incident, Nicolas Bravo captured 200 royalist soldiers, whom Morelos ordered should be executed in revenge of the murder of Bravo's father. In an act of mercy, Bravo instead pardoned the prisoners, most of whom then joined the insurgent cause.[107]:40–41 In 1813 the Congress of Chilpancingo was convened and, on 6 November, signed the "Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America". This Act also abolished slavery and the caste system.[107]:44–50 Morelos was captured and executed on 22 December 1815.[107]:46

Depiction of the Abrazo de Acatempan between Agustín de Iturbide, left, and Vicente Guerrero

In subsequent years, the insurgency was near collapse, but in 1820 Viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca sent an army under the criollo general Agustín de Iturbide against the troops of Vicente Guerrero who had among his trusted soldiers, Filipino Mexicans who were concentrated in Guerrero, a state later named after Vicente Guerrero himself and where the Mexican flag was first sewn. Chief among the Filipino-Mexican soldiers was General Isidoro Montes de Oca who defeated Royalist armies 3 times his force's size.[108] Then, the Criollo Royalist, Agustin Iturbide, instead of attacking Vicente Guerrero, approached Guerrero to join forces as he was impressed with his tenacity despite fighting larger odds, and on 24 August 1821 representatives of the Spanish Crown and Iturbide signed the "Treaty of Córdoba" and the "Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire", which recognized the independence of Mexico under the terms of the "Plan of Iguala".[107]:53–80 Similarly to José María Morelos' goals. A provision of the Plan of Iguala of Agustín de Iturbide bringing about Mexican independence in 1821, also included Catholic exclusivity in the religious sphere. The Constitution of 1824 declared that the official religion of the Republic would be Catholic.

Mexico's short recovery after the War of Independence was soon cut short again by the civil wars, foreign invasion and occupation, and institutional instability of the mid-19th century, which lasted until the government of Porfirio Díaz reestablished conditions that paved the way for economic growth. The conflicts that arose from the mid-1850s had a profound effect because they were widespread and made themselves perceptible in the vast rural areas of the countries, involved clashes between castes, different ethnic groups, and haciendas, and entailed a deepening of the political and ideological divisions between republicans and monarchists.[109]

Mexican Empire and the Early Republic (1821–1855)

The territorial evolution of Mexico after independence, noting the secession of Central America (purple), Chiapas annexed from Guatemala (blue), losses to the U.S. (red, white and orange) and the reannexation of the Republic of Yucatán (red)

The first thirty-five years after Mexico's independence were marked by political instability and the changing form of the Mexican State, from a monarchy to a federated republic. There were military coups d'état, foreign invasions, ideological conflict between Conservatives and Liberals, and economic stagnation. Catholicism remained the only permitted religious faith and the Catholic Church as an institution retained its special privileges, prestige, and property, a bulwark of Conservatism. The army, another Conservative institution, also retained its privileges. Former Royal Army General Agustín de Iturbide, became regent, as newly independent Mexico sought a constitutional monarch from Europe. When no member of a European royal house desired the position, Iturbide himself was declared Emperor Agustín I. The young and weak United States was the first country to recognize Mexico's independence, sending an ambassador to the court of the emperor and sending a message to Europe via the Monroe Doctrine not to intervene in Mexico. The emperor's rule was short (1822–23) and he was overthrown by army officers.[107]:87–88

The successful rebels established the First Mexican Republic. In 1824, a constitution of a federated republic was promulgated and former insurgent general Guadalupe Victoria became the first president of the newly born republic.[107]:94–95 Central America, including Chiapas, left the union. In 1829, former insurgent general and fierce Liberal Vicente Guerrero, a signatory of the Plan de Iguala that achieved independence, became president in a disputed election. During his short term in office, April to December 1829, he abolished slavery. As a visibly mixed-race man of modest origins, Guerrero was seen by white political elites as an interloper.[110] His Conservative vice president, former Royalist General Anastasio Bustamante, led a coup against him and Guerrero was judicially murdered.[111] There was constant strife between Liberals, supporters of a federal form of decentralized government and often called Federalists and their political rivals, the Conservatives, who proposed a hierarchical form of government, were termed Centralists.[107]:101–115, 125–127

Mexico's ability to maintain its independence and establish a viable government was in question. Spain attempted to reconquer its former colony during the 1820s, but eventually recognized its independence. France attempted to recoup losses it claimed for its citizens during Mexico's unrest and blockaded the Gulf Coast during the so-called Pastry War of 1838–39.[112] Santa Anna lost a leg in combat during this conflict, which he used for political purposes. Emerging as a national hero in defending Mexico was creole army general, Antonio López de Santa Anna, who had participated in the overthrow of the emperor, fought the Spanish invasion, and came to dominate the politics for the next 25 years, until his own overthrow in 1855.

Mexico also contended with indigenous groups which controlled territory that Mexico claimed in the north. The Comanche controlled a huge territory in the sparsely populated region of central and northern Texas.[113] Wanting to stabilize and develop the frontier, the Mexican government encouraged Anglo-American immigration into present-day Texas. The region bordered the United States, and was territory controlled by Comanches. There were few settlers from central Mexico moving to this remote and hostile territory. Mexico by law was a Catholic country; the Anglo Americans were primarily Protestant English speakers from the southern United States. Some brought their black slaves, which after 1829 was contrary to Mexican law. Santa Anna sought to centralize government rule, suspending the constitution and promulgating the Seven Laws, which place power in his hands. When he suspended the 1824 Constitution, civil war spread across the country. Three new governments declared independence: the Republic of Texas, the Republic of the Rio Grande and the Republic of Yucatán.[107]:129–137

The largest blow to Mexico was the U.S. invasion of Mexico in 1846 in the Mexican American War. Mexico lost much of its sparsely populated northern territory, sealed in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Despite that disastrous loss, Conservative Santa Anna returned to the presidency yet again and then was ousted and exiled in the Liberal Revolution of Ayutla.

Liberal Reform, French Intervention, and Restored Republic (1855–1876)

The Execution of Emperor Maximilian, 19 June 1867. Gen. Tomás Mejía, left, Maximiian, center, Gen. Miguel Miramón, right. Painting by Édouard Manet 1868.

The overthrow of Santa Anna and the establishment of a civilian government by Liberals allowed them to enact laws that they considered vital for Mexico's economic development. It was a prelude to more civil wars and yet another foreign invasion. The Liberal Reform attempted to modernize Mexico's economy and institutions along liberal principles. They promulgated a new Constitution of 1857, separating Church and State, stripping the Conservative institutions of the Church and the military of their special privileges (fueros); mandating the sale of Church-owned property and sale of indigenous community lands, and secularizing education.[114] Conservatives revolted, touching off civil war between rival Liberal and Conservative governments (1858–61).

The Liberals defeated the Conservative army on the battlefield, but Conservatives sought another solution to gain power via foreign intervention by the French. Mexican conservatives asked Emperor Napoleon III to place a European monarch as head of state in Mexico. The French Army defeated the Mexican Army and placed Maximilian Hapsburg on the newly established throne of Mexico, supported by Mexican Conservatives and propped up by the French Army. The Liberal republic under Benito Juárez was basically a government in internal exile, but with the end of the Civil War in the U.S. in April 1865, that government began aiding the Mexican Republic. Two years later, the French Army withdrew its support, Maximilian remained in Mexico rather than return to Europe. Republican forces captured him and he was executed in Querétaro, along with two Conservative Mexican generals. The "Restored Republic" saw the return of Juárez, who was "the personification of the embattled republic,"[115] as president.

The Conservatives had been not only defeated militarily, but also discredited politically for their collaboration with the French invaders. Liberalism became synonymous with patriotism.[116] The Mexican Army that had its roots in the colonial royal army and then the army of the early republic was destroyed. New military leaders had emerged from the War of the Reform and the conflict with the French, most notably Porfirio Díaz, a hero of the Cinco de Mayo, who now sought civilian power. Juárez won re-election in 1867, but was challenged by Díaz, who criticized him for running for re-election. Díaz then rebelled, crushed by Juárez. Having won re-election, Juárez died in office of natural causes in July 1872, and Liberal Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada became president, declaring a "religion of state" for rule of law, peace, and order. When Lerdo ran for re-election, Díaz rebelled against the civilian president, issuing the Plan of Tuxtepec. Díaz had more support and waged guerrilla warfare against Lerdo. On the verge of Díaz's victory on the battlefield, Lerdo fled from office, going into exile.[117] Another army general assumed the presidency of Mexico.

Porfiriato (1876–1911)

The Metlac railway bridge, an example of engineering achievement that overcame geographical barriers and allowed efficient movement of goods and people. Photo by Guillermo Kahlo

After the turmoil in Mexico from 1810 to 1876, the 35-year rule of Liberal General Porfirio Díaz (r.1876-1911) allowed Mexico to rapidly modernize in a period characterized as one of "order and progress". The Porfiriato was characterized by economic stability and growth, significant foreign investment and influence, an expansion of the railroad network and telecommunications, and investments in the arts and sciences.[118] The period was also marked by economic inequality and political repression. Díaz knew the potential for army rebellions, and systematically downsized the expenditure for the force, rather expanding the rural police force under direct control of the president. Díaz did not provoke the Catholic Church, coming to a modus vivendi with it; but he did not remove the anticlerical articles from the 1857 Constitution. From the late nineteenth century Porfiriato, Protestants began to make inroads in Mexico.

The government encouraged British and U.S. investment. Commercial agriculture developed in northern Mexico, with many investors from the U.S. acquiring vast ranching estates and expanding irrigated cultivation of crops. The Mexican government ordered a survey of land with the aim of selling it for development. In this period, many indigenous communities lost their lands and the men became landless wage earners on large landed enterprises (haciendas).[119] British and U.S. investors developed extractive mining of copper, lead, and other minerals, as well as petroleum on the Gulf Coast. Changes in Mexican law allowed for private enterprises to own the subsoil rights of land, rather than continuing the colonial law that gave all subsoil rights to the State. An industrial manufacturing sector also developed, particularly in textiles. At the same time, new enterprises gave rise to an industrial work force, which began organizing to gain labor rights and protections.

Díaz ruled with a group of advisors that became known as the científicos ("scientists").[120] The most influential cientifco was Secretary of Finance José Yves Limantour.[121] The Porfirian regime was influenced by positivism.[122] They rejected theology and idealism in favor of scientific methods being applied towards national development. As an integral aspect of the liberal project was secular education.

