Mexico is a large country rich in natural resources that presents a variety of spectacular landscapes, notable tropical beaches, humid forests, mountains with snowy summits, fertile earth and tempered forests as well as vast deserts.

Given Mexico's geographic position, it has been an intersection that has allowed the encounter of people and of cultures from all over the world, a developing nation with a vibrant culture, which incorporates the elements of several different traditions.

Mexico's economic and social elements are equally dynamic; within the country, industries and towns exist alongside rural villages and agricultural farms. Today, Mexico is a land combining ancient customs with the challenges of a changing environment. As Mexicans preserve their culture whilst they also modernize the country..


Location and area

Mexico forms a part of North America, together with Canada and the United States of America; it is in the western hemisphere, west of the Greenwich meridian. In terms of geographical coordinates, the country's territory lies between meridians 118º 27' 24" W along the coast of Baja California on the Pacific Coast, and 86º 42' 36" W on the easternmost part, along Isla Mujeres in the Caribbean Sea; and between parallels 32º 43' 06" N on the northern border with the United States and 14º 32' 27" N to the south at the mouth of the Suchiate River on the border with Guatemala.
The country covers an area of 1,964,375 km², of which 1,959,248 km² are on the mainland and 5,127 km² are islands; it is the fourteenth-largest country in the world.
Mexico shares a 3,152 km border with the United States to the north, and a total border of 1,149 km with Guatemala and Belize to the south-east; its continental coastline spans 11,122 km, making it the second- longest in the Americas after Canada.

Natural resources

Due to its geographical location, shape, climate and geology, Mexico has a wide variety of unique ecological characteristics; they include a wealth of different soils and a diversity of flora and plant communities that feature practically all those known throughout the world.
Some parts of the country contain almost no vegetation, as is the case in the most arid desert zones and in areas that are covered in snow all year. Conversely, there are lush rain forests where the vegetation reaches a height of 40 meters in areas with over 4,000 mm of annual rainfall. Between these two extremes, a large variety of shrub communities exist, forming extensive, varied bush land, grassland, conifer and Holm oak forests in almost all mountain systems, palm groves and jungles with varying degrees of foliage life, highly developed mangroves in the southern parts of both coasts, and pioneer plant communities in coastal dune areas, among many others.


In accordance with its Political Constitution, Mexico is a representative, democratic and federal republic governed by three branches of power: the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. The country is made up of 32 political-administrative entities (31 free, sovereign states, and the Federal District, the seat of the Executive, which is also where the nation's capital is located).
Mexico's government is composed of the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches. Members of the legislative Branch and the head of the Executive Branch are elected by the citizens' direct vote. The first two designates members of the Judicial Branch. There are two levels of Government: Federal and Local, both subordinate to the Constitution. At the local level, the Municipality is the form of political and administrative organization that is closest to the people.
The president for the current six-year term (2000 to 2006) is Vicente Fox. As a candidate for the Conservative National Action Party (PAN) he was elected as president officially ending the Institutional Revolutionary Party's (PRI) 71-year hold on Mexican political power.

The National Flag

The significance of the colors of the Mexican flag is:
Green: Hope. Fertility of the soil.
White: Purity.
Red: For the blood shed during Independence.

Communication Infrastructure

In 2001, Mexico had a total of 104 012 km of paved roads (with two or more lanes), 26,655 km of railroads, 57 international and 28 domestic airports, 97 maritime ports and 11 river ports, 13.8 million telephone lines were in service and approximately 3.6 million internet users.


Total growth and population

According to the results of the most recent census of 2000, the Mexican population has reached a total of 97.48 million inhabitants, confirming its position as the eleventh most populous country in the world. Considering these figures, the annual average growth rate from the census of 1995 and 2000 is 1.4%.

