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Covering almost 2 million square kilometers, Mexico is the fifth-largest
country in the Americas by total area and the 14th largest in the
world. With an estimated population of 109 million, it is the
11th most populous country and the most populous Spanish-speaking
country in the world.
As a regional power and the only Latin American member of
the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
since 1994, Mexico is firmly established as an upper middle-income
Mexico is the 12th largest economy in the world by gross domestic
product (GDP) by purchasing power parity. The economy is strongly
linked to those of its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
partners. Elections held in July 2000 marked the first time that
an opposition party won the presidency from the Institutional Revolutionary
Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional: PRI) which had held
it since 1929, culminating the political alternation at the federal
level, which had begun at the local level during the 1980s.
2 Geography and climate
3.1 Pre-Columbian civilizations
3.2 Colonial era and independence
3.3 20th and 21st centuries
4 Government and politics
4.1 Foreign relations
6 The federation: States of Mexico and the Federal District
9.3 Fine arts
9.4 Broadcast media
11.1 Science and technology
12 See also
15 External links
Image of Mexico-Tenochtitlan from the Mendoza codex.Main article:
Toponymy of Mexico
After winning independence from Spain, it was decided that the new
country would be named after its capital city, whose original name
of foundation was México-Tenochtitlan, in reference to the
Mexica tribe, the main group of people of what came to be known
as the Aztec civilization. The origin of the name of the Mexica
is obscure and subject to diverse interpretations. Some argue
that it derives from the Nahuatl Mexitl or Mexitli, a secret name
for the god of war and patron of the Aztecs, Huitzilopochtli, in
which case Mexico means "Place where Mexitli lives". Another
hypothesis is that the word Mexiko derives from the metztli ("moon"),
xictli ("navel", "center" or "son"),
and the suffix -co (place), in which case it means "Place at
the center of the moon" or "Place at the center of the
Lake Moon", in reference to Lake Texcoco. The system of interconnected
lakes, of which Texcoco was at the center, had the form of a rabbit,
the same image that the Aztecs saw in the moon. Tenochtitlan was
located at the center (or navel) of the lake (or rabbit/moon).
Still another hypothesis suggests that it is derived from Mectli,
the goddess of maguey.
The name of the city was transliterated to Spanish as México
with the phonetic value of the x in Medieval Spanish, which represented
the voiceless postalveolar fricative /?/. This sound, as well as
the voiced postalveolar fricative /?/, represented by a j, evolved
into a voiceless velar fricative /x/ during the sixteenth century.
This led to the use of the variant Méjico in many publications
in Spanish, most notably in Spain, whereas in Mexico and some other
Spanish–speaking countries México was the preferred
spelling. In recent years the Real Academia Española, which
regulates the Spanish language, determined that both variants are
acceptable in Spanish but that the normative recommended spelling
is México. The majority of publications in all Spanish-speaking
countries now adhere to the new norm, even though the alternative
variant is still occasionally used. In English, the x in Mexico
represents neither the original nor the current sound, but the consonant
Geography and climate
A picture of Mexico seen from space.Main article: Geography of Mexico
Situated in southern North America at about 23° N and
102° W, Mexico comprises much of Middle America.
Physiographically, the lands east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec
including the Yucatán Peninsula (which together comprise
around 12% of the country's area) lie within Central America; geologically,
the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt delimits the region on the north.
Geopolitically, however, Mexico is commonly not considered a Central
Mexico's total area is 1,972,550 km², making it the world's
14th largest country by total area, and includes approximately 6,000
km² of islands in the Pacific Ocean (including the remote Guadalupe
Island and the Islas Revillagigedo), Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea,
and Gulf of California. On its north, Mexico shares a 3,141 km 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 border with Guatemala and a 251 km
border with Belize.
Topographic map of Mexico.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. 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), Popocatépetl (5,462
m) and Iztaccíhuatl (5,286 m) and the Nevado de Toluca (4,577
m). Three major urban agglomerations are located in the valleys
between these four elevations: Toluca, Greater Mexico City and Puebla.
Annual snowfall in Chihuahua and an isolated beach in Cabo San Lucas.
Map of climates in MexicoThe Tropic of Cancer effectively divides
the country into temperate and tropical zones. Land north of the
twenty-fourth parallel experiences cooler temperatures during the
winter months. South of the twenty-fourth parallel, temperatures
are fairly constant year round and vary solely as a function of
Areas south of the twenty-fourth parallel with elevations up to
1,000 meters (the southern parts of both coastal plains as well
as the Yucatán Peninsula), have a yearly median temperature
between 24 and 28 °C. Temperatures here remain high throughout
the year, with only a 5 °C difference between winter and summer
median temperatures. Although low-lying areas north of the twentieth-fourth
parallel are hot and humid during the summer, they generally have
lower yearly temperature averages (from 20 to 24 °C) 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, this
gives them a year-round temperate climate with yearly temperature
averages (from 16 to 18 °C) 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 200 cm of annual precipitation.
A Lepisosteus, one of the endemic species of Mexico.Mexico is one
of the 17 megadiverse countries of the world. With over 200,000
different species, Mexico is home of 10–12% of the world's
biodiversity. 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. Mexico is also considered the second country
in the world in ecosystems and fourth in overall species. Approximately
2,500 species are protected by Mexican legislations. The Mexican
government created the National System of Information about Biodiversity,
in order to study and promote the sustainable use of ecosystems.
In Mexico, 170,000 square kilometres are considered "Protected
Natural Areas." These include 34 reserve biospheres (unaltered
ecosystems), 64 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).
Main article: History of Mexico
"The Castle" of Chichén-Itzá, one of the
New Seven Wonders.Human presence in Mexico has been shown to date
back 40,000 years based upon ancient human footprints discovered
in the Valley of Mexico (previous evidence substantiated indigenous
inhabitants at 12,500 years ago). For thousands of years, Mexico
was a land of hunter-gatherers. Around 9,000 years ago, ancient
Mexicans domesticated corn and initiated an agricultural revolution,
leading to the formation of many complex civilizations.
These civilizations revolved around cities with writing, monumental
architecture, astronomical studies, mathematics, and militaries.
For almost three thousand years, Aridoamerica (northern Mexico)
and Mesoamerica (central and southern Mexico) were the site
of several advanced Amerindian civilizations, among them the Olmecs,
the Mayas and the Aztecs.