Díaz's long success did not include planning for a political transition beyond his own presidency. He made no attempt, however, to establish a family dynasty, naming no relative as his successor. As the centennial of independence approached, Díaz gave an interview where he said he was not going to run in the 1910 elections, when he would be 80. Political opposition had been suppressed and there were few avenues for a new generation of leaders. But his announcement set off a frenzy of political activity, including the unlikely candidacy of the scion of a rich landowning family, Francisco I. Madero. Madero won a surprising amount of political support when Díaz changed his mind an ran in the election, jailing Madero. The September centennial celebration of independence was the last celebration of the Porfiriato. The Mexican Revolution starting in 1910 saw a decade of civil war, the "wind that swept Mexico."[123]

Mexican Revolution (1910–1920)

Revolutionaries, 1911
Candidate Francisco I. Madero with peasant leader Emiliano Zapata in Cuernavaca during the Mexican Revolution

The Mexican Revolution was a decade-long transformational conflict in Mexico, with consequences to this day.[124] It saw uprisings against President Díaz, his resignation, an interim presidency, and the democratic election of a rich landowner, Francisco I. Madero in 1911. In February 1913, a military coup d'état overthrew Madero's government, with the support of the U.S., resulted in Madero's murder by agents of Federal Army General Victoriano Huerta. A coalition of anti-Huerta forces in the North, the Constitutionalist Army overseen by Venustiano Carranza, and a peasant army in the South under Emiliano Zapata, defeated the Federal Army. In 1914 that army was dissolved as an institution. Following the revolutionaries' victory against Huerta, revolutionary armies sought to broker a peaceful political solution, but the coalition splintered, plunging Mexico into civil war again. Constitutionalist general Pancho Villa, commander of the Division of the North, broke with Carranza and allied with Zapata. Carranza's best general, Alvaro Obregón, defeated Villa, his former comrade-in-arms in the battle of Celaya in 1915, and Villa's forces melted away. Carranza became the de facto head of Mexico, and the U.S. recognized his government. In 1916, the winners met at a constitutional convention to draft the Constitution of 1917, which was ratified in February 1917. Said Constitution strengthened the anticlerical provisions that were carried over from the 1857 Constitution.[125] With amendments, it remains the governing document of Mexico. It is estimated that the war killed 900,000 of the 1910 population of 15 million.[126][127]

The U.S. has had a history of inference and intervention in Mexico, most notably the Mexican-American War. During the Revolution, the Taft administration supported the Huerta coup against Madero, but when Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated as president in March 1913, it refused to recognize Huerta's regime and allowed arms sales to the Constitutionalists. Wilson ordered troops to occupy the strategic port of Veracruz in 1914, which was lifted.[128] After Pancho Villa was defeated by revolutionary forces in 1915, he led a raid into Columbus, New Mexico incursion, prompting the U.S. to send 10,000 troops led by General John J. Pershing in an unsuccessful attempt to capture Villa. Carranza pushed back against U.S. troops being in northern Mexico. The expeditionary forces withdrew as the U.S. entered World War I.[129] Germany attempted to get Mexico to side with it, sending a coded telegram in 1917 to incite war between the U.S. and Mexico, with Mexico to regain the territory it lost in the Mexican-American War.[130] Mexico remained neutral in the conflict.

Consolidating power, President Carranza had peasant-leader Emiliano Zapata assassinated in 1919.[107]:312 Carranza had gained support of the peasantry during the Revolution, but once in power he did little to distribute land, and, in fact, returned some confiscated land to their original owners. President Carranza's best general, Obregón, served briefly in Carranza's administration, but returned to his home state of Sonora to position himself to run in the 1920 presidential election. Carranza chose a political and revolutionary no-body to succeed him. Obregón and two other Sonoran revolutionary generals drew up the Plan of Agua Prieta, overthrowing Carranza, who died fleeing Mexico City in 1920. General Adolfo de la Huerta became interim president, followed the election of General Álvaro Obregón.

Political consolidation and one-party rule (1920–2000)

Logo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which incorporates the colors of the Mexican flag

The first quarter-century of the post-revolutionary period (1920-1946) was characterized by revolutionary generals serving as Presidents of Mexico, including Álvaro Obregón (1920–24), Plutarco Elías Calles (1924-28), Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–40), and Manuel Avila Camacho (1940–46). Since 1946, no member of the military has been President of Mexico. The post-revolutionary project of the Mexican government sought to bring order to the country, end military intervention in politics, and create organizations of interest groups. Workers, peasants, urban office workers, and even the army for a short period were incorporated as sectors of the single party that dominated Mexican politics from its founding in 1929.

Obregón instigated land reform and strengthened the power of organized labor. He gained recognition from the United States and took steps to settle claims with companies and individuals that lost property during the Revolution. He imposed his fellow former Sonoran revolutionary general, Calles, as his successor, prompting an unsuccessful military revolt. As president Calles provoked a major conflict with the Catholic Church and Catholic guerrilla armies when he strictly enforced anticlerical articles of the 1917 Constitution. The Church-State conflict was mediated and ended with the aid of the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and ended with an agreement between the parties in conflict, by means of which the respective fields of action were defined. Although the constitution prohibited reelection of the president, Obregón wished to run again and the constitution was amended to allow non-consecutive re-election. Obregón won the 1928 elections, but was assassinated by a Catholic zealot, causing a political crisis of succession. Calles could not become president again, since he has just ended his term. He sought to set up a structure to manage presidential succession, founding the party that was to dominate Mexico until the late twentieth century. Calles declared that the Revolution had moved from caudillismo (rule by strongmen) to the era institucional (institutional era).[131]

Pemex, the national oil company created in 1938 for reasons of economic nationalism; it continues to provide major revenues for the government

Despite not holding the presidency, Calles remained the key political figure during the period known as the Maximato (1929-1934). The Maximato ended during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas, who expelled Calles from the country and implemented many economic and social reforms. This included the Mexican oil expropriation in March 1938, which nationalized the U.S. and Anglo-Dutch oil company known as the Mexican Eagle Petroleum Company. This movement would result in the creation of the state-owned Mexican oil company Pemex. This sparked a diplomatic crisis with the countries whose citizens had lost businesses by Cárdenas's radical measure, but since then the company has played an important role in the economic development of Mexico. Cárdenas's successor, Manuel Ávila Camacho (1940-1946) was more moderate, and relations between the U.S. and Mexico vastly improved during World War II, when Mexico was a significant ally, providing manpower and materiel to aid the war effort.

From 1946 the election of Miguel Alemán, the first civilian president in the post-revolutionary period, Mexico embarked on an aggressive program of economic development, known as the Mexican miracle, which was characterized by industrialization, urbanization, and the increase of inequality in Mexico between urban and rural areas.[132] With robust economic growth, Mexico sought to showcase it to the world by hosting the 1968 Summer Olympics. The government poured huge resources into building new facilities. At the same time, there was political unrest by university students and others with those expenditures, while their own circumstances were difficult. Demonstrations in central Mexico City went on for weeks before the planned opening of the games, with the government of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz cracking down. The culmination was the Tlatelolco Massacre,[133] which claimed the lives of around 300 protesters based on conservative estimates and perhaps as many as 800.[134]

Logo for the 1968 Mexico Olympics
Students in a burned bus during the protests of 1968

Although the economy continued to flourish for some, social inequality remained a factor of discontent. PRI rule became increasingly authoritarian and at times oppressive in what is now referred to as the Mexican Dirty War[135]

Luis Echeverría, Minister of the Interior under Díaz Ordaz, carrying out the repression during the Olympics, was elected president in 1970. His government had to contend with mistrust of Mexicans and increasing economic problems. He instituted some with electoral reforms.[136][137] Echeverría chose José López Portillo as his successor in 1976. Economic problems worsened in his early term, then massive reserves of petroleum were located off Mexico's Gulf Coast. Pemex did not have the capacity to develop these reserves itself, and brought in foreign firms. Oil prices had been high because of OPEC's lock on oil production, and López Portilla borrowed money from foreign banks for current spending to fund social programs. Those foreign banks were happy to lend to Mexico because the oil reserves were enormous and future revenues were collateral for loans denominated in U.S. dollars. When the price of oil dropped, Mexico's economy collapsed in the 1982 Crisis. Interest rates soared, the peso devalued, and unable to pay loans, the government defaulted on its debt. President Miguel de la Madrid (1982–88) resorted to currency devaluations which in turn sparked inflation.

In the 1980s the first cracks emerged in the PRI's complete political dominance. In Baja California, the PAN candidate was elected as governor. When De la Madrid chose Carlos Salinas de Gortari as the candidate for the PRI, and therefore a foregone presidential victor, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, son of former President Lázaro Cárdenas, broke with the PRI and challenged Salinas in the 1988 elections. In 1988 there was massive electoral fraud, with results showing that Salinas had won the election by the narrowest percentage ever. There were massive protests in Mexico City to the stolen election. Salinas took the oath of office on 1 December 1988.[138] In 1990 the PRI was famously described by Mario Vargas Llosa as the "perfect dictatorship", but by then there had been major challenges to the PRI's hegemony.[139][140][141]

NAFTA signing ceremony, October 1992. From left to right: (standing) President Carlos Salinas de Gortari (Mexico), President George H. W. Bush (U.S.), and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (Canada)

Although Salinas won by fraud, he embarked on a program of neoliberal reforms which fixed the exchange rate of the peso, controlled inflation, opened Mexico to foreign investment, and began talks with the U.S. and Canada to join their free-trade agreement. In order to do that, the Constitution of 1917 was amended in several important ways. Article 27, which allowed the government to expropriate natural resources and distribute land, was amended to end agrarian reform and to guarantee private owners' property rights. The anti-clerical articles that muzzled religious institutions, especially the Catholic Church, were amended and Mexico reestablished of diplomatic relations with the Holy See, to which the Mexican State did not recognize as a political entity. Signing on to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) removed Mexico's autonomy over trade policy. The agreement came into effect on 1 January 1994; the same day, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) started a two-week-long armed rebellion against the federal government, and has continued as a non-violent opposition movement against neoliberalism and globalization.

In 1994, following the assassination of the PRI's presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio, Salinas was succeeded by substitute PRI candidate Ernesto Zedillo. Salinas left Zedillo's government to deal with the Mexican peso crisis, requiring a $50 billion IMF bailout. Major macroeconomic reforms were started by President Zedillo, and the economy rapidly recovered and growth peaked at almost 7% by the end of 1999.[142]

Contemporary Mexico

Logo for the National Action Party, the conservative party that took power in 2000

In 2000, after 71 years, the PRI lost a presidential election to Vicente Fox of the opposition National Action Party (PAN). In the 2006 presidential election, Felipe Calderón from the PAN was declared the winner, with a very narrow margin (0.58%) over leftist politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador then the candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).[143] López Obrador, however, contested the election and pledged to create an "alternative government".[144]

After twelve years, in 2012, the PRI won the presidency again with the election of Enrique Peña Nieto, the governor of the State of Mexico from 2005 to 2011. However, he won with a plurality of about 38%, and did not have a legislative majority.[145]

National Regeneration Party logo; the new MORENA party won the 2018 presidential elections

After founding the new political party MORENA, Andrés Manuel López Obrador won the 2018 presidential election with over 50% of the vote. His political coalition, led by his left-wing party, founded after the 2012 elections includes parties and politicians from all over the political spectrum. The coalition also won a majority in both the upper and lower congress chambers. AMLO's (one of his many nicknames) success is attributed to the country's other strong political alternatives exhausting their chances as well as the politician adopting a moderate discourse with focus in conciliation.[146]

Mexico has contended with high crime rates, official corruption, narcotrafficking, and a stagnant economy. Many state-owned industrial enterprises were privatized starting in the 1990s, with neoliberal reforms, but Pemex, the state-owned petroleum company is only slowly being privatized, with exploration licenses being issued.[147] In AMLO's push against government corruption, the ex-CEO of Pemex has been arrested.[148]

Although there were fears of electoral fraud in Mexico's 2018 presidential elections,[149] the results gave a mandate to AMLO. Mexico's literacy rate is high, at 94.86% in 2018, up from 82.99% in 1980,[150] with the literacy rates of males and females being relatively equal.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, as of mid-March, the country had a few cases, but as of mid-July, there were over 320,000 cases reported.


Topographic map of Mexico

Mexico is located between latitudes 14° and 33°N, and longitudes 86° and 119°W in the southern portion of North America. Almost all of Mexico lies in the North American Plate, with small parts of the Baja California peninsula on the Pacific and Cocos Plates. Geophysically, some geographers include the territory east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (around 12% of the total) within Central America.[151] Geopolitically, however, Mexico is entirely considered part of North America, along with Canada and the United States.[152]

Mexico's total area is 1,972,550 km2 (761,606 sq mi), making it the world's 13th largest country by total area. It has coastlines on the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of California, as well as the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, the latter two forming part of the Atlantic Ocean.[153] Within these seas are about 6,000 km2 (2,317 sq mi) of islands (including the remote Pacific Guadalupe Island and the Revillagigedo Islands). From its farthest land points, Mexico is a little over 2,000 mi (3,219 km) in length.

