Mexico Mexico Flag

The site of advanced Amerindian civilizations, Mexico came under Spanish rule for three centuries before achieving independence early in the 19th century. A devaluation of the peso in late 1994 threw Mexico into economic turmoil, triggering the worst recession in over half a century. The nation continues to make an impressive recovery. Ongoing economic and social concerns include low real wages, underemployment for a large segment of the population, inequitable income distribution, and few advancement opportunities for the largely Amerindian population in the impoverished southern states. Elections held in July 2000 marked the first time since the 1910 Mexican Revolution that the opposition defeated the party in government, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Vicente FOX of the National Action Party (PAN) was sworn in on 1 December 2000 as the first chief executive elected in free and fair elections.



Great dive locations in Mexico :

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Understand


Climate

Varies from desert-like regions on the northwest part of the country (cities like Hermosillo, Ciudad Juarez, or Los Cabos); and temperate in the northeastern part (cities like Monterrey, Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Acuña), but note that much of the northern Mexican territory gets very cold during the winter with average day time highs around 8C (39F) and 12C (59F), overnight lows avarage around -5C (24F) and snow is sometimes frequent in certain northern places like (Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and northern Tamaulipas) but can also occur at higher altittudes in the temperate forests in the central part of Mexico. Also, northern Mexico gets very hot during the summer with sudden violent storms in the afternoon, with heavy rain and hail, also an isolated tornado can occur with these storms but rarely, and the temperatures during the day can quickly exceed 39C (100F). The Bajio region is semiarid (cities like Aguascalientes, Leon and Zacatecas); and temperate forests in the central part of the country {Mexico City, Toluca}, and tropical rain forests in the south and southeast regions like (Chiapas, Cancun). During hurricane season, hurricanes are common in the coastal cities specially those near the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

Landscape

High, rugged mountains; low coastal plains; high plateaus; temperate plains with grasslands and Mezquite trees in the northeast, desertic in the northwest, tropical rainforests in the south and southeast {Chiapas, Cancun} semiarid in places like {Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi} and temperate coniferous and deciduous forests in the central part of the country {Mexico City, Toluca}.

Holidays
  • January 1st
  • February 5th: Constitution Day(1917)
  • February 24th: Flag Day
  • March 21st: Birth of Benito Juárez (1806), 2006 is bicentennial year.
  • May 1st: Labour Day.
  • May 5th: Puebla Battle (against the French army, 19th century). (Not an official holiday anymore)
  • September 16th: Independence day (from Spain)(1821).
  • November 2nd: Day of the dead (Not an official holiday anymore)
  • November 20th: Revolution day (1910).
  • December 25th: Christmas.

  • Easter is widely observed nationwide, according to the yearly catholic calendar.

    Eat


    Traditional Mexican food can often be very spicy; if you are not used to peppers, always ask if your food includes it. (¿Esto tiene chile?).

    There are many food carts on the streets of Mexican cities and towns. Travelers are advised to eat from these carts with caution, as hygienic preparation practices are not always reliable. In doing so, you may (or may not) find some of the most unique and genuinely mexican dishes you've ever had. From this vendors, you may find tacos, burgers, bread and almost any kind of food and service you would imagine (even cell phones, books, or toys).
  • Chicharron - Deep fried pork skin. Although don't be disgusted, it's quite crunchy and if well-prepared slightly oily.
  • Enchiladas - Chicken or meat stuffed soft tortillas covered with green, red or mole sauce. Some may have melted cheese.
  • Tacos - (tortillas filled with meat (asada (steak strips), pollo (shredded chicken), carnitas (fried shredded pork), lengua (tongue), cabeza (meat from cow skull), sesos (cow brains).
  • Tamales - corn dough shell with meat or vegatable fillings. Tamales Dulces contain fruit and/or nuts.
  • Tortas...




  • Mexico is a country in North America, lying between the United States of America to the north, and Guatemala and Belize to the southeast. Its extensive coastlines include the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Mexico has nice and warm people, unique food, art and archeology, pyramids, museums, Haciendas, 6,000 miles of shores, superb architecture and cities, weather from snow mountains in the Sierras, to rainy jungles in the Southeast and desert in the Northwest, more than 50 golf courses, excellent fishing, world top destinations like Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel, Los Cabos, Patzcuaro, among others amenities. Mexico is ranked 8th major destination for foreigner visitors, according to WTO.

    Regions

  • Baja California – The western peninsula

  • Northern Mexico – The border states

  • The Bajio – historic states in traditional silver-mining region

  • Central Mexico – center, surrounding the capital city

  • Pacific Coast – tropical beaches on Mexico's southern coast

  • Yucatan Peninsula – Jungle and Mayan ruins


  • See also: List of Mexican states
    Cities

    THIS LIST SHOULD ONLY INCLUDE 9 CITIES - IF YOU ADD ONE, REMOVE ANOTHER

    Mexico has many touristy cities; these are nine of the most traveled:
  • Mexico City - Country capital, one of the largest cities in the world, find everything from parks, aztec ruins, colonial architecture, museums, nightlife and shopping.

  • Acapulco - A beach destination in the state of Guerrero, is renowned for its warm climate and vibrant nightlife.

  • Cancún - In the southern state of Quintana Roo, is famous for its turquoise color sea, warm climate year round and world-class nightlife.

  • Cabo San Lucas - Beach destination in the Baja California peninsula, with a characteristic mediterranean weather.

  • Guanajuato - World Heritage Site by UNESCO, a hilly colonial city home of cultural festivals.

  • Merida - Colonial city in the southern state of Yucatan. Startpoint to visit the mayan world.

  • Puebla - World Heritage Site by UNESCO, colonial city famous for its cuisine and cultural sites.

  • Puerto Vallarta - In the state of Jalisco, a favorite beach in the pacific for Americans.

  • San Miguel de Allende - Located in central Mexico in the state of Guanajuato, a hilly colonial city home to thousands of foreigners.


  • Other destinations


    Archaeological Sites:
  • Chichen Itza - Majestic Mayan city, declared "World Heritage," in 1988 and the only Mexican Wonder of the World.
  • Uxmal - Impressive Maya city-state in the Puc Region, declared "World Heritage," in 1996.
  • Ek Balam - Recently reconstructed Maya site, famous for its unique decorated stucco and stone carved temples.
  • Tajin - In the state of Veracruz.
  • Teotihuacan - In the state of Mexico, near Mexico City.


  • Understand


    Climate

    Varies from desert-like regions on the northwest part of the country (cities like Hermosillo, Ciudad Juarez, or Los Cabos); and temperate in the northeastern part (cities like Monterrey, Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Acuña), but note that much of the northern Mexican territory gets very cold during the winter with average day time highs around 8C (39F) and 12C (59F), overnight lows avarage around -5C (24F) and snow is sometimes frequent in certain northern places like (Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and northern Tamaulipas) but can also occur at higher altittudes in the temperate forests in the central part of Mexico. Also, northern Mexico gets very hot during the summer with sudden violent storms in the afternoon, with heavy rain and hail, also an isolated tornado can occur with these storms but rarely, and the temperatures during the day can quickly exceed 39C (100F). The Bajio region is semiarid (cities like Aguascalientes, Leon and Zacatecas); and temperate forests in the central part of the country {Mexico City, Toluca}, and tropical rain forests in the south and southeast regions like (Chiapas, Cancun). During hurricane season, hurricanes are common in the coastal cities specially those near the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

    Landscape

    High, rugged mountains; low coastal plains; high plateaus; temperate plains with grasslands and Mezquite trees in the northeast, desertic in the northwest, tropical rainforests in the south and southeast {Chiapas, Cancun} semiarid in places like {Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi} and temperate coniferous and deciduous forests in the central part of the country {Mexico City, Toluca}.