In 1519, the native civilizations of what is now Mexico were invaded
by Spain; this was one of the most important conquest campaigns
in America. Two years later, in 1521, the Aztec capital and metropolis
of Tenochtitlan was conquered by an alliance between Spanish and
Tlaxcaltecs, the main enemies of the Aztecs, setting up a three-century
colonial rule in Mexico. The viceroyalty of New Spain became the
first and largest provider of resources for the Spanish Empire,
and the most populated of all Spanish colonies.
After the independence of the vice-royalty of New Spain, it was
decided to name the country after its capital, Mexico City. The
city's original name was Mexico-Tenochtitlan, in reference to the
name of the Nahua Aztec tribe, the Mexica.
Colonial era and independence
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the founder of the Mexican independence
movement.On September 16, 1810, independence from Spain was declared
by Priest Miguel Hidalgo in the small town of Dolores, Guanajuato
state. This was the catalyst for a long war that eventually
led to recognized independence in 1821 and the creation of an ephemeral
First Mexican Empire. Agustín de Iturbide was the first and
only emperor. Two years later, he was deposed by the republican
forces. In 1824, a republican constitution was drafted creating
the United Mexican States with Guadalupe Victoria as its first President.
The first four decades of independent Mexico were marked by a constant
strife between liberales (those who supported the federal form of
government stipulated in the 1824 constitution) and conservadores
(who proposed a hierarchical form of government in which all local
authorities were appointed and subject to a central authority).
General Antonio López de Santa Anna was a strong influence
in Mexican politics, a centralist and a two-time dictator. In 1836,
he approved the Siete Leyes, a radical amendment to the constitution
that institutionalized the centralized form of government, after
which Texas declared independence from Mexico, obtained in 1836.
The annexation of Texas by the United States created a border dispute
that would cause the Mexican-American War. Santa Anna played a big
role in trying to muster Mexican forces but this war resulted in
the resolute defeat of Mexico and as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe
Hidalgo (1848), Mexico lost one third of its surface area to the
Evolution of the Mexican territory.Dissatisfaction with Santa Anna's
return to power, and his unconstitutional rule, led to the liberal
Revolution of Ayutla, which initiated an era of liberal reforms,
known as La Reforma, after which a new constitution was drafted
that reestablished federalism as the form of government and first
introduced freedom of religion. In the 1860s the country again underwent
a military occupation, this time by France, which established the
Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria on the Mexican
throne as Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico with support from the Catholic
clergy and the conservative Mexicans. This Second Mexican Empire
was victorious for only a few years, when the previous president
of the Republic, the Zapotec Indian Benito Juárez, managed
to restore the republic in 1867.
20th and 21st centuries
Venustiano Carranza, former president and supporter of the 1917
constitution.Porfirio Díaz, a republican general during the
French intervention, ruled Mexico from 1876–1880 and then
from 1880–1911 in five consecutive reelections. The period
of his rule is known as the Porfiriato, which was characterized
by remarkable economic achievements, investments in art and sciences,
but also of huge economic inequality and political repression.
An obvious and preposterous electoral fraud that led to his fifth
reelection sparked the Mexican Revolution of 1910, initially led
by Francisco I. Madero. Díaz resigned in 1911 and Madero
was elected president but overthrown and murdered in a coup d'état
in 1913 led by a conservative general named Victoriano Huerta after
a secret council held with the U.S. ambassador Henry Lane Wilson.
This re-ignited the civil war, with participants such as Pancho
Villa and Emiliano Zapata who formed their own forces. A third force,
the constitutional army led by Venustiano Carranza, managed to bring
an end to the war, and radically amended the 1857 Constitution to
include many of the social premises and demands of the revolutionaries
into what was eventually called the 1917 Constitution. Carranza
was killed in 1920 and succeeded by another revolutionary hero,
Álvaro Obregón, who in turn was succeeded by Plutarco
Elías Calles. Obregón was reelected in 1928 but assassinated
before he could assume power. Shortly after, Calles founded the
National Revolutionary Party (PNR), later renamed the Institutional
Revolutionary Party (PRI) which became the most influential party
during the next 70 years.
During the next four decades, Mexico experienced substantial economic
growth that historians call "El Milagro Mexicano", the
Mexican Miracle. The assumption of mineral rights by the government,
and the subsequent nationalization of the oil industry into PEMEX
during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas del Río
(1938) was a popular move, but sparked a diplomatic crisis with
those countries whose citizens had lost businesses expropriated
by the Cárdenas government.
Although the economy continued to flourish, social inequality remained
a factor of discontent. Moreover, the PRI rule became increasingly
authoritarian and at times oppressive. An example of this is
the Tlatelolco Massacre of 1968, which by according to government
officials claimed the life of around 30 protesters, even though
many reputable international accounts reported that around 250 protesters
were killed by security forces in a clash at the neighborhood.
In the 1970s there was extreme dissatisfaction with the administration
of Luis Echeverría which took missteps in both the national
and international arenas. Nonetheless, it was in this decade that
the first substantial changes to electoral law were made, which
initiated a movement of democratization of a system that had become
electorally authoritarian. While the prices of oil were
at historically high records and interest rates were low, Mexico
made impressive investments in the state-owned oil company, with
the intention of revitalizing the economy, but overborrowing and
mismanagement of oil revenues led to inflation and exacerbated the
crisis of 1982. That year, oil prices plunged, interest rates soared,
and the government defaulted on its debt. In an attempt to stabilize
the current account balance, and given the reluctance of international
lenders to return to Mexico given the previous default, President
de la Madrid resorted to currency devaluations which in turn sparked
Former President Vicente Fox and U.S. President George Bush at the
signature of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.The
first small cracks in the political monopolistic position of PRI
were seen in the late 1970s with the creation of 100 deputy seats
in the Chamber of Deputies assigned through proportional representation
with closed party-lists. Even though at the municipal level the
first non-PRI mayor was elected in 1947, it was not until 1989
that the first non-PRI governor of a state was elected. However,
many sources claimed that in 1988 the party resorted to electoral
fraud in order to prevent leftist opposition candidate Cuauhtémoc
Cárdenas from winning the national presidential elections
who lost to Carlos Salinas, which led to massive protests in the
capital. Salinas embarked on a program of neoliberal reforms
which fixed the exchange rate, controlled inflation and culminated
with the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),
which came into effect in 1994. However, that very same day, the
Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) started a two-week-lived
armed rebellion against the federal government, and has continued
as a non-violent opposition movement against neoliberalism and globalization.
