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This article is about the country Mexico. For other meanings, see Mexico (disambiguation)

The United Mexican States or Mexico (Spanish: Estados Unidos Mexicanos or México; regarding the use of the variant spelling Méjico, see section The name below) is a country located in North America, bordered to the north by the United States, to the south-east by Guatemala and Belize, to the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. It is the northernmost and third largest country in Latin America.

Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Flag of Mexico Coat of Arms
National motto: None
Official language Spanish
Capital Mexico City.
Largest City Mexico City
President Vicente Fox
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 13th
1,972,550 km²
 - Total (2003)
 - Density
Ranked 11th
 - Declared
 - Recognized
From Spain
16 September 1810
27 September 1821
GDP (base PPP)
 - Total (2002)
 - GDP/head
Ranked 13th(countries)
Ranked 10th(economies)

900 billions $
9,000 $
Currency Mexican peso (MXN)
Time zone UTC -5 to -7
National anthem Mexicanos, al grito de guerra
Internet TLD .mx
Calling Code 52

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 States
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 The name
9 Miscellaneous topics
10 Further reading
11 External links


main article: History of Mexico

Mexico was the site of several advanced Native American civilizations, of the Mesoamerican cultures, such as the Maya and the Aztecs. The arrival of the Spanish in the early 16th century and their defeat of the Aztecs in 1521 marked the beginning of the colonial period of Mexico as a part of New Spain.

In 1810, independence from Spain was declared, causing a long war that eventually led to independence in 1821. After independence, Mexico's territory slowly decreased in size, with the secession of Central America and Texas and land lost and sold to the United States (see Mexican-American War) . In the 1860s the country suffered a military occupation by France, fought off by the president Benito Juárez.

The long, undemocratic regime of Porfirio Díaz led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910. Revolutionary forces defeated the federal army, but were left with internal struggles, leaving the country in conflict for two more decades. At the end of the revolution the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) controlled the country until the end of the 20th century.


main article: Politics of Mexico

The 1917 constitution provides for the federal republic with powers separated into independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Historically, the executive is the dominant branch, with power vested in the president, who promulgates and executes the laws of the parliament, the federal congress or Congreso de la Unión.

The Congress has played an increasingly important role since 1997 when opposition parties first made major gains. The president also legislates by executive decree in certain economic and financial fields, using powers delegated from the Congress. The president is elected by universal adult suffrage for a 6-year term and may not hold office a second time. There is no vice president; in the event of the removal or death of the president, a provisional president is elected by the Congress.

The bicameral National Congress is composed of a Senate (Cámara de Senadores) and a Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados). Consecutive re-election is prohibited. Senators are elected to 6-year terms, and deputies serve 3-year terms. The Senate's 128 seats are filled by a mixture of direct-election and proportional representation. In the lower Chamber of Deputies, 300 of the total 500 deputies are directly elected to represent single-member districts, and the remaining 200 are selected by a modified form of proportional representation from five electoral regions. The 200 proportional representation seats were created to help smaller parties gain access to the Chamber.


main article: States of Mexico

Mexico is divided into 31 states (estados) and the Mexican Federal District (Distrito Federal). The Mexico City Metropolitan Area, which includes the Federal District and adjacent parts of México State, is one of the most populous cities in the world.


main article: Geography of Mexico

Situated in the southwestern part of mainland North America and roughly triangular in shape, Mexico stretches more than 3000 km (1,850 miles) from northwest to southeast. Its width is varied, from more than 2000 km (1,200 miles) in the north and less than 220 km (135 miles) at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the south. Mexico borders two major bodies of water, the Pacific Ocean (with the Sea of Cortés between the mainland and the Baja California peninsula) to the west and on the east the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea that lead to the Atlantic Ocean. Here are found coastal plains, whereas central Mexico consists of high plateaus and rugged mountains, including volcanoes, the highest of which is the Pico de Orizaba at 5,610 m.

The terrain and climate vary from deserts in the north to tropical rain forest in the south. Mexico's major rivers include the Río Bravo (known in the US as the Rio Grande), the Río Grijalva, the Río Balsas and the Río Yaqui.


main article: Economy of Mexico

Mexico has a free-market economy with a mixture of modern and outmoded industry and agriculture, increasingly dominated by the private sector. The number of state-owned enterprises in Mexico has fallen from more than 1,000 in 1982 to fewer than 200 in 1999. The administration of President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León continued a policy of privatizing and expanding competition in sea ports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity, natural gas distribution, and airports which was initiated by his predecessors Miguel de la Madrid and Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

A strong export sector helped to cushion the economy's decline in 1995 and led the recovery in 1996-1999. Private consumption became the leading driver of growth, accompanied by increased employment and higher wages. Mexico still needs to overcome many structural problems as it strives to modernize its economy and raise living standards. Income distribution is very unequal, with the top 20% of income earners accounting for 55% of income.