    Holidays
  • January 1st
  • February 5th: Constitution Day(1917)
  • February 24th: Flag Day
  • March 21st: Birth of Benito Juárez (1806), 2006 is bicentennial year.
  • May 1st: Labour Day.
  • May 5th: Puebla Battle (against the French army, 19th century). (Not an official holiday anymore)
  • September 16th: Independence day (from Spain)(1821).
  • November 2nd: Day of the dead (Not an official holiday anymore)
  • November 20th: Revolution day (1910).
  • December 25th: Christmas.

  • Easter is widely observed nationwide, according to the yearly catholic calendar.

    Get in


    From the United States

    Keep your visa documents when leaving the United States of America
  • If you are not a US citizen holding a visa for the US (including the green "waiver" visas people from Western countries get at US borders), you will have both a visa stamp in your passport and a loose immigration document (often a green card) that the US customs officer puts in your passport. When entering Mexico from the US (either by land or by plane): if you intend to come back to the US after your stay, do not try to hand the green immigration document back to US customs (they normally don't ask for it). You can enter the US multiple times during the time allocated to your visa (for Western tourists, normally 90 days), but you need to have the immigration document as well to validate the visa. If you come back from the US without that document, you will not only have to apply again for a new visa (which is on land borders as in Tijuana costly (6-20 $) and may take a whole afternoon if you happen to be in a queue with hundreds of Mexican applicants), but you will also be asked severe questions by US immigration. So keep the immigration document with you until you leave North America for good.


  • By train
    Passenger trains are very limited in Mexico with only a few lines in opperation in places like the Copper Canyon in the northern state of Chihuahua, that line is also known as the {Chihuahua Pacific Railway} since its final destination is the Pacific coastal city of Tobolobampo in the state of Sinaloa. In the state of Jalisco there is also also a line which travels from the state capital city Guadalajara to its final destination in the small town of Tequila, this is why this line is called the {Tequila Express}. In the Yucatan Penninsula there is a line of passenger trains which runs from Villahermosa through Campeche, Merida, Playa del Carmen and its final destination being the city of Cancun, this train also runs through a few Mayan ruins including Chichen-Itza and this gives it its name of the {expreso Maya} which is spanish for {Mayan express}.

    By car
    American automobile insurance is not accepted in Mexico, therefore the Department of Transportation advises traveling to Mexico by air, sea, or walking where possible. Should you decide to drive to Mexico, the Transport and Communications Secretariat website has free downloadable road maps. Also, MexInsurance Online provides US and Canada visitors with Mexican vehicle insurance where you can insure your car, boat, jet ski, RV or motorcycle through the web and choose among the top five insurance companies in México in just 5 minutes.

    By bus
    There are many bus companies based in Mexico with branch offices in major U.S. cities. A ticket to a major Mexican city from the U.S. can be bought for as little as $60 roundtrip. These compaines however, do cater to mostly Hispanics or Mexican Nationals living in the U.S. and operate mostly in Spanish.

    By boat
  • Border crossing from Guatemala.


  • Get around


    Travelling in Mexico is most practical by bus, car, or air. Passenger transport by train is almost nonexistent.

    By car

    Due to a government scheme in the early 90's to create infrastructure, the best roads are toll roads. Toll roads can be relatively costly, 400-800 pesos is not uncommon on longer trips, but are much faster and better maintained. First-class buses generally travel by toll roads (and the toll is obviously included in the ticket price).
    US vehicle insurance is not valid in Mexico and you must have a Mexican insurance by law. So if you are travelling with your own vehicle, Mex Insurance Online provides US and Canada visitors with Mexican vehicle insurance where you can insure your car, boat, jet ski, RV or motorcycle through the web and choose among the top five insurance companies in México.
    When travelling on Mexican roads, especially near the borders with the United States and Guatemala, one will probably encounter several checkpoints operated by the Mexican Army searching for illegal weapons and drugs. If you are coming from the United States, you may not be used to this, and it can be intimidating. However, these are rarely a problem for honest people. Simply do what the soldiers tell you to do, and treat them with respect. The best way to show respect when entering a checkpoint is to turn your music down, lift sunglasses from your face, and be prepared to roll your window down. They should treat you with respect as well, and they usually do. If you are asked to unpack any part of your vehicle, do so without complaint. It is their right to make you completely unload in order for them to inspect your cargo.

    Tourists are often warned about traveling on roads at night. Although banditos are rare in more metropolitan areas, err on the side of caution in more rural areas. The best bet is to only drive during daylight hours. Cattle, dogs, and other animals can also appear on the roadway unexpectedly so if you do have to drive at night, be very cautious.

    The Secretariat of Communication and Transport recently set up a new mapping tool similar to those in the U.S. like Mapquest, its name is Traza Tu Ruta and is very helpful to find how to get to your destination using Mexico's roads. It is in Spanish but can be used with basic knowledge of the language.

    Foreign driver's licenses are recognized and recommended. Speeding tickets are common, and to ensure your presence at the hearing, the officer may choose to keep your license. He is within his rights to do so.

    At petrol (gas) stations, make sure the pump is zeroed out before the attendant begins pumping your gas so that you don't end up paying more than you should.

    See also: Driving in Mexico

    By air

    Domestic air travel will be via a Mexican airline or private plane, as international airlines are prohibited from operating domestic flights.
    Mexicana and AeroMexico are the two main carriers along with Aviacsa and Aerolineas Aztecas. Many discount airlines launched in late 2005 and the number keeps growing. Due to a lack of space at Mexico City's main airport, several *of these new carriers are based in nearby Toluca, including Interjet and Volaris. Avolar mainly flies from Tijuana and Alma de Mexico from Guadalajara.

    Airports in mexican cities:
  • Acapulco / Guerr.
  • Aguascalientes / Aguas.
  • Campeche / Camp.
  • Cancún / Q. Roo
  • Cd. de México / D.F.
  • Cd. del Carmen / Camp.
  • Cd. Juárez / Chih.
  • Cd. Obregon / Son.
  • Cd. Victoria / Tamps.
  • Chetumal / Q. Roo
  • Chihuahua / Chih.
  • Colima / Col.
  • Cozumel / Q. Roo
  • Cuernavaca / Mor.
  • Culiacan / Sin.
  • Durango / Dur.
  • Guadalajara / Jal.
  • Guanajuato / Gto.
  • Guaymas / Son.
  • Hermosillo / Son.
  • Huatulco / Oax.
  • Ixt./Zihuataneco / Guerr.
  • La Paz / Baja Cal. Sur
  • León / Gto.
  • Loreto / Baja Cal. Sur
  • Los Cabos / Baja Cal. S.
  • Los Mochis / Sin.
  • Manzanillo / Col.
  • Matamoros / Tamps.
  • Mazatlán / Sin.
  • Mérida / Yuc.
  • Mexicali / Baja Cal.
  • Minatitlán / Ver.
  • Monterrey / Nvo. León
  • Morelia / Mich.
  • Nogales / Son.
  • Nuevo Laredo / Tamps.
  • Oaxaca / Oax.
  • Pachuca / Hdgo.
  • Poza Rica / Ver.
  • Pto. Escondido / Oax.
  • Pto. Vallarta / Jal.
  • Puebla / Pue.
  • Querétaro / Quer.
  • Reynosa / Tamps.
  • San Luis Potosí / SLP
  • Tampico / Tamps.
  • Tamuín / SLP
  • Tapachula / Chiap.
  • Tehuacan / Pue.
  • Tepic / Nay.
  • Tijuana / Baja Cal.
  • Toluca / Edo. de México
  • Torreón / Coah.
  • Tuxtla Gutiérrez / Chiap.
  • Uruapan / Mich.
  • Veracruz / Ver.
  • Villahermosa / Tab.
  • Zacatecas / Zac.