Being an election year, in a process that was then called the most
transparent in Mexican history, authorities were reluctant to devalue
the peso, a move which caused a rapid depletion of the National
Reserves. In December 1994, a month after Salinas was succeeded
by Ernesto Zedillo, the Mexican economy collapsed.
With a rapid rescue packaged authorized by United States President
Bill Clinton and major macroeconomic reforms started by president
Zedillo, the economy rapidly recovered and growth peaked at almost
7% by the end of 1999. After a comprehensive electoral reform
to increase party representation during Zedillo's administration,
as well as discontent with PRI after the economic crisis, led the
PRI to lose its absolute majority in the Congress in 1997. In 2000,
after 71 years the PRI lost a presidential election to Vicente Fox
of the opposition National Action Party (PAN). Neither party had
absolute majority in the Congress.
On March 23, 2005, the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North
America was signed by Vicente Fox. During the 2006 elections, the
position of PRI in the Congress was further weakened and became
the third political force in number of seats in the Chamber of Deputies
after PAN and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), even
though the party still has the plurality of state governorships.
In the concurrent presidential elections, Felipe Calderón,
from PAN was declared winner, with a razor-thin margin over Andrés
Manuel López Obrador PRD. López Obrador, however,
contested the election and pledged to create an "alternative
Government and politics
Main article: Politics of Mexico
Palacio de San Lázaro, Chamber of Deputies, Congress of the
The National Palace, former seat of the Executive PowerThe United
Mexican States are a federation whose government is representative,
democratic and republican based on a congressional system according
to the 1917 Constitution. The constitution establishes three levels
of government: the federal Union, the state governments and the
municipal governments. All officials at the three levels are elected
by voters through first-past-the-post plurality, proportional representation
or are appointed by other elected officials.
The federal government is constituted by the Powers of the Union,
the three separate branches of government:
Legislative: the bicameral Congress of the Union, composed of a
Senate and a Chamber of Deputies, which makes federal law, declares
war, imposes taxes, approves the national budget and international
treaties, and ratifies diplomatic appointments.
Executive: 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, with
Senate approval, the Cabinet and other officers. The President is
responsible for executing and enforcing the law, and has the authority
of vetoing bills.
Judiciary: The Supreme Court of Justice, comprised by eleven judges
appointed by the President with Senate approval, who interpret laws
and judge cases of federal competency. Other institutions of the
judiciary are the Electoral Tribunal, collegiate, unitary and district
tribunals, and the Council of the Federal Judiciary.
All elected executive officials are elected by plurality (first-past-the-post).
Seats to the legislature are elected by plurality and proportional
representation at the federal and state level. The Chamber of
Deputies of the Congress of the Union is conformed by 300 deputies
elected by plurality and 200 deputies by proportional representation
with closed party lists for which the country is divided into
5 electoral constituencies or circumscriptions. The Senate is
conformed by a total of 128 senators: 64 senators, two per state
and the Federal District elected by plurality in pairs; 32 senators
assigned to the first minority or first-runner up (one per state
and the Federal District), and 32 elected by proportional representation
with closed party lists for which the country conforms a single
According to the constitution, all constituent states 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 and the
judiciary, also called a Supreme Court of Justice. They also have
their own civil and judicial codes.
In the 2006–2009 Congress of the Union, eight parties are
therein represented; five of them, however, have not received neither
in this nor in previous congresses more than 4% of the national
votes. The other three parties have historically been the dominant
parties in Mexican politics:
National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN): a
center-right conservative party founded in 1939.
Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional,
PRI): a center party that ascribes to social democracy, founded
in 1929 to unite all the factions of the Mexican Revolution. Prominent
right-wing as well as left-wing Mexican politicians have been members
of the party.
Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución
Democrática, PRD): a center-left party founded in 1989 by
the coalition of socialists and liberal parties, the National Democratic
Front which had presented the candidacy of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas
in the 1988 elections.
The PRI held an almost hegemonic power in Mexican politics since
1929. Since 1977 consecutive electoral reforms allowed opposition
parties to win more posts at the local and federal level. This process
culminated in the 2000 presidential elections in which Vicente Fox,
candidate of the PAN, became the first non-PRI president to be elected
in 71 years.
In 2006, Felipe Calderón of the PAN faced Andrés
Manuel López Obrador of the PRD in a very close election
(0.58% difference), in a system without a second-ballot. On September
6, 2006, Felipe Calderón was declared President-elect by
the electoral tribunal. His cabinet was sworn in at midnight on
December 1, 2006 and Calderón was handed the presidential
band by outgoing Vicente Fox at Los Pinos. He was officially sworn
as President on the morning of December 1, 2006 in Congress.
President Calderón and Canadian Prime Minister Harper at
the 2007 North American Leaders' Summit.Main article: Foreign relations
Traditionally, the Mexican government has sought to maintain its
interests abroad and project its influence largely through moral
persuasion rather than through political or economical pressure.
Since the Mexican Revolution, and until the administration of President
Ernesto Zedillo, Mexico had been known for its foreign policy or
"doctrine" known as the Doctrina Estrada ("Estrada
Doctrine", named after its creator Genaro Estrada). The Estrada
Doctrine was a foreign policy guideline of an enclosed view of sovereignty.
It claimed that foreign governments should not judge, positively
or negatively, the governments or changes in government of other
nations, in that such action would imply a breach to their sovereignty.
This policy was said to be based on the principles of Non-Intervention,
Pacific Solution to Controversies, and Self-Determination of all
During his presidency, Vicente Fox appointed Jorge Castañeda
to be his Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Castañeda immediately
broke with the Estrada Doctrine, promoting what was called by critics
the "Castañeda Doctrine". The new foreign policy
called for an openness and an acceptance of criticism from the international
community, and the increase of Mexican involvement in foreign affairs.
In line with this new openness in Mexico's foreign policy, some
political parties have proposed an amendment of the Constitution
in order to allow the Mexican Army, Air Force or Navy to collaborate
with the United Nations in peace-keeping missions, or to provide
military help to countries that officially ask for it.
Main articles: Military of Mexico, Mexican Army, Mexican Air Force,
and Mexican Navy
Mexican troops in Mexico City in the Revolution ParadeMexico has
the second largest defence budget ($6.07 billion USD) and armed
forces in Latin America. Mexico's military strength includes
503,777 total personnel, of which around 192,770 are active in the
frontline. The Mexican Military has three branches; the Mexican
Army, the Mexican Air Force, and the Mexican Navy.
