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Posted by pompos 03/10/2009 @ 15:07

Tags : mexico, north america, americas, world

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Mexico's Shock Doctrine - CounterPunch
By JOHN ROSS Upon returning to Mexico City after 100 days in Gringolandia dealing with a personal health crisis, I was met at the door of the downtown hotel where I have bedded down for the past quarter century by a uniformed security guard in...
Mexico's Actinver Buys Prudential Asset Management Business - Wall Street Journal
MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--Mexican financial services group Grupo Actinver SA said Monday evening that it has reached an agreement to acquire the local asset-management business of Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU) for an undisclosed amount....
General Motors Sees Mexico Production Improving In 2H Of 09 - Wall Street Journal
By Paul Kiernan Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--General Motors Corp. (GM) expects production at its Mexican plants to improve in the second half of 2009, along with the rest of the local auto industry. "The second half of the year is...
Mexico's Stocks Edge Higher In Slow Trade; Peso Firms - Wall Street Journal
By Anthony Harrup Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--Mexican stocks edged higher early Monday, while the peso firmed against the dollar in quiet trading with US markets closed for Memorial Day. The IPC index of leading stocks was up 0.1%...
Mexico's Yield Gap to Shrink on Peso, Banamex Says - Bloomberg
By Valerie Rota May 25 (Bloomberg) -- The gap between Mexico's 10-year and three-year bond yields will shrink from near its widest in seven months as a rebound in the peso lures investors to longer-term debt, according to Citigroup Inc.'s Banamex unit....
Mexico Stocks Close Up In Thin Trading; Alsea Leads Gainers - Wall Street Journal
MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--Mexcio stocks and the local currency posted gains Monday in thin trading with restaurant operator Alsea SAB (ALSEA.MX) leading the gainers. The IPC stock index closed up 0.4% at 24198.96 points in low trading volumes amid the...
Recent graduate goes overboard from cruise ship - The Associated Press
(AP) — The Coast Guard is searching for a man believed to have gone overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico. The Coast Guard says 18-year-old Bruce O'Krepki reportedly went overboard from the Carnival Fantasy at about 9:45 pm Sunday,...
Mexico's Peso Gains for First Time in Four Days; Bonds Advance - Bloomberg
By Valerie Rota May 25 (Bloomberg) -- Mexico's peso rose for the first time in four days after a report showed the current account gap shrank more than economists expected in the first quarter. The peso climbed 0.3 percent to 13.1450 per US dollar at 5...
Viable Swine Flu Shot Closer to Reality - Atlanta Journal Constitution
In their analysis of 70 samples of the new H1N1 virus from the United States and Mexico, the researchers found minor genetic differences, but consider the virus to be basically homogeneous, Cox noted. Knowing the genetic makeup of the virus makes it...
Getting back into US about to get tougher - Chicago Sun-Times
BY KITTY BEAN YANCEY AND DENNIS WAGNER US citizens planning a summer camping trip to Canada, a beach vacation in Mexico or a Caribbean cruise had better pay attention to new, tougher requirements for identification at the border....


Flag of Mexico

The United Mexican States (Spanish: Estados Unidos Mexicanos?·i), commonly known as Mexico (IPA: /ˈmɛksɪkoʊ/) (Spanish: México?·i IPA: ), is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Mexico is a federation comprising thirty-one states and a federal district, the capital Mexico City, whose metropolitan area is one of the world's most populous.

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

As a regional power and the only Latin American member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since 1994, Mexico is firmly established as an upper middle-income country.

Mexico is a newly industrialized country and the 11th largest economy in the world by GDP by purchasing power parity. The economy is strongly linked to those of its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners. Despite being considered an emerging power, the uneven distribution of income and the increase in insecurity are issues of concern.

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

After New Spain won independence from Spain, it was decided that the new country would be named after its capital, Mexico City, which was founded in 1524 on top of the ancient Aztec capital of México-Tenochtitlan. The origin of the name of the city comes from the Nahuatl language, where Mextli or Mēxihtli, a secret name for the god of war and patron of the Aztecs, Huitzilopochtli, in which case Mēxihco means "Place where Mēxihtli lives". Another hypothesis is that the word Mēxihco derives from the mētztli ("moon"), xictli ("navel", "center" or "son"), and the suffix -co (place), in which case it means "Place at the center of the moon" or "Place at the center of the Lake Moon", in reference to Lake Texcoco. The system of interconnected lakes, of which Texcoco was at the center, had the form of a rabbit, the same image that the Aztecs saw in the moon. Tenochtitlan was located at the center (or navel) of the lake (or rabbit/moon). Still another hypothesis suggests that it is derived from Mēctli, the goddess of maguey.

The name of the city was transliterated to Spanish as México with the phonetic value of the x in Medieval Spanish, which represented the voiceless postalveolar fricative /ʃ/. This sound, as well as the voiced postalveolar fricative /ʒ/, represented by a j, evolved into a voiceless velar fricative /x/ during the sixteenth century. This led to the use of the variant Méjico in many publications in Spanish, most notably in Spain, whereas in Mexico and some other Spanish–speaking countries México was the preferred spelling. In recent years the Real Academia Española, which regulates the Spanish language, determined that both variants are acceptable in Spanish but that the normative recommended spelling is México. The majority of publications in all Spanish-speaking countries now adhere to the new norm, even though the alternative variant is still occasionally used. In English, the x in Mexico represents neither the original nor the current sound, but the consonant cluster /ks/. The official name of the country has had some changes since its creation, starting as the First Mexican Empire proceed by the Second Mexican Empire then the Mexican Republic and finally as the United Mexican States.

Human presence in Mesoamerica was once thought to date back 40,000 years based upon what were believed to be ancient human footprints discovered in the Valley of Mexico, but after further investigation using radiometric dating, it appears this is untrue. It is currently unclear whether 21,000 year old fire remains found in the Valley of Mexico are the earliest human remains found in the region. For thousands of years, Mesoamerica was a land of hunter-gatherers. Around 9,000 years ago, ancient indigenous peoples domesticated corn and initiated an agricultural revolution, leading to the formation of many complex civilizations.

These civilizations revolved around cities with writing, monumental architecture, astronomical studies, mathematics, and large militaries. For almost three thousand years, Aridoamerica and Mesoamerica were the site of several advanced Amerindian civilizations.

In 1519, the native civilizations of Mesoamerica were invaded by Spain; among them the Aztecs, Mayans, etc. This was one of the most important conquest campaigns in America. Two years later, in 1521, the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan was conquered by the Spaniards along with the Tlaxcaltecs, the main enemies of the Aztecs, marking the end of the Aztec and giving rise to the Viceroyalty of New Spain in 1535. It became the first and largest provider of resources for the Spanish Empire and the most populous of all Spanish colonies.

The New Spain was a really important period in Mexico's history, during that time a lot of the nation's identity and traditions were created as well as being the period where most cities were build, among them Mexico City, Guadalajara, Veracruz, Queretaro, etc. The viceroyalty stretched across big part of North America, from the southwestern British Columbia and southern US states down to Nicaragua as well as most of the Caribbean and the modern Philippines. It was originally divided into the provinces of Nueva Galicia, Nueva Vizcaya, Nuevo Reino de León, Nuevo Santander, Reino de Yucatán and Reino de México, these were divided into Corregimientos or Señoríos. In 1786 king Carlos III signed the Real Ordenanza de Intendentes de Exército y Provincia de Nueva España which created twelve Intendencias that replaced most Reinos, Comandancias, Corregimientos y Alcaldías.

Almost 300 years after New Spain was created, on September 16, 1810, independence from Spain was declared by Priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, in the small town of Dolores, Guanajuato.. The first insurgent group was formed by the Priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the Spanish viceregal army captain Ignacio Allende, the militia captain Juan Aldama and "La Corregidora" Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez. Hidalgo y Costilla and his remaining soldiers were captured in the state of Jalisco. He faced court trial of the Inquisition, and found guilty of treason. He was executed by firing squad in Chihuahua, on 31 July 1811. His body was mutilated, and his head was displayed in Guanajuato as a warning to Mexican rebels. Following the death of Father Hidalgo y Costilla, the leadership of the revolutionary army was assumed by the Priest José María Morelos. Under his leadership the cities of Oaxaca and Acapulco were occupied. In 1813, the Congress of Chilpancingo was convened and on 6 November of that year, the Congress signed the first official document of independence, known as the "Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America". In 1815, Morelos was captured by Spanish colonial authorities, tried and executed for treason in San Cristóbal Ecatepec on 22 December. Having lost yet another leader, the insurgency was near collapse but, in 1820 Viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca sent an army under the criollo general Agustín de Iturbide against the troops of Guerrero in Oaxaca, instead Iturbide approached Vincente Guerrero to join forces, in 1821, representatives of the Spanish crown and Iturbide signed the Treaty of Córdoba, which recognized Mexican independence under the terms of the Plan of Iguala, ending three centuries of Spanish colonial rule.

The war of Mexican independence was one of the longest in America that ended in 1821, which eventually led to the independence and creation of the ephemeral First Mexican Empire.

The Empire's territory encompassed the area of the current Mexican republic as well as the present-day U.S. states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, parts of Colorado and Wyoming, and all current Central American countries except for Panama. Agustín de Iturbide was the first and only emperor. Two years later, he was deposed by the republican forces. The Central American states separated, forming the Federal Republic of Central America. In 1824, a republican constitution was drafted creating the United Mexican States with Guadalupe Victoria as its first President.

The first four decades after the creation of the country were marked by a constant strife between liberales (those who supported the federal form of government stipulated in the 1824 constitution) and conservadores (who proposed a hierarchical form of government in which all local authorities were appointed and subject to a central authority). General Antonio López de Santa Anna was a strong influence in Mexican politics, a centralist and a two-time dictator. In 1836, he approved the Siete Leyes, a radical amendment to the constitution that institutionalized the centralized form of government. Having suspended the Constitution of 1824, civil war spread across the country, and three new governments declared independence; the Republic of Texas, the Republic of the Rio Grande (recognized by the United Kingdom) and the Republic of Yucatán. Only Texas was able to defeat Santa Anna, and later the annexation of Texas by the United States created a border dispute that would cause the Mexican–American War. Santa Anna played a big role in trying to muster Mexican forces but this war resulted in the defeat of Mexico and as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), Mexico lost one third of its surface area due to civil war with Texas, and later war with the United States.

Dissatisfaction with Santa Anna's return to power, and his unconstitutional rule, led to the liberal Plan 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, conservative Mexicans and the Mexican nobility. This Second Mexican Empire was victorious for only a few years, when the previous president of the Republic, the Zapotec Indigenous Benito Juárez, managed to restore the republic in 1867.

For resisting the French occupation, overthrowing the Empire, and restoring the Republic, as well as for his efforts to modernize the country, Juárez is often regarded as Mexico's greatest and most beloved leader. Juárez was recognized by the United States as a ruler in exile during the French-controlled Second Mexican Empire, and got their support in reclaiming Mexico under the Monroe Doctrine after the United States Civil War ended. Benito Juárez was the first Mexican leader who did not have a military background, and also the first full-blooded indigenous national to serve as President of Mexico and to lead a country in the Western Hemisphere in over 300 years.

Today Benito Juárez is remembered as being a progressive reformer dedicated to democracy, equal rights for his nation's indigenous peoples, lessening the great power that the Roman Catholic Church then held over Mexican politics, and the defence of national sovereignty. The period of his leadership is known in Mexican history as La Reforma (the reform), and constituted a liberal political and social revolution with major institutional consequences: the expropriation of church lands, bringing the army under civilian control, liquidation of peasant communal land holdings, the separation of church and state in public affairs, and also led to the almost-complete disenfranchisement of bishops, priests, nuns and lay brothers.

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. A likely 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.This re-ignited the civil war, with participants such as Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata who formed their own forces. A third force, the constitutional army led by Venustiano Carranza, managed to bring an end to the war, and radically amended the 1857 Constitution to include many of the social premises and demands of the revolutionaries into what was eventually called the 1917 Constitution. Carranza was killed in 1920 and succeeded by another revolutionary hero, Álvaro Obregón, who in turn was succeeded by Plutarco Elías Calles. Obregón was reelected in 1928 but assassinated before he could assume power. In 1929, Calles founded the National Revolutionary Party (PNR), later renamed the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) which became the most influential party during the next 70 years.

Between 1940 and 1980, Mexico experienced substantial economic growth that some historians call "El Milagro Mexicano", the Mexican Miracle. The assumption of mineral rights by the government, and the subsequent nationalization of the oil industry into PEMEX during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas (1938) was a popular move, but sparked a diplomatic crisis with those countries whose citizens had lost businesses expropriated by the Cárdenas government.

Although the economy continued to flourish, social inequality remained a factor of discontent. Moreover, the PRI rule became increasingly authoritarian and at times oppressive. An example of this is the Tlatelolco massacre of 1968, which according to government officials claimed the life of around 30 protesters, while conservative estimates state that at least 300 were killed and others estimate as many as 800 died.

In the 1970s there was extreme dissatisfaction with the administration of Luis Echeverría which took missteps in both the national and international arenas. Nonetheless, it was in this decade that the first substantial changes to electoral law were made, which initiated a movement of democratization of a system that had become electorally authoritarian. While the prices of oil were at historically high records and interest rates were low, Mexico made impressive investments in the state-owned oil company, with the intention of revitalizing the economy, but overborrowing and mismanagement of oil revenues led to inflation and exacerbated the crisis of 1982. That year, oil prices plunged, interest rates soared, and the government defaulted on its debt. In an attempt to stabilize the current account balance, and given the reluctance of international lenders to return to Mexico given the previous default, President de la Madrid resorted to currency devaluations which in turn sparked inflation.

The first small cracks in the political monopolistic position of PRI were seen in the late 1970s with the creation of 100 deputy seats in the Chamber of Deputies assigned through proportional representation with closed party-lists. Even though at the municipal level the first non-PRI mayor was elected in 1947, it was not until 1989 that the first non-PRI governor of a state was elected (Ernesto Ruffo Appel in Baja California). 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 de Gortari, which led to massive protests in the capital. Salinas embarked on a program of neoliberal reforms which fixed the exchange rate, controlled inflation and culminated with the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which came into effect in 1994. However, that very same day, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) started a two-week-lived armed rebellion against the federal government, and has continued as a non-violent opposition movement against neoliberalism and globalization. Being an election year, in a process that was then called the most transparent in Mexican history, authorities were reluctant to devalue the peso, a move which caused a rapid depletion of the National Reserves. In December 1994, a month after Salinas was succeeded by Ernesto Zedillo, the Mexican economy collapsed.

With a rapid rescue packaged authorized by United States President Bill Clinton and major macroeconomic reforms started by president Zedillo, the economy rapidly recovered and growth peaked at almost 7% by the end of 1999. After a comprehensive electoral reform to increase party representation during Zedillo's administration, as well as discontent with PRI after the economic crisis, led the PRI to lose its absolute majority in the Congress in 1997. In 2000, after 71 years the PRI lost a presidential election to Vicente Fox of the opposition National Action Party (PAN). Neither party had absolute majority in the Congress.

On March 23, 2005, the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America was signed by Vicente Fox. During the 2006 elections, the position of the PRI in the Congress was further weakened and became the third political force in number of seats in the Chamber of Deputies after the PAN and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), even though the party still has the plurality of state governorships. In the concurrent presidential elections, Felipe Calderón from the PAN was declared the winner, with a razor-thin margin over Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the PRD. López Obrador, however, contested the election and pledged to create an "alternative government".

The United Mexican States are a federation whose government is representative, democratic and republican based on a presidential system according to the 1917 Constitution. The constitution establishes three levels of government: the federal Union, the state governments and the municipal governments. All officials at the three levels are elected by voters through first-past-the-post plurality, proportional representation or are appointed by other elected officials.

All elected executive officials are elected by plurality (first-past-the-post). Seats to the legislature are elected by plurality and proportional representation at the federal and state level. The Chamber of Deputies of the Congress of the Union is conformed by 300 deputies elected by plurality and 200 deputies by proportional representation with closed party lists for which the country is divided into 5 electoral constituencies or circumscriptions. The Senate is conformed by a total of 128 senators: 64 senators, two per state and the Federal District elected by plurality in pairs; 32 senators assigned to the first minority or first-runner up (one per state and the Federal District), and 32 elected by proportional representation with closed party lists for which the country conforms a single electoral constituency.

According to the constitution, all constituent states must have a republican form of government composed of three branches: the executive, represented by a governor and an appointed cabinet, the legislative branch constituted by a unicameral congress and the judiciary, also called a Supreme Court of Justice. They also have their own civil and judicial codes.

The PRI held an almost hegemonic power in Mexican politics since 1929. Since 1977 consecutive electoral reforms allowed opposition parties to win more posts at the local and federal level. This process culminated in the 2000 presidential elections in which Vicente Fox, candidate of the PAN, became the first non-PRI president to be elected in 71 years.

