2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Americas; North American Geography
|Estados Unidos Mexicanos
United Mexican States
| Anthem: "Himno Nacional Mexicano"
Mexican National Anthem
| National seal:
Seal of the United Mexican States
(and largest city)
|Official languages||None at federal level.
Spanish (de facto)
|National language||Spanish, and 62 Indigenous Amerindian languages.|
|Government||Federal presidential republic|
|-||President|| Felipe Calderón
|-||Declared||September 16, 1810|
|-||Recognized||September 27, 1821|
|-||Total|| 1,972,550 km² ( 15th)
761,606 sq mi
|-||mid-2008 estimate||106,682,500 ( 11th)|
|-||Density||55/km² ( 142nd)
|GDP ( PPP)||2006 estimate|
|-||Total||$1.149 trillion ( 12th)|
|-||Per capita||$12,775 ( 60th)|
|GDP (nominal)||2006 estimate|
|-||Total||$840.012 billion (short scale) ( 14th)|
|-||Per capita||$8,066 ( 55th)|
|Gini (2008)||▼ 46.1 (high)|
|HDI (2007)||▲ 0.829 (high) ( 52nd)|
|Currency|| Mexican peso (
|Time zone||U.S Central to Western ( UTC-8 to -6)|
The United Mexican States (Spanish: ), or commonly Mexico (IPA: /ˈmɛksɪkoʊ/) (Spanish: IPA: ['mexiko]), is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the North Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of Mexico. The United Mexican States are a federation comprising thirty-one states and a federal district, the capital Mexico City, whose metropolitan area is one of the world's most populous.
Covering almost 2 million square kilometers, Mexico is the fifth-largest country in the Americas by total area and the 14th largest independent nation 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 country.
Mexico is the 12th largest economy in the world by GDP by purchasing power parity. The economy is strongly linked to those of its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners. Despite being considered an emerging world power, the uneven distribution of income and the increase in insecurity are issues of concern.
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.
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 that came to be known as the Aztec civilization. The origin of the name Mexica is obscure and subject to diverse interpretations. Some argue that it derives from the Nahuatl Mēxitl or Mēxitli, a secret name for the god of war and patron of the Aztecs, Huitzilopochtli, in which case Mēxihco means "Place where Mēxitli lives". Another hypothesis is that the word Mēxihco derives from the mētztli ("moon"), xictli ("navel", "centre" or "son"), and the suffix -co (place), in which case it means "Place at the center of the moon" or "Place at the centre 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 centre (or navel) of the lake (or rabbit/moon). Still another hypothesis suggests that it is derived from Mēctli, 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 /ʃ/. This sound, as well as the voiced postalveolar fricative /ʒ/, 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 cluster /ks/.
Human presence in Mesoamerica was once thought to date back 40,000 years based upon what were believed to be ancient human footprints discovered in the Valley of Mexico, but after further investigation using radioactive dating, it appears this is untrue. It is currently unclear whether 21,000 year old campfire remains found in the Valley of Mexico are the earliest human remains found in the region. For thousands of years, Mesoamerica was a land of hunter-gatherers. Around 9,000 years ago, ancient indigenous peoples 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 large militaries. For almost three thousand years, Aridoamerica and Mesoamerica were the site of several advanced Amerindian civilizations.
In 1519, the native civilizations of Mesoamerica were invaded by Spain; among them the Aztecs, Mayans, etc. This was one of the most important conquest campaigns in America. Two years later, in 1521, the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan was conquered by the Spaniards along with the Tlaxcaltecs, the main enemies of the Aztecs, marking the end of the Aztec Empire and giving rise to the Viceroyalty of New Spain in 1535. It became the first and largest provider of resources for the Spanish Empire and the most populous of all Spanish colonies.
Colonial era and independence
Almost 300 years after the New Spain was created, on September 16, 1810, independence from Spain was declared by Priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, in the small town of Dolores, Guanajuato. This was the catalyst for a long war that ended in 1821 which eventually led to the independence and creation of the ephemeral First Mexican Empire. The Empire's territory encompassed the area of the current Mexican republic as well as the present-day states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, parts of Colorado and Wyoming, and all current Central American countries except for Panama and Belize. Agustín de Iturbide was the first and only emperor. Two years later, he was deposed by the republican forces. The Central American states separated, forming the Federal Republic of Central America. In 1824, a republican constitution was drafted creating the United Mexican States with Guadalupe Victoria as its first President.
The first four decades after the creation of the country 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. Having suspended the Constitution of 1824, civil war spread across the country, and three new governments declared independence; the Republic of Texas, the Republic of the Rio Grande (recognized by the United Kingdom) and the Republic of Yucatán. Only Texas was able to defeat Santa Anna, and later 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 due to civil war with Texas, and later war with the United States.
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
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. In 1929, 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.
Between 1940 and 1980, Mexico experienced substantial economic growth that some 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 according to government officials claimed the life of around 30 protesters, while according to many reputable international accounts around 250 protesters were killed.