  • Main national airlines:
  • Aerocalifornia
  • Aerolitoral
  • Aeromar
  • Aeroméxico
  • Alma de México*
  • Aviacsa
  • Avolar*
  • Click Mexicana*
  • Interjet*
  • Líneas Aéreas Azteca*
  • Magnicharters
  • Mexicana
  • VivaAerobus*
  • Volaris*

  • Low Cost Airlines*

    By bus

    If traveling by bus, be sure to take the express buses, if available (they are called directo). Other buses often stop at many smaller stations along the way, making the trip a lot longer. If you have experience with Greyhound buses in the US, you're in for a pleasant surprise. Book direct travel within Mexico on ejecutivo buses departing in the evening. You'll be able to sleep on luxury buses with as few as 18 seats. Some even have complimentary beer. With the advent of NAFTA, some bus companies are now offering service from US cities. The major bus companies offering these kind of services are Grupo Ado (make sure you are traveling de lujo) , Estekka de Ori (make sure you are traveling Diamante) , Enlaces Terrestres Nacionales , White Star Group (make sure you are traveling Ejecutivo) , Red Star (make sure you are traveling Pullman Plus) , and Primera Plus .

    On the other side if traveling within a city you won't find a pleasant surprise. You will find one of the most chaotic public transport systems full of the popular "peseros". "Peseros" are small buses with varying color codes depending on the city you are. Usually the route taken is written on cardboard attached to the windshield. Unlike many countries you can make a stop wherever you want but it's not recommended as you put in danger your safety and the safety of the nearby drivers who can get suddenly stopped. Try to make stops at the assigned points; you will rarely find a stop button in a pesero, just shout the word "bajan" for it to stop. Fares are cheap and vary from 2 to 7 pesos approximately.

    By thumb

    Hitchhiking possibilities vary according to region. Mexican culture is often accepting of hitchhiking and it's a common practice among Mexican youngsters going to the beach in Easter vacations, though in some cases a money contribution is expected for gas because of its relatively high prices. You should make it clear that you have no money to offer before accepting the ride, if this is the case. Hitchhiking is considered fairly safe and easy in the Yucatan Peninsula.
    The region near Mexico City should be more difficult to obtain a free hitchhike, as private cars don't stop to help hitchhickers for security reasons and buses that do stop expect a fee for the ride.

    Get out


    Over Tenosique, La Palma, by boat on the river Rio San Pedro to Naranja (Guatemala).
    This route is not used by many and still has a touch of adventure. Stay firm when negotiating over the price. Absolutely important! Make sure you get your passport stamped before you leave Naranja or you might catch one of the rare buses back and take a walk through the jungle as the emigrations office is part up the river between the Mexican border and the village.

    Talk


    Spanish is the main language. You can get by with English in most top tourist destinations, but much of the country is monolingual.

    Mexican Spanish is slightly different from both the Castilian Spanish spoken in most of Spain and the Spanish spoken in South American countries. All three are mutually intelligible—it's about the same as the differences in English spoken in various countries—but you can expect some funny looks if you speak only Castilian. (In particular, unlike Castilian, the z and the soft c should be pronounced like an s.) Mexican Spanish is the variant most often taught in the United States of America, so if you learned Spanish there, you should be OK.

    In some regions, native languages such as Mayan or Nahuatl are still widely spoken.

    There are Spanish languages schools throughout Mexico. The city with the most schools is Cuernavaca, with more than 50 schools. Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato also offer a number schools to choose from. Prices vary, however, most schools are very reasonably priced. Many schools can arrange homestays with local Mexican families.

    See also: Spanish phrasebook

    Buy

    The currency of Mexico is the peso (MXN). The symbol for pesos is the same as for US dollars, which can be slightly confusing. Prices in dollars (in tourist areas) are labeled "US$" or sport an S with a double stroke. As of April 2007 the exchange rate hovers around $10.94 MXN to $1.00 USD.

    ATMs are easy to come by. Bank of America customers can avoid ATM fees by using Santander Serfin ATMs. Other banks may have similar policies, check with your respective institution. Otherwise, do not be surprised to find yourself with a $5 fee for each withdrawal. ATMs in smaller towns can run out of currency; sometimes this is a regular occurence. Check with the bank (or locals) about the best time to use the ATM and don't wait until the very last minute to get cash.

    Merchants can be picky about the state of your paper money, they may scrutinize it and reject anything with rips. Try to keep it in as pristine condition as possible. Reputedly, this is more the case the further South you go.

    Merchants are often reluctant to make change in smaller towns. Try to avoid paying with overly large denominations; the best customer has exact change.
  • Indigenous Art A visit to anywhere in Mexico will give one the opportunity to buy art made in the "old world" manner that reflects the diverse ethnicity of Mexico. Included in these articles would be textiles, wood carvings, paintings and carved masks that are used on sacred dances and burials.

  • Do

  • Surfing - Vallarta, Oaxaca
  • Snorkeling - Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, etc.
  • Scuba diving - Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas etc.
  • Visit a Volcano - Mexico, Toluca etc.
  • Take a ride on the Copper Canyon Railway
  • Visit the archaeological sites - Chichen Itza, Tulum, Coba, Monte Alban, Calakmul, Palenque, etc


  • Eat


    Traditional Mexican food can often be very spicy; if you are not used to peppers, always ask if your food includes it. (¿Esto tiene chile?).