In 2006, Felipe Calderón of the PAN faced Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the PRD in a very close election (0.58% difference), in a system without a second-ballot. On September 6, 2006, Felipe Calderón was declared President-elect by the electoral tribunal. His cabinet was sworn in at midnight on December 1, 2006 and Calderón was handed the presidential sash by outgoing Vicente Fox at Los Pinos. He was officially sworn as President on the morning of December 1, 2006 in Congress.

Traditionally, the Mexican government has sought to maintain its interests abroad and project its influence largely through moral persuasion rather than through political or economical pressure.

Since the Mexican Revolution, and until the administration of President Ernesto Zedillo, Mexico had been known for its foreign policy or "doctrine" known as the Doctrina Estrada ("Estrada Doctrine", named after its creator Genaro Estrada). The Estrada Doctrine was a foreign policy guideline of an enclosed view of sovereignty. It claimed that foreign governments should not judge, positively or negatively, the governments or changes in government of other nations, in that such action would imply a breach to their sovereignty. This policy was said to be based on the principles of Non-Intervention, Pacific Solution to Controversies, and Self-Determination of all nations.

During his presidency, Vicente Fox appointed Jorge Castañeda to be his Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Castañeda immediately broke with the Estrada Doctrine, promoting what was called by critics the "Castañeda Doctrine". The new foreign policy called for an openness and an acceptance of criticism from the international community, and the increase of Mexican involvement in foreign affairs.

In line with this new openness in Mexico's foreign policy, some political parties have proposed an amendment of the Constitution in order to allow the Mexican Army, Air Force or Navy to collaborate with the United Nations in peace-keeping missions, or to provide military help to countries that officially ask for it.

Mexico has the second largest defense budget in Latin America, with annual military expenditures of US$6 billion or about 0.5% GDP. Mexico's military includes 503,777 total personnel, of which around 192,770 are active in the frontline. Since the 1990s, when the military escalated its role in the war on drugs, increasing importance has been placed on acquiring airborne surveillance platforms, light aircraft, helicopters and rapid troop transport. The Mexican Military has two branches: the Mexican Army (which includes the Mexican Air Force), and the Mexican Navy. The Mexican armed forces maintain significant infrastructure, including small electronics and weapons testing and research facilities,weapons and vehicle manufacturing centers, and naval dockyards that have the capability of building heavy military vessels. These dockyards and facilities have a significant employment and economic impact in the local economies. In recent years, due in part to its military modernization program, Mexico has improved its training techniques, military command and information structures and has taken steps to becoming more self-reliant in supplying its military by designing as well as manufacturing its own guns, missiles, unmanned air vehicles and naval ships.

There are three main components of the Mexican Army: a national headquarters, territorial commands, and independent units. The Minister of Defense commands the Army by means of a very centralized system and a large number of general officers. The Army uses a modified continental staff system in its headquarters. The Army is the largest branch of Mexico's armed services. At present there are 12 'Military Regions', which are further broken down into 44 subordinate 'Military Zones'.

The Mexican Air Force is part of the Mexican Army. The national headquarters is embedded in the Army headquarters in Mexico City. It also follows the continental staff system, with the usual A1, A2, A3, and A4 sections. The tactical forces form what is loosely called an Air Division, but it is dispersed in four regions—Northeast, Northwest, Central, and Southern. The Air Force maintains a total of 18 air bases, and has the additional capability of opening temporary forward operating bases in austere conditions for some of the rotary wing and light fixed-wing assets.

The Ministry of the Navy, the Mexican Navy’s national headquarters, is located in Veracruz City. The “Junta (or Council) of Admirals” plays a unique consultative and advisory role within the headquarters, an indication of the institutional importance placed on seniority and “year groups” that go back to the admirals’ days as cadets in the naval college. They are a very tightly knit group, and great importance is placed on consultation among the factions within these year groups.

The Navy’s operational forces are organized as two independent groups: the Gulf (East) Force and the Pacific (West) Force. Each group has its own headquarters, a destroyer group, an auxiliary vessel group, a Marine Infantry Group, and a Special Forces group. The Navy also has an air arm with troop transport, reconnaissance, and surveillance aircraft.

Public security is enacted at the three levels of government, each of which has different prerogatives and responsibilities. Local and state police department are primarily in charge of law enforcement, whereas the Federal Preventive Police is in charge of specialized duties. All levels report to the Secretaría de Seguridad Pública (Secretariat of Public Security). The General Attorney's Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) is the executive power's agency in charge of investigating and prosecuting crimes at the federal level, mainly those related to drug and arms trafficking, espionage, and bank robberies. The PGR operates the Federal Investigations Agency (Agencia Federal de Investigación, AFI) an investigative and preventive agency.

While the government respects the human rights of most citizens, serious abuses of power have been reported in security operations in indigenous communities and poor urban neighborhoods. The National Human Rights Commission has had little impact in reversing this trend, engaging mostly in documentation but failing to use its powers to issue public condemnations to the officials who ignore its recommendations. By law, all defendants have the rights that assure them fair trials and human treatment; however, the system is overburdened and overwhelmed with several problems. Despite the efforts of the authorities to fight crime and fraud, few Mexicans have strong confidence in the police or the judicial system, and therefore, few crimes are actually reported by the citizens. In 2008, president Calderón proposed a major reform of the judicial system, which was approved by the Congress of the Union, which included oral trials, the presumption of innocence for defendants, the authority of local police to investigate crime—until then a prerogative of special police units—and several other changes intended to speed up trials.

Total crimes per capita average 12 per 1,000 people in Mexico, ranking 39 in a survey of 60 countries. Violent crime is a critical issue in Mexico; with a rate of homicide varying from 11 to 14 per 100,000 inhabitants. Drug-traffic and narco-related activities are a major concern in Mexico. Drug cartels are active in the shared border with the US and police corruption and collusion with drug cartels is a crucial problem. Current president Felipe Calderón made abating drug-trafficking one of the top priorities of his administration. In a very controversial move, Calderón deployed military personnel to cities where drug cartels operate. While this move has been criticized by the opposition parties and the National Human Rights Commission, its effects have been praised by the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs as having obtained "unprecedented results..." with "many important successes". In October 2007, the president Calderón and US president George W. Bush announced the Mérida Initiative a historic plan of law enforcement cooperation between the two countries.

The United Mexican States are a federation of thirty-one free and sovereign states which form a Union that exercises jurisdiction over the Federal District and other territories. Each state has its own constitution and congress, as well as a judiciary, and its citizens elect by direct voting, a governor (gobernador) for a six-year term, as well as representatives (diputados locales) to their respective state congresses, for three-year terms. The 31 states and the Federal District are collectively called "federal entities", and all are equally represented in the Congress of the Union.

Mexican states are also divided into municipalities (municipios), the smallest official political entity in the country, governed by a mayor or "municipal president" (presidente municipal), elected by its residents by plurality. Municipalities can be further subdivided into non-autonomous boroughs or in semi-autonomous auxiliary presidencies.

Constitutionally, Mexico City, as the capital of the federation and seat of the powers of the Union, is the Federal District, a special political division in Mexico that belongs to the federation as a whole and not to a particular state, and as such, has more limited local rule than the nation's states. Nonetheless, since 1987 it has progressively gained a greater degree of autonomy, and residents now elect a head of government (Jefe de Gobierno) and representatives of a Legislative Assembly directly. Unlike the states, the Federal District does not have a constitution but a statute of government. Mexico City is conterminous and coextensive with the Federal District.

Mexico is located at about 23° N and 102° W in the southern portion of North America. It is also located in a region known as Middle America. Almost all of Mexico lies in the North American Plate, with small parts of the Baja California peninsula on the Pacific and Cocos Plates. Geophysically, some geographers include the territory east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (around 12% of the total) within Central America. Geopolitically, however, Mexico is considered part of North America along with Canada and the United States.

Mexico's total area is 1,972,550 km², making it the world's 14th largest country by total area, and includes approximately 6,000 km² of islands in the Pacific Ocean (including the remote Guadalupe Island and the Revillagigedo Islands), Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of California. On its north, Mexico shares a 3,141 km border with the United States. The meandering Río Bravo del Norte (known as the Rio Grande in the United States) defines the border from Ciudad Juárez east to the Gulf of Mexico. A series of natural and artificial markers delineate the United States-Mexican border west from Ciudad Juárez to the Pacific Ocean. On its south, Mexico shares an 871 km border with Guatemala and a 251 km border with Belize.

Mexico is crossed from north to south by two mountain ranges known as Sierra Madre Oriental and Sierra Madre Occidental, which are the extension of the Rocky Mountains from northern North America. From east to west at the 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.

The Tropic of Cancer effectively divides the country into temperate and tropical zones. Land north of the twenty-fourth parallel experiences cooler temperatures during the winter months. South of the twenty-fourth parallel, temperatures are fairly constant year round and vary solely as a function of elevation. This gives Mexico one of the world's most diverse weather systems in the world.

Areas south of the twenty-fourth parallel with elevations up to 1,000 meters (the southern parts of both coastal plains as well as the Yucatán Peninsula), have a yearly median temperature between 24 and 28 °C. Temperatures here remain high throughout the year, with only a 5 °C difference between winter and summer median temperatures. Although low-lying areas north of the twentieth-fourth parallel are hot and humid during the summer, they generally have lower yearly temperature averages (from 20-24 °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 16-18 °C) and cool nighttime temperatures throughout the year.

Many parts of Mexico, particularly the north, have a dry climate with sporadic rainfall while parts of the tropical lowlands in the south average more than 200 cm of annual precipitation.

Mexico is one of the 18 megadiverse countries of the world. With over 200,000 different species, Mexico is home of 10–12% of the world's biodiversity. Mexico ranks first in biodiversity in reptiles with 707 known species, second in mammals with 438 species, fourth in amphibians with 290 species, and fourth in flora, with 26,000 different species. Mexico is also considered the second country in the world in ecosystems and fourth in overall species. Approximately 2,500 species are protected by Mexican legislations. The Mexican government created the National System of Information about Biodiversity, in order to study and promote the sustainable use of ecosystems.

In Mexico, 170,000 square kilometres are considered "Protected Natural Areas." These include 34 reserve biospheres (unaltered ecosystems), 64 national parks, 4 natural monuments (protected in perpetuity for their aesthetic, scientific or historical value), 26 areas of protected flora and fauna, 4 areas for natural resource protection (conservation of soil, hydrological basins and forests) and 17 sanctuaries (zones rich in diverse species).

The discovery of the Americas brought to the rest of the world many widely used ingredients. Some of Mexico's native ingredients include: chocolate, tomato, maize, vanilla, avocado, guava, chayote, epazote, camote, jícama, nopal, tejocote, huitlacoche, sapote, mamey sapote, many varieties of beans, and an even greater variety of chiles, such as the Habanero. Most of these names are in indigenous languages like Nahuatl.

Mexico has a free market mixed economy, and is firmly established as an upper middle-income country. It is the 11th largest economy in the world as measured in gross domestic product in purchasing power parity. According to the latest information available from the International Monetary Fund, Mexico had the second-highest Gross National Income per capita in Latin America in nominal terms, at $9,716 in 2007, and the highest in purchasing power parity (PPP), at $14,119 in 2007. After the 1994 economic debacle, Mexico has made an impressive recovery, building a modern and diversified economy. Recent administrations have also improved infrastructure and opened competition in seaports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity generation, natural gas distribution and airports. Oil is Mexico's largest source of foreign income. According to Goldman Sachs, BRIMC review of emerging economies, by 2050 the largest economies in the world will be as follows: China, United States, India, Brazil, and Mexico. Mexico is the largest North American auto producing nation, recently surpassing Canada and U.S.

According to the director for Mexico at the World Bank, the population in poverty has decreased from 24.2% to 17.6% in the general population and from 42% to 27.9% in rural areas from 2000-2004. Nonetheless, income inequality remains a problem, and huge gaps remain not only between rich and poor but also between the north and the south, and between urban and rural areas. Sharp contrasts in income and Human Development are also a grave problem in Mexico. The 2004 United Nations Human Development Index report for Mexico states that Benito Juárez, a district of Mexico City, and San Pedro Garza García, in the State of Nuevo León, would have a similar level of economic, educational and life expectancy development to Germany or New Zealand. In contrast, Metlatonoc, in the state of Guerrero, would have an HDI similar to that of Syria.

GDP annual average growth for the period of 1995–2002 was 5.1%. The economic downturn in the United States also caused a similar pattern in Mexico, from which it rapidly recovered to grow 4.1% in 2005 and 3% in 2005. Inflation has reached a record low of 3.3% in 2005, and interest rates are low, which have spurred credit-consumption in the middle class. Mexico has experienced in the last decade monetary stability: the budget deficit was further reduced and foreign debt was decreased to less than 20% of GDP. Along with Chile, Mexico has the highest rating of long-term sovereign credit in Latin America.

The remittances from Mexican citizens working in the United States account only for .2% of Mexico's economy which reaches US$20 billion dollars per year in 2004 and is the seventh largest source of foreign income after oil, industrial exports, manufactured good, electronics, automobiles and food exports. In 2008, US$67.5 billion dollars per year was sent by migrants in the United States to Mexico.

Approximately 90% of Mexican trade has been put under free trade agreements with over 40 countries, of which the North American Free Trade Agreement remains the most significant. Almost 90% of Mexican exports go to the United States and Canada and close to 65% of its imports come from these two countries. Other major trade agreements have been signed with the European Union, Japan, Israel and many countries in Central and South America. As such, Mexico has become a major player in international trade and an export power. Measured in the dollar value of exports, Mexico was the 15th largest exporter in the world—tenth if the European Union is treated as a single entity. Mexican exports roughly equal the total exports of all Mercosur members together, Venezuela inclusive. According to the Forbes Global 2000 list of the world's 40 largest companies in 2008, Mexico had 16 companies in the list.

Ongoing economic concerns include the commercial and financial dependence on the US, low real wages, underemployment for a large segment of the population, inequitable income distribution (the top 20% of income earners account for 55% of income), and few advancement opportunities for the largely Amerindian population in the impoverished southern states. Lack of structural reform is further exacerbated by an ever increasing outflow of the population into the United States, decreasing domestic pressure for reform.

According to the World Tourism Organization, Mexico has one of the largest tourism industries in the world. In 2005 it was the seventh most popular tourist destination worldwide, receiving over 20 million tourists per year; it is the only country in Latin America to be within the top 25. Tourism is also the third largest sector in the country's industrial GDP. The most notable tourist draws are the ancient Meso-American ruins, and popular beach resorts. The coastal climate and unique culture – a fusion of European (particularly Spanish) and Meso-American cultures; also make Mexico attractive. The peak tourist seasons in Mexico are during December and during July and August, with brief surges during the week before Easter and during spring break at many of the beach resort sites which are popular among vacationing college students from the United States.

Mexico is the twenty-third highest tourism spender in the world, and the highest in Latin America.

Energy production in Mexico is managed by State-owned companies: the Federal Commission of Electricity (Comisión Federal de Electricidad, CFE) and Pemex (Petróleos Mexicanos). The CFE is in charge of the operation of electricity-generating plants and its distribution all across the territory, with the exception of the states of Morelos, México, Hidalgo and Mexico City, whose distribution of electricity is in charge of the State-owned Luz y Fuerza del Centro. Most of the electricity is generated in thermoelectrical plants, even though CFE operates several hydroelectrical plants, as well as wind power, geothermal and nuclear generators.

Pemex is in charge of the exploration, extraction, transportation and marketing of crude oil and natural gas, as well as the refining and distribution of petroleum products and petrochemicals. Pemex is the largest company in Latin America, and the ninth-largest company in the world. In terms of total output, in 2007 it was the sixth-larger producer in the world—in 2003 it was the third-largest— producing 3.1 million of barrels a day, well above the production of Kuwait or Venezuela.

The paved-roadway network in Mexico is the most extensive in Latin America at 116,802 km in 2005; 10,474 km were multi-lane freeways or expressways, most of which were tollways. Nonetheless, Mexico's diverse orography—most of the territory is crossed by high-altitude ranges of mountains—as well as economic challenges have led to difficulties in creating an integrated transportation network and even though the network has improved, it still cannot meet national needs adequately.

Being one of the first Latin American countries to promote railway development, the network, though extensive at 30,952 km, is still inefficient to meet the economic demands of transportation. Most of the rail network is mainly used for merchandise or industrial freight and was mostly operated by National Railway of Mexico (Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México, FNM), privatized in 1997.

In 1999, Mexico had 1,806 airports, of which 233 had paved runways; of these, 35 carry 97% of the passenger traffic. The Mexico City International Airport remains the largest in Latin America and the 44th largest in the world transporting 21 million passengers a year. There are more than 30 domestic airline companies of which only two are known internationally: Aeroméxico and Mexicana.

Mass transit in Mexico is modest. Most of the domestic passenger transport needs are served by an extensive bus network with several dozen companies operating by regions. Train passenger transportation between cities is limited. Inner-city rail mass transit is available at Mexico City—with the operation of the metro, elevated and ground train, as well as a Suburban Train connecting the adjacent municipalities of Greater Mexico City—as well as at Guadalajara and Monterrey, the first served by a commuter rail and the second by an underground and elevated metro.