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 inflation.
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".
Government and politics
The 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 electoral constituency.
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 centre-right conservative party founded in 1939.
- Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI): a centre-left party that ascribes to social democracy, founded in 1929 to unite all the factions of the Mexican Revolution. Prominent left-wing Mexican politicians have been members of the party.
- Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD): a centre-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 sash by outgoing Vicente Fox at Los Pinos. He was officially sworn as President on the morning of December 1, 2006 in Congress.
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 nations.
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.
Mexico has the second largest defence budget ($60.07 billion USD) and armed forces in the region. Mexico's military 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.
- Mexican Army
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 "Military Zones".
- 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.
- Mexican Navy
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.
Law enforcement and crime
Public security is enacted at the three levels of government, each of which has different prerogatives and responsibilities. Local and state police department are primarily in charge of law enforcement, whereas the Federal Preventive Police is in charge of specialized duties. All levels report to the Secretaría de Seguridad Pública (Secretariat of Public Security). The General Attorney's Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) is the executive power's agency in charge of investigating and prosecuting crimes at the federal level, mainly those related to drug and arms trafficking, espionage, and bank robberies. The PGR operates the Federal Agency of Investigation (Agencia Federal de Investigación, AFI) an investigative and preventive agency.
While the government respects the human rights of most citizens, serious abuses of power have been reported in security operations in indigenous communities and poor urban neighborhoods. The National Human Rights Commission, however, 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. By law, all defendants have the rights that assure them fair trials and human treatment; however, the system is overburdened and overwhelmed with several problems. Despite the efforts of the authorities to fight crime and fraud, few Mexicans have strong confidence in the police or the judicial system, and therefore, few crimes are actually reported by the citizens. 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.
Total crimes per capita average 12 per 1,000 people in Mexico, ranking 39 in a survey of 60 countries. Violent crime is a critical issue in Mexico; with a rate of homicide varying from 11 to 14 per 100,000 inhabitants. Drug-traffic and narco-related activities are a major concern in Mexico. Drug cartels are active in the shared border with the US and police corruption and collusion with drug cartels is a crucial problem. Current president, Felipe Calderón, made abating drug-trafficking one of the top priorities of his administration. In a very controversial move, Calderón deployed military personnel to cities where drug cartels operate. While this move has been criticized by the opposition parties and the National Human Rights Commission, its effects have been praised by the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs as having obtained "unprecedented results..." with "many important successes". In October 2007, the president Calderón and US president George W. Bush announced the Mérida Initiative a historic plan of law enforcement cooperation between the two countries.
The federation: States of Mexico and the Federal District
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 auxiliary presidencies.
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:
Geography and climate
Mexico is located in the southern portion of North America,. Mexico is also the northern constituent of the region known as Middle America, at about 23° N and 102° W. Almost all of Mexico lies in the North American Plate, with parts of the Baja California Peninsula in the northwest on the Pacific and Cocos Plates. Geophysically, some geographers include the south-eastern part of the territory (around 12% of the total) in Central America. Geopolitically, however, Mexico is considered part of North America.
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.
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 centre, 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.
The 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 elevation.This gives Mexico one of the worlds most diverse weather systems in the world.
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.
Mexico is one of the 18 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).
The discovery of the Americas brought to the rest of the world many widely used ingredients. Some of Mexico's native ingredients include: chocolate, tomato, maize and corn, vanilla, avocado, guava, chayote, epazote, camote, jícama, nopal, tejocote, huitlacoche, sapote, mamey sapote, and many varieties of beans. Most of these names are in indigenous languages like Nahuatl.
Mexico has a free market mixed economy, and is firmly established as an upper middle-income country. It is the 12th largest economy in the world as measured in Gross Domestic Product in purchasing power parity. According to the latest information available from the World Bank, Mexico had the highest Gross National Income per capita in Latin America, both in nominal terms and in purchasing power parity(PPP), at $7,830 and $11,990 respectively in 2006. 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 Goldman Sachs BRIMC review of emerging economies, by 2050 the largest economies in the world will be as follows: China, United States, India, Japan, Brazil, and Mexico.
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 oil exports.
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.
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.
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.
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 30 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.
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 1,410 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.
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% for women).
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.
Metropolitan areas of Mexico
Metropolitan areas in Mexico have been traditionally defined as the group of municipalities that heavily interact with each other, usually around a core city. In 2004, a joint effort between CONAPO, INEGI and the Ministry of Social Development (SEDESOL) agreed to define metropolitan areas as either:
- the group of two or more municipalities in which a city with a population of at least 50,000 is located whose urban area extends over the limit of the municipality that originally contained the core city incorporating either physically or under its area of direct influence other adjacent predominantly urban municipalities all of which have a high degree of social and economic integration or are relevant for urban politics and administration; or
- a single municipality in which a city of a population of at least one million is located and fully contained, (that is, it does not transcend the limits of a single municipality); or
- a city with a population of at least 250,000 which forms a conurbation with other cities in the United States.
