Mexico is a country in North America stretching about 1,964 miles from its border with the United States to the south, where Guatemala and Belize border it. Along the way, it covers various environments and landscapes, including the ancient Aztec and Mayan heartlands that date back thousands of years. These regions are known for their rich cultural heritage, stunning ruins, and vibrant communities that continue to thrive.
After a long and hard-fought struggle, Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1836. The battle for independence was led by famous figures such as Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and Jose Maria Morelos, who became symbols of Mexican patriotism and resistance.
Today, Mexico is a thriving and dynamic country with a population of over 130 million people. Its capital city, Mexico City, is one of the world’s largest and most densely populated cities, with a population of about 21 million. It is a bustling hub of commerce, politics, culture, and entertainment, attracting millions of visitors yearly to its museums, parks, theaters, and landmarks. Around one in five Mexicans live in this vibrant metropolis, reflecting the country’s diversity, energy, and spirit.
Jump to Introduction, Geography, Climate, People & Society, Economy, Insight, Google Maps, Facts, and Did You Know about Mexico. Or visit the driving directions page for routing instructions.
Mexico’s geography is characterized by diverse natural features spread across its vast territory. The country is located between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and its coastal plains along both seaboards offer a unique blend of stunning beaches, towering cliffs, and rich marine life. As the land rises from the coast, it transitions into a high arid central plateau covering much of the country’s interior.
The Sierra Madre mountain ranges stretch more than 1,600 miles from north to south to the east and west of the central plateau. These rugged mountains are home to an array of wildlife, including rare species like jaguars, pumas, and bears, as well as many indigenous communities that have lived off the land for centuries.
Mexico’s most remarkable natural feature is the Yucatan Peninsula, which juts into the Caribbean Sea. This region is made up of low-lying limestone plains that are dotted with freshwater sinkholes known as cenotes. These crystal-clear pools are popular with swimmers, divers, and adventurers who come to explore the region’s extensive network of underground rivers and caves.
Overall, Mexico’s geography is a testament to the incredible diversity and beauty of the natural world. From its soaring mountains to its sun-drenched beaches, this country offers many experiences for travelers and locals, making it one of the world’s most fascinating and enchanting places.
Mexico’s climate is as varied as its geography, with different regions experiencing vastly different weather patterns and temperatures throughout the year. Mexico’s central plateau and high mountains are known for their mild, temperate climate, which stays warm for much of the year. However, temperatures can drop to freezing during winter at higher elevations, and snow is not uncommon in mountainous areas.
In contrast, the Pacific coast is characterized by a tropical climate, with hot, humid temperatures that persist throughout the year. The region is prone to storms and rain showers from March to December, and hurricanes can occasionally make landfall in the area. Visitors to the region should be aware of the weather patterns and plan accordingly, especially during hurricane season, which generally runs from June to October.
The northwest region of Mexico, including the states of Sonora and Chihuahua, is much drier than other parts of the country. This arid landscape features vast desert plains, rugged mountains, and few bodies of water, making it a challenging environment for agriculture and human settlement. Despite the lack of rainfall, the region has a unique beauty, with striking sunsets, stark rock formations, and a wealth of indigenous flora and fauna adapted to the harsh conditions.
Whether you prefer mild temperatures or more extreme weather patterns, Mexico’s varied climate offers something for everyone. From the lush tropical jungles of the Pacific coast to the arid deserts of the northwest, this country is a fascinating mix of natural environments that offer a wealth of experiences for visitors and locals alike.
People & Society
Mexico is a country characterized by a rich mix of cultural influences due in large part to the diverse ancestral heritage of its people. Most Mexicans are mestizos, which means they have a mixed ethnic background that includes both Spanish and Amerindian ancestry. This blend of cultures has created a unique national identity that celebrates the country’s rich history and traditions.
Despite this mix of cultures, rural Amerindians have often been segregated from Hispanic society and marginalized by poverty and discrimination. Many Amerindians still struggle to access basic services like education and healthcare, and their traditional ways of life are threatened by development and modernization. The Mexican state recognizes these challenges and has made efforts to promote the culture and rights of indigenous peoples, including supporting bilingual education and community-led development projects.
The Zapatista movement is one of Mexico’s most notable advocates for indigenous rights. This movement emerged in the 1990s due to perceived injustices against indigenous communities. It has since grown into a complex political and social movement that seeks to address land rights, autonomy, and self-determination issues for marginalized groups.
In addition to indigenous communities’ challenges, women in Mexico face significant barriers to representation in politics and business. Despite some gains in recent years, men continue to dominate the political and economic spheres, leaving many women feeling disenfranchised and excluded from decision-making processes.
Finally, Mexico is grappling with a rise in narcotics-related violent crime, which has devastated communities nationwide. Drug trafficking organizations have fueled a spike in violence, which has left many Mexicans feeling unsafe and uncertain about the future. The government has launched initiatives to combat this problem, but the issue remains a persistent challenge for Mexican society.