There are three main components of the Army: a national headquarters,
territorial commands, and independent units. The Minister of Defense
commands the Army by means of a very centralized system and a large
number of general officers. The Army uses a modified continental
staff system in its headquarters. The Army is the largest branch
of Mexico's armed services. At present there are 12 "Military
Regions", which are further broken down into 44 subordinate
Mexican Air Force
The Air Force national headquarters is embedded in the Army headquarters
in Mexico City. It also follows the continental staff system, with
the usual A1, A2, A3, and A4 sections. The tactical forces form
what is loosely called an Air Division, but it is dispersed in four
regions—Northeast, Northwest, Central, and Southern. The Air
Force maintains a total of 18 air bases, and has the additional
capability of opening temporary forward operating bases in austere
conditions for some of the rotary wing and light fixed-wing assets.
ARM Allende (FF-211)The Ministry of the Navy, the Navy’s national
headquarters, is located in Veracruz City. The “Junta (or
Council) of Admirals” plays a unique consultative and advisory
role within the headquarters, an indication of the institutional
importance placed on seniority and “year groups” that
go back to the admirals’ days as cadets in the naval college.
They are a very tightly knit group, and great importance is placed
on consultation among the factions within these year groups.
The Navy’s operational forces are organized as two independent
groups: the Gulf (East) Force and the Pacific (West) Force. Each
group has its own headquarters, a destroyer group, an auxiliary
vessel group, a Marine Infantry Group, and a Special Forces group.
The Navy also has an air arm with troop transport, reconnaissance,
and surveillance aircraft.
The Navy maintains significant infrastructure, including naval
dockyards that have the capability of building ships, such as the
Holzinger class gunboats. These dockyards have a significant employment
and economic impact in the country.
The federation: States of Mexico and the Federal District
Main article: Political divisions of Mexico
See also: Mexican state name etymologies
The United Mexican States are a federation of thirty-one free and
sovereign states which form a Union that exercises jurisdiction
over the Federal District and other territories. Each state has
its own constitution and congress, as well as a judiciary, and its
citizens elect by direct voting, a governor (gobernador) for a six-year
term, as well as representatives (diputados locales) to their respective
state congresses, for three-year terms. The 31 states and the
Federal District are collectively called "federal entities",
and all are equally represented in the Congress of the Union.
Mexican states are also divided into municipalities (municipios),
the smallest official political entity in the country, governed
by a mayor or "municipal president" (presidente municipal),
elected by its residents by plurality. Municipalities can be
further subdivided into non-autonomous boroughs or in semi-autonomous
Constitutionally, Mexico City, as the capital of the federation
and seat of the powers of the Union, is the Federal District, a
special political division in Mexico that belongs to the federation
as a whole and not to a particular state, and as such, has more
limited local rule than the nation's states. Nonetheless, since
1987 it has progressively gained a greater degree of autonomy, and
residents now elect a head of government (Jefe de Gobierno) and
representatives of a Legislative Assembly directly. Unlike the states,
the Federal District does not have a constitution but a statute
of government. Mexico City is conterminous and coextensive with
the Federal District.
The names of the thirty-one states and the Federal district and
their official postal abbreviations in parentheses are:
Baja California (BC)
Baja California Sur (BCS)
Distrito Federal (DF)
México (Mex or Edomex)
Nuevo León (NL)
Quintana Roo (Q Roo)
San Luis Potosí (SLP)
Main articles: Economy of Mexico and Economic history of Mexico
Mexico Stock Market building.
Mexico City is the largest city in the Americas and the second largest
in the WorldMexico has a free market economy, and is firmly established
as an upper middle-income country, and it is the 12th largest
economy in the world as measured in Gross Domestic Product in purchasing
power parity. After the 1994 economic debacle, Mexico has made
an impressive recovery, building a modern and diversified economy.
Recent administrations have also improved infrastructure and opened
competition in seaports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity
generation, natural gas distribution and airports. Oil is Mexico's
largest source of foreign income.
According to the director for Mexico at the World Bank, the population
in extreme poverty has decreased from 24.2% to 17.6% in the general
population and from 42% to 27.9% in rural areas from 2000-2004.
Nonetheless, income inequality remains a problem, and huge gaps
remain not only between rich and poor but also between the north
and the south, and between urban and rural areas. Sharp contrasts
in income and Human Development are also a grave problem in Mexico.
The 2004 United Nations Human Development Index report for Mexico
states that Benito Juárez, a district of the Distrito Federal,
and San Pedro Garza García, in the State of Nuevo León,
would have a similar level of economic, educational and life expectancy
development to Germany or New Zealand. In contrast, Metlatonoc,
in the state of Guerrero, would have an HDI similar to that of Syria.
Many of the positive effects in poverty reduction and the increase
in purchasing power of the middle class are attributed to the macroeconomic
stability pursued by the last two administrations. GDP annual average
growth for the period of 1995–2002 was 5.1%. The economic
downturn in the United States also caused a similar pattern in Mexico,
from which it rapidly recovered to grow 4.1% in 2005 and 3% in 2005.
Inflation has reached a record low of 3.3% in 2005, and interest
rates are low, which have spurred credit-consumption in the middle
class. The Fox administration also provided monetary stability:
the budget deficit was further reduced and foreign debt was decreased
to less than 20% of GDP. Along with Chile, Mexico has the highest
rating of long-term sovereign credit in Latin America. Poverty in
Mexico is further reduced by remittances from Mexican citizens working
in the United States of America, which reaches US$20 billion dollars
per year and is the second largest source of foreign income after
Country Percentage Country Percentage
United States 88.4 % United States 68.4 %
Canada 2.0 % Japan 4.7 %
Germany 0.9 % Germany 3.6 %
Spain 0.8 % Canada 2.5 %
Netherlands Antilles 0.6 % China 2.2 %
Japan 0.4 % South Korea 2.1 %
United Kingdom 0.4 % Taiwan 1.6 %
Venezuela 0.4 % Italy 1.6 %
Others 6.1 % Others 13.3 %
Source: INEGI, 2005
Approximately 90% of Mexican trade has been put under free trade
agreements with over 40 countries, of which the North American Free
Trade Agreement remains the most significant. Almost 90% of Mexican
exports go to the United States and Canada and close to 65%
of its imports come from these two countries. Other major trade
agreements have been signed with the European Union, Japan, Israel
and many countries in Central and South America. As such, Mexico
has become a major player in international trade and an export power.
