The United Mexican States or Mexico (Spanish: México or, rarely, Méjico) is a country located in North America, bordered to the north by the United States to the south by Guatemala and Belize, to the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
|National motto: None|
- % water
|Ranked 13th |
- Total (2000)
September 16, 1810
September 27, 1821
|Time zone||UTC -6 to -8|
|National anthem||Mexicanos, al grito de guerra|
Mexico was the site of several advanced Indian civilisations, 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 eventually leading to independence in 1821. After independence, Mexican territory slowly decreased in size, losing and selling ground to the invading United States (see Mexican-American War). In the 1860s the country suffered a military occupation by France, fought off by Mexican patriot Benito Juarez.
The long, undemocratic regime of Porfirio Diaz lead 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 P.R.I. (Institutional Revolutionary Party) controlled the country until the end of the 20th century.
The 1917 constitution provides for a 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 National Congress or Congreso de la Unión.
The parliament 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.
Mexico borders two major bodies of water, the Pacific Ocean (with the Sea of Cortez in 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 5,700 m.
The terrain and climate vary from deserts in the north to tropical rain forest in the south. Mexico's major rivers include the Rio Grande (known as the Rio Bravo), the Grijalva[?], the Balsas[?] and the Yaqui.
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[?] continued a policy of privatizing and expanding competition in sea ports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity, natural gas distribution, and airports which was initiatied 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.
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 some 9% of European descent. The country is predominantly Roman Catholic (89%), with some 6% adhering to various Protestant faiths and the remaining 5% either to other smaller religions or is unaffiliated.
|Date||English Name||Local Name||Remarks|
|May 5||Cinco de Mayo||Victory against French forces in 1862|
|September 16||Independence Day||Dieciseis de Septiembre[?]||Independence from Spain, 1810 (see also Fiestas Patrias)|