Mexico map



Mexico is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of Mexico.[7][8] Covering almost 2 million square kilometres,[9] 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,[10] it is the 11th most populous country. Mexico is a federation comprising thirty-one states and a Federal District, the capital city.

In the Pre-Columbian era complex cultures began to form in Mesoamerica. Many matured into advanced civilizations such as the Olmec, the Toltec, the Teotihuacan, the Maya and the Aztec before the first contact with Europeans. Mexico became a colony of Spain from the landing of Hernán Cortés in 1521 until its independence in 1821. The post-independence period was characterized by economic instability, territorial secession and civil war, including foreign intervention, two empires and two long domestic dictatorships. The latter led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910, which culminated with the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution and the emergence of the country's current political system. 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).

As a regional power[11][12] 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,[13] considered as a newly industrialized country[14][15][16][17] and has 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,[18] the uneven income distribution and the increase in drug-related violence are issues of concern.

Image of Mexico-Tenochtitlan from the Codex Mendoza.Main article: Toponymy of Mexico
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).[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] The majority of publications in all Spanish-speaking countries now adhere to the new norm, even though the alternative variant is still occasionally used.[22] 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 followed by the Second Mexican Empire then the Mexican Republic and finally as the United Mexican States.[19]

Main article: History of Mexico
Archaeological sites of Chichén-Itzá, one of the New Seven Wonders.
A jade Olmec mask circa 500 B.CCampfire remains in the Valley of Mexico, have been radiocarbon-dated to 21,000 BCE, and a few chips of stone tools have been found near the hearths, indicating the presence of humans at that time.[23] Around 9,000 years ago, ancient indigenous peoples domesticated corn and initiated an agricultural revolution, leading to the formation of many complex civilizations. Between 1,800 and 300 BCE, many matured into advanced pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations such as: the Olmec, the Teotihuacan, the Maya, the Zapotec, the Mixtec, the Toltec and the Aztec, which flourished for nearly 4,000 years before the first contact with Europeans. Credited with many inventions and advancements including pyramid-temples, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and theology.

In the early 16th century, from the landing of Hernán Cortés, the Aztec civilization was invaded and conquered by the Spaniards.[24] The territory became part of the Spanish Empire under the name of New Spain, much of the identity, traditions and architecture of Mexico were created during the colonial period.

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, leader of the Mexican War of Independence, usually hailed as the "Father of the Nation".On September 16, 1810, independence from Spain was declared by Priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, in the small town of Dolores, Guanajuato.[25] The first insurgent group was formed by Hidalgo, the Spanish viceregal army captain Ignacio Allende, the militia captain Juan Aldama and "La Corregidora" Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez. Hidalgo and some of his soldiers were captured and executed by firing squad in Chihuahua, on July 31, 1811. Following his death, the leadership was assumed by priest José María Morelos, who occupied key southern cities. In 1813, the Congress of Chilpancingo was convened and, on November 6, signed the "Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America". Morelos was captured and executed on December 22, 1815. In subsequent years, 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 Vicente Guerrero. Instead, Iturbide approached Guerrero to join forces, and in 1821 representatives of the Spanish Crown and Iturbide signed the "Treaty of Córdoba", which recognized the independence of Mexico under the terms of the "Plan of Iguala".

Map of Mexico under Constitution of 1824.Iturbide immediately proclaimed himself emperor of the First Mexican Empire. A revolt against him in 1823 established the United Mexican States. In 1824, a Republican Constitution was drafted and Guadalupe Victoria became the first president of the newly born country. The first decades of the post-independence period were marked by economic instability, which led to the Pastry War in 1836, and a constant strife between liberales, supporters of a federal form of government, and conservadores, proposals of a hierarchical form of government.[26] General Antonio López de Santa Anna, a centralist and two-time dictator, approved the Siete Leyes in 1836, a radical amendment that institutionalized the centralized form of government. Suspended the 1824 Constitution, civil war spread across the country, and three new governments declared independence: the Republic of Texas, the Republic of the Rio Grande and the Republic of Yucatán. Texas successfully archived it and was annexed by the United States, a border dispute led to the Mexican–American War, which began in 1846 and lasted for two years, settled via the "Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo" forcing Mexico to give up nearly half of its land to the U.S., including California. Further transferred some of its territories, southern Arizona and New Mexico, via the Gadsden Purchase in 1854.