On its north, Mexico shares a 3,141 km (1,952 mi) border with the United States. The meandering Río Bravo del Norte (known as the Rio Grande in the United States) defines the border from Ciudad Juárez east to the Gulf of Mexico. A series of natural and artificial markers delineate the United States-Mexican border west from Ciudad Juárez to the Pacific Ocean. On its south, Mexico shares an 871 km (541 mi) border with Guatemala and a 251 km (156 mi) border with Belize.

Mexico is crossed from north to south by two mountain ranges known as Sierra Madre Oriental and Sierra Madre Occidental, which are the extension of the Rocky Mountains from northern North America. From east to west at the center, the country is crossed by the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt also known as the Sierra Nevada. A fourth mountain range, the Sierra Madre del Sur, runs from Michoacán to Oaxaca.[154]

As such, the majority of the Mexican central and northern territories are located at high altitudes, and the highest elevations are found at the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt: Pico de Orizaba (5,700 m or 18,701 ft), Popocatépetl (5,462 m or 17,920 ft) and Iztaccihuatl (5,286 m or 17,343 ft) and the Nevado de Toluca (4,577 m or 15,016 ft). Three major urban agglomerations are located in the valleys between these four elevations: Toluca, Greater Mexico City and Puebla.[154]


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

Areas south of the Tropic of Cancer with elevations up to 1,000 m (3,281 ft) (the southern parts of both coastal plains as well as the Yucatán Peninsula), have a yearly median temperature between 24 to 28 °C (75.2 to 82.4 °F). Temperatures here remain high throughout the year, with only a 5 °C (9 °F) difference between winter and summer median temperatures. Both Mexican coasts, except for the south coast of the Bay of Campeche and northern Baja, are also vulnerable to serious hurricanes during the summer and fall. Although low-lying areas north of the Tropic of Cancer are hot and humid during the summer, they generally have lower yearly temperature averages (from 20 to 24 °C or 68.0 to 75.2 °F) because of more moderate conditions during the winter.

Many large cities in Mexico are located in the Valley of Mexico or in adjacent valleys with altitudes generally above 2,000 m (6,562 ft). This gives them a year-round temperate climate with yearly temperature averages (from 16 to 18 °C or 60.8 to 64.4 °F) and cool nighttime temperatures throughout the year.

Many parts of Mexico, particularly the north, have a dry climate with sporadic rainfall while parts of the tropical lowlands in the south average more than 2,000 mm (78.7 in) of annual precipitation. For example, many cities in the north like Monterrey, Hermosillo, and Mexicali experience temperatures of 40 °C (104 °F) or more in summer. In the Sonoran Desert temperatures reach 50 °C (122 °F) or more.


Mexico ranks fourth[155] in the world in biodiversity and is one of the 17 megadiverse countries. With over 200,000 different species, Mexico is home of 10–12% of the world's biodiversity.[156] Mexico ranks first in biodiversity in reptiles with 707 known species, second in mammals with 438 species, fourth in amphibians with 290 species, and fourth in flora, with 26,000 different species.[157] Mexico is also considered the second country in the world in ecosystems and fourth in overall species.[158] About 2,500 species are protected by Mexican legislations.[158]

In 2002, Mexico had the second fastest rate of deforestation in the world, second only to Brazil.[159] The government has taken another initiative in the late 1990s to broaden the people's knowledge, interest and use of the country's esteemed biodiversity, through the Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad.

In Mexico, 170,000 square kilometres (65,637 sq mi) are considered "Protected Natural Areas". These include 34 biosphere reserves (unaltered ecosystems), 67 national parks, 4 natural monuments (protected in perpetuity for their aesthetic, scientific or historical value), 26 areas of protected flora and fauna, 4 areas for natural resource protection (conservation of soil, hydrological basins and forests) and 17 sanctuaries (zones rich in diverse species).[156]

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

Because of its high biodiversity Mexico has also been a frequent site of bioprospecting by international research bodies.[160] The first highly successful instance being the discovery in 1947 of the tuber "Barbasco" (Dioscorea composita) which has a high content of diosgenin, revolutionizing the production of synthetic hormones in the 1950s and 1960s and eventually leading to the invention of combined oral contraceptive pills.[161]

Government and politics


The United Mexican States are a federation whose government is representative, democratic and republican based on a presidential system according to the 1917 Constitution. The constitution establishes three levels of government: the federal Union, the state governments and the municipal governments. According to the constitution, all constituent states of the federation must have a republican form of government composed of three branches: the executive, represented by a governor and an appointed cabinet, the legislative branch constituted by a unicameral congress[162][original research?] and the judiciary, which will include a state Supreme Court of Justice. They also have their own civil and judicial codes.

The federal legislature is the bicameral Congress of the Union, composed of the Senate of the Republic and the Chamber of Deputies. The Congress makes federal law, declares war, imposes taxes, approves the national budget and international treaties, and ratifies diplomatic appointments.[163]

The federal Congress, as well as the state legislatures, are elected by a system of parallel voting that includes plurality and proportional representation.[164] The Chamber of Deputies has 500 deputies. Of these, 300 are elected by plurality vote in single-member districts (the federal electoral districts) and 200 are elected by proportional representation with closed party lists[165] for which the country is divided into five electoral constituencies.[166] The Senate is made up of 128 senators. Of these, 64 senators (two for each state and two for Mexico City) are elected by plurality vote in pairs; 32 senators are the first minority or first-runner up (one for each state and one for Mexico City), and 32 are elected by proportional representation from national closed party lists.[165]

The executive is the President of the United Mexican States, who is the head of state and government, as well as the commander-in-chief of the Mexican military forces. The President also appoints the Cabinet and other officers. The President is responsible for executing and enforcing the law, and has the power to veto bills.[167]

The highest organ of the judicial branch of government is the Supreme Court of Justice, the national supreme court, which has eleven judges appointed by the President and approved by the Senate. The Supreme Court of Justice interprets laws and judges cases of federal competency. Other institutions of the judiciary are the Federal Electoral Tribunal, collegiate, unitary and district tribunals, and the Council of the Federal Judiciary.[168]


Three parties have historically been the dominant parties in Mexican politics: the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), a center-left party and member of Socialist International[169] that was founded in 1929 to unite all the factions of the Mexican Revolution and held an almost hegemonic power in Mexican politics since then; the National Action Party (PAN), a conservative party founded in 1939 and belonging to the Christian Democrat Organization of America;[170] and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) a left-wing party,[171] founded in 1989 as the successor of the coalition of socialists and liberal parties. PRD emerged after what has now been proven was a stolen election in 1988,[172] and has won numerous state and local elections since then. PAN won its first governorship in 1989, and won the presidency in 2000 and 2006.[173]

A new political party, National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), a leftist-populist party, emerged after the 2012 election and dominated the 2018 Mexican general election.[174]

Unlike many Latin American countries, the military in Mexico does not participate in politics and is under civilian control.[175]

Law enforcement

Federal Police headquarters in Mexico City

Public security is enacted at the three levels of government, each of which has different prerogatives and responsibilities. Local and state police departments are primarily in charge of law enforcement, whereas the Mexican Federal Police are in charge of specialized duties. All levels report to the Secretaría de Seguridad Pública (Secretary of Public Security). The General Attorney's Office (Fiscalía General de la República, FGR) is a constitutional autonomous organism in charge of investigating and prosecuting crimes at the federal level, mainly those related to drug and arms trafficking,[176] espionage, and bank robberies.[177] The FGR operates the Federal Ministerial Police (Policia Federal Ministerial, PMF) an investigative and preventive agency.[178]

While the government generally respects the human rights of its citizens, serious abuses of power have been reported in security operations in the southern part of the country and in indigenous communities and poor urban neighborhoods.[179] The National Human Rights Commission has had little impact in reversing this trend, engaging mostly in documentation but failing to use its powers to issue public condemnations to the officials who ignore its recommendations.[180] By law, all defendants have the rights that assure them fair trials and humane treatment; however, the system is overburdened and overwhelmed with several problems.[179]

Despite the efforts of the authorities to fight crime and fraud, most Mexicans have low confidence in the police or the judicial system, and therefore, few crimes are actually reported by the citizens.[179] The Global Integrity Index which measures the existence and effectiveness of national anti-corruption mechanisms rated Mexico 31st behind Kenya, Thailand, and Russia.[181] In 2008, president Calderón proposed a major reform of the judicial system, which was approved by the Congress of the Union, which included oral trials, the presumption of innocence for defendants, the authority of local police to investigate crime—until then a prerogative of special police units—and several other changes intended to speed up trials.[182]


Drug cartels are a major concern in Mexico.[183] Mexico's drug war, ongoing since 2006, has left over 120,000 dead and perhaps another 37,000 missing.[33] The Mexican drug cartels have as many as 100,000 members.[184] Mexico's National Geography and Statistics Institute estimated that in 2014, one-fifth of Mexicans were victims of some sort of crime.[185] The U.S. Department of State warns its citizens to exercise increased caution when traveling in Mexico, issuing travel advisories on its website.[186]

Demonstration on 26 September 2015, in the first anniversary of the disappearance of the 43 students in the Mexican town of Iguala

President Felipe Calderón (2006–12) made eradicating organized crime one of the top priorities of his administration by deploying military personnel to cities where drug cartels operate. This move was criticized by the opposition parties and the National Human Rights Commission for escalating the violence,[187] but its effects have been positively evaluated by the US State Department's Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs as having obtained "unprecedented results" with "many important successes".[188]

Since President Felipe Calderón launched a crackdown against cartels in 2006, more than 28,000 alleged criminals have been successfully killed.[189][190] Of the total drug-related violence 4% are innocent people,[191] mostly by-passers and people trapped in between shootings; 90% accounts for criminals and 6% for military personnel and police officers.[191] In October 2007, President Calderón and US president George W. Bush announced the Mérida Initiative, a plan of law enforcement cooperation between the two countries.[192]

More than 100 journalists and media workers have been killed or disappeared since 2000, and most of these crimes remained unsolved, improperly investigated, and with few perpetrators arrested and convicted.[193][194]

The mass kidnapping of the 43 students in Iguala on 26 September 2014 triggered nationwide protests against the government's weak response to the disappearances and widespread corruption that gives free rein to criminal organizations.[195]

Foreign relations

Former President Enrique Peña Nieto with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and then-President Barack Obama of the United States at the 2016 North American Leaders' Summit

The foreign relations of Mexico are directed by the President of Mexico[196] and managed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[197] The principles of the foreign policy are constitutionally recognized in the Article 89, Section 10, which include: respect for international law and legal equality of states, their sovereignty and independence, trend to non-interventionism in the domestic affairs of other countries, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and promotion of collective security through active participation in international organizations.[196] Since the 1930s, the Estrada Doctrine has served as a crucial complement to these principles.[198]

Mexico is founding member of several international organizations, most notably the United Nations,[199] the Organization of American States,[200] the Organization of Ibero-American States,[201] the OPANAL[202] and the Rio Group.[203] In 2008, Mexico contributed over 40 million dollars to the United Nations regular budget.[204] In addition, it was the only Latin American member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development since it joined in 1994 until Chile gained full membership in 2010.[205][206]

