Country Profile: Mexico
761,606 sq mi
Mexico City (Largest CIty)
Spanish (de facto), various
Temperate and Tropical
11th Largest Economy in the
GDP: $1.346 trillion
IndustriesOf labour force (45.38 million);
Agriculture 18%, Industry 24%,
Food and Beverages, Tobacco,
Chemicals, Iron and Steel, Fuel,
Textiles, Clothing, Motor Vehicles,
Consumer Durables, Tourism.
Major trading partners
U.S., Canada, Spain, South Korea, Japan
Mexico's economy is free-market, and one of the largest in the world. Since the 1994 recession, Mexico rebuilt and expanded its economy significantly, as long as widespread improvement of infrastructures including telecommunications, transport networks, and power generation. Oil is Mexico's chief source of trading power, and according to Goldman Sachs, by 2050, Mexico will be one of the sixth largest economies in the world.
The United Mexican States, commonly known as Mexico, 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 Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Mexico is a federation comprising of 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 kilometres, 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.
During the Pre-Columbian era complex cultures began to form in Mesoamerica. Many matured into advanced civilizations such as the Olmec, the Toltec, the Teotihuacan, the Maya and the Aztec before the first contact with Europeans. Mexico became a colony of Spain from the landing of Hernán Cortés in 1521 until its independence in 1821. The country's post-independence period was characterized by economic instability, territorial secession and civil war, including foreign intervention, two empires and two long domestic dictatorships. The latter led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910, culminating with the promulgation of Mexico's current Constitution in 1917.
As a regional power and the only Latin American member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since 1994, Mexico is firmly established as an upper middle-income country. The economy is strongly linked to those of its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners. Despite being considered an emerging 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 which had held it since 1929, culminating the political alternation at the federal level, which had begun at the local level during the 1980s.
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 radiometric dating, it appears this is untrue. It is currently unclear whether 21,000 year old fire 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 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. The New Spain (1535 to 1821) was an important period in Mexico's history, when much of the nation's identity and traditions were created and several cities were built, among them Mexico City, Guadalajara, Veracruz, and Queretaro.
The war of Mexican independence, which ended in 1821, was one of the longest in the Americas, 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 U.S. states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, parts of Colorado and Wyoming, and all current Central American countries except for Panama. 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.
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 is the twenty-third highest tourism spender in the world, and the highest in Latin America
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.
Mexican films from the Golden Age in the 1940s and 1950s are the greatest examples of Latin American cinema, with a huge industry comparable to the Hollywood of those years. Mexican films were exported and exhibited in all of Latin America and Europe. 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.
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 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 ¿Qué 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 middle-classes in major cities, and they often watch movies and TV shows from the U.S.
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, chili pepper, beans, squash, limes 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 association football. It is commonly believed that Football was introduced in Mexico by Cornish miners at the end of the 19th century. 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 with 9. 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 Sánchez was named best CONCACAF player of the 20th century by IFFHS. Mexican’s biggest stadiums are Estadio Azteca, Estadio Olímpico Universitario and Estadio Jalisco.
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