Dissatisfaction with Santa Anna's return to power led to the liberal "Plan of Ayutla", initiating an era known as La Reforma, after which a new Constitution was drafted in 1857 that established a secular state, federalism as the form of government and several freedoms. As the conservadores refused to recognized, the War of Reform began in 1858, both groups had their own governments, but ended in 1861 with the liberal victory led by indigenous President Benito Juárez. In the 1860s underwent a military occupation by France, which established the Second Mexican Empire under the rule of Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria with support from the Roman Catholic clergy and the conservadores, who later switched sides and joined the liberales. Maximilian surrendered, was tried on June 14 and was executed on June 19, 1867.

Venustiano Carranza, one of the leaders of the Mexican Revolution and supporter of the 1917 Constitution.Porfirio Díaz, a republican general during the French intervention, ruled Mexico from 1876–1880 and then from 1884–1911 in five consecutive reelections, period known as the Porfiriato, characterized by remarkable economic achievements, investments in arts and sciences, but also of economic inequality and political repression.[27] A likely electoral fraud that led to his fifth reelection sparked the 1910 Mexican Revolution, initially led by Francisco I. Madero. Díaz resigned in 1911 and Madero was elected president but overthrown and murdered in a coup d'état two years later directed by conservative general Victoriano Huerta. Event that re-ignited the civil war, involving figures such as Francisco 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. Assassinated in 1920, Carranza was 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), and started a period known as the Maximato, which ended with the election of Lázaro Cárdenas, who implemented many economic and social reforms, and most significantly expropriated the oil industry into PEMEX on March 18, 1938, but sparked a diplomatic crisis with the countries whose citizens had lost businesses by Cárdenas radical measure.

NAFTA Initialing Ceremony, October 1992. From left to right (standing) President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, President George H. W. Bush, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. (Seated) Jaime Serra Puche, Carla Hills, Michael Wilson.Between 1940 and 1980, Mexico experienced a substantial economic growth that some historians call the "Mexican Miracle".[28] Although the economy continued to flourish, social inequality remained a factor of discontent. Moreover, the PRI rule became increasingly authoritarian and at times oppressive[29] (i.e.: the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre,[30] which claimed the life of around 30-800 protesters).[31] Electoral reforms and high oil princes followed the administration of Luis Echeverría,[32][33] mismanagement of these revenues led to inflation and exacerbated the 1982 Crisis. That year, oil prices plunged, interest rates soared, and the government defaulted on its debt. President Miguel de la Madrid resorted to currency devaluations which in turn sparked inflation.

In the 1980s, first cracks in the political monopolistic position of PRI were seen such as the election of Ernesto Ruffo Appel in Baja California and the 1988 electoral fraud, which prevented leftist candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas from winning the national presidential elections, who lost to Carlos Salinas de Gortari, leading to massive protests in Mexico City.[34] 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 on January 1, 1994. The 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. In December 1994, a month after Salinas was succeeded by Ernesto Zedillo, the Mexican economy collapsed, with a rapid rescue packaged authorized by U.S. 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.[35] In 2000, after 71 years, the PRI lost a presidential election to Vicente Fox of the opposition National Action Party (PAN). In the concurrent presidential elections, Felipe Calderón from the PAN was declared the winner, with a razor-thin margin over leftist politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). López Obrador, however, contested the election and pledged to create an "alternative government".[36]

Government and politics
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.

The federal government is constituted by the Powers of the Union, the three separate branches of government:

Legislative: the bicameral Congress of the Union, composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies, which makes federal law, declares war, imposes taxes, approves the national budget and international treaties, and ratifies diplomatic appointments.[37]
Executive: the President of the United Mexican States, who is the head of state and government, as well as the commander-in-chief of the Mexican military forces. The President also appoints, with Senate approval, the Cabinet and other officers. The President is responsible for executing and enforcing the law, and has the authority of vetoing bills.[38]
Judiciary: The Supreme Court of Justice, comprised by eleven judges appointed by the President with Senate approval, who interpret laws and judge cases of federal competency. Other institutions of the judiciary are the Electoral Tribunal, collegiate, unitary and district tribunals, and the Council of the Federal Judiciary.[39]
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.[40] 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[41] for which the country is divided into 5 electoral constituencies or circumscriptions.[42] 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.[41]

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.

