General Facts About Mexico

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Mexico's history includes many years of Spanish rule.
Mexico's history includes many years of Spanish rule.

The country of Mexico, part of the southern portion of the North American continent, shares borders with the United States to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south. The Gulf of Mexico lies on the eastern side of Mexico, with Belize, Guatemala and the Caribbean Sea sharing the border to the southeast. Mexico offers a wealth of history and culture.

  1. History

    • In the early 1500s, Spain conquered Mexico, but a variety of cultures thrived in Mexico for hundreds of years before the Spaniards arrived. Some of the highly developed cultures in Mexico included the Aztecs and Mayas. In 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo declared Mexico's independence from Spain, starting a ten-year war that gained Mexico their freedom.

    Profile

    • More than 111 million people live in Mexico in 2010. Over 20 million people live in the country's capital, Mexico City, making it one of the largest populated cities in the world. Other major cities include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Tijuana, Acapulco and Veracruz. More than 75 percent of the population practices Catholicism. Mexico practices free trade, with 80 percent of the country's exports going to the United States. Since the country remains closely tied to the U.S. business cycle, Mexico usually goes through the economic slowdowns and upswings that affect the United States.

    Geography

    • The country features two mountain ranges: the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Sierra Madre Oriental. Both mountain ranges extend south from mountains in the United States; the Sierra Madre Occidental continues from the Sierra Nevadas in California, and the Sierra Madre Oriental extends from the Rocky Mountains. Between the two mountain ranges lies the altiplano, a vast expanse of land filled with valleys formed by ancient lakes.

    Climate

    • Mexico consists of temperate and tropical zones divided by the Tropic of Cancer, also known as the 24th parallel. To the south of the parallel, cities like Mexico City enjoy fairly constant, warm temperatures typical of a tropical area. Areas north of the parallel experience cooler temperatures in the winter. Rainfall varies according to the location and the season, but all of Mexico lies within the hurricane belt.

    Government

    • The Mexican government in 2010 follows a constitution (created in 1917) that separates powers into executive, legislative and judicial branches. The president of Mexico gets elected for a six-year term, and may not hold office a second time. Congress consists of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies, with consecutive terms prohibited. Senators get elected to six-year terms, while deputies serve for three years.

    Culture

    • The official language spoken in Mexico is Spanish, although more than 100 Native American languages are still spoken in the country. In Mexican culture, many of the customs evolve around both the nuclear and extended family.

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  • Photo Credit mexico image by TEMISTOCLE LUCARELLI from Fotolia.com

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