Measured in the dollar value of exports, Mexico was the 15th largest
exporter in the world—tenth if the European Union is treated
as a single entity. Mexican exports roughly equal the total
exports of all Mercosur members together, Venezuela inclusive.
Ongoing economic concerns include the commercial and financial
dependence on the US, low real wages, underemployment for a
large segment of the population, inequitable income distribution
(the top 20% of income earners account for 55% of income), and few
advancement opportunities for the largely Amerindian population
in the impoverished southern states. Lack of structural reform is
further exacerbated by an ever increasing outflow of the population
into the United States, decreasing domestic pressure for reform.
Main article: Tourism in Mexico
Acapulco's skyline.According to the World Tourism Organization,
Mexico has one of the largest tourism industries in the world. In
2005 it was the seventh most popular tourist destination worldwide,
receiving over 20 million tourists per year; it is the only country
in Latin America to be within the top 25. Tourism is also the third
largest sector in the country's industrial GDP. The most notable
tourist draws are the ancient Meso-American ruins, and popular beach
resorts. The coastal climate and unique culture – a fusion
of European (particularly Spanish) and Meso-American cultures; also
make Mexico attractive. The peak tourist seasons in Mexico are during
December and during July and August, with brief surges during the
week before Easter and during spring break at many of the beach
resort sites which are popular among vacationing college students
from the United States.
Mexico's middle/lower class typically take their vacations within
Mexico, in contrast to the middle/higher class who travel worldwide,
especially to Europe and the United States, and in lesser numbers
to Asia and South America. Mexico is the twenty-third highest tourism
spender in the world, and the highest in Latin America.
See also: Electricity sector in Mexico
Energy production in Mexico is managed by State-owned companies:
the Federal Commission of Electricity (Comisión Federal de
Electricidad, CFE) and Pemex (Petróleos Mexicanos). The CFE
is in charge of the operation of electricity-generating plants and
its distribution all across the territory, with the exception of
the states of Morelos, México, Hidalgo and the Federal District,
whose distribution of electricity is in charge of the State-owned
Luz y Fuerza del Centro. Most of the electricity is generated in
thermoelectrical plants, even though CFE operates several hydroelectrical
plants, as well as wind power, geothermal and nuclear generators.
Pemex is in charge of the exploration, extraction, transportation
and marketing of crude oil and natural gas, as well as the refining
and distribution of petroleum products and petrochemicals. Pemex
is the largest company in Latin America, and the ninth-largest
oil company in the world. In terms of total output, in 2007
it was the sixth-larger producer in the world—in 2003
it was the third-largest— producing 3.1 million of barrels
a day, way above the production of Kuwait or Venezuela.
Main article: Transportation and Communications in Mexico
See also: List of Mexican Federal Highways and List of Mexican railroads
Low-level water bridge, in the state of Chiapas.The paved-roadway
network in Mexico is the most extensive in Latin America at 116,802
km in 2005; 10,474 km were multi-lane freeways or expressways,
most of which were tollways. Nonetheless, Mexico's diverse orography—most
of the territory is crossed by high-altitude ranges of mountains—as
well as economic challenges have led to difficulties in creating
an integrated transportation network and even though the network
has improved, it still cannot meet national needs adequately.
Being one of the first Latin American countries to promote railway
development, the network, though extensive at 30,952 km,
is still inefficient to meet the economic demands of transportation.
Most of the rail network is mainly used for merchandise or industrial
freight and was mostly operated by National Railway of Mexico (Ferrocarriles
Nacionales de México, FNM), privatized in 1997.
In 1999, Mexico had 1,806 airports, of which 233 had paved runways;
of these, 35 carry 97% of the passenger traffic. The Mexico
City International Airport remains the largest in Latin America
and the 44th largest in the world transporting 21 million passengers
a year. There are more than 70 domestic airline companies of
which only two are known internationally: Aeromexico and Mexicana.
Mass transit in Mexico is modest. Most of the domestic passenger
transport needs are served by an extensive bus network with
several dozen companies operating by regions. Train passenger transportation
between cities is limited. Inner-city rail mass transit is available
at Mexico City—with the operation of the metro, elevated and
ground train, as well as a Suburban Train connecting the adjacent
municipalities of Greater Mexico City—as well as at Guadalajara
and Monterrey, the first served by a commuter rail and the second
by an underground and elevated metro.
A Telmex retail store in Puerto Vallarta.The telecommunications
industry is mostly dominated by Telmex (Teléfonos de México),
privatized in 1990. As of 2006, Telmex had expanded its operations
to Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay and the
United States. Other players in the domestic industry are Axtel
and Maxcom. Due to Mexican orography, providing 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 twenty-percent. Mobile telephony has the advantage
of reaching all areas at a lower cost, and the total number of mobile
lines is almost three times that of landlines, with an estimation
of 57 million lines. The telecommunication industry is regulated
by the government through Cofetel (Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones).
Usage of radio, television and Internet in Mexico is prevalent.
There are approximately 1410 radio broadcast stations, and 236 television
stations (excluding repeaters). Major players in the broadcasting
industry are Televisa—the largest Spanish media company in
the Spanish-speaking world— and TV Azteca.
Main article: Demographics of Mexico
According to the latest official census, which reported a population
of 103 million, Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country
in the world. Mexican annual population growth has drastically
decreased from a peak of 3.5% in 1965 to 0.99% in 2005. Life expectancy
in 2006 was estimated to be at 75.4 years (72.6 male and 78.3 female).
The states with the highest life expectancy are Baja California
(75.9 years) and Nuevo Leon (75.6 years). The Federal District has
a life expectancy of the same level as Baja California. The lowest
levels are found in Chiapas (72.9), Oaxaca (73.2) and Guerrero (73.2
years). The mortality rate in 1970 was 9.7 per 1000 people; by 2001,
the rate had dropped to 4.9 men per 1000 men and 3.8 women per 1000
women. The most common reasons for death in 2001 were heart problems
(14.6% for men 17.6% for women) and cancer (11% for men and 15.8%
Mexican population is increasingly urban, with close to 75% living
in cities. The five largest urban areas in Mexico (Greater Mexico
City, Greater Guadalajara, Greater Monterrey, Greater Puebla and
Greater Toluca) are home to 30% of the country's population. Migration
patterns within the country show positive migration to north-western
and south-eastern states, and a negative rate of migration for the
Federal District. While the annual population growth is still positive,
the national net migration rate is negative (-4.7/1000), attributable
to the emigration phenomenon of people from rural communities to
the United States.