    There are many food carts on the streets of Mexican cities and towns. Travelers are advised to eat from these carts with caution, as hygienic preparation practices are not always reliable. In doing so, you may (or may not) find some of the most unique and genuinely mexican dishes you've ever had. From this vendors, you may find tacos, burgers, bread and almost any kind of food and service you would imagine (even cell phones, books, or toys).
  • Chicharron - Deep fried pork skin. Although don't be disgusted, it's quite crunchy and if well-prepared slightly oily.
  • Enchiladas - Chicken or meat stuffed soft tortillas covered with green, red or mole sauce. Some may have melted cheese.
  • Tacos - (tortillas filled with meat (asada (steak strips), pollo (shredded chicken), carnitas (fried shredded pork), lengua (tongue), cabeza (meat from cow skull), sesos (cow brains).
  • Tamales - corn dough shell with meat or vegatable fillings. Tamales Dulces contain fruit and/or nuts.
  • Tortas - Fancy mexican sandwich. Bread is fried lightly, meat fillings are same as tacos, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeños, beans, onion, mayonaise and avocado.
  • Quesadillas - Cheese or other ingredients grilled in between tortillas.
  • Mole - Mild to medium spice sauce with hint of peanut over meat, usually served with shredded chicken. ('Pollo en mole')
  • Pozole: Chicken or pork broth with hominy corn, spiced when served with oregan, lettuce, lemon juice, radish, chopped onion, dried ground chile and other ingredients, usually served with a side dish of tostadas, fried potato and fresh cheese tacos.
  • Gorditas: corn patty stuffed with chicharron, chicken, cheese, etc. topped with cream, cheese and hot sauce.
  • Guacamole: crushed avocado sauce with green serrano chile, chopped red tomato and onion, lemon juice and fried tortilla slices "totopos".
  • Tostadas: fried flat tortilla topped with fried beans, lettuce, cream, fresh cheese, sliced red tomato and onion, hot sauce, and chicken or other main ingredient.
  • Huaraches: a bigger version a gordita.
  • Sopes: corn patty topped with a wide variety of ingredients such as chicken, cheese, etc. and hot sauce.
  • Carnitas: deep fried pork meat.
  • Chile en nogada: A big Poblano chile covered with nut sauce. Served nationwide on September.
  • Barbacoa: Sheep meat cooked with maguey leaves in a oven made at a hole in the ground.
  • Tortas ahogadas: If you you to Guadalajara taste this pork sandwiches covered with sauce
  • Panuchos: If you go to Yucatan, try this "Sopes" with pork (called cochinita pibil)
  • Sopa de Tortilla: Tortilla chips soup
  • Chilaquiles: Tortilla chips with green tomatoes sauce, usually served with chicken or eggs.

  • You can measure the quality of food by popularity, do not eat on lonely places, even if they are restaurants or hotels.

    Ask for the "platillo tipico" of the town, this is a local speciality not found elsewhere, a variation, or the bornplace of a recipe, also consider that most of the recipies change from place to place, like tamales, in the south are made with the banana plant leaves, and in the Huasteca region tamales are very big, one is Ok for a complete family.

    Drink
  • Absinth is legal in Mexico.
  • Tequila, made from Agave
  • Pulque, ferment made from Maguey
  • Mezcal, destiled made from Maguey
  • Tepache, made from pineapple
  • Tuba, made from coconut plant


  • There are also several Mexican beers, several of which are available outside Mexico, these include:
  • Corona
  • Dos Equis (XX), dark or lager.
  • Modelo Especial
  • Negra Modelo
  • Modelo Light
  • Pacífico
  • Tecate
  • Indio
  • Bohemia
  • Carta Blanca
  • Sol
  • Superior
  • Victoria
  • Montejo
  • León
  • Estrella
  • Corona "de Barril"


  • In some places you will find beer served as a prepared drink called "michelada". The formula varies depending on the place, but it's usually beer mixed with lime juice. Other variation called "cubana" includes Clamato cocktail, soybean sauce, salt and a little bit of hot sauce.

    The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18, but not strictly enforced. In many places, consumption of alcohol in public ("open container") is illegal and usually punishable by a day in jail. Be aware of waitresses and barmen, especially at night clubs. If you are not aware of your consumption and how much you already spent, they can add a few more drinks to your account. Some do this, not all.

    Alcoholimeters are widely used in driving roads If drinking, always have a designated driver. Driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage may result in up to 3 days in jail.

    Learn


    Some Mexican universities are very important, such as UNAM (ranked 95° worldwide, and one of the best in Latin America), and most of them have programs for foreigners. Foreigners can take a course to learn Spanish, or even study a whole career. Also, there are some other courses where you can learn traditional Mexican activities such as handcrafts.

    Most of the the goverment funded universities on mayor cities (state capital) have short courses on history, gastronomy and cultural subjects, most of them are almost free. Other places are the "Casa de la Cultura", (house of culture) this are historical buildings used for cultural related activities (music concerts, teather, paint and other exibits, they also have "talleres" (workshops).

    Many excellent private universities exist in the larger cities (Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, etc.) and provide excellent education

    Another important university is ITESM (Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey), located in Monterrey but in many other mexican cities, too.

    The EGADE Master Business School in Monterrey is ranked No.68 of MBA schools worldwide, the first in Latin America.

    Work


    Working may require a work visa, which is difficult to get if you just want to freelance for a short time.

    Many important headquarters are located throughout the main cities of Mexico. Mexican top corporations like Televisa, Bimbo, Cemex, Telmex, Vitro, are often willing to hire professionals who speak English as their native language as most of the business scene is developed with North American corporations.

    An excellent way to get to know and understand more of the country is to do some voluntary work. There are several organisations such as Travel to Teach that arrange work for international volunteers in Mexico and other countries in the region.

    Native English speakers can pick up work, as always, as English teachers. The upside is that English speakers with no knowledge of Spanish are sought after, because they will force their students to practice English. The downside is that salaries are somewhat low.

    Sleep


    A number of hotel chains are available throughout Mexico, including Best Western, Holiday Inn, Fiesta Inn, Fairmont, Hilton, Ritz, Camino Real, Starwood (Sheraton, W, Westin, Four Points) and many others. All offer reasonable rates, and mostly clean accommodations, good for business travelers, but not necessarily for those wanting to experience Mexico itself. Smaller hotels and motels along the roadside may not be safe or comfortable. Boutique hotels are found all over the country; price range varies but all of them are rich in Mexican traditions, elegance and charm, the perfect way to experience the cultural heritage of each state. A great source of information is Melba Levick's book Mexicasa, found in many libraries and online bookstores. There are also many all-inclusive resorts for those visiting the major beach destinations.

    The best (most authentic) accommodations can usually be found by asking locals or gringos, especially in the smaller towns. If you are unsure about the safety or conditions of the room ask to see it before paying. This will not be considered rude.

    If you are going to be in cooler areas in the winter consider bringing an electric blanket - as there is power, but no heat in the cheaper hotels. And although it may get quite hot by afternoon outside, adobe and cement are like fridges. An electric tea kettle is also a good idea, hot water might not be available when you want it.

    If you're traveling with children, use a plastic case (with wheels and a handle) as luggage, and it can be used as a bathtub for the kids if necessary. Budget hotels rarely, if ever, have tubs.

    Stay safe


    In most of the cities, location is very important as security changes from place to place. Areas close to downtown (centro) are safer to walk at night, especially on the "Plaza", "Zocalo" or "Jardin" (main square) and areas nearby. Stay in populated areas, avoid poor neighborhoods, especially at night, and don't walk there at any time if you are alone.

    Some Mexican border towns could be dangerous for someone who is unaware, especially at night. In contrast, Mexican northern non-border cities are very safe; such as Monterrey, Saltillo, Chihuahua, etc.

    Never drive above the speed limit or run stop signs/red lights as Mexican police will use any excuse to pull over tourists and give you a ticket. If pulled over by a police officer soliciting a bribe, do not pay the amount requested, but pull out USD$30 or MXN$300 pesos, and explain that it is all you have. This technique has worked in the past, but is corruption. The fine for speeding could be as much as US$100, depending on the city.

    When in major cities – especially Mexico City – play it safe with taxis. Never pick up a cab in the street unless the locals have told you they can be trusted; always request that your hotel or restaurant call a taxi for you.

    Carry money in multiple locations, especially when driving a car. As in any city, do not wave cash or credit cards around. Use them discreetly and put them away as quickly as possible.

    The Mexican legal system is under Napoleonic code, meaning suspects can be considered guilty until proven innocent (the reverse of the USA). Keep that in mind before contemplating flouting the law.