Mexico is one of the world’s largest oil producers, with an extensive network of pipelines and refineries that contribute significantly to the country’s economy. However, agriculture remains a critical sector, providing livelihoods for millions of people and producing a range of cash crops such as corn, fruit, vegetables, and sugar. These agricultural products are vital to Mexico’s export market, boosted by its membership in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Despite the benefits of NAFTA, Mexican farmers have also been exposed to subsidized competition from the United States, significantly impacting local markets. The influx of cheaper American produce has hit some Mexican farmers hard, exacerbating existing wealth disparity issues and making it difficult for low-income families to access affordable, healthy food.
The wealth disparity in Mexico is a significant challenge, with a relatively small percentage of the population controlling a disproportionate share of the country’s wealth. This inequality is reflected in access to education, healthcare, and other resources, creating significant barriers for those who live in poverty and limiting opportunities for upward mobility.
Mexico was hit hard by the global economic downturn of 2008-2009, which caused significant job losses and reduced economic growth. The swine flu crisis, which emerged in Mexico in 2009, further exacerbated these challenges, creating a public health emergency that had far-reaching consequences for communities nationwide.
Today, Mexico is still confronting many of these challenges, even as it works to build a more prosperous and equitable society. The government has launched several initiatives to address poverty and inequality, promote economic growth, and strengthen public health and safety. However, progress has been slow, and much work remains.
The US-Mexican border is one of the world’s most complex and heavily trafficked borders, with millions of people crossing it each year, legally and illegally. The border stretches for nearly 2,000 miles, running from California in the west to Texas in the east, and encompasses a wide range of terrain, including rugged mountains, dense forests, and arid deserts.
While most crossings are legal, with millions of travelers passing back and forth between the two countries each year for work, tourism, and other purposes, illegal crossings are also common. There are roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, many of whom entered the country illegally via the Mexican border.
The reasons for these illegal crossings are many and complex, and they often involve a combination of economic, political, and social factors. Poverty, violence, and lack of opportunities in Mexico have driven many to seek a better life in the United States. At the same time, differences in labor markets and wages further incentivize these types of migrations.
Despite significant efforts by both countries to secure the border, including increased patrols, technology, and physical barriers, illegal crossings continue to be challenging. They are also a source of political tension between the two countries, with issues such as immigration reform and border security remaining contentious topics of debate.
As a result, the US-Mexican border will likely continue to play a significant role in both countries’ political and economic landscapes for years to come, influencing everything from trade to national security policy and underscoring the complexity of the relationship between these neighboring nations.
Name: Mexico (United Mexican States), local name: Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Languages: Spanish only 92.7%, Spanish and indigenous languages 5.7%, indigenous only 0.8%, unspecified 0.8%; note -indigenous languages include various Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional languages.
ISO code: mx, internet: .mx
Capital city: Mexico City (Ciudad de Mexico), GPS: 19 26 N, 99 08 W
Time: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time) (+1hr, begins first Sunday in April; ends last Sunday in October)
Population: 129,875,529 (2023 estimate) (Mexican / Mexican(s))
Urban population: 81% (2021) – 21.919 million, Mexico City (capital city), 5.259 million, Guadalajara, 4.956 million, Monterrey, 3.245 million, Puebla, 2.522 million, Toluca De Lerdo, 2.181 million, Tijuana (2021)
Location: North America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, between Belize and the United States, and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and the United States. Mexico is a North American country. You may find 4 other countries on this continent.
Coordinates: 23 00 N, 102 00 W
Bordering countries: (3 nations): Belize 276 km, Guatemala 958 km, and the United States 3155 km
Land area: 1,943,945 sq km
Water area: 20,430 sq km
Total area: 1,964,375 sq km – Slightly less than three times the size of Texas.
Terrain: High, rugged mountains, low coastal plains, high plateaus, desert
Highest point: Volcan Pico de Orizaba 5,636 m
Lowest point: Laguna Salada -10 m
Major rivers: Rio Grande River mouth (shared with the US) – 3,057 km, Colorado River mouth (shared with the US) – 2,333 km.
Natural hazards: Tsutsunamis along the Pacific coast, volcanoes and destructive earthquakes in the center and south, and hurricanes on the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean coasts. Volcanism: volcanic activity in the central-southern part of the country; the volcanoes in Baja California are mostly dormant; Colima (3,850 m), which erupted in 2010, is Mexico’s most active volcano and is responsible for causing periodic evacuations of nearby villagers; it has been deemed a Decade Volcano by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations; Popocatepetl (5,426 m) poses a threat to Mexico City; other historically active volcanoes include Barcena, Ceboruco, El Chichon, Michoacan-Guanajuato, Pico de Orizaba, San Martin, Socorro, and Tacana.
National holiday(s): Independence Day, 16 September (1810)
Did you know about Mexico?
- Mexico City is built on top of a lake, so the city is sinking at about 10 inches (25 cm) per year.
- Mexico is the birthplace of chocolate. The ancient Mesoamericans, including the Aztecs and Maya, were the first to cultivate cacao beans and create chocolate-based drinks.
- The world’s smallest volcano, Cuexcomate, is in Puebla, Mexico. It stands only 43 feet (13 meters) tall.
- The Mexican flag features an eagle perched on a cactus with a snake in its beak. This image is based on an Aztec legend about the founding of Tenochtitlan, which would later become Mexico City.
- Mexico has the world’s largest number of Spanish speakers, with over 130 million people speaking Spanish as their first language.
You may also be interested in Belize, Guatemala, and the United States.
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