Population by age and gender

By age, the Mexican population is still young; this trend can be found in the 2000 census that revealed the proportion of people under 24 years of age was 53%. Similarly, the median age for males was 22 and for females was 23 in 2000. On the other hand, the proportion of individuals 65 years or older is low, accounting for approximately 4.9% in 2000.
In regards to gender, there is an almost balanced situation, as men accounted for 48.8% of the population in 1997, vis-à-vis women who represented 51.2% of the total population. Nevertheless, in the age groups, differences are reflected both in a greater number of male births and male deaths, as well as in terms of gender and age in international migration. In this context, it is important to underscore that there are more young males than young females, contrary to the situation in older age groups.

Geographic distribution

The nation's population density in 2000 was 52 people per square kilometer. Nevertheless, the population density in the 32 states of the union varies considerably, ranging from very low rates in the states of Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Sonora, Campeche, Durango and Coahuila, which each have 15 or less inhabitants per square kilometer, to high densities in the Federal District and the State of Mexico where there are 5,643 and 611 inhabitants per square kilometer, respectively. This diversity is derived from the significant differences both in population and in the surface area of the states.
The population is concentrated in large urban centres and is also scattered in smaller towns. In the first case, metropolitan areas house 74.6 % of the total population. At the other extreme, a little more than one-fourth of the population lives in rural areas that have less than 2,500 inhabitants in 2000.


Mexican culture may be defined as a rich and proud search that comprises interpretations of diverse historical periods, changes in styles, individual and collective proposals and means of expression common to Mexican artistic production.
According to legend, as the Aztecs searched for their promised land, they were told by their god Huitzilopochtli that when they found an eagle devouring a serpent in a nopal cactus tree, they were to settle down in that place and found Tenochtitlan, what is today Mexico City.


Mexico is a pioneer in the integration of all art forms—popular art, sculpture, photography, music, painting, film—and what until recently were considered minor arts: textiles, ceramics, glass, silver and gold work. Among the Mexican symbols that the artists and intellectuals of the Revolution recovered, the death symbol is the one that has produced the greatest wealth of material. The sense of traumatic reality in historical events, and the tragedy of everyday life have been elevated into works of art in daily life.
A category of Mexican art worth preserving is one that is not easily classified as a particular genre because of its hybrid and exuberant quality. Lavish decoration and the blending of many artistic forms have allowed Mexicans to distinguish themselves by displaying a certain cultural loyalty to our taste, an expression of what we are and wish to be.

Origins of the Word Mexico

The name Mexico originated during the time of the Aztecs who were also known as Mexicas. The Aztecs were warrior people who came from a place called Axtlan, thought to be in the northwestern region of Mexico. They arrived in the Valley of Mexico at the beginning of the 13th century and in 1325 they settled on a small island in Lake Texcoco.


Mexico's prevailing and official language is Spanish, which is spoken by the great majority of the population. Indigenous languages number at least 52, with many different dialects, the chief of which is Nahuatl (see American Indian Languages), or Aztec. Other major dialects include Maya, spoken in the Yucatán Peninsula, and Otomí, common in central Mexico. Successive governments have instituted educational programs to teach Spanish to all Indigenous members of the population; however, in areas with a large indigenous population, some or all of the classes in certain state primary schools are taught in the native language of the region.


Like in Canada, most children attend public schools, but there are also many private schools in Mexico, for all levels. The Ministry of Education provides free textbooks to every child of pre-primary, primary and first grad of secondary school.
Children go to nursery school, followed by pre-primary school when they are 5 or 6 years old. They go to primary school between the ages of 6 and 12 and secondary school from 12 to 15. At 15, teenagers can go to preparatory school for three years and then to a Technological College or University.
In some indigenous communities where the children are bilingual, primary school is taught in both Spanish and the local language.


Roman Catholicism is the faith of more than 90 percent of the people. Mexico's long tradition of official anticlericalism ended in 1991 with the passage of constitutional changes granting legal status to religious institutions and allowing parochial schools. Protestants represent a small but growing minority in Mexico.