    Beggars are not usually a threat but you will find lots in urban areas. Avoid being surrounded by them as some can pickpocket your goods. Giving away two pesos quickly can get you out of such troubles. If driving you will mostly find beggars and windshield cleaners at any red light; have your windows closed at all times. The windshield cleaners will try to clean yours in spite of any negative- a strong and firm "NO" is suggested.

    If driving in from the USA, always purchase Mexican liability insurance before crossing the border. Even if your American (or Canadian, etc.) insurance covers your vehicle in Mexico, it cannot (by Mexican law) cover liability (i.e. hitting something or injuring someone). You will probably spend time in a Mexican jail if you have an accident without it. And even if your own insurance does (in theory) provide liability coverage in Mexico -- you'll be filing your claim from behind bars! Don't risk it, get Mexican auto insurance.

    Jellyfish stings: vinegar or mustard on the skin, take some to the beach with you.

    Stingray stings: water as hot as you can bear - the heat deactivates the poison.

    Stay healthy

    Mexico is so notorious for traveler's diarrhea that it is often called "Montezuma's Revenge". The reason for this is not so much the spicy food but the contamination of the water supply. In most cities, only the poorest Mexicans will drink tap water. Drinking water out of the tap is generally a bad idea. The best policy is to only drink bottled or purified water, both of which are readily available. In most restaurants, the only water that will be served to you comes from large jugs of purified water. Mexico is one of the main bottled water consumers in the world so its recommended to buy some whenever it's possible.

    Likewise, avoid raw vegetables and fruits unless they have been washed in an iodine or other disinfecting solution. In addition to diseases that could be picked up from the soil where they are grown, some of the pesticides in use in Mexico are considered unsafe. If your body is not used to these chemicals, it will rebel.

    If you start to show symptoms of food poisoning, visit a doctor as soon as possible. There is medicine available that will counter the bacteria and save you much suffering.

    Medicine in urban areas is highly developed, but it's recommended going to private hospitals.

    Respect

  • Mexicans have a somewhat relaxed sense of time, so be patient with them. Don't lose your temper if they arrive 15 minutes later than scheduled. However, if it's more than 30 minutes, you should be concerned.

  • The overwhelming majority of the population is Roman Catholic, which results in many Mexicans being deeply religious and conservative in character. Be careful when you bring up issues such as homosexuality, especially in small towns, but it should not be that much of a problem in large cities.

  • When entering churches, always take off any sunglasses, caps or hats. Wearing shorts is not a problem at all but it's suggested to tie a sweatshirt or sweater to your waist so to avoid showing too much skin, which could be disrespectful in such places. Although, away from the beaches or northern areas, shorts are very rare amongst Mexicans as pants are more proper, and thus will attract more attention to yourself.

  • Respect Mexico's laws. Some foreigners feel that Mexico is a place where laws can be broken and the police bribed at all times. While corruption may be common amongst Mexican police, it is extremely disrespectful for foreign nationals to behave in such a manner, and could be an excuse for the police to give you "a respect lesson". Remember, offering a bribe to an official could get you into even more trouble unless he demands it.

  • Do not be offended to be called "güero" (blonde) and its diminutive form "güerito" (blondie), as its a common way for the average mexican citizens to refer mostly to caucasian people. The words "gringo" and its synonym "gabacho" are used in spite of the actual nationality of the tourists and are not to be taken as offensive nouns.

  • If invited into a home, don't go barefoot in the house at any time of day or night (except in private).

  • Watch your language, in Mexico (unlike a few countries in South America) "estúpido" means far, far worse than "stupid" in English. While the famous word "güey" is equivalent to "dude" or "mate", avoid using it unless you have plenty of confidence with a person, and never ever use strong language when talking to a female.

  • Machismo. This refers to male chauvinism or sexism, which is falling out favor, but is commonly reflected and accepted in Mexican cuture. It can be defined as domination or imposing will on a wife or sister. It can also be defined as also trying to do the same to males or reflect pride and honor. While it usually is not directed towards visitors, it can be, in a variety of strengths. It is best to pretend not to notice or to just react in a humble way and move on.


  • Contact


    You can call from public phones using prepaid tel. cards tarjetas ladatel, bought at magazine stalls. Cards can be purchased in $30, $50 or $99 peso denominations. The rate to call the US is roughly equivalent to $0.50 USD per minute. Beware these are different than tarjetas amigo, viva, or unefon: they are for cellphones.

    Some areas have only a few internet cafes; in others, they are plentiful. Common fees vary from 7 pesos/hour to 20 pesos/hour. Currently, most of the internet cafes are offering calls to US for a better rate than a payphone.




    The United Mexican States (Spanish: ), or simply Mexico (Spanish: ), is a country located in North America, bounded 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 comprise a constitutional republican federation of thirty-one states and a federal district, Mexico City, one of the most populous cities on Earth.

    Covering almost 2 million square kilometers, Mexico is the fifth-largest country in the Americas by total area and 14th largest in the world. With a population of almost 109 million, it is the 11th most populous country and the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world.

    As 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. Elections held in July 2000 marked the first time that an opposition party won the presidency to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional: PRI), that held it since 1929, culminating a process of political alternation that had begun at the local level since the 1980s.

    Toponymy

    After the independence of the vice-royalty of New Spain, it was decided that the country was to be named after its capital, Mexico City. The city's original name was Mexico-Tenochtitlan, in reference to the name of the Nahua Aztec tribe, the Mexica.

    The origin of the name of the tribe itself is rather obscure. The Jesuit and historian Francisco Javier Clavijero argues in his writings that it derives from the Nahuatl word Mexitl or Mexitli, a secret name for the god of war and patron of the Mexica, Huitzilopochtli. By that theory, "Mexico" means "Place where Mexitl lives" or "Place where Mexitli temple is built," in reference to the Templo Mayor ("Great Temple"). This opinion was also held by Fray Juan de Torquemada; however, Torquemada adds that Mexitli comes from the words metl ("agave") and xictli ("navel"), and the early settlers took for themselves this name and they were called Mexicatl. According to this version, it would mean "People of Mexitli" or more literally: "Place in the navel of agave"; this last version is also supported by Fray Motolinia. Other historians like Fray Bernardino de Sahagun, Jose de Acosta, Fray Diego Duran, and Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas say in their works that "Mexico" comes from Mecitl or Mexi, which was the name of a leader and priest who guided the early pilgrims. His followers were called Mexica, and therefore, this word means "People of Mexi." Mexi sometimes is also called Mexitl, but he should not be confused with the god Mexitli.

    Some experts like Alfonso Caso suggested that Mexico derives from the words metztli ("moon"), xictli ("navel", "center", "middle" or "son"), and the suffix -co ("place"), thus it means "Place at the middle of the moon" or "Place at the center of the Lake Moon", in reference to Lake Texcoco at the middle of which Mexico City was built. This version is based on an Aztec legend which says that when the Mexicas arrived first time to Lake Texcoco, they saw the moon reflected on it.

    The name of the city was transliterated to Spanish as México with the phonetic value of the x in Medieval Spanish, which represented the voiceless postalveolar fricative . This sound, as well as the voiced postalveolar fricative , represented by a j, evolved into a voiceless velar fricative during the sixteenth century, which led to the use of the variant Méjico in many publications, most notably in Spain, whereas in Mexico, México was the preferred spelling. In recent years the Real Academia Española, the institution that regulates the Spanish language, determined that the normative recommended spelling in Spanish is México, and the majority of publications in all Spanish-speaking countries now adhere to the new normative, even though the disused variant is still occasionally found. In English, the x in Mexico represents neither the original nor the current sound, but the consonant cluster .