The following is a list of the major metropolitan areas of Mexico,
as reported in the 2005 census.
Rank Core City State Pop. Rank Core City State Pop.
1 Mexico City DF 19,231,829 11 Queretaro Qro 918,100
2 Guadalajara Jal 4,095,853 12 Merida Yuc 897,740
3 Monterrey NL 3,664,331 13 Mexicali BC 855,962
4 Puebla Pue 2,109,049 14 Aguascalientes Ags 805,666
5 Toluca Mex 1,610,786 15 Tampico Tamps 803,196
6 Tijuana BC 1,483,992 16 Culiacan Sin 793,730
7 Leon Gto 1,425,210 17 Cuernavaca Mor 787,556
8 Juarez Chih 1,313,338 18 Acapulco Gro 786,830
9 Torreon Coah 1,110,890 19 Chihuahua Chih 784,882
10 San Luis Potosi SLP 957,753 20 Morelia Mich 735,624
Mexico is home to the largest number of U.S. citizens abroad (estimated
at one million as of 1999), which represents 1% of the Mexican
population and 25% of all U.S. citizens abroad. Other significant
communities of foreigners are those of Central and South Americans,
most notably from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Cuba,
Venezuela, Guatemala, and Belize. Though estimations vary, the Argentinian
community is considered to be the second largest foreign community
in the country (estimated somewhere between 30,000 and 150,000).
Throughout the 20th century, the country followed a policy of granting
asylum to fellow Latin Americans and Europeans (mostly Spaniards
in the 1940s) fleeing political persecution in their home countries.
Discrepancies between the figures for official legal aliens and
those of all foreign-born residents regardless of their immigration
status are quite large. The official figure for foreign-born legal
residents in Mexico is 493,000 (since 2004), with a majority (86.9%)
of these born in the United States (except Chiapas, where the majority
of immigrants are from Central America). The five states with the
most immigrants are Baja California (12.1% of total immigrants),
Mexico City (the Federal District; 11.4%), Jalisco (9.9%), Chihuahua
(9%) and Tamaulipas (7.3%). More than 54.6% of the immigrant population
are fifteen years old or younger, while 9% are fifty or older.
See also: Indigenous peoples in Mexico
Traditional Aztec dancer.Mexico is ethnically diverse, and the constitution
defines the country to be a pluricultural nation.
Mestizos (those of mixed Spanish and Amerindian ancestry) form
the largest group, comprising up to 60-75% of the total population.
Amerindians called indigenous peoples (indígenas) are estimated
to be between 12% (pure Amerindian) and 30% (predominantly Amerindian).
Indigenous peoples are considered the foundation of the Mexican
pluricultural nation and therefore enjoy self-determination in certain
areas. Indigenous languages are also considered "national languages"
and are protected by law.
Whites make up 9%-17% of the population, mostly descendants
of the first Spanish settlers; although there are a minority of
French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Irish, Polish, Romanian, Russian
and British descents from recent contemporary migration 
after the waves of immigration that brought many Europeans at the
end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, along with
some Canadians and Euro-Americans from the United States. Most are
found in major cities.
Mexico also received a large number of Lebanese, Turkish, Chinese,
Japanese, Koreans and Filipino immigrants.
Afro-Mexicans, mostly of mixed ancestry, live in the coastal areas
of Veracruz, Tabasco and Guerrero.
Main article: Languages of Mexico
See also: Mexican Spanish
There is no de jure constitutional official language at the federal
level in Mexico. Spanish, spoken by 97% of the population, is
considered a national language by The General Law of Linguistic
Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, which also grants all indigenous
minority languages spoken in Mexico, regardless of the number of
speakers, the same validity as Spanish in all territories in which
they are spoken, and indigenous peoples are entitled to request
some public services and documents in their native languages.
Along with Spanish, the law has granted them –more than 60
languages– the status of "national languages". The
law includes all Amerindian languages regardless of origin; that
is, it includes the Amerindian languages of ethnic groups non-native
to the territory. As such the National Commission for the Development
of the Indigenous Peoples recognizes the language of the Kickapoo,
who immigrated from the United States, and recognizes the languages
of the Guatemalan Amerindian refugees. The Mexican government
has promoted and established bilingual primary and secondary education
in some indigenous rural communities. Approximately 7.1% of the
population speaks an indigenous language and 1.2% do not speak Spanish.
Mexico has the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world
with more than twice as many as the second largest Spanish-speaking
country. Almost a third of all Spanish native speakers in the world
live in Mexico. Nahuatl is spoken by 1.5 million people and
Yucatec Maya by 800,000. Some of the national languages are in danger
of extinction; Lacandon is spoken by fewer than one hundred people.
English is widely used in business, at the border cities, as well
as by the one million U.S. citizens that live in Mexico, mostly
retirees in small towns in Baja California, Guanajuato and Chiapas.
Other European languages spoken by sizable communities in Mexico
are Venetian, Plautdietsch, German, French and Romani.
Metropolitan Cathedral of Guadalajara, Jalisco.See also: Religion
in Mexico, Roman Catholicism in Mexico, and Our Lady of Guadalupe
Unlike some other Latin American countries, Mexico has no official
religion, and the Constitution of 1917 and the anti-clerical laws
imposed limitations on the church and sometimes codified state intrusion
into church matters. The government does not provide any financial
contributions to the church, and the church does not participate
in public education.
The last census reported, by self-ascription, that 95% of the population
is Christian. Roman Catholics are 89% of the total population,
even though only 47% percent of them attend church services weekly.
In absolute terms, Mexico has the second world's largest population
of Catholics after Brazil.
About 6% of the population (more than 4.4 million people) is Protestant,
of whom Pentecostals and Charismatics (called Neo-Pentecostals in
the census), are the largest group (1.37 million people). There
is also sizeable number of Seventh-day Adventists (0.6 milion people).
The 2000 National census registered more than one million Jehovah's
Witnesses. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims
one million registered members as of 2006, about 250,000 of whom
are active, though this is disputed. The presence of
Jews in the country dates back to as early as 1521, when Hernando
Cortés conquered the Aztecs, accompanied by several Conversos.
According to the last national census by the INEGI, there are now
more than 45,000 Mexican Jews. Additionally, almost three million
people in the 2000 National Census reported having no religion.