Mexico is considered a regional power[207][208] hence its presence in major economic groups such as the G8+5 and the G-20. In addition, since the 1990s Mexico has sought a reform of the United Nations Security Council and its working methods[209] with the support of Canada, Italy, Pakistan and other nine countries, which form a group informally called the Coffee Club.[210]

After the War of Independence, the relations of Mexico were focused primarily on the United States, its northern neighbor, largest trading partner,[211] and the most powerful actor in hemispheric and world affairs.[212] Mexico supported the Cuban government since its establishment in the early 1960s,[213] the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua during the late 1970s,[214] and leftist revolutionary groups in El Salvador during the 1980s.[215] Felipe Calderón's administration (2006-2012) put a greater emphasis on relations with Latin America and the Caribbean.[216] Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018) emphasized economic issues and foreign investment, particularly the now-defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership.[217] Andrés Manuel López Obrador has taken a cautious approach, unwilling to challenge U.S. President Donald Trump on either trade or migration, while maintaining neutrality on Venezuela and welcoming Chinese money.[218]


The Mexican military "provides a unique example of a military leadership's transforming itself into a civilian political elite, simultaneously transferring the basis of power from the army to a civilian state."[219] The transformation was brought about by revolutionary generals in the 1920s and 1930s, following the demise of the Federal Army following its complete defeat during the decade-long Mexican Revolution.[220]

The Mexican Armed Forces have two branches: the Mexican Army (which includes the Mexican Air Force), and the Mexican Navy. The Mexican Armed Forces maintain significant infrastructure, including facilities for design, research, and testing of weapons, vehicles, aircraft, naval vessels, defense systems and electronics;[221][222] military industry manufacturing centers for building such systems, and advanced naval dockyards that build heavy military vessels and advanced missile technologies.[223]

In recent years, Mexico has improved its training techniques, military command and information structures and has taken steps to becoming more self-reliant in supplying its military by designing as well as manufacturing its own arms,[224] missiles,[222] aircraft,[225] vehicles, heavy weaponry, electronics,[221] defense systems,[221] armor, heavy military industrial equipment and heavy naval vessels.[226] Since the 1990s, when the military escalated its role in the war on drugs, increasing importance has been placed on acquiring airborne surveillance platforms, aircraft, helicopters, digital war-fighting technologies,[221] urban warfare equipment and rapid troop transport.[227]

Mexico has the capabilities to manufacture nuclear weapons, but abandoned this possibility with the Treaty of Tlatelolco in 1968 and pledged to only use its nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.[228] In 1970, Mexico's national institute for nuclear research successfully refined weapons grade uranium[229][failed verification] which is used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons but in April 2010, Mexico agreed to turn over its weapons grade uranium to the United States.[230][231]

Historically, Mexico has remained neutral in international conflicts,[232] with the exception of World War II. However, in recent years some political parties have proposed an amendment of the Constitution to allow the Mexican Army, Air Force or Navy to collaborate with the United Nations in peacekeeping missions, or to provide military help to countries that officially ask for it.[233] Mexico signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.[234]

Political divisions

The United Mexican States are a federation of 31 free and sovereign states, which form a union that exercises a degree of jurisdiction over Mexico City.[235]

Each state has its own constitution, congress, and a judiciary, and its citizens elect by direct voting a governor for a six-year term, and representatives to their respective unicameral state congresses for three-year terms.[236]

Mexico City is a special political division that belongs to the federation as a whole and not to a particular state.[235] Formerly known as the Federal District, its autonomy was previously limited relative to that of the states.[237] It dropped this designation in 2016 and is in the process of achieving greater political autonomy by becoming a federal entity with its own constitution and congress.[238]

The states are divided into municipalities, the smallest administrative political entity in the country, governed by a mayor or municipal president (presidente municipal), elected by its residents by plurality.[239]

Entity/Abbreviation Capital Entity/Abbreviation Capital
 Aguascalientes (AGS) Aguascalientes  Morelos (MOR) Cuernavaca
 Baja California (BC) Mexicali  Nayarit (NAY) Tepic
 Baja California Sur (BCS) La Paz  Nuevo León (NL) Monterrey
 Campeche (CAM) Campeche  Oaxaca (OAX) Oaxaca
 Chiapas (CHIS) Tuxtla Gutiérrez  Puebla (PUE) Puebla
 Chihuahua (CHIH) Chihuahua  Querétaro (QRO) Querétaro
 Coahuila (COAH) Saltillo  Quintana Roo (QR) Chetumal
 Colima (COL) Colima  San Luis Potosí (SLP) San Luis Potosí
 Durango (DUR) Durango  Sinaloa (SNL) Culiacán
 Guanajuato (GTO) Guanajuato  Sonora (SON) Hermosillo
 Guerrero (GRO) Chilpancingo  Tabasco (TAB) Villahermosa
 Hidalgo (HGO) Pachuca  Tamaulipas (TAMPS) Victoria
 Jalisco (JAL) Guadalajara  Tlaxcala (TLAX) Tlaxcala
 State of Mexico (EM) Toluca  Veracruz (VER) Xalapa
 Mexico City (CDMX) Mexico City  Yucatán (YUC) Mérida
 Michoacán (MICH) Morelia  Zacatecas (ZAC) Zacatecas


A proportional representation of Mexico's exports. The country has the most complex economy in Latin America.

As of April 2018, Mexico has the 15th largest nominal GDP (US$1.15 trillion)[240] and the 11th largest by purchasing power parity (US$2.45 trillion). GDP annual average growth was 2.9% in 2016 and 2% in 2017.[240] Agriculture has comprised 4% of the economy over the last two decades, while industry contributes 33% (mostly automotive, oil, and electronics) and services (notably financial services and tourism) contribute 63%.[240] Mexico's GDP in PPP per capita was US$18,714.05. The World Bank reported in 2009 that the country's Gross National Income in market exchange rates was the second highest in Latin America, after Brazil at US$1,830.392 billion,[241] which led to the highest income per capita in the region at $15,311.[242][243] Mexico is now firmly established as an upper middle-income country. After the slowdown of 2001 the country has recovered and has grown 4.2, 3.0 and 4.8 percent in 2004, 2005 and 2006,[244] even though it is considered to be well below Mexico's potential growth.[245] The International Monetary Fund predicts growth rates of 2.3% and 2.7% for 2018 and 2019, respectively.[240] By 2050, Mexico could potentially become the world's fifth or seventh largest economy.[246][247]

Although multiple international organizations coincide and classify Mexico as an upper middle income country, or a middle class country[248][249] Mexico's National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL), which is the organization in charge to measure the country's poverty reports that a huge percentage of Mexico's population lives in poverty. According to said council, from 2006 to 2010 (year on which the CONEVAL published its first nationwide report of poverty) the portion of Mexicans who live in poverty rose from 18%-19%[250] to 46% (52 million people).[251] However, rather than Mexico's economy crashing, international economists attribute the huge increase in the percentage of population living below the country's poverty line to the CONEVAL using new standards to define it, as now besides people who lives below the economic welfare line, people who lacks at least one "social need" such as complete education, access to healthcare, access to regular food, housing services and goods, social security etc. were considered to be living in poverty (several countries do collect information regarding the persistence of said vulnerabilities on their population, but Mexico is the only one that classifies people lacking one or more of those needs as living below its national poverty line). Said economists do point out that the percentage of people living in poverty according to Mexico's national poverty line is around 40 times higher than the one reported by the World Bank's international poverty line (with said difference being the biggest in the world) and ponder if it would not be better for countries in the situation of Mexico to adopt internationalized standards to measure poverty so the numbers obtained could be used to make accurate international comparisons.[252] According to the OECD's own poverty line (defined as the percentage of a country's population who earns 60%[253] or less of the national median income) 20% of Mexico's population lives in a situation of poverty.[254]

Among the OECD countries, Mexico has the second-highest degree of economic disparity between the extremely poor and extremely rich, after Chile – although it has been falling over the last decade, being one of few countries in which this is the case.[255] The bottom ten percent in the income hierarchy disposes of 1.36% of the country's resources, whereas the upper ten percent dispose of almost 36%. The OECD also notes that Mexico's budgeted expenses for poverty alleviation and social development is only about a third of the OECD average.[256] This is also reflected by the fact that infant mortality in Mexico is three times higher than the average among OECD nations whereas its literacy levels are in the median range of OECD nations. Nevertheless, according to Goldman Sachs, by 2050 Mexico will have the 5th largest economy in the world.[257] According to a 2008 UN report the average income in a typical urbanized area of Mexico was $26,654, while the average income in rural areas just miles away was only $8,403.[258] Daily minimum wages are set annually being set at $102.68 Mexican pesos (US$5.40) in 2019.[259] All of the indices of social development for the Mexican Indigenous population are considerably lower than the national average, which is motive of concern for the government.[260]

The electronics industry of Mexico has grown enormously within the last decade. Mexico has the sixth largest electronics industry in the world after China, United States, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Mexico is the second-largest exporter of electronics to the United States where it exported $71.4 billion worth of electronics in 2011.[261] The Mexican electronics industry is dominated by the manufacture and OEM design of televisions, displays, computers, mobile phones, circuit boards, semiconductors, electronic appliances, communications equipment and LCD modules. The Mexican electronics industry grew 20% between 2010 and 2011, up from its constant growth rate of 17% between 2003 and 2009.[261] Currently electronics represent 30% of Mexico's exports.[261]

Mexico produces the most automobiles of any North American nation.[262] The industry produces technologically complex components and engages in some research and development activities.[263] The "Big Three" (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) have been operating in Mexico since the 1930s, while Volkswagen and Nissan built their plants in the 1960s.[264] In Puebla alone, 70 industrial part-makers cluster around Volkswagen.[263] In the 2010s expansion of the sector was surging. In 2014 alone, more than $10 billion in investment was committed. In September 2016 Kia motors opened a $1 billion factory in Nuevo León,[265] with Audi also opening an assembling plant in Puebla the same year.[266] BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan currently have plants in constructuion.[267]

The domestic car industry is represented by DINA S.A., which has built buses and trucks since 1962,[268] and the new Mastretta company that builds the high-performance Mastretta MXT sports car.[269] In 2006, trade with the United States and Canada accounted for almost 50% of Mexico's exports and 45% of its imports.[11] During the first three quarters of 2010, the United States had a $46.0 billion trade deficit with Mexico.[270] In August 2010 Mexico surpassed France to become the 9th largest holder of US debt.[271] The commercial and financial dependence on the US is a cause for concern.[272]

The remittances from Mexican citizens working in the United States account for 0.2% of Mexico's GDP[273] which was equal to US$20 billion per year in 2004 and is the tenth largest source of foreign income after oil, industrial exports, manufactured goods, electronics, heavy industry, automobiles, construction, food, banking and financial services.[274] According to Mexico's central bank, remittances in 2008 amounted to $25bn.[275]


The telecommunications industry is mostly dominated by Telmex (Teléfonos de México), privatized in 1990. By 2006, Telmex had expanded its operations to Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and the United States. Other players in the domestic industry are Axtel, Maxcom, Alestra, Marcatel, AT&T Mexico.[276] Because of Mexican orography, providing a landline telephone service at remote mountainous areas is expensive, and the penetration of line-phones per capita is low compared to other Latin American countries, at 40 percent; however, 82% of Mexicans over the age of 14 own a mobile phone. Mobile telephony has the advantage of reaching all areas at a lower cost, and the total number of mobile lines is almost two times that of landlines, with an estimation of 63 million lines.[277] The telecommunication industry is regulated by the government through Cofetel (Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones).