The telecommunications industry is mostly dominated by Telmex (Teléfonos de México), privatized in 1990. As of 2006, Telmex had expanded its operations to Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay and the United States. Other players in the domestic industry are Axtel and Maxcom. Due to Mexican orography, providing landline telephone service at remote mountainous areas is expensive, and the penetration of line-phones per capita is low compared to other Latin American countries, at twenty-percent. Mobile telephony has the advantage of reaching all areas at a lower cost, and the total number of mobile lines is almost three times that of landlines, with an estimation of 57 million lines. The telecommunication industry is regulated by the government through Cofetel (Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones).

Usage of radio, television, and Internet in Mexico is prevalent. There are approximately 1,410 radio broadcast stations and 236 television stations (excluding repeaters). Major players in the broadcasting industry are Televisa—the largest Spanish media company in the Spanish-speaking world—and TV Azteca.

According to the latest official census, which reported a population of 103 million, Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world. Mexican annual population growth has drastically decreased from a peak of 3.5% in 1965 to 0.99% in 2005. Life expectancy in 2006 was estimated to be at 75.4 years (72.6 male and 78.3 female). The states with the highest life expectancy are Baja California (75.9 years) and Nuevo Leon (75.6 years). The Federal District has a life expectancy of the same level as Baja California. The lowest levels are found in Chiapas (72.9), Oaxaca (73.2) and Guerrero (73.2 years). The mortality rate in 1970 was 9.7 per 1000 people; by 2001, the rate had dropped to 4.9 men per 1000 men and 3.8 women per 1000 women. The most common reasons for death in 2001 were heart problems (14.6% for men 17.6% for women) and cancer (11% for men and 15.8% for women).

Mexican population is increasingly urban, with close to 75% living in cities. The five largest urban areas in Mexico (Greater Mexico City, Greater Guadalajara, Greater Monterrey, Greater Puebla and Greater Toluca) are home to 30% of the country's population. Migration patterns within the country show positive migration to north-western and south-eastern states, and a negative rate of migration for the Federal District. While the annual population growth is still positive, the national net migration rate is negative (-4.7/1000), attributable to the emigration phenomenon of people from rural communities to the United States.

It should be noted, however, that northwestern and southeastern states are divided into a small number of large municipalities whereas central states are divided into a large number of smaller municipalities. As such, metropolitan areas in the northwest usually do not extend over more than one municipality (and figures usually report population for the entire municipality) whereas metropolitan areas in the center extend over many municipalities.

Few metropolitan areas extend beyond the limits of one state, namely: Greater Mexico City (Federal District, Mexico and Hidalgo), Puebla-Tlaxcala (Puebla and Tlaxcala, but excludes the city of Tlaxcala), Comarca Lagunera (Coahuila and Durango), and Tampico (Tamaulipas and Veracruz). The following is a list of the major metropolitan areas of Mexico, as reported in the 2005 census.

Mexico is home to the largest number of U.S. citizens abroad (estimated at one million as of 1999), which represents 1% of the Mexican population and 25% of all U.S. citizens abroad. Other significant communities of foreigners are those of Central and South America, most notably from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Cuba, Venezuela, Guatemala, and Belize. Though estimations vary, the Argentine community is considered to be the second largest foreign community in the country (estimated somewhere between 30,000 and 150,000). Throughout the 20th century, the country followed a policy of granting asylum to fellow Latin Americans and Europeans (mostly Spaniards in the 1940s) fleeing political persecution in their home countries.

Discrepancies between the figures for official legal aliens and those of all foreign-born residents regardless of their immigration status are quite large. The official figure for foreign-born legal residents in Mexico is 493,000 (since 2004), with a majority (86.9%) of these born in the United States (except Chiapas, where the majority of immigrants are from Central America). The five states with the most immigrants are Baja California (12.1% of total immigrants), Mexico City (the Federal District; 11.4%), Jalisco (9.9%), Chihuahua (9%) and Tamaulipas (7.3%). More than 54.6% of the immigrant population are fifteen years old or younger, while 9% are fifty or older.

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

Mexico also received a large number of Lebanese, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino immigrants.

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

There is no de jure constitutional official language at the federal level in Mexico. Spanish, spoken by 97% of the population, is considered a national language by The General Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, which also grants all indigenous minority languages spoken in Mexico, regardless of the number of speakers, the same validity as Spanish in all territories in which they are spoken, and indigenous peoples are entitled to request some public services and documents in their native languages. Along with Spanish, the law has granted them 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 Indigenous Peoples recognizes the language of the Kickapoo, who immigrated from the United States, and recognizes the languages of the Guatemalan Amerindian refugees. The Mexican government has promoted and established bilingual primary and secondary education in some indigenous rural communities. Approximately 7.1% of the population speaks an indigenous language and 1.2% do not speak Spanish.

Mexico has the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world with more than twice as many as the second largest Spanish-speaking country. Almost a third of all Spanish native speakers in the world live in Mexico. Nahuatl is spoken by 1.5 million people and Yucatec Maya by 800,000. Some of the national languages are in danger of extinction; Lacandon is spoken by fewer than one hundred people.

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

Unlike some other Latin American countries, Mexico has no official religion, and the Constitution of 1917 and the anti-clerical laws imposed limitations on the church and sometimes codified state intrusion into church matters. The government does not provide any financial contributions to the church, and the church does not participate in public education.

The last census reported, by self-ascription, that 95% of the population is Christian. Roman Catholics are 89% of the total population, 47% percent of whom attend church services weekly. In absolute terms, Mexico has the world's second largest number of Catholics after Brazil.

About 6% of the population (more than 4.4 million people) is Protestant, of whom Pentecostals and Charismatics (called Neo-Pentecostals in the census), are the largest group (1.37 million people). There are also a sizeable number of Seventh-day Adventists (0.6 million people). The 2000 national census counted more than one million Jehovah's Witnesses.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims one million registered members as of 2006, about 250,000 of whom are active, though this is disputed.

Islam in Mexico is practiced by a small Muslim population in the city of Torreon, Coahuila, and there are an estimated 300 Muslims in the San Cristobal de las Casas area in Chiapas.

The presence of Jews in Mexico dates back to 1521, when Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztecs, accompanied by several Conversos. According to the last national census by the INEGI, there are now more than 45,000 Mexican Jews. Almost three million people in the 2000 National Census reported having no religion.

Mexico’s Buddhist population currently makes up a tiny minority, some 108,000 according to latest accounts. Some of its members are of Asian descent, others people of various other walks of life that have turned toward Buddhism in the recent past.

In 1992, Mexico lifted almost all restrictions on the Catholic Church and other religions, including granting all religious groups legal status, conceding them limited property rights, and lifting restrictions on the number of priests in the country. Until recently, priests did not have the right to vote, and even now they cannot be elected to public office.

Mexican culture reflects the complexity of the country's history through the blending of pre-Hispanic civilizations and the culture of Spain, imparted during Spain's 300-year colonization of Mexico. Exogenous cultural elements mainly from the United States have been incorporated into Mexican culture. As was the case in most Latin American countries, when Mexico became an independent nation, it had to slowly create a national identity, being an ethnically diverse country in which, for the most part, the only connecting element amongst the newly independent inhabitants was Catholicism.

The Porfirian era (el Porfiriato), in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth century, was marked by economic progress and peace. After four decades of civil unrest and war, Mexico saw the development of philosophy and the arts, promoted by President Díaz himself. Since that time, though accentuated during the Mexican Revolution, cultural identity had its foundation in the mestizaje, of which the indigenous (i.e. Amerindian) element was the core. In light of the various ethnicities that formed the Mexican people, José Vasconcelos in his publication La Raza Cósmica (The Cosmic Race) (1925) defined Mexico to be the melting pot of all races (thus extending the definition of the mestizo) not only biologically but culturally as well. This exalting of mestizaje was a revolutionary idea that sharply contrasted with the idea of a superior pure race prevalent in Europe at the time.

Mexican films from the Golden Age in the 1940s and 1950s are the greatest examples of Latin American cinema, with a huge industry comparable to the Hollywood of those years. Mexican films were exported and exhibited in all of Latin America and Europe. Maria Candelaria (1944) by Emilio Fernández, was one of the first films awarded a Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1946, the first time the event was held after World War II. Famous actors and actresses from this period include María Félix, Pedro Infante, Dolores del Río, Jorge Negrete and the comedian Cantinflas.

More recently, films such as Como agua para chocolate (1992), Cronos (1993), Amores perros (2000), Y tu mamá también (2001), El Crimen del Padre Amaro (2002), Pan's Labyrinth (2006) and Babel (2006) have been successful in creating universal stories about contemporary subjects, and were internationally recognised, as in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Mexican directors Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores perros, Babel), Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Guillermo del Toro, Carlos Carrera (The Crime of Father Amaro), and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga are some of the most known present-day film makers.

Mexican society enjoys a vast array of music genres, showing the diversity of Mexican culture. Traditional music includes Mariachi, Banda, Norteño, Ranchera and Corridos; on an every-day basis most Mexicans listen to contemporary music such as pop, rock, etc. in both English and Spanish. Mexico has the largest media industry in Latin America, producing Mexican artists who are famous in Central and South America and parts of Europe, especially Spain. Some well-known Mexican singers are Thalía, Luis Miguel and Paulina Rubio. Popular groups are Café Tacuba, Molotov, RBD and Maná, among others.

Most states, through their Ministry of Culture or of Education, sponsor an Orquesta Sinfónica or Orquesta Filarmónica (Symphony Orchestra or Philharmonica Orchestra) so people can enjoy classical music.

Post-revolutionary art in Mexico had its expression in the works of renowned artists such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Juan O'Gorman. Diego Rivera, the most well-known figure of Mexican Muralism, painted the Man at the Crossroads at the Rockefeller Center in New York City, a huge mural that was destroyed the next year due to the inclusion of a portrait of Russian communist leader Lenin. Some of Rivera's murals are displayed at the Mexican National Palace and the Palace of Fine Arts.

Academic music composers of Mexico include Manuel María Ponce, José Pablo Moncayo, Julián Carrillo, Mario Lavista, Carlos Chávez, Silvestre Revueltas, Arturo Márquez, and Juventino Rosas, many of whom incorporated traditional elements into their music. Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Juan Rulfo, Elena Poniatowska, and José Emilio Pacheco, are some of the most recognized authors of Mexican literature.

Two of the major television networks based in Mexico are Televisa and TV Azteca. Televisa is also the largest producer of Spanish-language content in the world and also the world's largest Spanish-language media network. Grupo Multimedios is another media conglomerate with Spanish-language broadcasting in Mexico, Spain, and the United States. Soap operas (telenovelas) are translated to many languages and seen all over the world with renowned names like Verónica Castro, Lucía Méndez, Lucero, and Thalía. Even Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna from Y tu mamá también and current Zegna model have appeared in some of them. Some of their TV shows are modeled after counterparts from the U.S. like Family Feud (100 Mexicanos Dijeron or "A hundred Mexicans said" in Spanish) and ¿Qué dice la gente?, Big Brother, American Idol, Saturday Night Live and others. Nationwide news shows like Las Noticias por Adela on Televisa resemble a hybrid between Donahue and Nightline. Local news shows are modeled after counterparts from the U.S. like the Eyewitness News and Action News formats. Border cities receive television and radio stations from the U.S., while satellite and cable subscription is common for the middle-classes in major cities, and they often watch movies and TV shows from the U.S.

Mexican cuisine is known for its intense and varied flavors, colorful decoration, and variety of spices. Most of today's Mexican food is based on pre-hispanic traditions, including the Aztecs and Maya, combined with culinary trends introduced by Spanish colonists. The conquistadores eventually combined their imported diet of rice, beef, pork, chicken, wine, garlic and onions with the native pre-Columbian food, including maize, tomato, vanilla, avocado, papaya, pineapple, chili pepper, beans, squash, limes (limón in Mexican Spanish), sweet potato, peanut and turkey.

The most internationally recognized dishes include chocolate, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos, tamales and mole among others. Regional dishes include mole poblano, chiles en nogada and chalupas from Puebla; cabrito and machaca from Monterrey, cochinita pibil from Yucatán, Tlayudas from Oaxaca, as well as barbacoa, chilaquiles, milanesas, and many others.

Mexico City hosted the XIX Olympic Games in 1968, making it the only Latin American city to do so. The country has also hosted the FIFA World Cup twice, in 1970 and 1986.

Mexico’s most popular sport is association football. It is commonly believed that Football was introduced in Mexico by Cornish miners at the end of the 19th century. By 1902 a 5 team league emerged still with a strong English influence. Football became a professional sport in 1943. Since the “Era Professional” started, Mexico’s top clubs have been Guadalajara with 11 championships, América with 10 and Toluca with 9. In Mexican Football many players have been raised to the level of legend, but two of them have received international recognition above others. Antonio Carbajal was the first player to appear in 5 World Cups, and Hugo Sánchez was named best CONCACAF player of the 20th century by IFFHS. Mexican’s biggest stadiums are Estadio Azteca, Estadio Olímpico Universitario and Estadio Jalisco.

The national sport of Mexico is Charreada. Bullfighting is also a popular sport in the country, and almost all large cities have bullrings. Plaza México in Mexico City, is the largest bullring in the world, which seats 55,000 people. Professional wrestling (or Lucha libre in Spanish) is a major crowd draw with national promotions such as AAA, LLL, CMLL and others.

Baseball, is also popular, especially in the Gulf of Mexico, Yucatan Peninsula and the Northern States. The season runs from March to July with playoffs held in August. The Mexican professional league is named the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol. Current champions (2007) are Sultanes de Monterrey who defeated in a tight series Leones de Yucatán. However, the best level of baseball is played in Liga Mexicana del Pacífico, played in Sinaloa, Sonora and Baja California. Given that it is played during the MLB off-season, some of its players are signed to play with the league 8 teams. Current champions (2007) are Yaquis de Obregon. The league champion participates in the Caribbean Series, a tournament between the Champions of Winter Leagues of Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic; the 2009 Caribbean Series edition will be held in Mexicali.

The most important professional basketball league is the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional and covers the whole Mexican territory, where the Soles de Mexicali are the current champions. In 2007 three Mexican teams will be competing in the American Basketball Association. In the northwestern states is the CIBACOPA Competition, with professional basketball players from Mexico and the U.S. Universities and some teams from the NBA.

American football is played at the major universities like ITESM (Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey), UANL (Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León), UDLA (University of the Americas), IPN (Instituto Politécnico Nacional) and UNAM. The college league in Mexico is called ONEFA. Rugby is played at the amateur level throughout the country with the majority of clubs in Mexico City and others in Monterrey, Guadalajara, Celaya, Guanajuato and Oaxaca.

Auto racing is very popular in Mexico. Throughout the years, Mexico has hosted races for some of the most important international championships such as Formula One, NASCAR, Champ Car, A1 Grand Prix, among others. Mexico also has its own NASCAR-sanctioned stock car series, the NASCAR Corona Series, which runs 14 events in different cities, drawing large crowds. Other forms of racing include Formula Renault, Formula Vee, touring cars, Pick-up trucks, endurance racing, rallying, and off-road.

Ice hockey is played in larger cities like Monterrey, Guadalajara, Villahermosa, Culiacan and Mexico City.

Notable Mexican athletes include golfer Lorena Ochoa, who is currently ranked first in the LPGA world rankings, Ana Guevara, former world champion of the 400 metres and Olympic subchampion in Athens 2004, and Fernando Platas, a numerous Olympic medal winning diver.

Sport fishing is popular in Baja California and the big Pacific coast resorts, while freshwater bass fishing is growing in popularity too. The gentler arts of diving and snorkeling are big around the Caribbean, with famous dive sites at Cozumel and on the reefs further south. The Pacific coast is becoming something of a center for surfing, with few facilities as yet; all these sports attract tourists to Mexico.

Since the early 1990s, Mexico entered a transitional stage in the health of its population and some indicators such as mortality patterns are similar to those found in developed societies. Although all Mexicans are entitled to receive medical care by the state, 50.3 million Mexicans had no medical insurance as of 2002. Efforts to increase the number of people are being made, and the current administration intends to achieve universal health care by 2011.

Mexico's medical infrastructure is very good for the most part and can be excellent in major cities, but rural areas and indigenous communities still have poor medical coverage, forcing them to travel to the closest urban area to get specialized medical care.

State-funded institutions such as Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) and the Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers (ISSSTE) play a major role in health and social security. Private health services are also very important and account for 13% of all medical units in the country.

Medical training is done mostly at public universities with some specializations done abroad. Some public universities in Mexico, such as the University of Guadalajara, have signed agreements with the U.S. to receive and train American students in Medicine. Health care costs in private institutions and prescription drugs in Mexico are on average lower than that of its North American economic partners.