In 1992, Mexico lifted almost all restrictions on the Catholic
Church and other religions, including granting all religious groups
legal status, conceding them limited property rights, and lifting
restrictions on the number of priests in the country. Until
recently, priests did not have the right to vote, and even now,
they cannot be elected for public office.
A type of traditional Mexican dance and costumes.Main article: Culture
Mexican culture reflects the complexity of the country's history
through the blending of pre-Hispanic civilizations and the culture
of Spain, imparted during Spain's 300-year colonization of Mexico.
Exogenous cultural elements mainly from the United States have been
incorporated into Mexican culture. As was the case in most Latin
American countries, when Mexico became an independent nation, it
had to slowly create a national identity, being an ethnically diverse
country in which, for the most part, the only connecting element
amongst the newly independent inhabitants was Catholicism.
The Porfirian era (el Porfiriato), in the last quarter of the nineteenth
century and the first decade of the twentieth 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, though
accentuated during the Mexican Revolution, cultural identity had
its foundation in the mestizaje, of which the indigenous (i.e. Amerindian)
element was the core. In light of the various ethnicities that formed
the Mexican people, José Vasconcelos in his publication 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. This
exalting of mestizaje was a revolutionary idea that sharply contrasted
with the idea of a superior pure race prevalent in Europe at the
Pan's Labyrinth movie poster.Main article: Cinema of Mexico
Mexican films from the Golden Era 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. Maria Candelaria
(1944) 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. 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), Amores Perros (2000), Y tu mamá también (2001),
El Crimen del Padre Amaro (2002), Pan's Labyrinth (2006) and Babel
(2006) have been successful in creating universal stories about
contemporary subjects, and were internationally recognised, as in
the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Mexican directors Alejandro
González Iñárritu (Amores Perros, Babel), Alfonso
Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of
Azkaban), Guillermo del Toro, Carlos Carrera (The Crime of Father
Amaro), and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga are some of the most
known present-day film makers.
Main article: Music of Mexico
Jalisco Symphony Orchestra.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 every-day 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. Some well-known Mexican singers are Thalía
and Belinda. Popular groups are Café Tacvba, Molotov, RBD
and Mana, among others.
Most State Ministries of Culture or Education sponsor their own
Orquestas Sinfónicas or Orquestas Filarmónicas (Orchestra)
so people can enjoy Classical Music. The Orquesta Filarmónica
de Jalisco is the oldest in the country.
Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City.Post-revolutionary art in Mexico
had its expression in the works of renowned artists such as Frida
Kahlo, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo,
David Alfaro Siqueiros and Juan O'Gorman. 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 the next year due to the inclusion of a portrait of Russian
communist leader Lenin. Some of Rivera's murals are displayed
at the Mexican National Palace and the Palace of Fine Arts.
Academic music composers of Mexico include Manuel M. Ponce, Mario
Lavista, Silvestre Revueltas, Arturo Marquez, and Juventino Rosas,
many of whom incorporated traditional elements into their music.
Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Juan Rulfo, Elena
Poniatowska, and José Emilio Pacheco, are some of the most
recognized authors of Mexican literature.
Two of the major television networks based in Mexico are Televisa
and TV Azteca. Televisa is also the largest producer of Spanish-language
content in the world and also the world's largest Spanish-language
media network. Grupo Multimedios is another media conglomerate
with Spanish-language broadcasting in Mexico, Spain, and the United
States. Soap operas (telenovelas) are translated to many languages
and seen all over the world with renowned names like Verónica
Castro, Lucía Méndez, Lucero, and Thalía. Even
Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna from Y tu mamá también
and current Zegna model have appeared in some of them. Some of their
TV shows are modeled after counterparts from the U.S. like Family
Feud (100 Mexicanos Dijeron or "A hundred Mexicans said"
in Spanish) and Que Dice la Gente, Big Brother, American Idol, Saturday
Night Live and others. Nationwide news shows like Las Noticias por
Adela on Televisa resemble a hybrid between Donahue and Nightline.
Local news shows are modeled after counterparts from the U.S. like
the Eyewitness News and Action News formats. Border cities receive
television and radio stations from the U.S., while satellite and
cable subscription is common for the upper-classes in major cities,
often watch movies and TV shows from the U.S.
Main article: Mexican cuisine
Mexican cuisine is known for its intense and varied flavors, colorful
decoration, and variety of spices. Most of today's Mexican food
is based on pre-hispanic traditions, including the Aztecs and Maya,
combined with culinary trends introduced by Spanish colonists. The
conquistadores eventually combined their imported diet of rice,
beef, pork, chicken, wine, garlic and onions with the native pre-Columbian
food, including maize, tomato, vanilla, avocado, papaya, pineapple,
chile pepper, beans, squash, limes (limón in Mexican Spanish),
sweet potato, peanut and turkey.
The most internationally recognized dishes include chocolate, tacos,
quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos and mole among others. Regional
dishes include mole poblano, chiles en nogada and chalupas from
Puebla; cabrito and machaca from Monterrey, cochinita pibil from
Yucatán, Tlayudas from Oaxaca, as well as barbacoa, chilaquiles,
milanesas, and many others.
FIFA World Cup Mexico 1970, 1986
The Estadio Azteca is the home stadium of the Mexico national team.
Baseball stadium in Monterrey, home to Monterrey Sultans.See also:
1968 Summer Olympics, 1970 FIFA World Cup, and 1986 FIFA World Cup
Mexico City hosted the XIX Olympic Games in 1968, making it the
only Latin American city to do so. The country has also hosted
the FIFA World Cup twice, in 1970 and 1986.
Mexico’s most popular sport is football (soccer). It is commonly
believed that Football was introduced in Mexico by Cornish miners
at the end of the 19th century. By 1902 a 5 team league emerged
still with a strong English influence . Football became
a professional sport in 1943. Since the “Era Professional”
started, Mexico’s top clubs have been Guadalajara with 11
championships, América with 10 and Toluca and Cruz Azul with
8  . In Mexican Football many players have been raised to the
level of legend, but two of them have received international recognition
above others. Antonio Carbajal was the first player to appear in
5 World Cups, and Hugo Sanchez was named best CONCACAF player of
the 20th Century by IFFHS. Mexican’s biggest stadiums are
Estadio Azteca, Estadio Olimpico Universitario and Estadio Jalisco.
The national sport of Mexico is Charreria. Bullfighting is
also a popular sport in the country, and almost all large cities
have bullrings. Plaza México in Mexico City, is the largest
bullring in the world, which seats 55,000 people. Professional wrestling
(or Lucha libre in Spanish) is a major crowd draw with national
promotions such as AAA, LLL, CMLL and others.