The Mexican satellite system is domestic and operates 120 earth stations. There is also extensive microwave radio relay network and considerable use of fiber-optic and coaxial cable.[277] Mexican satellites are operated by Satélites Mexicanos (Satmex), a private company, leader in Latin America and servicing both North and South America.[278] It offers broadcast, telephone and telecommunication services to 37 countries in the Americas, from Canada to Argentina. Through business partnerships Satmex provides high-speed connectivity to ISPs and Digital Broadcast Services.[279] Satmex maintains its own satellite fleet with most of the fleet being designed and built in Mexico.

Major players in the broadcasting industry are Televisa, the largest Mexican media company in the Spanish-speaking world,[280] TV Azteca and Imagen Televisión.


The Central Eólica Sureste I, Fase II in Oaxaca. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the region of Mexico with the highest capacity for wind energy. (see Tehuantepecer, a strong wind that affects the region)

Energy production in Mexico is managed by the state-owned companies Federal Commission of Electricity and Pemex.

Pemex, the public company in charge of exploration, extraction, transportation and marketing of crude oil and natural gas, as well as the refining and distribution of petroleum products and petrochemicals, is one of the largest companies in the world by revenue, making US$86 billion in sales a year.[281][282][283] Mexico is the sixth-largest oil producer in the world, with 3.7 million barrels per day.[284] In 1980 oil exports accounted for 61.6% of total exports; by 2000 it was only 7.3%.[263]

The largest hydro plant in Mexico is the 2,400 MW Manuel Moreno Torres Dam in Chicoasén, Chiapas, in the Grijalva River. This is the world's fourth most productive hydroelectric plant.[285]

Mexico is the country with the world's third largest solar potential.[286] The country's gross solar potential is estimated at 5kWh/m2 daily, which corresponds to 50 times national electricity generation.[287] Currently, there is over 1 million square meters of solar thermal panels[288] installed in Mexico, while in 2005, there were 115,000 square meters of solar PV (photo-voltaic). It is expected that in 2012 there will be 1,8 million square meters of installed solar thermal panels.[288]

The project named SEGH-CFE 1, located in Puerto Libertad, Sonora, Northwest of Mexico, will have capacity of 46.8 MW from an array of 187,200 solar panels when complete in 2013.[289] All of the electricity will be sold directly to the CFE and absorbed into the utility's transmission system for distribution throughout their existing network. At an installed capacity of 46.8 MWp, when complete in 2013, the project will be the first utility scale project of its kind in Mexico and the largest solar project of any kind in Latin America.

Science and technology

Alfa Planetarium this institution was created by ALFA (Mexico) in 1978 to promote science and technology in Latin America

The National Autonomous University of Mexico was officially established in 1910,[290] and the university became one of the most important institutes of higher learning in Mexico.[291] UNAM provides world class education in science, medicine, and engineering.[292] Many scientific institutes and new institutes of higher learning, such as National Polytechnic Institute (founded in 1936),[293] were established during the first half of the 20th century. Most of the new research institutes were created within UNAM. Twelve institutes were integrated into UNAM from 1929 to 1973.[294] In 1959, the Mexican Academy of Sciences was created to coordinate scientific efforts between academics.

In 1995, the Mexican chemist Mario J. Molina shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Paul J. Crutzen and F. Sherwood Rowland for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone.[295] Molina, an alumnus of UNAM, became the first Mexican citizen to win the Nobel Prize in science.[296]

In recent years, the largest scientific project being developed in Mexico was the construction of the Large Millimeter Telescope (Gran Telescopio Milimétrico, GMT), the world's largest and most sensitive single-aperture telescope in its frequency range.[297] It was designed to observe regions of space obscured by stellar dust.


Cancun and the Riviera Maya is the most visited region in Latin America

As of 2017, Mexico was the 6th most visited country in the world and had the 15th highest income from tourism in the world which is also the highest in Latin America.[298] The vast majority of tourists come to Mexico from the United States and Canada followed by Europe and Asia. A smaller number also come from other Latin American countries.[299] In the 2017 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, Mexico was ranked 22nd in the world, which was 3rd in the Americas.[300]

The coastlines of Mexico harbor many stretches of beaches that are frequented by sunbathers and other visitors. According to national law, the entirety of the coastlines are under federal ownership, that is, all beaches in the country are public. On the Yucatán peninsula, one of the most popular beach destinations is the resort town of Cancún, especially among university students during spring break. Just offshore is the beach island of Isla Mujeres, and to the east is the Isla Holbox. To the south of Cancun is the coastal strip called 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 of Tulum. In addition to its beaches, the town of Tulum is notable for its cliff-side Mayan ruins.

On the Pacific coast is the notable tourist destination of Acapulco. Once the destination for the rich and famous, the beaches have become crowded and the shores are now home to many multi-story hotels and vendors. Acapulco is home to renowned cliff divers: trained divers who leap from 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, a town noted for its beaches and marlin fishing.[301] Further north along the Sea of Cortés is the Bahía de La Concepción, another beach town known for its sports fishing. Closer to the United States border is the weekend draw of San Felipe, Baja California.


The Baluarte Bridge is the highest cable-stayed bridge in the world, the fifth-highest bridge overall and the highest bridge in the Americas.

The roadway network in Mexico is extensive and all areas in the country are covered by it.[302] The roadway network in Mexico has an extent of 366,095 km (227,481 mi),[303] of which 116,802 km (72,577 mi) are paved.[304] Of these, 10,474 km (6,508 mi) are multi-lane expressways: 9,544 km (5,930 mi) are four-lane highways and the rest have 6 or more lanes.[304]

Starting in the late nineteenth century, Mexico was one of the first Latin American countries to promote railway development,[179] and the network covers 30,952 km (19,233 mi).[305] The Secretary of Communications and Transport of Mexico proposed a high-speed rail link that will transport its passengers from Mexico City to Guadalajara, Jalisco.[306][307] The train, which will travel at 300 kilometres per hour (190 miles per hour),[308] will allow passengers to travel from Mexico City to Guadalajara in just 2 hours.[308] The whole project was projected to cost 240 billion pesos, or about 25 billion US$[306] and is being paid for jointly by the Mexican government and the local private sector including the wealthiest man in the world, Mexico's billionaire business tycoon Carlos Slim.[309] The government of the state of Yucatán is also funding the construction of a high speed line connecting the cities of Cozumel to Mérida and Chichen Itza and Cancún.[310]

Mexico has 233 airports with paved runways; of these, 35 carry 97% of the passenger traffic.[305] The Mexico City International Airport remains the busiest in Latin America and the 36th busiest in the world[311] transporting 45 million passengers a year.[312]

Water supply and sanitation

Among the achievements is a significant increase in access to piped water supply in urban areas (96.4%) as well as in rural areas (69.4%) as of 2018.[313] Other achievements include the existence of a functioning national system to finance water and sanitation infrastructure with a National Water Commission as its apex institution.

The challenges include water scarcity in the northern and central parts of the country; inadequate water service quality (drinking water quality; 11% of Mexicans receiving water only intermittently as of 2014);[314] poor technical and commercial efficiency of most utilities (with an average level of non-revenue water of 43.2% in 2010);[315] increasing the national percentage of fully sanitized water which at 57%,[316] is considered to not be enough, as the country's theorically aviable percentage of water per capita is 60% lower than it was 60 years ago;[313] and the improvement of adequate access in rural areas. In addition to on-going investments to expand access, the government has embarked on a large investment program to improve wastewater treatment.


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1895 12,700,294—    
1900 13,607,272+1.39%
1910 15,160,369+1.09%
1921 14,334,780−0.51%
1930 16,552,722+1.61%
1940 19,653,552+1.73%
1950 25,791,017+2.75%
1960 34,923,129+3.08%
1970 48,225,238+3.28%
1980 66,846,833+3.32%
1990 81,249,645+1.97%
2000 97,483,412+1.84%
2010 112,336,538+1.43%
2015 121,005,816+1.50%
Source: INEGI

Throughout the 19th century, the population of Mexico had barely doubled. This trend continued during the first two decades of the 20th century, and even in the 1921 census there was a loss of about 1 million inhabitants. The phenomenon can be explained because during the decade from 1910 to 1921 the Mexican Revolution took place. The growth rate increased dramatically between the 1930s and the 1980s, when the country registered growth rates of over 3% (1950–1980). The Mexican population doubled in twenty years, and at that rate it was expected that by the year 2000 there would be 120 million Mexicans. Life expectancy went from 36 years (in 1895) to 72 years (in the year 2000). According to estimations made by Mexico's National Geography and Statistics Institute, as of 2017 Mexico has 123.5 million inhabitants[317] making it the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world.[318] Between 2005 and 2010, the Mexican population grew at an average of 1.70% per year, up from 1.16% per year between 2000 and 2005.

Even though Mexico is a very ethnically diverse country, research about ethnicity has largely been a forgotten field, in consequence of the post-revolutionary efforts of Mexico's government to unify all non-indigenous Mexicans under a single ethnic identity (that of the "Mestizo"). As a result, since 1930 the only explicit ethnic classification that has been included in Mexican censuses has been that of "Indigenous peoples".[319] Even then, across the years the government has used different criterias to count Indigenous peoples, with each of them returning considerably different numbers ranging from 5.4% to 23% of the country's population. It is not until very recently that the Mexican government begun conducting surveys that considered other ethnic groups that live in the country such as Afro-Mexicans who amount to 2% of Mexico's population[320] or White Mexicans[321][322] which amount to 47% of Mexico's population (with the criteria being based on appearance rather than on self-declared of ancestry).[323][324][325][326][327] Less numerous groups in Mexico such as Asians and Middle Easterners are also accounted for, with numbers of around 1% each.

As of 2017, it is estimated that 1.2 million foreigners have settled in the country,[328] up from nearly 1 million in 2010.[329] The vast majority of migrants come from the United States (900,000), making Mexico the top destination for U.S. citizens abroad.[330] The second largest group comes from neighboring Guatemala (54,500), followed by Spain (27,600).[328] Other major sources of migration are fellow Latin American countries, which include Colombia (20,600), Argentina (19,200) and Cuba (18,100).[328] Historically, the Lebanese diaspora and the German-born Mennonite migration have left a notorious impact in the country's culture, particularly in its cuisine and traditional music.[331][332] At the turn of the 21st century, several trends have increased the number of foreigners residing in the country such as the 2008–2014 Spanish financial crisis,[333] increasing gang-related violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America,[334] the ongoing political and economic crisis in Venezuela,[335][336] and the automotive industry boom led by Japanese and South Korean investment.[337][338]

Ethnicity and race

Depiction of the casta system in Mexico. Painting of 1777.