In 2004, the literacy rate was at 97% for youth under the age of 14 and 91% for people over 15, placing Mexico at the 24th place in the world rank accordingly to UNESCO. Primary and secondary education (9 years) is free and mandatory. Even though different bilingual education programs have existed since the 1960s for the indigenous communities, after a constitutional reform in the late 1990s, these programs have had a new thrust, and free text books are produced in more than a dozen indigenous languages.

In the 1970s, Mexico established a system of "distance-learning" through satellite communications to reach otherwise inaccessible small rural and indigenous communities. Schools that use this system are known as telesecundarias in Mexico. The Mexican distance learning secondary education is also transmitted to some Central American countries and to Colombia, and it is used in some southern regions of the United States as a method of bilingual education. There are approximately 30,000 telesecundarias and approximately a million telesecundaria students in the country.

The largest and most prestigious public university in Mexico, today numbering over 269,000 students, is the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM) founded in 1910. 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 150th place in the Top 200 World University Ranking published by The Times Higher Education Supplement in 2008, making it the highest ranked Spanish-speaking university in the world and the highest ranked in Latin America. The second largest university is the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN). These institutions are public, and there are at least a couple of public universities per state.

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

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

Nonetheless, the government currently spends only 0.31% of GDP in science and technology, a low percentage in comparison with other countries. Mexico has a low number of researchers compared to other OECD countries, with only 6 researchers per 10,000 inhabitants. Mexico trains 3 PhDs per million inhabitants per year. Moreover, there is a regional disparity in the allocation of scientific resources; 75% of all doctorate degrees are awarded from institutions in Mexico City area.

In 1962, the National Commission of Outer Space (Comisión Nacional del Espacio Exterior, CONNE) was established, but was dismantled in 1977. In 2007, a project was presented to re-open a new Mexican Space Agency (AEXA) and it was approved at the end of 2008 with the headquarters set to be located in the state of Hidalgo.

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History of Mexico

Miner's gear from the colonial period in Mexico on display at the Historical Archive and Museum of Mining in Pachuca.

Mexico a country in North America and the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. It also has the largest number of native Americans language speakers on the continent (the majority speaking Nahuatl, Mayan, Mixtec and Zapotec). For thousands of years, what is now known as Mexico was a land of hunter-gatherers. Around 9,000 years ago, ancient Amerindians domesticated corn and initiated an agricultural revolution, leading to the formation of many complex civilizations. These civilizations revolved around cities with writing, monumental architecture, astronomical studies, mathematics, and militaries. After 4,000 years, these civilizations were destroyed with the arrival of the Spaniards in 1519. For three centuries, Mexico was colonized by Spain, during which time the majority of its indigenous population died off. Formal independence from Spain was recognized in 1821. A war with the United States ended with Mexico losing almost half of its territory in 1848. France then invaded Mexico in 1861 and ruled briefly until 1867. The Mexican Revolution would later result in the death of 10% of the nation's population. Since then, Mexico as a nation-state has struggled with reconciling its deeply-entrenched indigenous heritage with the demands of the modern Western cultural model imposed in 1519. The nation's name is derived from the Aztec's capital called Mexico-Tenochtitlan.

This article thus covers Mexico's history.

The pre-Columbian history of what now is known as Mexico is known through the work of archaeologists and epigraphers, and through the accounts of the conquistadors, clergymen, and indigenous chroniclers of the immediate post-conquest period. While relatively few parchments (or codices) of the Mixtec and Aztec cultures of the Post-Classic period survived the Spanish conquest, more progress has been made in the area of Mayan archaeology and epigraphy.

Human presence in Mesoamerica was once thought to date back 40,000 years based upon what were believed to be ancient human footprints in the Valley of Mexico, but after further investigation using radioactive dating, it appears this may be untrue. It is currently unclear whether 21,000 year old campfire remains found in the Valley of Mexico are the earliest human remains in Mexico. Indigenous peoples began to selectively breed maize plants around 8,000 BC. Evidence shows a marked increase in pottery working by 2300 BC and the beginning of intensive corn farming between 1800 and 1500 BC.

Between 1800 and 300 BC, complex cultures began to form. Many matured into advanced pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations such as the: Olmec, Izapa, Teotihuacan, Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec, Huastec, Tarascan, "Toltec" and Aztec, which flourished for nearly 4,000 years before the first contact with Europeans.

These civilizations are credited with many inventions and advancements including pyramid-temples, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and theology.

While many city-states, kingdoms, and empires competed with one another for power and prestige, Mexico can be said to have had five major civilizations: The Olmec, Teotihuacan, the Toltec, the Aztec and the Maya. These civilizations (with the exception of the politically-fragmented Maya) extended their reach across Mexico, and beyond, like no others. They consolidated power and distributed influence in matters of trade, art, politics, technology, and theology. Other regional power players made economic and political alliances with these five civilizations over the span of 3,000 years. Many made war with them. But almost all found themselves within these five spheres of influence.

Latecomers to Mexico's central plateau, the Aztecs thought of themselves as heirs to the prestigious civilizations that had preceded them, much as Charlemagne did with respect to the fallen Roman Empire. What the Aztecs lacked in political power, they made up for with ambition and military skill.

In 1428, the Aztecs led a war of liberation against their rulers from the city of Azcapotzalco, which had subjugated most of the Valley of Mexico's peoples. The revolt was successful, and the Aztecs, through cunning political maneuvers and ferocious fighting skills, became the rulers of central Mexico as the leaders of the Triple Alliance.

This Alliance was composed of the city-states of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. At their peak, 350,000 Aztecs presided over a wealthy tribute-empire comprising around 10 million people, almost half of Mexico's then-estimated population of 24 million. This empire stretched from ocean to ocean, and extended into Central America. The westward expansion of the empire was halted by a devastating military defeat at the hands of the Purepecha (who possessed superior weapons made of copper). The empire relied upon a system of taxation (of goods and services) which were collected through an elaborate bureaucracy of tax collectors, courts, civil servants, and local officials who were installed as loyalists to the Triple Alliance (led by Tenochtitlan).

By 1519, the Aztec capital, Mexico-Tenochtitlan, was the largest city in the world with a population of around 350,000 (although some estimates range as high as 500,000). By comparison, the population of London in 1519 was 80,000 people. Tenochtitlan is the site of modern-day Mexico City.

In 1519, the Aztec civilization of what now is known as Mexico was invaded by Spain, and two years later in 1521, the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan was conquered by an alliance between Spanish and Tlaxcaltecs (the main enemies of Aztecs). Francisco Hernández de Córdoba explored the shores of South Mexico in 1517, followed by Juan de Grijalva in 1518. The most important of the early Conquistadores was Hernán Cortés, who entered the country in 1519 from a native coastal town which he renamed "Puerto de la Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz" (today's Veracruz).

Contrary to popular opinion, Spain did not conquer all the empire when Cortes conquered Tenochtitlan in 1521. It would take another two centuries after the Siege of Tenochtitlan before the Conquest of the Aztec Empire would be complete, as rebellions, attacks, and wars continued against the Spanish by other native peoples.

The Aztecs' religious beliefs were based on a great fear that the universe would cease functioning without a constant offering of human sacrifice. They sacrificed thousands of people on special occasions. This belief is thought to have been common throughout Nahuatl people. In order to acquire captives in times of peace, the Aztec resorted to a form of "ritual warfare", or flower war. Tlaxcalteca and other Nahuatl nations were forced into such wars, and, not particularly liking the idea of being a perpetual source of human sacrifices, they willingly joined the Spaniard forces against the Aztecs. The small Spanish force, consisting of 508 men schooled in European warfare and equipped with steel weapons and armor, was reinforced with thousands of indigenous Indian allies. Their use of ambush during indigenous ceremonies allowed the Spanish to avoid fighting the best native warriors in direct armed battle, such as during The Feast of Huitzilopochtli.

The Spanish defeat of the Aztecs in 1521 marked the beginning of the 300 year-long colonial period called the New Spain. After the fall of Tenochtitlan, it would take decades of sporadic warfare to pacify the rest of Mesoamerica. Particularly fierce was the Chichimeca War in the north of the New Spain (1576-1606).

The Council of Indies and the Mendecant establishments that arose in Mesoamerica as early as 1524 labored to generate capital for the broken crown of Spain and convert the Indian populations to Catholicism. Over the period of conquest (1519-c1600s) and the following Colonial periods the sponsorship of Mendecant friars and a process of religious syncretism combined the Pre-Hispanic cultures with Spanish socio-religious tradition. The resulting hodgepodge of culture was a pluriethnic State that relied on the repartimiento of peasant "Republic of Indians" labor to accomplish any work considered necessary. The existing feudal system of pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican culture was replaced by the encomienda feudal-style system of Spain, probably adapted to the pre-Hispanic tradition. It was finally replaced by a debt-based inscription of labor that led to wide-spread revitalization movements and prompted the revolution that ended the colonial state of New Spain.

During the colonial period, which lasted from 1521 to 1810, Mexico was known as "la Nueva España" or "New Spain" (as aforementioned), whose territories included today's Mexico. ("Mexico" in this period only meant the area that is the Valley of Mexico.) This entity was part of an epoymous viceroyalty, which joined with it the Spanish Caribbean islands, Central America as far south as Costa Rica, the area comprising today's southwestern United States, and the Philippines. Since Spaniards conquered areas with high civilizations and dense populations, which could provide the settlers with a sufficient labor source and a population to catechize, Spaniards in the sixteenth century tended not to develop the territories that had nomadic peoples, which were harder to conquer (and in fact, with the exception of the Amazon Basin, were not subdued until the nineteenth century). The Spanish did explore a good part of North America looking for more treasure-laden societies. These explorers claimed the land as was their practice, but finding no treasures or sedentary Indian tribes, they returned to the areas in Mexico, which had already been conquered. It was not until the eighteenth century that a concerted effort was made to settle the northern frontier in what is now the United States. The end result is that a lot of historic and contemporary maps often misrepresent the areas Spain claimed as areas they actually controlled. The Indians who lived in these areas were out of reach of Hispanic society and were able to maintain their culture well into the nineteenth century.

After Napoleon I invaded Spain in 1807 and put his brother, Joseph on the Spanish throne, Mexican Conservatives and rich land-owners who supported Spain's Bourbon royal family objected to the comparatively liberal Napoleonic policies. Thus an unlikely alliance was formed in Mexico: liberales, or Liberals, who favored a democratic Mexico, and conservadores, or Conservatives, who favored a Mexico ruled by a Bourbon monarch who would restore the status quo ante. These two elements agreed only that Mexico must achieve independence and determine her own destiny.

Taking advantage of the fact that Spain was severely handicapped under the occupation of Napoleon's army, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest of Spanish descent and progressive ideas, declared Mexico's independence from Spain in the small town of Dolores on September 16, 1810. This act started the long war, the first official document of independence was the Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America signed in 1813 by the Congress of Anáhuac. Eventually led to the official recognition of independence from Spain in 1821 and the creation of the First Mexican Empire. As with many early leaders in the movement for Mexican independence, Hidalgo was captured by opposing forces and executed.

Prominent figures in Mexico's war for independence were Father José María Morelos, Vicente Guerrero, and General Agustín de Iturbide. The war for independence lasted eleven years until the troops of the liberating army entered Mexico City in 1821. Thus, although independence from Spain was first proclaimed in 1810, it was not achieved until 1821, by the Treaty of Córdoba, which was signed on August 24 in Córdoba, Veracruz, by the Spanish viceroy Juan de O'Donojú and Agustín de Iturbide, ratifying the Plan de Iguala.

In 1821, Agustín de Iturbide, a former Spanish general who switched sides to fight for Mexican independence, proclaimed himself emperor – officially as a temporary measure until a member of European royalty could be persuaded to become monarch of Mexico (see Mexican Empire for more information). A revolt against Iturbide in 1823 established the United Mexican States. In 1824, "Guadalupe Victoria" became the first president of the new country; his given name was actually Félix Fernández but he chose his new name for symbolic significance: Guadalupe to give thanks for the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Victoria, which means Victory.

After independence, several Spanish possessions in Central America which also proclaimed their independence were incorporated into Mexico from 1822 to 1823, with the exception of Chiapas and several other Central American states. The northern provinces grew increasingly isolated, economicaly and politically, due to prolonged Comanche raids and attacks. New Mexico in particular had been gravitating more toward Comancheria. In the 1820s, when the United States began to exert influence over the region, New Mexico had already begun to question its loyalty to Mexico City. By the time of the Mexican-American War large portions of northern Mexico had been systematically raided and pillaged by the Comanches, causing impoverishment, political fragmentation, and a general frustration with the inability, or unwillingness, of the Mexican government to curb the Comanches.

Soon after achieving its independence from Spain, the Mexican government, in an effort to populate some of its sparsely-settled northern land claims, awarded extensive land grants in a remote area of the state of Coahuila y Tejas to thousands of immigrant families from the United States, on the condition that the settlers convert to Catholicism and assume Mexican citizenship. It also forbade the importation of slaves, a condition that, like the others, was largely ignored. A key factor in the decision to allow American to settle Texas was the hope that the immigrants would help buffer and protect the province from Comanche attacks. It was also hoped that he policy would blunt American imperial expansion by turning the immigrants into Mexican citizens. The policy failed on both accounts, as the Americans tended to settle far from the Comanche raiding zones and used the failure of the central Mexican government to suppress the raids as a pretext for declaring independence.

The government of the newly independent Mexico soon fell to rogue republican forces led by Antonio López de Santa Anna and others. The first Republic was formed with Guadalupe Victoria as its first president, followed in office by Vicente Guerrero who won the electoral vote but lost the popular vote. The Mexican constitution was at that time very similar to the US constitution; but was largely disregarded by the majority of the population. The conservative party saw the opportunity to control the government and led a revolution under the leadership of Gen. Anastasio Bustamante who became president from 1830 to early 1832. The federalists asked Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna to overthrow Bustamante and he did, declaring General Manuel Gómez Pedraza (who won the electoral vote back in 1828) as the "true" president. Elections took place, and Santa Ana took office on 1832. Constantly changing political beliefs, as president (he was president eleven different times), in 1834 Santa Anna abrogated the federal constitution, causing insurgencies in the southeastern state of Yucatán and the northernmost portion of the northern state of Coahuila y Tejas. Both areas sought independence from the central government. After negotiations and the presence of Santa Anna's army eventually brought Yucatán to again recognize Mexican sovereignty, Santa Anna's army turned to the northern rebellion. The inhabitants of Tejas, calling themselves Texans and led mainly by relatively recently-arrived English-speaking settlers, declared independence from Mexico at Washington-on-the-Brazos, giving birth to the Republic of Texas. Texan militias defeated the Mexican army and captured General Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. Texas declared their independence from Mexico in 1836, further reducing the claimed territory of the fledgling Mexican republic. In 1845, Texans voted to be annexed by the United States, and this was agreed to by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President John Tyler.

Many presidents, dictators, etc. came and went during a long period of instability which lasted most of the 19th century. One of the dominant figures of the second quarter of that century was the dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna.

During this period, nearly half of Mexico's territory was annexed by the United States with the pretext of being "unsettled". Mexico had a population of about 8,000,000 in 1846 of which about 60,000 lived in the northern territories – mostly in New Mexico (53,000) and California (7,000). Santa Anna was Mexico's leader during the conflict with Texas, which declared itself independent from Mexico in 1836 and ensured that independence by defeating the Mexican army and Santa Anna. Santa Anna was in and out of power again during the U.S.-Mexican War (1846-48). After accepting Texas's application for statehood in 1846, the US government sent troops to Texas in order to secure the territory, subsequently ignoring Mexico's demands for US withdrawal. Mexico saw this as a US intervention in their internal affairs by supporting a rebel province.

Disagreements about boundaries made the conflict inevitable. Mexican troops then attacked and killed several American soldiers and captured a small American detachment between the Rio Grande (which the Republic of Texas, and subsequently the U.S., claimed as the southern border) and the Nueces River (which had been considered the historic southern border of the Mexican department of Tejas). As a result, President James K. Polk requested a declaration of war, and the US Congress voted in favor on May 13, 1846. Mexico formally declared war on 23 May. This resulted in the U.S.-Mexican War, which lasted from 1846 to 1848. Mexico was defeated by United States forces, which occupied Mexico City and many other parts of the country. The war was terminated with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo which stipulated that, as a condition for peace, Mexico was obligated to sell the mostly vacant northern territories to the United States for US$15 million. Over the next few decades, Americans settled these territories and petitioned for statehood, forming the states of California, Nevada, and Utah, and most of Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Baja California was not included in the U.S. purchases or in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo despite being occupied by U.S. troops at the end of the war.

The primary reason for Mexico's defeat was its problematic internal situation, which led to a lack of unity and organization for a successful defense. One of the very few commemorated groups of Mexicans in the U.S. invasion of 1847 was a group of very young Military College cadets (now considered by some as Mexican national heroes). These cadets fought to the death defending their college against a detachment of American soldiers during the Battle of Chapultepec (September 13, 1847). Another group of combatants revered by Mexicans was the Batallón de San Patricio, a unit composed of hundreds of mostly Irish-born American deserters who fought under Mexican command until their overwhelming defeat at the Battle of Churubusco (August 20, 1847). Most of the "San Patricios" were killed and a few captured. Many of the captured men were court-martialled by the U.S. Army as deserters and traitors, and were subsequently executed at Chapultepec.