Baseball, is also popular, especially in the Gulf of Mexico, Yucatan
Peninsula and the Northern States. The season runs from March to
July with playoffs held in August. The Mexican professional league
is named the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol. Current champions (2007)
are Sultanes de Monterrey who defeated in a tight series Leones
de Yucatán. However the best level of baseball is played
in Liga Mexicana del Pacífico, played in Sinaloa, Sonora
and Baja California. Given that it is played during the MLB off-season,
some of its players are signed to play with the league 8 teams.
Current champions (2007) are Naranjeros de Hermosillo. The league
champion participates in the Caribbean Series, a tournament between
the Champions of Winter Leagues of Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico
and the Dominican Republic.
Lorena Ochoa, world's number 1 woman golfer according to the LPGAThe
most important professional basketball league is the Liga Nacional
de Baloncesto Profesional and covers the whole Mexican territory,
where the Soles de Mexicali are the current champions. In 2007 three
Mexican teams will be competing in the American Basketball Association.
In the northwestern states is the CIBACOPA Competition, with professional
basketball players from Mexico and the U.S. Universities and some
teams from the NBA.
American football is played at the major universities like ITESM
(Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey),
UANL (Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León), UDLA (University
of the Americas), and UNAM. The college league in Mexico is called
ONEFA. There is also a strong following of the NFL in Mexico with
the Steelers, Cowboys, Dolphins and Raiders being the most popular
teams. Rugby is played at the amateur level throughout the country
with the majority of clubs in Mexico City and others in Monterrey,
Guadalajara, Celaya, Guanajuato and Oaxaca.
Ice Hockey is played in larger cities like Monterrey, Guadalajara,
Villahermosa, Culiacan and of course Mexico City, with teams like:
Galerias Pumas, Gran Sur Wolves, Lomas Verdes Falcons, Metepec Tigres,
Monterrey Toros, San Jeronimo Bears, Villahermosa Garrobos and as
independent teams: Bosques, Cuatitlan Izcally, Jalapa, Jalisco,
Leon, Merida, Puebla, Jurasicos. The IIHF or Federación Deportiva
de Mexico de Hockey Sobre Hielo A.C. is the Official Mexico National
Ice Hockey Federation and regulates all tournaments in Mexico.
Other notable Mexican athletes include golfer Lorena Ochoa, who
is currently ranked first in the LPGA world rankings, Ana Guevara,
former world champion of the 400 metres and Olympic subchampion
in Athens 2004, and Fernando Platas, a numerous Olympic medal winning
Sport fishing is popular in Baja California and the big Pacific
coast resorts, while freshwater bass fishing is growing in popularity
too. The gentler arts of diving and snorkeling are big around the
Caribbean, with famous dive sites at Cozumel and on the reefs further
south. The Pacific coast is becoming something of a center for surfing,
with few facilities as yet; all these sports attract tourists to
UNAM Central Library, in University City, Mexico City.
ITESM, Tecnológico de MonterreyMain article: Education in
Mexico has made improvements in education in the last two decades.
In 2004, the literacy rate was at 91%, and the youth literacy
rate (ages 15–24) was 96%, placing Mexico at the 24th place
in the world rank accordingly to UNESCO. Primary and secondary
education (9 years) is free and mandatory. Even though different
bilingual education programs have existed since the 1960s for the
indigenous communities, after a constitutional reform in the late
1990s, these programs have had a new thrust, and free text books
are produced in more than a dozen indigenous languages.
In the 1970s, Mexico established a system of "distance-learning"
through satellite communications to reach otherwise inaccessible
small rural and indigenous communities. Schools that use this system
are known as telesecundarias in Mexico. The Mexican distance learning
secondary education is also transmitted to some Central American
countries and to Colombia, and it is used in some southern regions
of the United States as a method of bilingual education. There are
approximately 30,000 telesecundarias and approximately a million
telesecundaria students in the country.
The largest and most prestigious public university in Mexico, today
numbering over 269,000 students, is the National Autonomous University
of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México,
UNAM) founded in 1551. Three Nobel laureates and most of Mexico's
modern-day presidents are among its former students. UNAM conducts
50% of Mexico's scientific research and has presence all across
the country with satellite campuses and research centers. The National
Autonomous University of Mexico ranks 192th place in the Top 200
World University Ranking published by The Times Higher Education
Supplement in 2007, making it the highest ranked Spanish-speaking
university in the world and the third highest ranked in Latin America.
The second largest university is the National Polytechnic Institute
(IPN). These institutions are public, and there are at least a couple
of public universities per state.
One of the most prestigious private universities is Monterrey's
Technological and Higher Education Institute (ITESM). It was ranked
by the Wall Street Journal as the 7th top International Business
School worldwide and 74th among the world's top arts and humanities
universities ranking of The Times Higher Education Supplement, published
in 2005. ITESM has thirty-two secondary campuses, apart from its
Monterrey Campus. Other important private universities include Mexico's
Autonomous Technological Institute (ITAM), Universidad de las Américas
Puebla (UDLAP), the Ibero-American University (Universidad Iberoamericana).
Science and technology
Large Millimeter Telescope
Dr. Rodolfo Neri Vela, the first Mexican in spaceNotable Mexican
technologists include Luis E. Miramontes, the co-inventor of the
contraceptive pill, and Guillermo González Camarena, who
invented the "Chromoscopic adapter for television equipment",
the first color television transmission system. Dr. Rodolfo Neri
Vela, an UNAM graduate, was the first Mexican in space (as part
of the STS-61-B mission in 1985), and Mario J. Molina, who won the
Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
In recent years, the biggest scientific project being developed
in Mexico was the construction of the Gran Telescopio Milimétrico
(GMT) or Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT), the world's largest and
most sensitive single-aperture telescope. It was designed to observe
regions of the space obscured by stellar dust.
Nonetheless, the government currently spends only 0.31% of GDP
in science and technology, a low percentage in comparison with
other countries. Mexico has the lowest number of researchers of
the OECD countries, with only 4.8 researchers per 10,000 inhabitants.
Mexico trains only three PhDs per million inhabitants per year.
Moreover, there is a regional disparity in the allocation of scientific
resources; 75% of all doctorate degrees are awarded from institutions
in Mexico City area.
The Mexican Space Agency (AEXA) will be established in 2008 if
approved by the Mexican Senate.