Regardless of ethnicity, the majority of Mexicans are united under the same national identity.[339] This is the product of an ideology strongly promoted by Mexican academics such as Manuel Gamio and José Vasconcelos known as mestizaje, whose goal was that of Mexico becoming a racially and culturally homogeneous country.[340][339][341] The ideology's influence was reflected in Mexico's national censuses of 1921 and 1930: in the former, which was Mexico's first-ever national census (but second-ever if the census made in colonial times is taken into account)[80] that considered race, approximately 60% of Mexico's population identified as Mestizos,[342] and in the latter, Mexico's government declared that all Mexicans were now Mestizos, for which racial classifications would be dropped in favor of language-based ones in future censuses.[319] During most of the 20th century these censuses' results were taken as fact, with extraofficial international publications often using them as a reference to estimate Mexico's racial composition,[343][179][344] but in recent time historians and academics have claimed that said resuslts are not accurate, as on it's efforts to homogenize Mexico the government inflated the Mestizo label's percentage by classifying a good number of people as such regardless of whether they were of actual mixed ancestry or not,[345][346][347][348] pointing out that an alteration so drastic of population trends compared to earlier censuses such as New Spain's 1793 census (on which Europeans were estimated to be 18% to 22% of the population, Mestizos 21% to 25% and Indigenous peoples 51% to 61%)[80] is not possible and that the frequency of marriages between people of different ancestries in colonial and early independent Mexico was low.[349][350] it is also observed that when asked directly about their ethno-racial identification, many Mexicans nowadays do not identify as Mestizos[351] and that "static" ethnoracial labels such as "White" or "Indian" are far more prominent in contemporary Mexican society than the "Mestizo" one is, whose use is mostly limited to intellectual circles, result of the label's constantly-changing and subjective definition.[352]

The total percentage of Mexico's indigenous peoples tends to vary depending of the criteria used by the government on its censuses: it is 5.4% if the ability to speak an indigenous language is used as the criteria to define a person as indigenous,[353] if racial self-identification is used it is 14.9%[354][a] and if people who consider themselves part indigenous are also included it amounts to 23%.[320] Nonetheless, all the censuses conclude that the majority of Mexico's indigenous population is concentrated in rural areas of the southern and south-eastern Mexican states.[357] with the highest percentages being found in Yucatán at 59% of the population, Oaxaca with 48%, Quintana Roo with 39%, Chiapas with 28% and Campeche with 27%.[260][358]

Similarly to Mestizo and indigenous peoples, estimates of the percentage of European-descended Mexicans vary considerably depending of the criteria used: recent nationwide field surveys that account for different phenotypical traits (hair color, skin color etc.) report a percentage between 18%[359]-23%[360] if the criteria is the presence of blond hair, and of 47% if the criteria is skin color, with the later surveys having been conducted by Mexico's government itself.[323][324][325][327][361] While during the colonial era, most of the European migration into Mexico was Spanish, in the 19th and 20th centuries a substantial number of non-Spanish Europeans immigrated to the country,[362] with Europeans often being the most numerous ethnic group in colonial Mexican cities.[363][364] Nowadays Mexico's northern and western regions have the highest percentages of European populations, with the majority of the people not having native admixture or being of predominantly European ancestry.[365]

Puebla de Zaragoza is the most populated city of Puebla

The Afro-Mexican population (1,381,853 individuals as of 2015)[366] is an ethnic group made up of descendants of Colonial-era slaves and recent immigrants of sub-Saharan African descent. Mexico had an active slave trade during the colonial period, and some 200,000 Africans were taken there, primarily in the 17th century. The creation of a national Mexican identity, especially after the Mexican Revolution, emphasized Mexico's indigenous and European past; it passively eliminated the African ancestors and contributions. Most of the African-descended population was absorbed into the surrounding Mestizo (mixed European/indigenous) and indigenous populations through unions among the groups. Evidence of this long history of intermarriage with Mestizo and indigenous Mexicans is also expressed in the fact that in the 2015 inter-census, 64.9% (896,829) of Afro-Mexicans also identified as indigenous. It was also reported that 9.3% of Afro-Mexicans speak an indigenous language.[367] The states with the highest self-report of Afro-Mexicans were Guerrero (6.5% of the population), Oaxaca (4.95%) and Veracruz (3.28%).[368] Afro-Mexican culture is strongest in the communities of the Costa Chica of Oaxaca and Costa Chica of Guerrero.

During the early 20th century, a substantial number of Arabs (mostly Christians)[369] began arriving from the crumbling Ottoman Empire. The largest group were the Lebanese and an estimated 400,000 Mexicans have some Lebanese ancestry.[370] Smaller ethnic groups in Mexico include South and East Asians, present since the colonial era. During the colonial era Asians were termed Chino (regardless of ethnicity), and arrived as merchants, artisans and slaves.[371] A study by Juan Esteban Rodríguez, a graduate student at the National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity, indicated that up to one third of people sampled from Guerrero state had significantly more Asian ancestry than most Mexicans, primarily Filipino or Indonesian.[372][373] Modern Asian immigration began in the late 19th century, and at one point in the early 20th century the Chinese were the second largest immigrant group.[374]


In the early 1960s, around 600,000 Mexicans lived abroad, which increased sevenfold by the 1990s to 4.4 million.[375] At the turn of the 21st century, this figure more than doubled to 9.5 million.[375] As of 2017, it is estimated that 12.9 million Mexicans live abroad, primarily in the United States, which concentrates nearly 98% of the expatriate population.[375] The majority of Mexicans have settled in states such as California, Texas and Illinois, particularly around the metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth.[376] As a result of these major migration flows in recent decades, around 36 million U.S. residents, or 11.2% of the country's population, identified as being of full or partial Mexican ancestry.[377] The remaining 2% of expatriates have settled in Canada (86,000), primarily in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec,[378] followed by Spain (49,000) and Germany (18,000), both European destinations represent almost two-thirds of the Mexican population living in the continent.[375] As for Latin America, it is estimated that 69,000 Mexicans live in the region, Guatemala (18,000) being the top destination for expatriates, followed by Bolivia (10,000) and Panama (5,000).[375]


Spanish is the de facto national language spoken by the vast majority of the population, making Mexico the world's most populous Hispanophone country.[379][318] Mexican Spanish refers to the varieties of the language spoken in the country, which differ from one region to another in sound, structure, and vocabulary.[380] In general, Mexican Spanish does not make any phonetic distinction among the letters s and z, as well as c when preceding the vowels e and i, as opposed to Peninsular Spanish. The letters b and v have the same pronunciation as well.[380] Furthermore, the usage of vos, the second person singular pronoun, found in several Latin American varieties, is replaced by ; whereas vosotros, the second person plural pronoun, fell out of use and was effectively replaced by ustedes.[380] In written form, the Spanish Royal Academy serves as the primary guideline for spelling, except for words of Amerindian origin that retain their original phonology such as cenzontle instead of sinzontle and México not Méjico. Words of foreign origin also maintain their original spelling such as whisky and film, as opposed to güisqui and filme as the Royal Academy suggests.[380] The letter x is distinctly used in Mexican Spanish, which may be pronounced as [ks] (as in oxígeno or taxi), as [ʃ] particularly in Amerindian words (e.g. mixiote, Xola and uxmal) and as the voiceless velar fricative [x] (such as Texas and Oaxaca).[380]

The federal government officially recognizes sixty-eight linguistic groups and 364 varieties of indigenous languages.[381] It is estimated that around 8.3 million citizens speak these languages,[382] with Nahuatl being the most widely spoken by more than 1.7 million, followed by Yucatec Maya used daily by nearly 850,000 people, Tzeltal and Tzotzil, two variants of the Mayan languages, are spoken by around half a million people each, primarily in the southern state of Chiapas.[382] Mixtec and Zapotec, both with estimated 500,000 native speakers each, are two other well-known language groups.[382] Since its creation in March 2003, the National Indigenous Languages Institute has been in charge of promoting and protecting the use of the country's indigenous languages, through the General Law of Indigenous Peoples' Linguistic Rights, which recognizes them de jure as "national languages" with status equal to that of Spanish.[383] Notwithstanding, in practice, indigenous peoples often face discrimination and are unable to have proper access to public services such as education and healthcare, as well as the justice system, as Spanish is the prominent language.[384]

Aside from indigenous languages, there are several minority languages spoken in Mexico due to international migration such as Low German by the 80,000-strong Menonite population, primarily settled in the northern states, fuelled by the tolerance of the federal government towards this community by allowing them to set their own educational system compatible with their customs and traditions.[385] The Chipilo dialect, a variance of the Venetian language, is spoken in the town of Chipilo, located in the central state of Puebla, by around 2,500 people, mainly descendants of Venetians that migrated to the area in the late 19th century.[386] Furthermore, English is the most commonly taught foreign language in Mexico. It is estimated that nearly 24 million, or around a fifth of the population, study the language through public schools, private institutions or self-access channels.[387] However, a high level of English proficiency is limited to only 5% of the population.[388] Moreover, French is the second most widely taught foreign language, as every year between 200,000 and 250,000 Mexican students enroll in language courses.[389][390][391]

Urban areas

The 20 largest cities in Mexico as of the 2010 census. Ecatepec and Nezahualcóyotl are part of Metropolitan Mexico City; Juárez is northern border city, directly across from El Paso, Texas; Tijuana is across from San Diego, California; and Mexicali is across from Calexico, California.


Religion in Mexico (2010 census)[1][392]
Roman Catholicism
Jehovah's Witness
Other Religion
No religion

The 2010 census by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (National Institute of Statistics and Geography) gave Roman Catholicism as the main religion, with 82.7% of the population, while 10% (10,924,103) belong to other Christian denominations, including Evangelicals (5%); Pentecostals (1.6%); other Protestant or Reformed (0.7%); Jehovah's Witnesses (1.4%); Seventh-day Adventists (0.6%); and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (0.3%).[1] 172,891 (or less than 0.2% of the total) belonged to other, non-Christian religions; 4.7% declared having no religion; 2.7% were unspecified.[1]

Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico. This painting of her at the Basilica of Guadalupe is among her most notable depictions; scientists still debate if it should be dated 1531, the year of the first apparition,[393] or the 1550s.[394]

The 92,924,489[1] Catholics of Mexico constitute in absolute terms the second largest Catholic community in the world, after Brazil's.[395] 47% percent of them attend church services weekly.[396] The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, is celebrated on 12 December and is regarded by many Mexicans as the most important religious holiday of their country.[397]

The denominations Pentecostal also have an important presence, especially in the cities of the border and in the indigenous communities. In fact, Pentecostal churches together have more than 1.3 million adherents, which in net numbers place them as the second Christian creed in Mexico. The situation changes when the different Pentecostal denominations are considered as separate entities. The third-largest Christian group is the Jehovah's Witnesses, which totals more than 1 million adherents. In the same census The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are known as Mormons, reported 314,932 members,[1] though the church claimed in 2009 to have over one million registered members.[398] Other groups are growing, such as , Mennonites and Seventh-day Adventist Church and Church of the La Luz del Mundo, which has its center in "", a colony of Guadalajara. Migratory phenomena have led to the spread of different aspects of Christianity, including branches Protestants, Eastern Catholic Churches and Eastern Orthodox Church.[399] The presence of Jews in Mexico dates back to 1521, when Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztecs, accompanied by several Conversos.[400] According to the 2010 census, there are 67,476 Jews in Mexico.[1] Islam in Mexico is practiced mostly by Arab Mexicans. In the 2010 census 18,185 Mexicans reported belonging to an Eastern religion,[1] a category which includes a tiny Buddhist population.

According to Jacobo Grinberg (in texts edited by the National Autonomous University of Mexico), it is remarkable the survival of magic-religious rituals of the old indigenous groups, not only in the current indigenous people but in the mestizos and whites that make up the Mexican rural and urban society. There is often a syncretism between shamanism and the Catholic tradition. Another religion of popular syncretism in Mexico (especially in recent years) is the Santería. This is mainly due to the large number of Cubans who settled in the territory after the Cuban Revolution (mainly in states such as Veracruz and Yucatán). Although Mexico was also a recipient of black slaves from Africa in the 16th century, the apogee of these cults is relatively new.[401] In general, popular religiosity is viewed with bad eyes by institutionally structured religions. One of the most exemplary cases of popular religiosity is the cult of Holy Dead (Santa Muerte).[citation needed] The Catholic hierarchy insists on describing it as a satanic cult. However, most of the people who profess this cult declare themselves to be Catholic believers, and consider that there is no contradiction between the tributes they offer to the Christ Child and the adoration of God. Other examples are the representations of the Passion of Christ and the celebration of Day of the Dead, which take place within the framework of the Catholic Christian imaginary, but under a very particular reinterpretation of its protagonists.[citation needed]

In certain regions, the profession of a creed other than the Catholic is seen as a threat to community unity. It is argued that the Catholic religion is part of the ethnic identity, and that the Protestants are not willing to participate in the traditional customs and practices (the or community work, participation in the festivities and similar issues). The refusal of the Protestants is because their religious beliefs do not allow them to participate in the cult of images. In extreme cases, tension between Catholics and Protestants has led to the expulsion or even murder of Protestants in several villages. The best known cases are those of San Juan Chamula,[402][403] in Chiapas, and San Nicolás, in Ixmiquilpan,[404] Hidalgo.