In the 2006–2009 Congress of the Union, eight parties are therein represented; five of them, however, have not received neither in this nor in previous congresses more than 4% of the national votes.[43] The other three parties have historically been the dominant parties in Mexican politics:

 National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN): a center-right conservative party founded in 1939. The PAN became a plurality in the Mexican government through elections to ended about 70 years of non-majority rule in the late 1990s and 2000's.
 Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI): a center-left party that ascribes to social democracy, founded in 1929 to unite all the factions of the Mexican Revolution. Prominent left-wing Mexican politicians have been members of the party. It has some traits associated with center-right parties however.
 Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD): a center-left party founded in 1989 by the coalition of socialists and liberal parties, the National Democratic Front which had presented the candidacy of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas in the 1988 elections.
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.

Law enforcement and crime
Mexican federal police.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.[44] The PGR operates the Federal Investigations Agency (Agencia Federal de Investigación, AFI) an investigative and preventive agency.[45]

While the government respects the human rights of most citizens,[46] serious abuses of power have been reported in security operations in indigenous communities and poor urban neighborhoods.[46] 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.[47] 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.[48] 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.[48] 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.[49]

Total crimes per capita average 12 per 1,000 people in Mexico, ranking 39 in a survey of 60 countries.[50] Violent crime is a critical issue in Mexico; with a rate of homicide varying from 11 to 14 per 100,000 inhabitants.[51] 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.[51] 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".[52] 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.[53]

Foreign relations and military
Main articles: Foreign relations of Mexico, Military of Mexico, Mexican Army, Mexican Air Force, and Mexican Navy
President Calderón and President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva with members of the Mexican Army in the background.The foreign policy of Mexico is directed by the President[54] and managed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,[55] whose constitutionally recognized principles are: respect for international law and legal equality of states, their sovereignty and independence, non-intervention, peaceful resolution of conflicts and promotion of collective security through active participation in international organizations.[54] Since the 1930s, the Estrada Doctrine has served as a crucial complement to these principles.[56] The foreign relations of Mexico have been focused primarily on the United States and its historically tied neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the 20th century, Mexico developed a foreign policy based on hemispheric prestige. However, in the second millennium, former President Vicente Fox adopted a new foreign policy that called for an openness and an acceptance of criticism from the international community and the increase of Mexican involvement in foreign affairs, as well as a further integration towards its northern neighbors.[57] A greater priority to Latin America and the Caribbean has been given in the administration of President Felipe Calderón.[58]

Historically, Mexico has remained neutral in international conflicts.[59] However, in recent years 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 peacekeeping missions, or to provide military help to countries that officially ask for it.[60] In addition, since the 1990s Mexico has sought a reform of the United Nations Security Council and its working methods[61] with the support of Canada, Italy, Pakistan and other nine countries, which form a group informally called the Coffee Club.[62] As an regional and emerging power, Mexico has a significant global presence and is a member of several international organizations and forums such as the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the G8+5, the G-20 major economies, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Durango Class Corvettes of the Mexican Navy.Mexico has the third largest defense budget in Latin America, with annual military expenditures of USD$6 billion or about 0.5% GDP.[63] Mexico's military includes 503,777 total personnel, of which around 192,770 are active in the frontline.[64][65] 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.[66][67] 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,[68] weapons and vehicle manufacturing centers, and naval dockyards that have the capability of building heavy military vessels.[69] These dockyards and facilities have a significant employment and economic impact in the local economies. In recent years, 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,[70] missiles,[71] unmanned air vehicles[72] and naval ships.[73]

Administrative divisions
Main articles: Political divisions of Mexico and Mexican state name etymologies

Gulf of
AmericaUnited States of AmericaFederal
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 for a six-year term, as well as representatives to their respective state congresses, for three-year terms.[74]

The states are also divided into municipalities, the smallest official political entity in the country, governed by a mayor or "municipal president", elected by its residents by plurality.[75] Municipalities can be further subdivided into non-autonomous boroughs or in semi-autonomous auxiliary presidencies.

Constitutionally, Mexico City, as the capital and seat of the federal powers, is the Federal District, a special political division 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.[76] Since 1987, it has progressively gained a greater degree of autonomy, and residents now elect a head of government 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.

Geography and climate
A picture of Mexico as seen from outer space.
Mountain range in south central Mexico.Main article: Geography of Mexico
Mexico is located at about 23° N and 102° W[77] in the southern portion of North America.[78][79] It is also located in a region known as Middle America.[80][81] 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.[82] Geopolitically, however, Mexico is considered part of North America along with Canada and the United States.[83][84]

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.

A field in the state of Jalisco.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. "Mexico Topography", Nations Encyclopedia April 26, 2009

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