    History

    For almost three thousand years, Mesoamerica was the site of several advanced Amerindian civilizations such as the Olmec, the Maya and the Aztecs. In 1519, the native civilizations of what now is known as Mexico were invaded by Spain; this was one of the most important conquest campaigns in America. Two years later in 1521, the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan was conquered by an alliance between Spanish and Tlaxcaltecs, the main enemies of the Aztecs, setting up a three-century colonial rule in Mexico. The viceroyalty of New Spain became the first and largest provider of resources for the Spanish Empire, and the most populated of all Spanish colonies.

    On September 16, 1810, independence from Spain was declared by Miguel Hidalgo in the small town of Dolores, Guanajuato state, causing a long war that eventually led to recognized independence in 1821 and the creation of an ephemeral First Mexican Empire with Agustín de Iturbide as first and only emperor, deposed in 1823 by the republican forces. In 1824, a republican constitution was drafted creating the United Mexican States with Guadalupe Victoria as its first President. The first four decades of independent Mexico were marked by a constant strife between federalists (those who supported the federal form of government stipulated in the 1824 constitution) and centralists (who proposed a hierarchical form of government in which all local authorities were appointed and subject to a central authority). General Antonio López de Santa Anna was a strong influence in Mexican politics, a centralist and a two-time dictator. In 1836, he approved the Siete Leyes, a radical amendment to the constitution that institutionalized the centralized form of government, after which Texas declared independence from Mexico, obtained in 1836. The annexation of Texas by the United States created a border dispute that would cause the Mexican-American War. Santa Anna played a big role in trying to muster Mexican forces but this war resulted in the resolute defeat of Mexico and as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), Mexico lost one third of its surface area to the 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.

    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 American ambassador Henry Lane Wilson. This re-ignited the civil war, with participants such as Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata who formed their own forces. A third force, the constitutional army led by Venustiano Carranza, managed to bring an end to the war, and radically amended the 1857 Constitution to include many of the social premises and demands of the revolutionaries into what was eventually called the 1917 Constitution. Carranza was killed in 1920 and succeeded by another revolutionary hero, Álvaro Obregón, who in turn was succeeded by Plutarco Elías Calles. Obregón was reelected in 1928 but assassinated before he could assume power. Shortly after, Calles founded the National Revolutionary Party (PNR), later renamed the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) which became the most influential party during the next 70 years.

    During the next four decades, Mexico experienced substantial economic growth that historians call "El Milagro Mexicano", the Mexican Miracle. The assumption of mineral rights by the government, and the subsequent nationalization of the oil industry into PEMEX during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas del Río (1938) was a popular move, but sparked a diplomatic crisis with those countries whose citizens had lost businesses expropriated by the Cárdenas government.

    Although the economy continued to flourish, social inequality remained a factor of discontent. Moreover, the PRI rule became increasingly authoritarian and at times oppressive, an example being the Tlatelolco Massacre of 1968, which by according to government officials claimed the life of around 30 protesters, even though many reputable international accounts reported that around 250 protesters were killed by security forces in a clash at the neighborhood. In the 1970s there was extreme dissatisfaction with the administration of Luis Echeverría which took missteps in both the national and international arenas. Nonetheless, it was in this decade that the first substantial changes to electoral law were made, which initiated a movement of democratization of a system that had become electorally authoritarian. While the prices of oil were at historically high records and interest rates were low, Mexico made impressive investments in the state-owned oil company, with the intention of revitalizing the economy, but overborrowing and mismanagement of oil revenues led to inflation and exacerbated the crisis of 1982. That year, oil prices plunged, interest rates soared, and the government defaulted on its debt. In an attempt to stabilize the current account balance, and given the reluctance of international lenders to return to Mexico given the previous default, president de la Madrid resorted to currency devaluations which in turn sparked 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 open 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 exchanged 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 short-lived armed rebellion against the federal government, and has continued as a non-violent opposition movement against neoliberalism and globalization. This and a series of political assassinations and corruption scandals scared portfolio investors and reduced foreign capital investment. 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 American president Clinton and major macroeconomic reforms started by president Zedillo, the economy rapidly recovered and growth peaked at almost 7% in 1999. Democratic reforms under Zedillo's administration caused 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). On March 23 2005, the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America was signed by Vicente Fox. During the 2006 elections, the PRI 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). In the concurrent presidential elections, Felipe Calderón, from PAN was declared winner, with a razor-thin margin over Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). López Obrador, however, contested the election and pledged to create an "alternative government".

    Geography

    Mexico is situated in the mid-latitudes of the Americas. Its territory comprises much of southern North America, or also within Middle America. Physiographically, the lands east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec including the Yucatán Peninsula (which together comprise around 12% of the country's area) lie within the region of Central America; geologically, the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt delimits the region on the north. Geopolitically, however, Mexico is commonly not considered a Central American country.

    Mexico's total area is 1,972,550 km², including 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.

    Topography

    The Mexican territory is crossed from north to south by two mountain ranges known as Sierra Madre Oriental and Sierra Madre Occidental, which are the extension of the Rocky Mountains from northern North America. From east to west at the center, the country is crossed by the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt also known as the Sierra Nevada. A fourth mountain range, the Sierra Madre del Sur, runs from Michoacán to Oaxaca. As such, the majority of the Mexican central and northern territories are located at high altitudes, and the highest elevations are found at the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt: Pico de Orizaba (5,700 m), Popocatépetl (5,462 m) and Iztaccíhuatl (5,286 m) and the Nevado de Toluca (4,577 m). Three major urban agglomerations are located in the valleys between these four elevations: Toluca, Greater Mexico City and Puebla.

    Climate
    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.

    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 °C 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 °C 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 °C 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.

    Biodiversity

    Mexico is one of the 17 megadiverse countries of the world. With over 200,000 different species, Mexico is home of 10–12% of the world's biodiversity. Mexico ranks first in biodiversity in reptiles with 707 known species, second in mammals with 438 species, fourth in amphibians with 290 species, and fourth in flora, with 26,000 different species. Mexico is also considered the second country in the world in ecosystems and fourth in overall species. The Mexican government created the National System of Information about Biodiversity, in order to study and promote the sustainable use of ecosystems.

    In Mexico, 17 million hectares are considered "Protected Natural Areas" which include 34 reserve biospheres (unaltered ecosystems), 64 national parks, 4 natural monuments (protection for its aesthetic, scientific or historical value in perpetuity), 26 areas of protected flora and fauna, 4 areas for natural resource protection (conservation of soil, hydrological basins and forests) and 17 sanctuaries (zones of abundant richness in species).
  • 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 of 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 through plurality and 200 deputies by proportional representation with open-party lists for which the country is divided into 5 electoral constituencies or circumscriptions. The Senate is conformed by 64 senators, two per state and the Federal District, jointly elected by plurality, 32 senators assigned to the first minority (one per state and the Federal District) and 32 elected by proportional representation with open-party lists of 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.