Following 6.9% growth in 2000, real GDP fell 0.3% in 2001, with the US slowdown the principal cause. Positive developments in 2001 included a drop in inflation to 6.5%, a sharp fall in interest rates, and a strong peso that appreciated 5% against the US dollar. Trade with the US and Canada has tripled since NAFTA was implemented in 1994. Mexico is pursuing additional trade agreements with most countries in Latin America and has signed a free trade deal with the European Union, putting more than 90% of trade under free trade agreements and lessening its dependence on the US.


main article: Demographics of Mexico

Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world and the second most populous country in Latin America after Portuguese-speaking Brazil. Some 60% of the population is of a mixed ethnicity known as mestizo, with 30% being Amerindian and 9% of European descent. The country is predominantly Roman Catholic (89%), with 6% adhering to various Protestant faiths and the remaining 5% either to other smaller religions or is unaffiliated.


main article: Culture of Mexico

The name

Mexico is named after its capital city, whose name comes from the Aztec city México-Tenochtitlán that preceded it. The Mexi part of the name is from Mexitli, the name of a war god, whose name was derived from metztli (the moon) and xictli (navel) and thus mean "navel (probably implying 'child') of the moon". So, Mexico is the home of the people of Mexitli (the Mexicas), co meaning "place" and ca meaning "people".

When the Spaniards encountered this people and transcribed their language, they naturally did so according to the spelling rules of the Castilian language of the time. The Nahuatl language had a /ʃ/ sound (like English "shop"), and this sound was written x in Spanish (e.g. Ximena); consequently, the letter x was used to write down words like Mexitli.

Over the centuries, the pronunciation of Spanish changed. Words like Ximena, exercicio, xabón and perplexo started to be pronounced with a /x/ (this phonetic symbol represents the sound in the word "loch"). The /ʒ/ sound (as in "vision") represented by the letter j (usually g before e or i) also started to be pronounced this way. The coalescence of the two phonemes into a single new one encouraged scholars to use the same letter for the sound, regardless of its origin (Spanish scholars have always tried to keep the orthography of their language faithful to the spoken tongue). It was j/g that was chosen. So, modern Spanish has ejercicio, ejército, jabón, perplejo, 'etc.

…except for one complication: proper nouns and their derivatives are optionally allowed to break this rule. Thus, although xabón is now incorrect and archaic, and, alongside many thousands of girls called "Jimena", there also are plenty called "Gimena" or "Ximena" — a matter of personal choice.

In Mexico, it has become almost a matter of national pride to maintain the otherwise archaic x spelling in the name of the country. It is regarded as more authentic and less jarring to the reader's eye. Mexicans have tended to demand that other Spanish-speakers use this spelling, rather than following the general rule, and the demand has largely been respected. The Real Academia Española states that both spellings are correct, and most dictionaries and guides recommend México first, and present Méjico as a variant. Outside of the country, for example in Spain, one is likely to come across both spellings used indistinctly.

An interesting cultural side-effect of the fact that Mexicans use México and Spaniards sometimes use Méjico is the occasional boiling-over of negative sentiment towards the old colonial opressor. The mere act of using the j spelling is interpreted by some as a form of colonial aggression. Scholars such as Menéndez Pidal, on the other hand, often prefer to apply the general spelling rule, arguing that the spelling with an x could encourage non-Mexicans to mispronounce México/Méjico as /'meksiko/. Indeed, the x spelling has led to the /ks/ pronunciation becoming the norm in virtually all other languages.

Miscellaneous topics

Further reading

External links

[ Edit {}] Countries in North America
Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas | Barbados | Belize | Canada | Costa Rica | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | El Salvador | Grenada | Guatemala | Haiti | Honduras | Jamaica | Mexico | Nicaragua | Panama | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago | United States
Dependencies: Anguilla | Aruba | Bermuda | Cayman Islands | Greenland | Guadeloupe | Martinique | Montserrat | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Saint-Pierre and Miquelon | Turks and Caicos Islands | U.S. Virgin Islands | British Virgin Islands