In 1853, mostly vacant desert territory containing parts of present-day Arizona and New Mexico were sold to the United States in the Gadsden Purchase. This land was sold by President Santa Anna in order to gain personal profit and to pay off his army. The Americans had not realized when they were negotiating the Treaty of Hidalgo (when they accepted the Gila River as the southern U.S. boundary) that a much easier railroad route to California lay slightly south of the Gila River. The Southern Pacific Railroad, the second transcontinental railroad to California, was built through this purchased land in 1881. As a bonus, the city of Tucson (Arizona) and its few hundred inhabitants was added to the United States territory of New Mexico.

In 1855, Santa Anna, who had become leader one more time, was overthrown by the liberals, in what was called the Revolution of Ayutla. The moderate liberal Ignacio Comonfort became president. The Moderados tried to find a middle ground between the nation's Liberals and Conservatives.

During Comonfort's presidency, a new Constitution was drafted. The Constitution of 1857 retained most of the Roman Catholic Church's Colonial era privileges and revenues, but, unlike the earlier constitution, did not mandate that the Catholic Church be the nation's exclusive religion. Such reforms were unacceptable to the leadership of the clergy and the Conservatives. Comonfort and members of his administration were excommunicated, and a revolt was then declared.

This led to the War of Reform, from December 1857 to January 1861. This civil war became increasingly bloody and polarized the nation's politics. Many of the Moderates came over to the side of the Liberals, convinced that the great political power of the Church needed to be curbed. For some time, the Liberals and Conservatives had their own governments, the Conservatives in Mexico City and the Liberals headquartered in Veracruz. The war ended with Liberal victory, and Liberal president Benito Juárez moved his administration to Mexico City.

In the 1860s, the country again underwent a military occupation, this time by France, establishing the Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria on the throne of Mexico as Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, with support from the Roman Catholic clergy and conservative elements of the upper class as well as some indigenous communities. Although the French, then considered one of the most efficient armies of the world, suffered an initial defeat in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 (now commemorated as the Cinco de Mayo holiday) they eventually defeated the Mexican government forces led by the general Ignacio Zaragoza and set the couple upon the throne.

The Mexican monarchy set up its government in the Capital of Mexico City and used the National Palace as their government seat. The Emperor's consort, born a Belgian princess, was Empress Carlota of Mexico, a cousin of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. The Imperial couple chose as their home Chapultepec Castle, and later adopted two grandchildren of the first Mexican Emperor, Augustin I. The Imperial couple noticed how the people of Mexico were treated, especially the Indians, and wanted to ensure their human rights. They were interested in a Mexico for the Mexicans, and did not share the views of Napoleon III, who was interested in exploiting the rich mines in the north-west of the country.

Emperor Maximilian I favored the establishment of a limited monarchy sharing powers with a democratically elected congress. This was too liberal to please Mexico's Conservatives, while the liberals refused to accept a monarch, leaving Maximilian with few enthusiastic allies within Mexico. Maximilian was eventually captured and executed in the Cerro de las Campanas, Querétaro, by the forces loyal to President Benito Juárez, who kept the federal government functioning during the French intervention that put Maximilian in power.

In mid-1867, following repeated losses in battle to the Republican Army and ever decreasing support by Napoleon III, Maximilian was captured and executed by Juárez's soldiers, along with his last loyal generals, Mejia and Miramon in Querétaro. From then on, Juárez remained in office until his death from heart failure in 1872.

In 1867, the republic was restored and Juárez was reelected, continuing to implement his reforms. In 1871 he was elected a second time, much to the dismay of his opponents within the liberal party, who considered reelection to be something undemocratic. Juárez died one year later and was succeeded by Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada.

In 1876 Lerdo was re-elected, defeating Porfirio Díaz in the elections. Díaz rebelled against the government with the proclamation of the Plan de Tuxtepec, in which he opposed reelection, in 1876. Díaz managed to overthrow Lerdo, who fled the country, and was named president.

Díaz became the new president. Thus began a period of more than thirty years (1876–1911) during which Díaz was the strong man in Mexico. This period of relative prosperity and peace is known as the Porfiriato. During this period, the country's infrastructure improved greatly thanks to increased foreign investment. However, the period is also characterized by social inequality and discontent among the working classes.

In 1910 the 80-year-old Díaz decided to hold an election to serve another term as president. He thought he had long since eliminated any serious opposition in Mexico; however, Francisco I. Madero, an academic from a rich family, decided to run against him and quickly gathered popular support, despite Díaz putting Madero in jail.

When the official election results were announced, it was declared that Díaz had won re-election almost unanimously, with Madero receiving only a few hundred votes in the entire country. This fraud by the Porfiriato was too blatant for the public to swallow, and riots broke out. Madero prepared a document known as the Plan de San Luis Potosí, in which he called the Mexican people to take their weapons and fight against the government of Porfirio Díaz on November 20, 1910. Madero managed to flee to San Antonio, Texas, where he started to prepare his overthrow of the Díaz government. This started what is known as the Mexican Revolution.

The Federal Army was defeated by the revolutionary forces which were led by, amongst others, Emiliano Zapata in the South, Pancho Villa and Pascual Orozco in the North, and Venustiano Carranza. Porfirio Díaz resigned in 1911 for the "sake of the peace of the nation" and went to exile in France, where he died in 1915.

The revolutionary leaders had many different objectives; revolutionary figures varied from liberals such as Madero to radicals such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. As a consequence, it proved very difficult to reach agreement on how to organize the government that emanated from the triumphant revolutionary groups. The result of this was a struggle for the control of Mexico's government in a conflict that lasted more than twenty years. This period of struggle is usually referred to as part of the Mexican Revolution, although it might also be considered a civil war. Presidents Francisco I. Madero (1913), Venustiano Carranza (1920), and former revolutionary leaders Emiliano Zapata (1919) and Pancho Villa (1923) were assassinated during this time, amongst many others.

Following the resignation of Díaz and a brief reactionary interlude, Madero was elected President in 1911. He was ousted and killed in 1913 by Victoriano Huerta, with the support of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson, but not that of U.S. President-elect Woodrow Wilson. Huerta was a former General of Porfirio Díaz. Huerta's brutality soon lost him his domestic support, and his regime was actively opposed by the Wilson Administration. In 1915 he was overthrown by Venustiano Carranza, a former revolutionary general. Carranza promulgated a new Constitution on February 5, 1917. The Mexican Constitution of 1917 still guides Mexico. Carranza was assassinated in an internal feud of his former supporters over who would replace him as President.

In 1920 Álvaro Obregón, one of Carranza's former allies who plotted against him, became president. He accommodated all elements of Mexican society except the most reactionary clergy and landlords, and successfully catalyzed social liberalization, particularly in curbing the role of the Catholic Church, improving education and taking steps toward instituting women's civil rights.

It is estimated that between 1910 and 1921 about 900,000 people died.

Between 1926 and 1929 an armed conflict in the form of a popular uprising broke out against the anti-Catholic/anti-clerical Mexican government, set off specifically by the anti-clerical provisions of the Mexican Constitution of 1917. Discontent over the provisions had been simmering for years. The conflict is known as the Cristero War. A number of articles of the 1917 Constitution were at issue. Article 5 outlawed monastic religious orders. Article 24 forbade public worship outside of church buildings, while Article 27 restricted religious organizations' rights to own property. Finally, Article 130 took away basic civil rights of members of the clergy: priests and religious leaders were prevented from wearing their habits, were denied the right to vote, and were not permitted to comment on public affairs in the press.

The Cristero War was eventually resolved diplomatically, largely with the influence of the U.S. Ambassador. The conflict claimed the lives of some 90,000: 56,882 on the federal side, 30,000 Cristeros, and numerous civilians and Cristeros who were killed in anticlerical raids after the war's end. As promised in the diplomatic resolution, the laws considered offensive to the Cristeros remained on the books, but no organized federal attempts to enforce them were put into action. Nonetheless, in several localities, persecution of Catholic priests continued based on local officials' interpretations of the law.

In 1929, the National Mexican Party (PNM) was formed by the serving president, General Plutarco Elías Calles. (It would later become the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) that ruled the country for the rest of the 20th century.) The PNM succeeded in convincing most of the remaining revolutionary generals to dissolve their personal armies to create the Mexican Army, and so its foundation is considered by some the real end of the Mexican Revolution.

The PRI set up a new type of system, led by a caudillo.

The PRI is typically referred to as the three-legged stool, in reference to Mexican workers, peasants and bureaucrats.

After it was founded in 1929, the PRI monopolized all the political branches. The PRI did not lose a senate seat until 1988 or a gubernatorial race until 1989. It wasn't until July 2, 2000, that Vicente Fox of the opposition "Alliance for Change" coalition, headed by the National Action Party (PAN), was elected president. His victory ended the Institutional Revolutionary Party's 71-year hold on the presidency.

President Lázaro Cárdenas came to power in 1935 and transformed Mexico. On April 1, 1936 he exiled Calles, the last general with dictatorial ambitions, thereby removing the army from power.

Cárdenas managed to unite the different forces in the PRI and set the rules that allowed his party to rule unchallenged for decades to come without internal fights. He nationalized the oil industry on March 18, 1938, the electricity industry, created the National Polytechnic Institute, granted asylum to Spanish expatriates fleeing the Spanish Civil War, started land reform and the distribution of free textbooks for children.

Manuel Ávila Camacho, Cárdenas's successor, presided over a "bridge" between the revolutionary era and the era of machine politics under PRI that would last until 2000. Camacho, moving away from nationalistic autarchy, proposed to create a favorable climate for international investment, favored nearly two generations ago by Madero. Camacho's regime froze wages, repressed strikes, and persecuted dissidents with a law prohibiting the "crime of social dissolution." During this period, the PRI regime thus betrayed the legacy of land reform. Miguel Alemán Valdés, Camacho's successor, even had Article 27 amended to protect elite landowners.

During the next four decades, Mexico experienced impressive economic growth (from a very low base), and historians call this period "El Milagro Mexicano", the Mexican Miracle. This was in spite of failing foreign confidence in investment during the worldwide Great Depression. The assumption of mineral rights and subsequent nationalisation of the oil industry into Pemex during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas del Río was a popular move.

However, the economy collapsed several times afterwards. Although PRI regimes achieved economic growth and relative prosperity for almost three decades after World War II, the management of the economy collapsed several times, and political unrest grew in the late 1960s, culminating in the Tlatelolco massacre in 1968. In the 1970s, economic crises affected the country in 1976 and 1982, after which the banks were nationalized, having been blamed for the economic problems. (La Década Perdida) On both occasions, the Mexican peso was devalued, and, until 2000, it had been normal to expect a big devaluation and a recessionary period after each presidential term ended every six years. The crisis that came after a devaluation of the peso in late 1994 threw Mexico into economic turmoil, triggering the worst recession in over half a century.

On January 1, 1994, Mexico became a full member of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), joining the United States of America and Canada in a large and prosperous economic bloc. It is on this date that the Zapatista Army of National Liberation emerged, capturing several towns and sparking a brief conflict with the government. On March 23, 2005, the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America was signed by the elected leaders of those countries.

According to the U.S. CIA Factbook for 2006: 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 Fox administration was cognizant of the need to upgrade infrastructure, modernize the tax system and labor laws, and allow private investment in the energy sector, but has been unable to win the support of the opposition-led Congress. The current Calderón government that took office in December 2006 is confronting the same challenges of boosting economic growth, improving Mexico's international competitiveness, and reducing poverty.

Accused many times of blatant fraud, the PRI's candidates continually held almost all public offices until the end of the 20th century. It was not until the 1980s that the PRI lost the first state governorship, an event that marked the beginning of the party's loss of hegemony. Through the electoral reforms started by president Carlos Salinas de Gortari and consolidated by president Ernesto Zedillo, by the mid 1990s, the PRI had lost its majority in Congress. In 2000, after seventy years, the PRI lost a presidential elections to a candidate of the National Action Party (PAN — Partido Acciòn Nacional), Vicente Fox. He was the 69th president of Mexico. The continued non-PAN majority in the Congress of Mexico prevented him from implementing most of his reforms.

In 1995, President Ernesto Zedillo faced an economic crisis. There were public demonstrations in Mexico City and constant military presence after the 1994 rising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in Chiapas. Zedillo also oversaw political and electoral reforms that reduced the PRI's hold on power. After the 1988 election, which was strongly disputed and arguably lost by the government party, the IFE (Instituto Federal Electoral – Federal Electoral Institute) was created in the early 1990s. It is run by ordinary citizens, overseeing that elections are conducted legally and fairly.

As a result of popular discontent, the presidential candidate of the National Action Party (PAN) Vicente Fox Quesada won the federal election of July 2, 2000, but did not win a majority in the chambers of congress. The results of this election ended 71 years of PRI hegemony in the presidency. Many people in Mexico claim that, even if Fox won the election, President Zedillo did not give his party (PRI) a chance to dispute the results of the election by making Fox's victory "official" by addressing the nation the same night of the election, a first in Mexican politics (and in other places, too, where it is more normal for the losing candidate to admit defeat, rather than the outgoing incumbent). One reason offered for this is that Zedillo sought a quick and peaceful election in 2000 to avoid another crisis after the change of government.

Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (also a member of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) is, as of July 2006, the president of Mexico. Many people in Mexico claim that he actually did not win the election: as a result, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the candidate of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) appointed himself as the "legitimate president" and is currently traveling all over the country, along with his own cabinet, with resourses from the taxes from all mexicans, to strictly supervise every and all of the actions of president Felipe Calderón.

In 2008, there was a major escalation in the Mexican Drug War.

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Mexico City

Official seal of Mexico City

Mexico City (in Spanish: Ciudad de México, D.F., Distrito Federal, or México) is the capital city of Mexico. It is the most important economic, industrial, and cultural center in the country; the most populous city with over 8,836,045 inhabitants in 2008. Greater Mexico City (Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México) incorporates 59 adjacent municipalities of Mexico State and 29 municipalities of the state of Hidalgo, according to the most recent definition agreed upon by the federal and state governments. Greater Mexico City has a population exceeding 22 million people, making it the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere and the second largest in the world by population according to the United Nations and other organizations. In 2005, it ranked the eighth in terms of GDP (PPP) among urban agglomerations in the world. Aside from São Paulo it is the only Beta global city with 8 points in Latin America and ranked 25th among global cities by Foreign Policy's 2008 Global Cities Index.

Mexico City is also the Federal District (Distrito Federal in Spanish, and hence the abbreviation D.F.). The Federal District is coextensive with Mexico City; both are governed by a single institution and are constitutionally considered to be the same entity. This has not always been the case. The Federal District, created in 1824, was integrated by several municipalities, one of which was the municipality of Mexico City. As the city began to grow, it engulfed all other municipalities into one large urban area. In 1928, all municipalities within the Federal District were abolished, an action that left a vacuum in the legal status of Mexico City vis-à-vis the Federal District, even though for most practical purposes they were traditionally considered to be the same entity. In 1993, to end the sterile discussions about whether one concept had engulfed the other, or if any of the two entities had any existence in lieu of the other, the 44th Article of the Constitution of Mexico was reformed to clearly state that Mexico City is the Federal District, seat of the Powers of the Union and capital of the United Mexican States.

According to a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Greater Mexico City (with a population of 19.2 million) had a GDP of $315 billion in 2005 (at purchasing power parity), ranking as the eighth-richest urban agglomeration in the world after the greater areas of Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, London and Osaka/Kobe, and the richest in Latin America; in 2020 it is expected to rank seventh with a $608 billion GDP, displacing Osaka/Kobe.

Mexico City is located in the Valley of Mexico, also called the Valley of Anáhuac, a large valley in the high plateaus at the center of Mexico, at an altitude of 2,240 meters (7,349 ft). It was originally built as Tenochtitlan by the Aztecs in 1325 on an island of Lake Texcoco. The city was almost completely destroyed in the siege of 1521, and was redesigned and rebuilt in the following years following the Spanish urban standards. In 1524 the municipality of Mexico City was established, known as México Tenustitlán, and as of 1585 it is officially known as ciudad de México.

After landing in Veracruz, Hernán Cortés heard about the great city and the long-standing rivalries and grievances against it. Although Cortés came to Mexico with a very small army, he was able to persuade many of the other native peoples to help him destroy Tenochtitlán.