    In the 2006–2009 Congress eight parties are therein represented; five of them, however, have not received neither in this nor in previous congresses more than 4% of the national votes The other three parties have historically been the dominant parties in Mexican politics:
  • National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN): a center-right conservative party founded in 1939
  • Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI): a center party that ascribes to social democracy, founded in 1929 to unite all the factions of the Mexican Revolution. Prominent both right-wing and left-wing Mexican politicians have been members of the party.
  • Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD): a center-left party founded in 1989 formed by the coalition of socialists and liberal parties, the National Democratic Front under the candidacy of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas.


  • 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 more than 70 years.

    In 2006, Felipe Calderón of the PAN faced Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the PRD in a very close election (0.58% difference). On September 6, 2006, Felipe Calderón was declared President-elect by the electoral tribunal. His cabinet was sworn in at midnight on December 1, 2006 and Calderón was handed the presidential band by outgoing Vicente Fox at Los Pinos. He was officially sworn as President on the morning of December 1, 2006 in Congress, amidst screaming, yelling and insults, in an extremely quick ceremony.

    Administrative divisions

    The United Mexican States are an union of thirty-one free and sovereign states which form a Union that exercises jurisdiction over the Federal District and other territories. Every state has its own constitution and congress, 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.

    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.

    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.

    State names and abbreviations for the 31 Mexican states and the Federal District:


  • AG Aguascalientes
  • BC Baja California
  • BS Baja California Sur
  • CH Chihuahua
  • CL Colima
  • CM Campeche
  • CO Coahuila
  • CS Chiapas

  • DF Distrito Federal
  • DG Durango
  • GR Guerrero
  • GT Guanajuato
  • HG Hidalgo
  • JA Jalisco
  • MI Michoacán
  • MO Morelos

  • ME Mexico
  • NA Nayarit
  • NL Nuevo León
  • OA Oaxaca
  • PU Puebla
  • QR Quintana Roo
  • QT Querétaro
  • SI Sinaloa

  • SL San Luis Potosí
  • SO Sonora
  • TB Tabasco
  • TL Tlaxcala
  • TM Tamaulipas
  • VE Veracruz
  • YU Yucatán
  • ZA Zacatecas




  • Foreign policy

    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 Doctrina Estrada 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 its sovereignty. This policy was said to be based on the principles of Non-Intervention, Pacific Solution to Controversies, and Self-Determination of all nations. However, it has been argued that the policy has been "mis-used", as it was an implied international contract between the PRI-governments and foreign nations that Mexico would not judge what happened abroad, if other countries would not judge what happened in Mexico.

    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 lieu 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.

    Economy

    Mexico has a free market economy, and is firmly established as an upper middle-income country, and it is the 12th largest economy in the world as measured in Gross Domestic Product in purchasing power parity. After the 1994 economic debacle, Mexico has made an impressive recovery, building a modern and diversified economy. Nonetheless, income inequality remains a problem, and huge gaps remain not only between rich and poor but also between the north and the south, the urban and the 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, one of the districts in 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 that of Germany or New Zealand and Metlatonoc in the state of Guerrero, would have an HDI similar to that of Malawi.

    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, of 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: budget deficit was further reduced and foreign debt was decreased to less than 20% of GDP..

    Being one of the most open countries in the world, almost 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 influential: close to 90% of Mexican exports go to the United States and Canada, and close to 55% from 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.

    Tourism in Mexico is a large industry, the third in importance. The most notable tourist draws are the ancient Meso-American ruins, and popular beach resorts. The coastal climate and unique culture – a fusion of the European (particularly Spanish) and the Meso-American – 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 surges during spring break at many of the beach resort sites which are popular with vacationing college students from the United States.

    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 (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.

    Demography


    With a population of 103 million (2005 Census), Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world.

    Largest metropolitan areas

    The following is a list of the major metropolitan areas of Mexico with more than a million inhabitants, in order of population (as reported in the 2005 census):




    Demographic dynamics
    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 (Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla and Toluca) are home of 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.

    Immigration
    Mexico is home of 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, Peru, Cuba, Venezuela, Guatemala and Colombia. 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. However, Mexico has come under scrutiny for the alleged inhumane manner they treat incoming illegal immigrants from El Salvador , eliciting accusations of hypocrisy and human rights abuses .

    Discrepancies between the figures of official legal aliens and all foreign-born residents are quite large. The official figure for foreign-born 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.

    Ethnography

    Mexico is ethnically diverse, and the constitution defines the country to be a "pluricultural nation".

    Mestizos (those of European and Amerindian ancestry) form the largest group, making up to 60%–75% of the total population. The percentage of Amerindians, called indigenous peoples (indígenas) in Mexico, is estimated to be between 12% (pure Amerindian) or 30% (predominantly Amerindian). of the population, mostly descendants of the first Spanish settlers, although many have German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Irish, Polish, Romanian, Russian and British ancestry; many are found in major cities 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.

    Mexico also received a number of Lebanese, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese

    Afro-Mexicans, mostly of mixed ancestry, live in the coastal areas of Veracruz, Tabasco and Guerrero.

    Languages

    There is no de jure constitutional official language at the federal level in Mexico. Spanish, however, is used as a de facto official language and is spoken by 97% of the population. The General Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, however, 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 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 Ingidenous Peoples recognizes the language of the Kickapoo, which immigrated from the United States, and of those of the Guatemalan Amerindian refugees.

    Mexico has the largest Spanish-speaking population having almost two times more speakers than the second Spanish-speaking country accumulating almost a third of all Spanish speakers around the world. The Mexican government has promoted and established bilingual primary and secondary education in some indigenous rural communities. Approximately 6% of the population speaks an indigenous language and 3% do not speak Spanish. Nahuatl is spoken by 1.5 million and Yucatec Maya by 800,000. Some of the national languages are in danger of extinction; Lacandon is spoken by fewer than a hundred people.

    English is widely used in business, at the border cities, as well as by the one million American citizens that live in Mexico, mostly retirees in small towns in Baja California, Guanajuato and Chiapas. Other European languages spoken by sizable communities Mexico are Venetian, Plautdietsch, German, French and Romani.

    Religion
    Geographically, northern and central Mexico are mostly Catholic (where Protestants are usually less than 3% of the total population) whereas the south-east, while still predominantly Catholic, has a much larger proportion of the population (15%) who are either Protestant or non-religious.

    Catholicism

    Unlike some other Latin American countries, Mexico has no official religion, and the Constitution of 1917 and the anti-clerical laws marked a great limitation on the Church and sometimes codified state intrusion into Church matters. The government does not provide any financial contribution to the Church, and the latter does not participate in public education. In 1992 Mexico lifted almost all restrictions on the Catholic Church, including granting all religious groups legal status, conceding them limited property rights, and lifting restrictions on the number of priests in the country. Until recently, priests did not have the right to vote, and even now, they cannot be elected for public office. Nonetheless, the Mexican population is predominantly Roman Catholic with 89% being Catholics and 47% percent of the Mexican population attending church services weekly. In absolute terms, after Brazil, Mexico has the world's largest population of Catholics.

    Other faiths and no religion
    About 6% of the population (more than 4.4 million people) is Protestant, though this is disputed.

    The presence of Jews in the country dates back to as early as 1521, when Hernando Cortés conquered the Aztecs, accompanied by several Conversos. According to the last national census by the INEGI, there are now more than 45,000 Mexican Jews.

    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 74th place in the Top 200 World University Ranking published by The Times Higher Education Supplement in 2006, making it the highest ranked Spanish-speaking university in the world as well as the first Latin American university. 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.