It should be noted, however, that northwestern and southeastern states are divided into a small number of large municipalities whereas central states are divided into a large number of smaller municipalities. As such, metropolitan areas in the northwest usually do not extend over more than one municipality (and figures usually report population for the entire municipality) whereas metropolitan areas in the centre extend over many municipalities.
Few metropolitan areas extend beyond the limits of one state, namely: Greater Mexico City (Federal District, Mexico and Hidalgo), Puebla-Tlaxcala (Puebla and Tlaxcala, but excludes the city of Tlaxcala), Comarca Lagunera (Coahuila and Durango), and Tampico (Tamaulipas and Veracruz).
The following is a list of the major metropolitan areas of Mexico, as reported in the 2005 census.
|Rank||City proper||State||Pop.||Rank||City proper||State||Pop.||
|1||Mexico City||Federal District||19,231,829||11||Querétaro||Querétaro||918,100|
|3||Monterrey||Nuevo Leon||3,664,331||13||Mexicali||Baja California||855,962|
|10||San Luis Potosi||San Luis Potosí||957,753||20||Morelia||Michoacán||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 Argentine 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.
Mexico is ethnically diverse, and the constitution defines the country to be a pluricultural nation.
- Mestizos (those of mixed European 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, Basque, 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 and Argentina. 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.
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.
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, 47% percent of whom attend church services weekly. In absolute terms, Mexico has the world's second largest number 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 are also a sizeable number of Seventh-day Adventists (0.6 million people). The 2000 national census counted 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 Mexico dates back to 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. 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 to public office.
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 time.
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.
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 Luis Miguel. Popular groups are Café Tacvba, Molotov, RBD and Mana, among others.
Most states, through their Ministry of Culture or of Education, sponsor an Orquesta Sinfónica or Orquesta Filarmónica (Symphony Orchestra or Philharmonica Orchestra) so people can enjoy classical music. The Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco is the oldest in the country.
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 Centre 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.
Mexican cuisine is known for its intense and varied flavours, 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, tamales 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.
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.
The 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), IPN (Instituto Politécnico Nacional) and UNAM. The college league in Mexico is called ONEFA. There is also a strong following of the NFL in Mexico with the Cowboys, Steelers, 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.
Car racing is very popular in Mexico. Throughout the years, Mexico has hosted races for some of the most important international championships such as Formula 1, NASCAR, Champ Car, A1 Grand Prix, among others. Mexico also has its own NASCAR-sanctioned stock car series, the NASCAR Corona Series, which runs 14 events in different cities, drawing large crowds. Other forms of racing include Formula Renault, Formula Vee, touring cars, Pick-up trucks, endurance racing, rallying, and off-road.
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 diver.
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 centre for surfing, with few facilities as yet; all these sports attract tourists to Mexico.
Health Care and Education
In the 1990s, Mexico entered a transitional stage in the overall health of the population; in the 1990s Mexico exhibited mortality patterns similar to those found in developed societies.
Health and hospital care is free and available to all Mexicans through the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) and the Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers (ISSSTE). Overall, health services are adequate; though exceptional cases are mostly centralized in large cities and offered by private hospitals. Residents of small towns have to travel to large urban centers to get specialized attention. Disparities between large cities, urban and rural are quite noticeable; health coverage in rural and indigenous communities is poor. Medical training is done mostly at public universities with specializations abroad. Some public universities in Mexico, most notably the University of Guadalajara, have signed agreements with the US 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; drugs manufactured in Mexico are 50% less costly on average than those manufactured in the US.
In 2004, the literacy rate was at 97% for youth under the age of 14 and 91% for people over 15, 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), ranked as the best economics school in Latin America, Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP) and the Ibero-American University ( Universidad Iberoamericana).
Science and technology
Notable Mexican technologists include Luis E. Miramontes, the co-inventor of the contraceptive pill, Guillermo González Camarena, who invented the "Chromoscopic adapter for television equipment", an early colour television transmission system, and Mario J. Molina, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Rodolfo Neri Vela, an UNAM graduate, was the first Mexican to enter space (as part of the STS-61-B mission in 1985.)
In recent years, the biggest 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. It was designed to observe regions of space obscured by stellar dust.
Nonetheless, the government currently spends only 4.16% of GDP in science and technology, a low percentage in comparison with other countries, although Mexico has shown outstanding scientific success with such a small budget. Mexico has a low number of researchers compared to other OECD countries, with only 19.7 researchers per 10,000 inhabitants. Mexico trains sixty-five 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.
In 1962, the National Commission of Outer Space (Comisión Nacional del Espacio Exterior, CONNE) was established, but was dismantled in 1977. In 2007, a project was presented to re-open a new Mexican Space Agency (AEXA). It is awaiting Senate approval by the end of 2008.