Cortés first saw Tenochtitlán on 8 November 1519. Upon viewing it for the first time, Cortés and his men were stunned by its beauty and size. The Spaniards marched along the causeway leading into the city from Iztapalapa. Although Moctezuma came out from the center of Tenochtitlán to greet them and exchange gifts, the camaraderie did not last long. Cortés put Moctezuma under house arrest, hoping to rule through him. Tensions increased until, on the night of June 30th, 1520 - during a struggle commonly known as "La Noche Triste" - the Aztec revolted against the Spanish intrusion and managed to capture or drive out the Europeans and their allies. Cortés regrouped at Tlaxcala. The Aztecs thought the Spaniards were permanently gone. They elected a new king, Cuauhtémoc. Cortés decided to lay siege to Tenochtitlán in May of 1521. For three months, the city suffered from the lack of food and water as well as the spread of disease brought by the Europeans. Cortés and his allies landed their forces in the south of the island and fought their way through the city, street by street, and house by house. Finally, Cuauhtémoc had to surrender in August of 1521.

The Spaniards practically razed Tenochtitlán to the ground. Cortés first settled in Coyoacan, but decided to rebuild the Aztec site in order to erase all traces of the old order. Cortés did not establish an independent, conquered territory under his own personal rule, but remained loyal to the Spanish crown. The first viceroy of the new domain arrived in Mexico City fourteen years later. By that time, the city had again become a city-state, having power that extended far beyond the city’s established borders. Although the Spanish preserved Tenochtitlán's basic layout, they built Catholic churches over the old Aztec temples and claimed the imperial palaces for themselves. Tenochtitlán was renamed “Mixico,” its alternative name, as the Spanish found this easier to say.

The city grew as the population did, coming up against the lake’s waters. The 15th century saw a proliferation of churches, many of which can still be seen today in the historic center. However, flooding was a constant problem, and in the 17th century projects to drain and fill in parts of the lake were begun in earnest. This process would continue for most of the city’s history until the lakes disappeared. Economically, Mexico City prospered as a result of trade. Unlike Brazil or Peru, Mexico had easy contact with both the Atlantic and Pacific worlds. Although the Spanish crown tried to completely regulate all commerce in the city, it had only partial success. One way the Spanish tried to completely rule was religion, but even here success was not complete. Native practices survived incorporated in the indigenous’ practice of Roman Catholicism. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which originated with the vision at Tepeyac Hill to the north of the city’s borders in 1531, representing a post-Conquest adaption of the Aztec cult of Tonantzin, a mother goddess.

The concept of nobility transferred to New Spain in a way not seen in other parts of the Americas. A noble title here did not mean one exercised great political power as one’s power was limited even if the accumulation of wealth was not. The concept of nobility in Mexico was not political but rather a very conservative Spanish social one, based on proving the worthiness of the family. Most of these families proved their worth by making fortunes in New Spain outside of the city itself, then spending the revenues in the capital, building churches, supporting charities and building extravagant palatial homes. The craze to build the most opulent home possible reached its height in the last half of the 18th century. Many of these homes can still be seen today, leading to Mexico City’s nickname of “The city of palaces” given by Charles Joseph Latrobe in his book "A rambler in Mexico".

Independence for Mexico was declared by Agustin de Iturbide in 1821 after he and his army marched into the city. While Iturbide’s regime tried to keep as much of the old order as possible, he soon had to abdicate and Mexico was declared a republic in 1824, with Mexico City as its capital.Unrest followed for the next several decades, as different factions fought for control of Mexico. The Mexican Federal District was established by the new government and by the signing of their new constitution, where the concept of a federal district was adapted from the American constitution. Before this designation, Mexico City had served as the seat of government for both the State of Mexico and the nation as a whole. Texcoco and then Toluca became the capital of the state of Mexico. During the Mexican-American War, American forces marched toward Mexico City itself after capturing Veracruz. The invasion culminated with the storming of Chapultepec Castle in the city itself. The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in what is now the far north of the city. Events such as the Reform War left the city relatively untouched and it continued to grow, especially during the rule of President Porfirio Díaz. During this time, the city developed modern infrastructure, such as roads, schools, transportation, and communication systems. However, the regime concentrated resources and wealth into the city while the rest languished in poverty. This eventually led to the Mexican Revolution. The most significant episode of this period for the city was the La decena trágica ("The Ten Tragic Days"), a coup against President Francisco I. Madero and his vice president, José María Pino Suárez. Victoriano Huerta, chief general of the Federal Army saw a chance to take power, forcing Madero and Pino Suarez to sign resignations. The two were murdered later while on their way to prison.

The history of the rest of the 20th century to the present focuses on the phenomenal growth of the city and its environmental and political consequences. In 1900, the population of Mexico City was about 500,000. The city began to grow rapidly westward in the early part of the 20th century and then began to grow upwards in the 1950’s, with the Torre Latinoamericana as the first skyscraper. The 1968 Olympic Games brought about the construction of large sporting facilities. In 1969, the Metro system was inaugurated. Explosive growth in the population of the city started from the 1960’s, with the population overflowing the boundaries of the Federal District into the neighboring state of Mexico, especially to the north, northwest and northeast. Between 1960 and 1980 the city’s population more than doubled to 8,831,079.1980 - half of all the industrial jobs in Mexico were located in Mexico City. Under relentless growth, the Mexico City government could barely keep up with services. Villagers from the countryside who continued to pour into the city to escape poverty only compounded the city's problems. With no housing available, they took over lands surrounding the city, creating huge shantytowns that extended for many miles. This caused serious air and water pollution problems, as well as a sinking city due to overextraction of groundwater.. Air and water pollution has been contained and improved in some several areas due to government programs, the renovation of vehicles and the modernization of the public transport.

The autocratic government that ruled Mexico City since the Revolution was tolerated, mostly because of the continued economic expansion since World War II. This was the case even though this government could not handle the population and pollution problems adequately. Nevertheless, discontent and protests began in the 1960’s leading to the massacre of an unknown number of protesting students in Tlatelolco.

Mexico City is located in the Valley of Mexico, sometimes called the Basin of Mexico. This valley is located in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt located in the high plateaus of central Mexico. It has a minimum altitude of 2,200 meters above sea level and surrounded by mountains and volcanoes that reach elevations of over 5,000 meters. This valley has no natural drainage outlet for the waters that flow from the mountainsides, making the city vulnerable to flooding. It was artificially opened through the use of canals and tunnels starting in the 17th century. The city primarily rests on what was Lake Texcoco. Seismic activity is frequent here. This lake was drained started from the 17th century and while none of its waters remain, the city rests on its heavily-saturated clay. This soft base is collapsing due to the over-extraction of groundwater and since the beginning of the 20th century, the city has sunk as much as nine meters in some areas. This sinking is causing problems with runoff and wastewater management, leading to flooding problems, especially during the rainy season. The entire lakebed is now paved over and most of the city’s remaining forested areas lie in the southern boroughs of Milpa Alta, Tlalpan and Xochimilco.

Mexico City has a temperate highland climate (Koppen Cwb), due to its tropical location and high elevation. The lower region of the valley receives less rainfall than the upper regions of the south; the lower boroughs of Iztapalapa, Iztacalco, Venustiano Carranza and the west portion of Gustavo A. Madero are usually drier and warmer than the upper southern boroughs of Tlalpan and Milpa Alta, a mountainous region of pine and oak trees known as the range of Ajusco.

The average annual temperature varies from 12 to 16°C (53 to 60°F), depending on the altitude of the borough. Lowest temperatures, usually registered during January and February, may reach -2 to -5°C (28 to 23°F), usually accompanied by snow showers on the southern regions of Ajusco, and the maximum temperatures of late spring and summer may reach up to 32°C (90°F). Overall precipitation is heavily concentrated in the summer months, including dense hail. The central valley of Mexico rarely gets precipitation in the form of snow during winter; the two last recorded instances of such an event were on March 5, 1940 and January 12, 1967.

The region of the Valley of Mexico receives anti-cyclonic systems, whose weak winds do not allow for the dispersion, outside the basin, of the air pollutants which are produced by the 50,000 industries and 4 million vehicles operating in or around the metropolitan area.

The area receives about 700 millimeters of annual rainfall, which is concentrated from June through September/October with little or no precipitation the remainder of the year. The area has two main seasons. The rainy season runs from June to October when winds bring in tropical moisture from the sea. The dry season runs from November to May, when the air is relatively drier. This dry season subdivides into a cold period from November to February when polar air masses pushing down from the north keep the air fairly dry and a warm period from March to May when tropical winds again dominate but they do not yet carry enough moisture for rain.

Originally much of the valley lay beneath the waters of Lake of Texcoco, a system of interconnected saline and freshwater lakes. The Aztecs built dikes to separate the fresh water used to raise crops in chinampas and to prevent recurrent floods. These dikes were destroyed during the siege of Tenochtitlan, and during colonial times the Spanish regularly drained the lake to prevent floods. Only a small section of the original lake remains, located outside the Federal District, in the municipality of Atenco, State of Mexico. In recent years, architects Teodoro González De León and Alberto Kalach, along with a group of Mexican urbanists, engineers and biologists, have developed the project plan for Recovering the City of Lakes. The project, if approved by the government, will contribute to the supply of water from natural sources to the Valley of Mexico, the creation of new natural spaces, a great improvement in air quality, and greater population establishment planning.

The federal and local governments have implemented numerous plans to alleviate the problem of air pollution, including the constant monitoring and reporting of environmental conditions, such as ozone and nitrogen oxides. If the levels of these two pollutants reach critical levels, contingency actions are implemented which may include closing factories, changing school hours, and extending the A day without a car program to two days of the week. To control air pollution, the government has instituted industrial technology improvements, a strict biannual vehicle emission inspection and the reformulation of gasoline and diesel fuels. Data from the city's 36 air-quality monitoring stations show lead levels down 95 percent since 1990, while sulfur dioxide has fallen 86 percent, carbon monoxide 74 percent, and peak ozone levels 57 percent since 1991.

In 1986, the non-urban forest areas of the southern boroughs were declared National Ecological Reserves by president Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado. Other areas of the Federal District became protected over the following years.

The Acta Constitutive de la Federación of 31 January 1824 and the Federal Constitution of 4 October 1824 fixed the political and administrative organization of the United States of Mexico after the Mexican War of Independence. In addition, Section XXVIII of Article 50 gave the new Congress the right to choose where the federal government would be located. This location would then be appropriated as federal land, with the federal government acting as the local authority. The two main candidates to become the capital were Mexico City and Querétaro. However, due much to the persuasion of representative Servando Teresa de Mier, Mexico City was chosen because it was the center of the country’s population and history, even though Querétaro was closer to the center geographically. The choice was official on 18 November 1824, and Congress delineated a surface area with a radius of two leagues (8,800 km) from the Zocalo. This circular area was then separated from the State of Mexico, forcing that state’s government to move from the Palace of the Inquisition (now Museum of Mexican Medicine) in the city to Texcoco. This radius did not include the population centers of the towns of Coyoacan, Xochimilco, Mexicaltzingo and Tlalpan, all of which remained as part of the State of Mexico.

The district was incorporated into the federal government as the Department of Mexico officially on 29 November 1836. The District was redefined by President Santa Anna shortly after the Mexican American War, outward to areas bordering Ecatepec, Tlalnepantla and other hilly areas to make the District more defensible. He also divided the District into eight prefectures. In 1898, some other, minor modifications were made to its borders with the State of Mexico and the State of Morelos, bringing them to the current borders. In 1899, the District was divided into the municipality of Mexico and six prefectures. In 1903, this was changed thirteen municipalities. In 1916, then head of the District, Venustiano Carranza tried to annex a number of the communities in what is now the eastern “arm” of the state of Mexico, but did not succeed. In 1941, the organization changed to the City of Mexia and twelve boroughs. In 1978, the 1898 borders were reaffirmed and the current system of sixteen boroughs was instituted.

The government of the District is housed in two buildings on the south side of the Zocalo. One has served as the seat of government for the city almost since the arrival of Hernan Cortes. The other was constructed in the 1940’s for the expanding government, and created to fit in with the architecture of the area.

Mexico City, being the seat of the powers of the Union, did not belong to any particular state but to all. Therefore, it was the president, representing the federation, who used to designate the head of government of the Federal District, a position which is sometimes presented outside Mexico as the "Mayor" of Mexico City. In the 1980s, given the dramatic increase in population of the previous decades, the inherent political inconsistencies of the system—like in 1988, when the opposition candidate had received the majority of votes in the Federal District, but the president, however designated a governor form the party in power at the federal level—as well as the dissatisfaction with the inadequate response of the federal government to assist the city after the 1985 earthquake, the residents began to request political and administrative autonomy in order to manage their own local affairs. Some political groups even proposed that the Federal District be converted into the 32nd state of the federation.

In response to the demands, in 1987 the Federal District received a greater degree of autonomy, with the elaboration the first Statute of Government (Estatuto de Gobierno), and the creation of an Assembly of Representatives. In the 1990s, this autonomy was further expanded and, starting from 1997, residents can directly elect the head of government of the Federal District and the representatives of a unicameral Legislative Assembly (which succeeded the previous Assembly) by popular vote. The first elected head of government was Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. Cárdenas resigned in 1999 in order to run in the 2000 presidential elections and designated Rosario Robles to succeed him, who became the first woman (elected or otherwise) to govern Mexico City. In 2000 Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected, and resigned in 2005 to run in the 2006 presidential elections, Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez being designated by the Legislative Assembly to finish the term. In 2006, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon was elected for the 2006–2012 period.

The Federal District does not have a constitution, like the states of the Union, but rather a Statute of Government, and as part of its recent changes in autonomy, the budget is administered locally: it is proposed by the head of government and approved by the Legislative Assembly. Nonetheless, it is the Congress of the Union that sets the ceiling to internal and external public debt issued by the Federal District.

According to the 44th article of the Mexican Constitution, in case the powers of the Union move to another city, the Federal District will be transformed into a new state, which will be called "State of the Valley of Mexico", with the new limits set by the Congress of the Union.

In 2006, elections were held for the post of head of government and the representatives of the Legislative Assembly. The elected and incumbent head of government is now Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Heads of government are elected for a 6-year period without the possibility of reelection. Traditionally, this position has been considered as the second most important executive office in the country.

The politics pursued by the administrations of heads of government in Mexico City since the second half of the 20th century have usually been more liberal than those of the rest of the country, whether with the support of the federal government —as was the case with the approval of several comprehensive environmental laws in the 1980s— or through laws recently approved by the Legislative Assembly. In 2007, the Federal District became the second federal entity in the country, after the state of Coahuila, to approve same-sex unions, and the first to allow conjugal visits for homosexual prisoners In April of the same year, the Legislative Assembly expanded provisions on abortions, becoming the first federal entity to expand abortion in Mexico beyond cases of rape and economic reasons, to permit it regardless of the reason should the mother request it before the twelfth week of pregnancy.

The boroughs are composed by hundreds of colonias or neighborhoods, which have no jurisdictional autonomy or representation. It is plausible that the name, which literally means colony, arose in the late 19th, early 20th centuries, when one of the first urban developments outside the city's core was inhabited by a French colony in the city. Some colonias have identifiable attributes: Historic Center is the oldest quarter in the city, some of the buildings dating back to the 16th century; la Condesa is known for its Art Deco architecture, and for being the newest artistic center of the city; Santa Fe is a growing business and financial district (built over old landfills); Roma is a beaux arts neighborhood and probably one of the oldest in the city; Polanco is an important commercial and economic center known for its large Jewish community, and Tepito and La Lagunilla are known for its large flea market.

Mexico City is home to some of the best private hospitals in the country. Hospital Angeles, Hospital ABC and Médica Sur to name a few. The largest public healthcare center in Mexico, IMSS, is also located in Mexico City and has an annual budget of over 6 billion pesos.

However due to Mexico City's geographical location, the air quaility in Mexico City is very poor. The high mountains surrounding the city disrupt wind currents, meaining that there is a low amount of windflow through the area and the frequent creation of thermal inversion layers trap the city's smog, making it considered one of the worst polluted places in the world. Also due to the high alititude of the city, there is 30% less oxygen in the air and emissions from motor vehicles create almost twice the amount of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon pollution. The main source of air pollution are cars and factories, with over 7.9 million cars on the roads of Mexico City and around 400 000 cars added to that total every year. Over 50 000 factories contribute to emission of 24 000 tonnes of pollutants released into Mexico City's atmosphere each year. Due to Mexico City's poor air quality, only around 31 days a year have air which is considered to be safe to breathe. Breathing the air in Mexico City is the same as smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. The atmospheric conditions often cause chronic lung problems, such as athsma. High proportions of young children have also been found to have levels of lead in their bloodstream, high enough to cause intellectual defects and damage the nervous system. However the smog is not caused by the poor of Mexico City, but by the 16% who can afford to buy a car.

In Mexico City 25.2% of dwellings have no access to sewage facilities and Mexico City's water supply is often polluted, with the amount of untreated sewage and industrial waste entering the city's drinking supply high enough to cause officials alarm. Also untreated sewage flows downstream in the Tula River to farmlands, where farmers use the polluted water to irrigate vegetables grown for urban food supplies. Cysticerosis is contracted from the vegetables irrigated with the polluted water from the Tula River. Cysticerosis is a disease caused by tapeworms, which attacks the human brain; though it was normally contracted through cooked pork. Untreated waste water is also the major contributer of high incidence of hepatitis within the city.