    The most prestigious private university is Monterrey's Technological and Higher Education Institute (ITESM), which is ranked by the Wall Street Journal as the 7th top International Business School worldwide and was ranked 74th in the world's top arts and humanities universities ranking of The Times Higher Education Supplement published in 2005; it has thirty-two secondary campuses, apart from the Monterrey Campus. Other important private universities include Mexico's Autonomous Technological Institute (ITAM), Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP), the Ibero-American University (Universidad Iberoamericana).

    Science and technology


    Notable Mexican technologists include Luis E. Miramontes, the co-inventor of the contraceptive pill, and Guillermo González Camarena, who invented the "Chromoscopic adapter for television equipment", the first color television transmission system. Rodolfo Neri Vela, an UNAM graduate, was the first Mexican in space (as part of the STS-61-B mission in 1985), and Mario J. Molina, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

    In recent years, the biggest scientific project being developed in Mexico was the construction of the Gran Telescopio Milimétrico (GMT) or Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT), the world's largest and most sensitive single-aperture telescope. It was designed to observe regions of the space obscured by stellar dust.

    Nonetheless, the government currently spends only 0.31% of GDP in science and technology, a low percentage in comparison with other countries. Mexico has the lowest number of researchers of the OECD countries, with only 4.8 researchers per 10,000 inhabitants. Mexico trains only three PhDs per million habitants. 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.

    Bibliography


  • Standard work by a renowned Mexican author.

  • Twenty essays on Mexican history, including cultural history.

  • Infrastructure, communications and transportation
  • Water supply and sanitation in Mexico
  • Automóvil Panamericano
  • Cars in Mexico
  • El Universal
  • Biznews North Mexico
  • Excélsior
  • Reforma
  • SIAM auto show
  • Transport in Mexico


  • Geography, history and politics
  • Foreign affairs of Mexico
  • Mexican Protected Natural Areas
  • Military of Mexico
  • U.S.-Mexico border
  • Zapatista uprising in Chiapas
  • Stamps and postal history


  • Lists
  • List of cities in Mexico
  • List of international trade topics
  • List of Mexicans
  • List of Mexican artists
  • List of universities in Mexico


  • External links

    ; Travel


  • ; Government
  • Presidencia: Presidency of the Republic
  • Gob.mx: Governmental portal
  • Directorio.gob.mx: Official web directory of the Mexican Presidency
  • Cámara de Diputados: Chamber of Deputies
  • Cámara de Senadores: Senate


  • ; General information
  • INEGI: National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Information
  • Mexican Council for Economic and Social Development
  • Time zones in Mexico
  • Mexico Development Gateway
  • Mexico for kids
  • Photos of Mexico


  • ; Environment
  • Biodiversity of Mexico



















  • Introduction:
    The site of advanced Amerindian civilizations, Mexico came under Spanish rule for three centuries before achieving independence early in the 19th century. A devaluation of the peso in late 1994 threw Mexico into economic turmoil, triggering the worst recession in over half a century. The nation continues to make an impressive recovery. Ongoing economic and social concerns include low real wages, underemployment for a large segment of the population, inequitable income distribution, and few advancement opportunities for the largely Amerindian population in the impoverished southern states. Elections held in July 2000 marked the first time since the 1910 Mexican Revolution that the opposition defeated the party in government, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Vicente FOX of the National Action Party (PAN) was sworn in on 1 December 2000 as the first chief executive elected in free and fair elections.

    Location: Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, between Belize and the US and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and the US

    Population: 107,449,525 (July 2006 est.)

    Languages: Spanish, various Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional indigenous languages

    Country name: conventional long form: United Mexican States
    conventional short form: Mexico
    local long form: Estados Unidos Mexicanos
    local short form: Mexico

    Capital: name: Mexico (Distrito Federal)
    geographic coordinates: 19 24 N, 99 09 W
    time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    daylight saving time:
    Economy - overview:
    Mexico has a free market economy that recently entered the trillion dollar class. It contains a mixture of modern and outmoded industry and agriculture, increasingly dominated by the private sector. Recent administrations have expanded competition in seaports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity generation, natural gas distribution, and airports. Per capita income is one-fourth that of the US; income distribution remains highly unequal. Trade with the US and Canada has tripled since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994. Mexico has 12 free trade agreements with over 40 countries including, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, the European Free Trade Area, and Japan, putting more than 90% of trade under free trade agreements. The new Felipe CALDERON administration that took office in December 2006 faces many of the same challenges that former President FOX tried to tackle, including the need to upgrade infrastructure, modernize the tax system and labor laws, and allow private investment in the energy sector. CALDERON has stated that his top priorities include reducing poverty and creating jobs. The success of his economic agenda will depend on his ability to garner support from the opposition.




    Links

    Acapulco Scuba Center  - List of courses and daily trips, with information on staff, facilities, and dive spots. [English/Spanish]

    Adventure Quest  - Scuba instruction and PADI certifications to all levels, daily dive trips in small groups, in Puerto Vallarta, Cozumel, and Playa del Carmen.

    Akumal Dive Center  - Information on recreational, cave and cavern diving courses and dive trips. Online information request form.

    Akumal Dive Shop  - Information includes PADI instruction, details on local diving, snorkeling, cavern and cave diving opportunities.

    Cabo Pulmo Divers  - Certification and instruction available, along with information on local dive sites and dive reports.

    Dale s Dive Shop  - Located in La Bufadora, Baja California, they offer equipment rental, boat charters and bunkhouse lodging. They provide rates, photos, and travel and lodging advice.

    Dolphin Dive Center  - Full service PADI qualified diving in Loreto Marine Park. Instruction, rentals, group rates available.

    Dreamtime Dive Resort  - Mahahual. PADI certification, instruction, recreational diving and snorkeling.

    Eagle Ray Scuba Divers  - Instruction, certification, and ocean and cenote dive trips in the Cancun and Cozumel area.

    Hurricane Divers  - Huatulco. Information about PADI Resort Center and services as well as local dive sites.

    Ixtapa Aqua Paradise  - PADI Dive Center & Resort, with information on instruction, descriptions of local sites and contact details. English or Spanish versions available.

    Kasa Maya  - Isla Mujeres. PADI certification and excursions. Photos and details, including difficulty, of numerous trips in the area.

    Las Parras Tours  - Snorkeling and scuba classes, trips, and equipment from Loreto. They detail class contents, provide prices, and overview dive sites.

    Lucky Fish Diving  - Tankah Tres. Information on instruction, local accommodations, dive sites, rates, and contact details.

    Pro Dive Mexico  - Puerto Aventuras. Information about training and local dive sites, photos and videos.

    Puerto Dive Center  - Puerto Escondido. Offers NAUI and PADI certifications, as well as one- and two-tank guided dives. They also provide updated commentary on local dive conditions.

    Scuba Vallarta  - Provides information and online reservations for the Bay of Banderas, Puerta Vallarta and the Mexican Pacific. Dive site descriptions, photo gallery, and newsletter are available.

    ScubaBoard  - Active discussion forum for diving in the country.

    Swiss Divers  - Diving center in Acapulco offering courses in PADI and NAUI. Now offering wreck diving and nitrox.

    Underworld Scuba  - Information and photos on scuba diving and snorkeling from Manzanillo, including classes and excursions offered as well as retail sales.

    Wet Set Diving Adventures  - Puerto Morelos. Instruction, certification, and trips in the Caribbean, along with equipment sales.


    Latest discussion about North America Mexico at forum.scubish.com:
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