A similar argument was presented by a committee of anthropologists to request the government of the Republic to expel the Summer Linguistic Institute (SIL), in the year 1979, which was accused of promoting the division of indigenous peoples by translating the Bible into vernacular languages and evangelizing in a Protestant creed that threatened the integrity of popular cultures.[citation needed] The Mexican government paid attention to the call of the anthropologists and canceled the agreement that had held with the SIL. Conflicts have also occurred in other areas of social life. For example, given that Jehovah's Witnesses are prohibited from surrendering honors to national symbols (something that is done every Monday in Mexican public schools), children who have been educated in that religion were expelled from public schools. This type of problem can only be solved with the intervention of the National Commission of Human Rights, and not always with favorable results for children.[citation needed]


Since the early 1990s, Mexico entered a transitional stage in the health of its population and some indicators such as mortality patterns are identical to those found in highly developed countries like Germany or Japan.[405] Mexico's medical infrastructure is highly rated for the most part and is usually excellent in major cities,[406][407] but rural communities still lack equipment for advanced medical procedures, forcing patients in those locations to travel to the closest urban areas to get specialized medical care.[179] Social determinants of health can be used to evaluate the state of health in Mexico.

State-funded institutions such as Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) and the Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers (ISSSTE) play a major role in health and social security. Private health services are also very important and account for 13% of all medical units in the country.[408]

Medical training is done mostly at public universities with much specializations done in vocational or internship settings. Some public universities in Mexico, such as the University of Guadalajara, have signed agreements with the U.S. to receive and train American students in Medicine. Health care costs in private institutions and prescription drugs in Mexico are on average lower than that of its North American economic partners.[406]


In 2004, the literacy rate was at 97%[409] for youth under the age of 14, and 91% for people over 15,[410] placing Mexico at 24th place in the world according to UNESCO.[411]

The National Autonomous University of Mexico ranks 103rd in the QS World University Rankings, making it the best university in Mexico. After it comes the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education as the best private school in Mexico and 158th worldwide in 2019.[412] Private business schools also stand out in international rankings. IPADE and EGADE, the business schools of Universidad Panamericana and of Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education respectively, were ranked in the top 10 in a survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal among recruiters outside the United States.[413]


Olga Sánchez Cordero, Minister of the Interior (Gobernacion) in President López Obrador's cabinet

Until the twentieth century, Mexico was an overwhelmingly rural country, with rural women's status defined within the context of the family and local community. With urbanization beginning in the sixteenth century, following the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire, cities have provided economic and social opportunities not possible within rural villages. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, women including middle-class women began working outside the home in offices and factories, and the gained access to education.[414][415] Women were granted suffrage in 1953.[416] In the 21st century, Mexican women are prominent in politics, academia, journalism, literature, and visual arts among other fields. In President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's first cabinet following his 2018 election, he appointed women in equal numbers as men.[417] However, a wave of feminism in 2020 has criticized the president for his tone-deaf response to murders of women in Mexico.[418]

Mexico is among the countries that treat particular murders of women as femicide.[419] In 2014, Mexico had the 16th highest rate of homicides committed against women in the world.[420] The remains of the victims were frequently mutilated.[421] According to a 1997 study, domestic abuse in Mexican culture "is embedded in gender and marital relations fostered in Mexican women's dependence on their spouses for subsistence and for self-esteem, sustained by ideologies of romantic love, by family structure and residential arrangements".[422] The perpetrators are often the boyfriend, father-in-law, ex-husbands or husbands but only 1.6% of the murder cases led to an arrest and sentencing in 2015.[421] After a particularly well-publicized gruesome femicide followed by that of a kidnapped little girl, women began protesting more vociferously, falling on deaf ears, including those of President López Obrador. This is the first new and major movement with which his presidency has had to deal. On International Women's Day (8 March) in 2020, women staged a massive demonstration in Mexico City with some 80,000 participants. On Monday, 9 March 2020, the second day of action was marked by the absence of women at work, in class, shopping and other public activities. The "Day Without Women" (Día Sin Nosotras) was reported in the international press along with the previous day's demonstrations.[423][424]


Mexican culture reflects the complexity of the country's history through the blending of indigenous cultures and the culture of Spain, imparted during Spain's 300-year colonial rule of Mexico. Exogenous cultural elements have been incorporated into Mexican culture as time has passed.

The Porfirian era (el Porfiriato), in the last quarter of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, was marked by economic progress and peace. After four decades of civil unrest and war, Mexico saw the development of philosophy and the arts, promoted by President Díaz himself. Since that time, as accentuated during the Mexican Revolution, cultural identity has had its foundation in the mestizaje, of which the indigenous (i.e. Amerindian) element is the core. In light of the various ethnicities that formed the Mexican people, José Vasconcelos in La Raza Cósmica (The Cosmic Race) (1925) defined Mexico to be the melting pot of all races (thus extending the definition of the mestizo) not only biologically but culturally as well.[425] Other Mexican intellectuals grappled with the idea of Lo Mexicano, which seeks "to discover the national ethos of Mexican culture."[426] Nobel laureate Octavio Paz explores the notion of a Mexican national character in The Labyrinth of Solitude.


Mexican Muralism. A cultural expression starting in the 1920s created by a group of Mexican painters after the Mexican Revolution.

Painting is one of the oldest arts in Mexico. Cave painting in Mexican territory is about 7500 years old and has been found in the caves of the Baja California Peninsula. Pre-Hispanic Mexico is present in buildings and caves, in Aztec codices, in ceramics, in garments, etc. .; examples of this are the Maya mural paintings of Bonampak, or those of Teotihuacán, those of Cacaxtla and those of Monte Albán.

Mural painting with religious themes had an important flowering during the 16th century; the same in religious constructions as in houses of lineage; such is the case of the convents of Acolman, Actopan, Huejotzingo, Tecamachalco and Zinacantepec. These were also manifested in illustrated manuscripts such as the 1576 Florentine codex overseen by Franciscan Bernardino de Sahagún. Most art in the colonial era was religious, but starting in the late seventeenth century and most prominently in the eighteenth century, secular portraits and casta painting appeared. Important painters of the late colonial period were Juan Correa, Cristóbal de Villalpando and Miguel Cabrera.

Nineteenth-century painting had a marked romantic influence; landscapes and portraits were the greatest expressions of this era. Hermenegildo Bustos is one of the most appreciated painters of the historiography of Mexican art. Other painters include Santiago Rebull, Félix Parra, Eugenio Landesio, and his noted pupil, the landscape artist José María Velasco.[427]

Mexican painting of the 20th century has achieved world renown with figures such as David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, Joaquín Clausell, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, a generation of idealists who marked the image of modern Mexico in the face of strong social and economic criticism. The Oaxacan School quickly gained fame and prestige, diffusion of ancestral and modern culture. Freedom of design is observed in relation to the color and texture of the canvases and murals as a period of transition between the 20th century and the 21st century. Federico Cantú Garza, Juan O'Gorman, and Rufino Tamayo are also important artists. Diego Rivera, the most well-known figure of Mexican muralism, painted the Man at the Crossroads at the Rockefeller Center in New York City, a huge mural that was destroyed by the Rockefellers the next year because of the inclusion of a portrait of Russian communist leader Lenin.[428] Some of Rivera's murals are displayed at the Mexican National Palace and the Palace of Fine Arts.

Some of the most outstanding painters in the late 20th century and early 21st century: Francisco Toledo was a Mexican Zapotec painter, sculptor, and graphic artist. In a career that spanned seven decades, Toledo produced thousands of works of art and became widely regarded as one of Mexico's most important contemporary artists. Verónica Ruiz de Velasco is a neofigurative painter and muralist. Both Verónica Ruiz de Velasco and Francisco Toledo were students of Rufino Tamayo. Gilberto Aceves Navarro is also considered an important contemporary artist.

Throughout history several prominent painters of different nationalities have expressed in their works the face of Mexico. Among the most outstanding we can mention are Claudio Linati, Daniel Thomas Egerton, Carl Nebel, Thomas Moran, and Leonora Carrington.


Sculpture was an integral part of pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican civilizations, (Mayans, Olmecs, Toltecs, Mixtecs, Aztecs), and others, usually religious in nature. From the Spanish conquest in 1521, civil and religious sculpture was created by indigenous artists, with guidance from Spaniards, so some pre-Hispanic features are evident. Since the 17th century, white and mestizo sculptors have created works with a marked influence of European classicism. After independence in 1821, sculpture was influenced by Romanticism, which tended to break the strict norms and models of classicism, while it pursued ideas influenced by realism and nationalism. Religious sculpture was reduced to a sporadic imagery, while the secular sculpture continued in portraits and monumental art of a civic nature. Between 1820 and 1880 the predominant themes were, successively: religious images, biblical scenes, allegories to the symbols of the independence insurgency, scenes and personages of pre-Hispanic history, and busts of the old aristocracy, of the nascent bourgeoisie and commanders of the pre-revolution. During the 20th century, some important exponents of Mexican sculpture are Juan Soriano, José Luis Cuevas, and Enrique Carbajal (also known as Sebastián).[citation needed]


The presence of the humans in the Mexican territory has left important archaeological findings of great importance for the explanation of the habitat of primitive man and contemporary man. The Mesoamerican civilizations managed to have great stylistic development and proportion on the human and urban scale, the form was evolving from simplicity to aesthetic complexity; in the north of the country the adobe and stone architecture is manifested, the multifamily housing as we can see in Casas Grandes; and the troglodyte dwelling in caves of the Sierra Madre Occidental. Urbanism had a great development in pre-Hispanic cultures, where we can see the magnitude of the cities of Teotihuacán, Tollan-Xicocotitlan and México-Tenochtitlan, within the environmentalist urbanism highlight the Mayan cities to be incorporated into the monumentality of its buildings with the thickness of the jungle and complex networks of roads called sakbés. Mesoamerican architecture is noted for its pyramids which are the largest such structures outside of Ancient Egypt.