The World Bank has sponsored a project to curb air pollution through public transport improvements and the Mexican government has started shutting down polluting factories. They have phased out diesel buses and mandated new emission controls on new cars; since 1993 all new cars must be fitted with a catalytic convertor, which reduce the emissions released. Trucks must use only liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Also construction of an underground rail system was begun in order to help curb air pollution problems and alleviate traffic congestion. It has over 201 km of track and carries over 5 million people every day. Fees are kept low to encourage use of the system and during rush hours the crush is so great, that authorities have reserved a special carriage specially for women. Due to these initiatives and others, the air quality in Mexico City has begun to improve, with the air becoming cleaner since 1991, when the air qaulity was declared to be a public health risk for 355 days of the year.

Mexico City is the most important economic hub in Latin America. The city proper (Federal District) produces 21.8% of the country's gross domestic product. According to a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Greater Mexico City (with a population of 18.3 million) had a GDP of $315 billion in 2005 (at purchasing power parity), ranking as the eighth-richest urban agglomeration in the world after the greater areas of Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, London and Osaka/Kobe, and the richest in Latin America. In 2020 it is predicted to displace Osaka/Kobe to rank seventh. Mexico City alone would be the 30th largest economy in world. In terms of GDP per sector, the Federal District is the greatest contributor to the country's industrial GDP (15.8%) and also the greatest contributor to the country's GDP in the service sector (25.3%). Due to the limited non-urbanized space at the south—most of which is protected through environmental laws—the contribution of the Federal District in agriculture is the smallest of all federal entities in the country. Mexico City has one of the world's fastest-growing economies outside China and its GDP is set to double by 2020.

The Federal District is the country’s richest region. Although only 9.2% of total Mexican households are located there, it accounts for 21.1% of total household expenditure. Average household spending in the city was US$52,389 in 2006, up to five times of some of the provinces and twenty percent higher then the next-highest spending region (Nuevo Leon). This level of expenditure is close to that of an average household in Italy or France. Households in the capital have fewer members –(3.7 compared to the national average of 4.0) and have better access to employment than those in the rest of the country. They spend comparatively more on education, hotels and catering and transport than outside the capital accounting for almost one third of total national consumption in these categories. The city’s GDP per capita is $22,696, the highest of any city in Latin America. However, this number is skewed by the small number of extremely rich households that shift the mean income upwards. The top decile of households in the entire country had a mean disposable income of US $98,517 in 2007, most of these are located in Mexico City. Their extremely high spending power makes the city attractive for luxury goods companies. The growth of luxury stores established in Mexico D.F. has been impressive since 2003, especially those dealing in luxury cars, designer clothes and expensive jewellery.

The economic reforms of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari had a tremendous effect on the city, privatizing banks and with the government selling off many of the businesses it owned. He also signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This led to the decentralization and a shift in Mexico City’s economic base, from manufacturing to services, as many factories moved to the State of Mexico and to the northern border. The government also encouraged this with tax incentives and new environmental regulations for manufacturing within the Federal District.

However due to the high rate of unemployment, Mexico City has an informal employment sector. These informal workers often sell drivers cigarettes, fruit, newspapers and flowers at the congested traffic lights, or entertain tourists for tips, such as fire-spitters. High rates of unemployment, have allowed larger corporations to exploit underpaid workers. These same high rates of unemployment, allow employers to keep the wages low and the working conditions poor. Workers who try to improve their working conditions, may be dismissed.

Historically, and since pre-Hispanic times, the valley of Anáhuac has been one of the most densely populated areas in Mexico. When the Federal District was created in 1824, the urban area of Mexico City extended approximately to the area of today's Cuauhtémoc borough. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the elites began migrating to the south and west and soon the small towns of Mixcoac and San Ángel were incorporated by the growing conurbation. Today the city could be clearly divided into a middle and high-class area (south and west, including Polanco, Chapultepec and Santa Fe), and a lower class area to the east (Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, Pantitlán, Chalco and Moctezuma).

Up to the 1980s, the Federal District was the most populated federal entity in Mexico, but since then its population has remained stable at around 8.7 million. The growth of the city has extended beyond the limits of the Federal District to 59 municipalities of the state of Mexico and 1 in the state of Hidalgo. With a population of approximately 19.8 million inhabitants (2008), it is one of the most populated conurbations in the world. Nonetheless, the annual rate of growth of the Metropolitan Area of Mexico City is much lower than that of other large urban agglomerations in Mexico, a phenomenon most likely attributable to the environmental policy of decentralization. The net migration rate of the Federal District from 1995 to 2000 was negative.

While they represent around 1.3% of the city's population, indigenous peoples from different regions of Mexico have immigrated to the capital in search of better economic opportunities. Náhuatl, Otomí, Mixteco, Zapoteco, and Mazahua are the indigenous languages with the greatest number of speakers in Mexico City.

On the other hand, Mexico City is home to large communities of expatriates, most notably from South America (mainly from Argentina, but also from Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela), from Europe (mainly from Spain and Germany, but also from France, Italy, Turkey, Poland and Romania), the Middle East (mainly from Lebanon and Syria), and recently from Asia (mainly from China and South Korea). While no official figures have been reported, population estimates of each of these communities are quite significant. Mexico City is home to the largest population of U.S. Americans living outside the United States. Some estimates are as high as 600,000 U.S. Americans living in Mexico City, while in 1999 the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs estimates over 440,000 Americans lived in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area.

The majority (90.5%) of the residents in Mexico City are Roman Catholic, higher than the national percentage, even though it has been decreasing over the last decades. However, many other religions and philosophies are also practiced in the city: many different types of Protestant groups, different types of Jewish communities, Buddhist and other philosophical groups, as well as atheism.

The most recognizable icon of Mexico City is the golden Angel of Independence, found on the wide, elegant avenue Paseo de la Reforma, modeled by the order of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico after the Champs-Élysées in Paris. This avenue was designed over Americas' oldest passage in the XIX Century to connect the National Palace (seat of government) with the Castle of Chapultepec, the imperial residence. Today, this avenue is an important financial district in which the Mexican Stock Exchange as several corporate headquarters are located. Another important avenue is the Avenida de los Insurgentes, which extends 28.8 km (18 miles) and is one of the longest single avenues in the world.

The Chapultepec park houses the Castle of Chapultepec, now a museum on a hill that overlooks the park and its numerous museums, monuments and the national zoo and the National Museum of Anthropology (which houses the Aztec Calendar Stone). Another magnificent piece of architecture is the Fine Arts Palace, a stunning white marble theatre/museum whose weight is such that it has gradually been sinking into the soft ground below. Its construction began during the presidency of Porfirio Díaz and ended, after being interrupted by the Mexican Revolution in the 1920s. The Plaza of the Three Cultures in the Tlatelolco neighbourhood, and the shrine and Basilicas of Our Lady of Guadalupe are also important sites. There is a double decker bus, known as the "Turibus", that circles most of these sites, and has timed audio describing the sites in multiple languages as they are passed.

In addition, the city has around 160 museums, over 100 art galleries, and some 30 concert halls, all of which maintain a constant cultural activity during the whole year. It has the fourth highest number of theatres in the world after New York, London and Toronto, and it is the city with the highest number of museums in the world. In many locales (Palacio Nacional and the Instituto Nacional de Cardiología, to name a few), there are murals painted by Diego Rivera. He and his wife Frida Kahlo lived in the southern suburb of Coyoacán, where several of their homes, studios, and art collections are open to the public. The house where Leon Trotsky was initially granted asylum and finally murdered in 1940 is also in Coyoacán.

In addition, there are several restored haciendas that are now restaurants, such as the San Ángel Inn, the Hacienda de Tlalpan and the Hacienda de los Morales, all of which are stunning remnants of Mexican history and house some of the best food in the world.

Mexico City is served by the Sistema de Transporte Colectivo Metro, an extensive metro system (207 km), which is the largest in Latin America. The first portions were opened in 1969 and now the system has 11 lines with 175 stations. A suburban rail system similar to the French RER started operations in 2008 connecting the city downtown to the Northern suburbs. A twelfth (gold color) metro line is currently in construction. The metro is one of the busiest in the world transporting approximately 4.5 million people every day, surpassed only by Moscow's (7.5 million), Tokyo's (5.9 million), and New York City's (5.1 million). It is heavily subsidized, and has the lowest fares in the world, each trip costing 2.00Mex$ and taking each passenger to almost any place in this enormous city from 05:00 am to 00:00 h.). Several stations display pre-Columbian artifacts and architecture that were discovered during the metro's construction. However, the Metro does not extend outside the limits of the Federal District and, therefore, an extensive network of bus routes has been implemented. These are mostly managed by private companies which are allowed to operate buses as long as they adhere to certain minimal service quality standards.

The city government also operates a network of small airplanes, in contrast with the privately operated microbuses, with fares barely exceeding that of the metro. Electric transport other than the metro also exists, in the form of trolleybuses and the Xochimilco Light Rail line. The city's first bus rapid transit line, the Metrobús, began operations on June 2005 in Avenida Insurgentes (a second line is under construction on Eje 4 Sur). As the microbuses were removed from its route, it was hoped that the Metrobús could reduce pollution and decrease transit time for passengers. Also, since late 2002, the white and green taxis have been joined by red and white ones as part of a program to replace older vehicles with new ones.

Mexico City is served by Mexico City International Airport (IATA Airport Code: MEX). This airport is Latin America's busiest and largest in traffic, with regular (daily) flights to North America, mainland Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Asia, and with codeshare agreements spanning the entire globe, mainly thanks to the most important carriers based there, Aeroméxico (Skyteam) and Mexicana (Oneworld). It is used by over 26 million passengers per year. This traffic exceeds the current capacity of the airport, which has historically centralized the majority of air traffic in the country. An alternative option is Lic. Adolfo López Mateos International Airport (IATA Airport Code: TLC) located in the nearby Toluca, State of Mexico with about 4.5 million passengers transported last year. In 2008, about 31 million people went trough the city's airports. The government engaged in an extensive restructuring program that includes the new second adjacent terminal, which began operations in 2007, and the enlargement of four other airports (at the nearby cities of Toluca, Querétaro, Puebla and Cuernavaca) that, along with Mexico City's airport, comprise the Grupo Aeroportuario del Valle de México, distributing traffic to different regions in Mexico. The city of Pachuca will also provide additional expansion to central Mexico's airport network. Mexico City's airport is the main hub for 11 of the 21 national airline companies.

The city has four major bus stations (North, South, Observatorio, TAPO), which comprise one of the world's largest transportation agglomerations, with bus service to many cities across the country and international connections. The city has one train station, used for commercial and industrial purposes (interstate passenger trains are now virtually non-existent in Mexico). A suburban rail system, the Tren Suburbano serves the metropolitan area, beyond the city limits of the metro, to municipalities such as Tlalnepantla and Cuautitlán Izcalli, with future extensions to Chalco and La Paz.

There are also several toll expressways which directly connect Mexico City with several other major cities throughout the country.

In the late 70's many arterial roads were redesigned as ejes viales; high-volume one-way roads that cross, in theory, Mexico City proper from side to side. The eje vial network is based on a quasi-Cartesian grid, with the ejes themselves being called Eje 1 Poniente, Eje Central, and Eje 1 Oriente, for example, for the north-south roads, and Eje 2 Sur and Eje 3 Norte, for example, for east-west roads. Two freeway ring-roads serve to connect points within the city and the metropolitan area: Circuito Interior (the inner ring) and Periférico, which connect to one straight freeway: the Viaducto (Viaduct) (connecting west with east, from Observatorio to the Airport). Traffic in this system is so dense that an elevated highway that runs on top and parallel to a part of the Periférico, had to be constructed and finished in 2007. This elevated highway is colloquially called segundo piso ("second level") of the Periférico.

There is an environmental program, called Hoy No Circula ("Not To Run Today," or "One Day without a Car"), whereby only vehicles with certain ending numbers on their license plates are allowed to circulate on certain days, in an attempt to cut down on pollution and traffic congestion.

Fútbol is Mexico's most popular and most televised sport. There are several important venues in Mexico City, including the Aztec Stadium, home to América, has a capacity to seat 100005,006.3 fans, the Olympic Stadium in Ciudad Universitaria, home to the U.N.A.M., with a seating capacity of over 63,000, and a few blocks from the WTC the Estadio Azul, located in the Colonia (Mexico) Nochebuena, home to the C.D.S.C. Cruz Azul, which seats 35,000 fans. The three teams are based in Mexico City and play in the Primera Division (First Division) and are part of the "Big Four" of Mexico. The country hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1970 and 1986 and the Aztec Stadium is the only stadium in World Cup history to host the final match twice. Mexico City also hosted the Summer Olympics in 1968, winning bids against Buenos Aires, Lyon and Detroit, and remains the only Latin American city to host such an event. Mexico City hosted the 1955 Pan American Games and then the 1975 Pan American Games after Santiago and São Paulo withdrew. The ICF Flatwater Racing World Championships have been hosted here twice, in 1974 and in 1994.

Baseball is also another popular sport with a growing fan base. Mexico City is home to the México Red Devils of the MBL, with the team playing their home games at the Foro Sol Park. Also in Mexico City are located around 10 little leagues for young baseball players.

Adjacent to Foro Sol is Mexico City's Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. From 1962 to 1970 and again from 1986 to 1992, the track hosted the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix. From 1980-1981 and again from 2002 to 2007, it hosted the Champ Car World Series Gran Premio de México. Beginning in 2005, the NASCAR Nationwide Series ran the Telcel-Motorola México 200. 2005 also marked the first running of the Mexico City 250 by the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Both races were removed from their series' schedules for 2009.

In 2005, Mexico City became the first city to host a NFL regular season game outside of the United States, at the Aztec Stadium, holding the largest attendance for a regular season game in NFL history: 103,467 fans. The city has also hosted several NBA pre-season exhibition games along with exhibition matches among MLB teams at the Foro Sol. The FIBA Americas Championship has also been hosted here.

Other sports facilities in Mexico City are the Palacio de los Deportes indoor arena, Francisco Márquez Olympic Swimming Pool, the Hipódromo de Las Américas, the Velodromo Agustín Melgar, and venues for Equestrianism and Horse racing, Ice Hockey, Rugby, American football, Baseball, and Basketball for which what is widely regarded as the best International Basketball Tournament has been held in the city.

Bullfighting takes place every Sunday during bullfighting season at the 50,000-seat Plaza de Toros, the largest bullfight ring in the world.

Mexico City's golf courses have held both the Women's LPGA tour, as well as two Men's Golf World Cups. These, and other golf courses throughout the city are available as private, as well as public venues.

The second oldest university in the Americas, established in 1551, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), is located in Mexico City. It is the largest university on the continent, with 269,000 students from all backgrounds enrolled. Three Nobel laureates, several Mexican entrepreneurs 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, observatories and research centers. The National Autonomous University of Mexico ranks 74th 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. The sprawling main campus of the university, known as Ciudad Universitaria, was named a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 2007, during the period of Juan Ramón de la Fuente as the President of UNAM.

Contrary to what occurs in the constituent states of the Mexican federation, the curriculum of Mexico City's public schools is managed by the federal level Secretary of Public Education. The whole funding is allocated by the government of Mexico City (in some specific cases, such as El Colegio de México, funding comes from both the city's government and other public and private national and international entities).

A very special case is that of El Colegio Nacional, created during the governmental period of Miguel Alemán Valdés to have, in Mexico, an institution very similar to the College of France. The very selected and privileged group of Mexican scientists and artists belonging to this institution (the membership is lifelong; some of the current members are Mario Lavista, Ruy Pérez Tamayo, José Emilio Pacheco, Marcos Moshinsky, Guillermo Soberón Acevedo, and many others) have the obligation of disclosing their works among the general population, through conferences and public events such as concerts and recitals.

Amongst its many public and private schools (K-13), the city offers multi-cultural, multi-lingual and international schools which are attended by Mexican and foreign students. Best known are the Colegio Alemán (German school with 3 main campuses), the Liceo Mexicano Japonés (Japanese), the Escuela Coreana (Korean), the Lycée Français de Mexique (French), the American School, The Edron Academy and the Greengates School (British).

Mexico City is the country's most important center for the television, advertising, music, newspaper and book publishing industries. Two national newspapers are published here, El Universal and Excélsior, as well as important regional newspapers such as Reforma and La Jornada. Other major papers include Milenio, Crónica, El Economista and El Financiero.

The two largest media companies in the Spanish-speaking world, Televisa and TV Azteca, are headquartered in Mexico City. Other local television networks include Canal 11, Canal 22, Cadena Tres, Teveunam and 11 free-access channels.

There are 60 radio stations operating in the city and a huge number of local community radio stations.

Mexico City is one of the most important cultural centers in the world, boasting more museums than any other city. It is also the fourth city in number of theaters after New York City, London and Toronto. Having been the capital of a vast pre-Hispanic empire, the richest viceroyalty within the Spanish Empire, and capital of the Mexican federation, Mexico City has a rich history of artistic expressions. Since the Mesoamerican pre-Classical period the inhabitants of the settlements around Lake Texcoco produced many works of arts, some of which are today displayed at the world-renown National Museum of Anthropology and the Templo Mayor Museum. While many pieces of pottery and stone-engraving have survived, the great majority of the Amerindian iconography was destroyed during the Conquest of Mexico.