Spanish Colonial architecture is marked by the contrast between the simple, solid construction demanded by the new environment and the Baroque ornamentation exported from Spain. Mexico, as the center of New Spain has some of the most renowned buildings built in this style. With the arrival of the Spaniards, architectural theories of the Greco-Roman order with Arab influences were introduced. Due to the process of , when the first monastic temples and monasteries were built, their own models were projected, such as the mendicant monasteries, unique in their type in architecture. The interaction between Spaniards and natives gave rise to artistic styles such as the so-called (from Nahuatl: worker). Years later the baroque and mannerism were imposed in large cathedrals and civil buildings, while rural areas are built haciendas or stately farms with Mozarabic tendencies.[citation needed]

Museo Soumaya in Mexico City building

In the 19th century the neoclassical movement arose as a response to the objectives of the republican nation, one of its examples are the Hospicio Cabañas where the strict plastic of the classical orders are represented in their architectural elements, new religious buildings also arise, civilian and military that demonstrate the presence of neoclassicism. Romanticists from a past seen through archeology show images of medieval Europe, Islamic and pre-Hispanic Mexico in the form of architectural elements in the construction of international exhibition pavilions looking for an identity typical of the national culture. The art nouveau, and the art deco were styles introduced into the design of the Palacio de Bellas Artes to mark the identity of the Mexican nation with Greek-Roman and pre-Hispanic symbols.[citation needed]

Modern architecture in Mexico has an important development in the plasticity of form and space, José Villagrán García develops a theory of form that sets the pattern of teaching in many schools of architecture in the country within functionalism. The emergence of the new Mexican architecture was born as a formal order of the policies of a nationalist state that sought modernity and the differentiation of other nations. The development of a Mexican modernist architecture was perhaps mostly fully manifested in the mid-1950s construction of the Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico City, the main campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Designed by the most prestigious architects of the era, including Mario Pani, Eugenio Peschard, and Enrique del Moral, the buildings feature murals by artists Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Chávez Morado. It has since been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[429]

Juan O'Gorman was one of the first environmental architects in Mexico, developing the "organic" theory, trying to integrate the building with the landscape within the same approaches of Frank Lloyd Wright.[430] In the search for a new architecture that does not resemble the styles of the past, it achieves a joint manifestation with the mural painting and the landscaping.

The Jalisco School was a proposal of those socio-political movements that the country demanded. Luis Barragán combined the shape of the space with forms of rural vernacular architecture of Mexico and Mediterranean countries (Spain-Morocco), integrating an impressive color that handles light and shade in different tones and opens a look at the international minimalism. He won the 1980 Pritzker Prize, the highest award in architecture.[citation needed]

Mexican architecture is a cultural phenomenon born of the ideology of nationalist governments of the 20th century, which was shaping the identity image by its colorful and variegated ornamental elements inherited from ancestral cultures, classical and monumental forms and, subsequently, the incorporation of modernism and cutting-edge international trends.[citation needed]


Mexico has been photographed since the nineteenth century, when the technology was first developed. During the Porfiriato, Díaz realized the importance of photography in shaping the understanding of his regime and its accomplishments. The government hired Guillermo Kahlo (father of painter Frida Kahlo) to create photographic images of Mexico's new industrial structures as well as its pre-Hispanic and colonial past. Photographer Hugo Brehme specialized in images of "picturesque" Mexico, with images of Mexican places and often rural people. During the Mexican Revolution, photographers chronicled the conflict, usually in the aftermath of a battle, since large and heavy equipment did not permit action shots. Agustín Victor Casasola is the most famous of photographer of the revolutionary era, and he collected other photographers' images in the Casasola Archive; his vast collection was purchased by the Mexican government and is now part of the government photographic repository, the Fototeca.[431][432] After the revolution, Mexican photographers created photographs as art images.[433] Among others, notable Mexican photographers include Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Héctor García Cobo, and Graciela Iturbide.


Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, "The Tenth Muse." Posthmous portrait Juan Cabrera

Mexican literature has its antecedents in the literature of the indigenous settlements of Mesoamerica. Poetry had a rich cultural tradition in prehispanic Mexico, being divided into two broad categories—secular and religious. Aztec poetry was sung, chanted, or spoken, often to the accompanyment of a drum or a harp. While Tenochtitlan was the political capital, Texcoco was the cultural center; the Texcocan language was considered the most melodious and refined. The best well-known prehispanic poet is Nezahualcoyotl.[434]

Literature during the 16th century consisted largely of histories of Spanish conquests, and most of the writers at this time were from Spain. Bernal Díaz del Castillo's True History of the Conquest of Mexico is still widely read today. Spanish-born poet Bernardo de Balbuena extolled the virtues of Mexico in Grandeza mexicana (Mexican grandeur) (1604); Francisco de Terrazas was the first Mexican-born poet to attain renown.[435] Baroque literature flourished in the 17th century; the most notable writers of this period were Juan Ruiz de Alarcón and Juana Inés de la Cruz. Sor Juana was famous in her own time, called the "Ten Muse."[435] The 18th and early 19th centuries gave us José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi, whose The Mangy Parrot ("El Periquillo Sarniento"), is said to be the first Latin American novel. Several Jesuit humanists wrote at this time, and they were among the first to call for independence from Spain.[435]

Other writers include Ignacio Manuel Altamirano, Octavio Paz (Nobel Laureate), Carlos Fuentes, Alfonso Reyes, Renato Leduc, Carlos Monsiváis, Elena Poniatowska, Mariano Azuela (Los de abajo) and Juan Rulfo (Pedro Páramo). Bruno Traven wroteCanasta de cuentos mexicano (A basket of Mexican tales) and El tesoro de la Sierra Madre (Treasure of the Sierra Madre), Luis Spota, Jaime Sabines, Martín Luis Guzmán, Nellie Campobello, (Cartucho), and Valeria Luiselli (Faces in the Crowd) are also noteworthy.[436]


Actress Dolores del Río, Hollywood star in the 1920s and 1930s and prominent figure of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema in the 1940s and 1950s

Mexican films from the Golden Age in the 1940s and 1950s are the greatest examples of Latin American cinema, with a huge industry comparable to the Hollywood of those years. Mexican films were exported and exhibited in all of Latin America and Europe. María Candelaria (1943) by Emilio Fernández, was one of the first films awarded a Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1946, the first time the event was held after World War II. The famous Spanish-born director Luis Buñuel realized in Mexico between 1947 and 1965 some of his masterpieces like Los Olvidados (1949) and Viridiana (1961). Famous actors and actresses from this period include María Félix, Pedro Infante, Dolores del Río, Jorge Negrete and the comedian Cantinflas.

More recently, films such as Como agua para chocolate (1992), Cronos (1993), Y tu mamá también (2001), and Pan's Labyrinth (2006) have been successful in creating universal stories about contemporary subjects, and were internationally recognized, as in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Mexican directors Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores perros, Babel, Birdman, The Revenant), Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Gravity), Guillermo del Toro, Carlos Carrera (The Crime of Father Amaro), screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga and photographer Emmanuel Lubezki are some of the most known present-day film makers. Numerous Mexican actors have achieved recognition as Hollywood stars.[437]


There are three major television companies in Mexico that own the primary networks and broadcast covering all nation, Televisa, TV Azteca and Imagen Television. Televisa is also the largest producer of Spanish-language content in the world and also the world's largest Spanish-language media network.[438] Media company Grupo Imagen is another national coverage television broadcaster in Mexico, that also owns the newspaper Excélsior. Grupo Multimedios is another media conglomerate with Spanish-language broadcasting in Mexico, Spain, and the United States. The telenovelas are very traditional in Mexico and are translated to many languages and seen all over the world with renowned names like Verónica Castro, Lucía Méndez and Thalía.

Mexican cuisine

Mole sauce, which has dozens of varieties across the Republic, is seen as a symbol of Mexicanidad[439] and is considered Mexico's national dish.[439]

In 2005, Mexico presented the candidature of its gastronomy for World Heritage Site of UNESCO, being the first occasion in which a country had presented its gastronomic tradition for this purpose.[440] However, in a first instance the result was negative, because the committee did not place the proper emphasis on the importance of corn in Mexican cuisine.[441] Finally, on 16 November 2010 Mexican gastronomy was recognized as Intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.[442] In addition, Daniela Soto-Innes was named the best female chef in the world by The World's Best 50 Restaurants in April 2019.[443]

The origin of the current Mexican cuisine is established during the Spanish colonial era, a mixture of the foods of Spain with native indigenous ingredients.[444] Of foods originated in Mexico is the corn, the pepper vegetables (together with Central and South America), calabazas (together with the Americas), avocados, sweet potato (together with Central and South America), the turkey (together with the Americas) and other fruits and spices. Other Indigenous products are many beans. Similarly, some cooking techniques used today are inherited from pre-Hispanic peoples, such as the nixtamalization of corn, the cooking of food in ovens at ground level, grinding in molcajete and metate. With the Spaniards came the pork, beef and chicken meats; peppercorn, sugar, milk and all its derivatives, wheat and rice, citrus fruits and another constellation of ingredients that are part of the daily diet of Mexicans.

From this meeting of millennia old two culinary traditions, were born pozole, mole sauce, barbacoa and tamale is in its current forms, the chocolate, a large range of breads, tacos, and the broad repertoire of Mexican street foods. Beverages such as atole, champurrado, milk chocolate and aguas frescas were born; desserts such as and the full range of crystallized sweets, rompope, cajeta, and the wide repertoire of delights created in the convents of nuns in all parts of the country.


Mariachi group playing at the 10th anniversary celebration of Wikipedia in Guadalajara. Mariachi is a musical expression inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2011.

Mexican society enjoys a vast array of music genres, showing the diversity of Mexican culture. Traditional music includes mariachi, banda, norteño, ranchera and corridos; on an everyday basis most Mexicans listen to contemporary music such as pop, rock, etc. in both English and Spanish. Mexico has the largest media industry in Latin America, producing Mexican artists who are famous in Central and South America and parts of Europe, especially Spain.


Mexico's most popular sport is association football. It is commonly believed that football was introduced in Mexico by Cornish miners at the end of the 19th century. By 1902 a five-team league had emerged with a strong British influence.[445][446] Mexico's top clubs are América with 12 championships, Guadalajara with 11, and Toluca with 10.[447] Antonio Carbajal was the first player to appear in five World Cups,[448] and Hugo Sánchez was named best CONCACAF player of the 20th century by IFFHS.[449] Rafael Márquez is the only Mexican to have won the Champions League.[450]

The Mexican professional baseball league is named the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol. While usually not as strong as the United States, the Caribbean countries and Japan, Mexico has nonetheless achieved several international baseball titles.[451][452] Mexican teams have won the Caribbean Series nine times. Mexico has had several players signed by Major League teams, the most famous of them being Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela.[450]

Mexico City hosted the XIX Olympic Games in 1968, making it the first Latin American city to do so.[453] The country has also hosted the FIFA World Cup twice, in 1970 and 1986.[454]

In 2013, Mexico's basketball team won the Americas Basketball Championship and qualified for the 2014 Basketball World Cup where it reached the playoffs. Because of these achievements the country earned the hosting rights for the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship.[455]

Bullfighting (Spanish: corrida de toros) came to Mexico 500 years ago with the arrival of the Spanish. Despite efforts by animal rights activists to outlaw it, bullfighting remains a popular sport in the country, and almost all large cities have bullrings. Plaza México in Mexico City, which seats 45,000 people, is the largest bullring in the world.[456]

Mexico is an international power in professional boxing.[450] Thirteen Olympic boxing medals have been won by Mexico.[457]

Professional wrestling (or Lucha libre in Spanish) is a major crowd draw with national promotions such as AAA, CMLL and others.[450]

See also


  1. ^ Defined as persons who live in a household where an indigenous language is spoken by one of the adult family members, and or people who self-identified as indigenous ("Criteria del hogar: De esta manera, se establece, que los hogares indígenas son aquellos en donde el jefe y/o el cónyuge y/o padre o madre del jefe y/o suegro o suegra del jefe hablan una lengua indígena y también aquellos que declararon pertenecer a un grupo indígena."[355]) AND persons who speak an indigenous language but who do not live in such a household ("Por lo antes mencionado, la Comisión Nacional Para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas de México (CDI) considera población indígena (PI) a todas las personas que forman parte de un hogar indígena, donde el jefe(a) del hogar, su cónyuge y/o alguno de los ascendientes (madre o padre, madrastra o padrastro, abuelo(a), bisabuelo(a), tatarabuelo(a), suegro(a)) declaro ser hablante de lengua indígena. Además, también incluye a personas que declararon hablar alguna lengua indígena y que no forman parte de estos hogares."[356])


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