During colonial times the first art produced was that of the codices generated to preserve or recuperate Amerindian iconography and history. From then, artistic expressions in Mexico were mostly religious in theme. The Metropolitan Cathedral still displays works by Juan de Rojas, Juan Correa and an oil painting whose authorship has been attributed to Murillo. Secular works of art of this period include the equestrian sculpture of Charles IV of Spain, locally known as El Caballito ("The little horse"). This piece, in bronze, was the work of Manuel Tolsá and it has been placed at the Plaza Tolsá, in front of the Palacio de Minería (Mining Palace). Directly in front of this building is the beautiful Museo Nacional de Arte (Munal) (the National Museum of Art).

During the 19th century, an important producer of art was the Academia de San Carlos (San Carlos Art Academy), founded during colonial times, and which later became the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas (the National School of Visual Arts), which is currently one of the art schools of UNAM. Many of the works produced by the students and faculty of that time are now displayed in the Museo Nacional de San Carlos (National Museum of San Carlos). One of the students, José María Velasco, is considered one of the greatest Mexican landscape painters of the 19th century. It was during Porfirio Diaz's regime that the government sponsored arts, especially those that followed the French school. In spite of that, popular arts in the form of cartoons and illustrations flourished like those of José Guadalupe Posada and Manuel Manilla. The permanent collection of the San Carlos Museum also includes paintings by European masters such as Rembrandt, Velázquez, Murillo, and Rubens.

After the Mexican Revolution, an avant-garde artistic movement originated in Mexico City: muralism. Many of the works of muralists José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera are displayed in numerous buildings in the city, most notably at the National Palace and the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Frida Kahlo, wife of Rivera, with a strong nationalist expression, was also one of the most renowned of Mexican painters. Her house has become a museum that displays many of her works.

The former home of Rivera muse Dolores Olmedo house the namesake museum. The facility lies in the Xochimilco precinct in the southern part of the city and includes several buildings surrounded by sprawling manicured lawns. It houses a large collection of Rivera and Kahlo paintings and drawings, as well as living Xoloizcuintles (Mexican Hairless Dog). It also regularly hosts small but important temporary exhibits of classical and modern art (e.g. Venetian Masters and Contemporary New York artists).

During the 20th century, many artists immigrated to Mexico City from different regions of Mexico, like Leopoldo Méndez, an engraver from Veracruz, who supported the creation of the socialist Taller de la Gráfica Popular (Popular Graphics Workshop), designed to help blue-collar workers find a venue to express their art. Other painters came from abroad, like Catalan painter Remedios Varo and other Spanish and Jewish exiles. It was in the second half of the 20th century that the artistic movement began to drift apart from the Revolutionary theme. José Luis Cuevas opted for a modernist style in contrast to the muralist movement associated with social politics.

Mexico City has numerous museums dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The Museo Tamayo was opened in the mid-1980s to house the collection of international contemporary art donated by famed Mexican (born in the state of Oaxaca) painter Rufino Tamayo. The Museo de Arte Moderno (Museum of Modern Art) is a repository of Mexican artists from the 20th century, and also regularly hosts temporary exhibits of international modern art. In southern Mexico City, the Museo Carrillo Gil (Carrillo Gil Museum) showcases avant-garde artists. The Museo Soumaya (Soumaya Museum), named after the wife of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, has the largest private collection of original Rodin sculptures outside Paris. La Colección Jumex (The Jumex Collection) is a museum housed on the grounds of the Jumex juice company in the northern industrial suburb of Ecatepec (within the State of Mexico). It shows pieces from its permanent collection and hosts traveling exhibits by leading contemporary artists.

Jack Kerouac, the noted American author, spent extended periods of time in the city, and wrote his masterpiece volume of poetry Mexico City Blues here.

Mexico City is a mecca of classical music, with a number of orchestras offering season programs. These include the Mexico City Philharmonic, which performs at the Sala Ollin Yoliztli; the National Symphony Orchestra, whose home base is the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of the Fine Arts) , a masterpiece of art nouveau and art decó styles; the Philharmonic Orchestra of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (OFUNAM), and the Minería Symphony Orchestra, both of which perform at the acoustically renown Sala Nezahualcóyotl, which was the first wrap-around concert hall in the Western Hemisphere when inaugurated in 1976. There are also many smaller ensembles that enrich the city's musical scene, including the Carlos Chávez Youth Symphony, the New World Orchestra (Orquesta del Nuevo Mundo), the National Polytechnical Symphony and the Bellas Artes Chamber Orchestra (Orquesta de Cámara de Bellas Artes).

The city is also a leading center of popular culture and music. There are a multitude of venues hosting the top Spanish and English-language performers. These include the 10,000-seat National Auditorium that regularly schedules the top Spanish and English-language pop and rock artists, as well as many of the world's leading performing arts ensembles. Other popular sites for pop-artist performances include the Teatro Metropolitan, the 15,000-seat Palacio de los Deportes, and the larger Foro Sol Stadium, where top-name international artists perform on a regular basis. The Cirque du Soleil has held several seasons at the Carpa Santa Fe, in the Santa Fe district in the western part of the city.

It is said that Mexico City has more theatres than any other city in the Spanish-speaking world. At any given time, plays being staged run the gamut from Spanish versions of Broadway shows to mainstream Spanish-language originals.

The Centro Nacional de las Artes (National Center for the Arts), in southern Mexico City, has several venues for music, theatre, dance. UNAM's main campus, also in the southern part of the city, is home to the Centro Cultural Universitario (the University Culture Center) (CCU). The CCU also houses the National Library, the interactive Universum, Museo de las Ciencias and slated to open in 2008, the new University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC). A branch of the National University's CCU cultural center was inaugurated in 2007 in the facilities of the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs, known as Tlatelolco, in north-central Mexico City.

The (José Vasconcelos Library), a national library, is located on the grounds of the former Buenavista railroad station in the northern part of the city.

The Papalote children's museum, which houses the world's largest dome screen, is located in the wooded park of Chapultepec, near the Museo Tecnológico, and La Feria amusement park. The theme park Six Flags México (the largest amusement park in Latin America) is located in the Ajusco borough, in southern Mexico City. During the winter, the main square of the Zócalo is transformed into a gigantic ice skating rink, which is said to be the largest in the world behind that of Moscow's Red Square.

The Cineteca Nacional (the Mexican Film Library), near the Coyoacán suburb, shows a wide variety of films, and stages many film festivals, including the annual International Showcase, and many smaller ones ranging from Scandinavian and Uruguayan cinema, to Jewish and GLBT-themed films. Cinépolis and Cinemex, the two biggest film business chains, also have several film festivals throughout the year, with both national and international movies. No other city in the world has the amount of IMAX theaters as are in Mexico City, this gives access to cinematographic documentaries as well as blockbusters on the world's largest screens.

Mexico City offers a vast array of culinary experiences. Restaurants specializing in the regional cuisines of Mexico's 31 states are available in the city. Also available are restaurants representing a very broad spectrum of international cuisines, including French, Italian, Croatian, German, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish (including Spanish regional variations such as Castilian, Asturian, Galician, and Basque), Turkish, Chinese (including regional variations such as Cantonese, Hunan, and Sichuan), Indian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Thai, Tibetan, Vietnamese, Egyptian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Saudi Arabian, South African, as well as Argentine, Brazilian, Cuban, Peruvian, and Uruguayan. Haute, Fusion, Vegetarian and Vegan cuisines are also commonly available.

Mexico's award winning wines are offered at many restaurants. And the city offers unique experiences for tasting the regional spirits, with wealthy selections of Tequila, and Mezcal, as well as Pulque bars known as pulquerías.

Mexico City was traditionally known as La Ciudad de los Palacios ("the City of the Palaces"), a nickname attributed to Baron Alexander von Humboldt when visiting the city in the 19th century.

During López Obrador's administration a new nickname was introduced: la Ciudad de la Esperanza ("The City of Hope"). It has been replaced by Capital en Movimiento ("Capital in Movement") by the recently elected administration headed by Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon.

The city is colloquially known as Chilangolandia after the locals' nickname chilangos, which is used either as a pejorative term by people living outside Mexico City or as a proud adjective by Mexico City's dwellers.

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National Autonomous University of Mexico

The main campus in Mexico City.

The National Autonomous University of Mexico (Spanish: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) (UNAM) is a public university based primarily in Mexico City and generally considered to be the largest university in Latin America in terms of student population. Founded on 22 September 1910 by Justo Sierra as a liberal alternative to the Roman Catholic-sponsored Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico (founded on September 21, 1551 by a royal decree of Charles I of Spain and brought to a definitive closure in 1867 by the liberals), is the only university in Mexico with Nobel Prize laureates among its alumni: Alfonso García Robles (Peace), Octavio Paz (Literature), and Mario Molina (Chemistry).

It also generates a number of different publications in diverse areas, such as mathematics, physics and history.

UNAM's autonomy, granted in the 1920s, has given it the freedom to define its own curriculum and manage its own budget without interference from the government. This has had a profound effect on academic life at the university, which is known for its academic freedom and independence.

Besides being one of the most recognized universities in Latin America, it is one of the largest and the most artistically detailed, being its main campus a World Heritage site. It was designed by some of the best Mexican architects of 20th Century and the murals in the main campus were painted by some of the most recognized artists in Mexican history, such as Diego Rivera and Siqueiros.

The university was founded on 22 September 1910 by Justo Sierra, then Minister of Education in the Porfirio Díaz' regime, who sought to create a very different institution from the its 19th century precursor; the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico, which had been founded on September 21, 1551 by a royal decree of Charles I of Spain and brought to a definitive closure in 1867 by Benito Juárez and his fellow Liberals. Instead of reviving what he saw as an anachronistic institution with strong ties to the Roman Catholic Church, he aimed to create new university, secular in nature and national in scope, that may reorganize higher education within the country, serve as a model of positivism and encompass the ideas of the dominant Mexican liberalism.

In 1881 Justo Sierra presented a National University creation plan for the first time, but it was rejected; his idea was to merge all major schools in Mexico in order to create one National University of Mexico. He presented his project twice more, and, in 1907, it was approved by the president of Mexico. In order for the project to be realized, numerous scholars were sent to Europe to study the mechanics of education there. Therefore, the education system in the UNAM, is more similar to traditional European system, rather than American one. And it was in 1910, during the Independence centennial, that the University was founded.

As originally intended, the University enclosed all the major schools of Mexico under one name, and its original location was in the historic center of Mexico. Discussion took place in 1929 over the ruling of the university, and it was this year that it was declared an autonomous state organism.

In 1950, the first stone of Ciudad Universitaria was set, and in 1954 it was finished and opened for the first time.

In 1968, the Olympics were held in Mexico, and the main venue was the UNAM's Olympic Stadium. The events were overshadowed by the Tlatelolco massacre, which remains an issue for the university's activist students, that each year October 2 held demonstrations in the Campus, and this issue was part of the spirit of the most recent student strike in 1999.

During the 1970s and 1980's the National Preparatory Schools (nine at the time) moved their locations from the center of Mexico City to satellite locations, in order to decentralize UNAM. Other campuses were built all around the city.

The University seal was designed in 1921 by then-Rector José Vasconcelos along with the motto it holds to this day. The seal has a map of Latin America with the motto being held by an eagle and a condor resting on nopales and volcanoes.

In June 2007, its main campus, Ciudad Universitaria, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Apart from Ciudad Universitaria, UNAM has several campuses in the Metropolitan Area of Mexico City (Acatlán, Aragón, Cuautitlán, Iztacala, Xochimilco and Zaragoza), as well as many others in several locations across Mexico (in Santiago de Querétaro, Morelia, Mérida, Ensenada, and Cuernavaca, mainly aimed at research and graduate studies. It has also four small foreign campuses in the United States and Canada, focusing on Spanish language and Mexico's culture: San Antonio, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; Gatineau, Quebec.

Under the care of UNAM's Engineering Faculty, the Colonial Palace of Mining is located in the historical center of Mexico City. Formerly the School of Engineering, it has three floors, and houses the International Book Expo ("Feria Internacional del Libro" or "FIL") and the International Day of Computing Security Congress ("DISC"), among regular events. It also has a permanent exhibition of historical books, mostly topographical and naturalist works of 19th century Mexican scientists, in the former library of the School of Engineers. It has also several exhibitions related to mining, the prime engineering occupation during the Spanish colonization. It is considered to be one of the most significant of Mexican architecture of its period.

House of the Lake, in Chapultepec Park, is a place devoted to cultural activities including dancing, theatre plays and ballet. It also serves as meeting place for university-related organizations and committees.

A baroque building in downtown Mexico City, held the first schools that later became UNAM.

Possessing an artistic architecture, large crystal panels and two iron towers designed by Gustave Eiffel; it served the National Museum of Natural History for almost 50 years. It is now devoted to the temporary exhibitions of visual arts.

The National Astronomical Observatory is located in the Sierra San Pedro Mártir mountain range in Baja California, about 130 kilometers south of United States-Mexican border. It has been in operation since 1970 and it currently boasts three large reflecting telescopes, with plans for installing a large instrument sensitive to milimetric wavelengths already under way.

It consists of faculties rather than departments. Both undergraduate and graduate studies are available. UNAM is also responsible for the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria (ENP) (National Preparatory School), and the Colegio de Ciencias y Humanidades (CCH) (Science and Humanities College), which consist of several high schools, spread around Mexico City. Counting ENEP, CCH, FES (Facultad de Estudios Profesionales) undergraduate and graduate students, UNAM has over 269,000 students, making it one of the world's largest universities.

UNAM recognizes two different types of university schools: Faculties and National Schools. Faculties are the only institutions that have postgraduate studies. Currently, most of the schools, either inside or outside the University City, had this title. A National School is an institution that cannot offer all postgraduate studies (Master's degrees and Doctorates). This is the case of the National School of Music, the National School of Arts, the National School of Nursery and Obstetrics, and the National School of Social Work.

According to 2008 THES - QS World University Rankings, the University is the 150th best ranked university in the world and the best in Ibero-America. According to the 2008 Academic Ranking of World Universities developed by the Institute of Higher Education of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, UNAM is ranked in the 152-200 tier and holds the 2nd place among Ibero-American universities in a tie between the University of Buenos Aires and the University of Barcelona but below the University of Sao Paulo (101-151 tier).

UNAM has excelled in many areas of research and houses many of Mexico's premiere research institutions. In recent years it has attracted students and hired professional scientists from all over the world (most notably from Russia, India and the United States), which has created a unique diverse scientific community.

Scientific research at UNAM is divided between faculties, institutes, centers and schools, and covers a range of disciplines in Latin America. Some of the more noted institutes include: Institute of Astronomy, Institute of Biotechnology, Institute of Nuclear Sciences, Institute of Ecology, Institute of Physics, Institute of Cell Physiology, Institute of Geophysics, Institute of Engineering, Institute of Materials Research, Institute of Chemistry, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, and the Applied Mathematics and Systems Research Institute.

Research centers tend to focus on multidisciplinary problems particularly relevant to Mexico and the developing world, most notably: Center of Applied Sciences and Technological Development, which focuses on connecting the sciences to real-world problems (e.g., optics, nanosciences) and Center of Energy Research, which does world-class research in alternative energies.

All research centers are open to students from Mexico and around the world. The UNAM holds a number of programs for students within the country to make scientific internships in order to impulse research in the country.

UNAM's scientific output continues to grow, despite numerous attempts by the Mexican government to curtail its budget, the University currently producing 60% of all scientific publications in Mexico.

As for basic sciences, UNAM currently has two Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholars and endowment from the NIH extramural research program.

UNAM's football team Club Universidad Nacional participates in the Primera División de México of the Mexican Football League Division. The club became two-time consecutive champions of the Apertura, and the Clausura in 2004. Their home ground is the Estadio Olímpico Universitario stadium.

The University, has as a yearly tradition to make a gigant display of Ofrendas all over the main square of Ciudad Universitaria, each school builds an ofrenda, and in the center there is usually a biggest one that has a different theme each year, depending on the festivities of the University that year.

UNAM students and professors are regarded throughout Mexico as very politically aware and sometimes too politically active. While most of its students usually adhere to left-wing political ideologies and movements, the University has also been the alma mater of a number of prominent right-wing and neo-liberal politicians such as Carlos Salinas de Gortari and Manuel Gómez Morín.

The UNAM is made up of several associations of current and ex - alumni that provide extra-curricular activities to the whole community, enriching the University's activities with cultural, social and scientific events.

On June 2003 former Colombian ambassador in Mexico Luis Guzmán said that there were FARC offices on the UNAM Faculty of Philosophy and Literature and these offices were making propaganda and recruiting people to participate on the guerrilla.

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Source : Wikipedia