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Mexico Culture, Geography and History
Culture and Customs of Mexico
Mexico lays claim to one of the richest and most historic cultures in the world. Characterised by strong regional identity, locals are affiliated directly to the region they hail from with each region having its own unique customs, cuisine and even language dialect. Despite this, national identity is still strong with all Mexicans sharing common bonds over their love of sport, dance, food and religion. With most of the country belonging to the Roman Catholic religion, religious festivals and celebrations are plentiful in Mexico. Parades, street fairs and parties held in honour of local saints are commonplace, and offer travellers the chance to witness the customs and rituals of this vibrant culture.
Geography and Environment of Mexico
Mexico shares land borders with the United States, Belize and Guatemala, and has extensive coastline that runs along the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Featuring a wide variety of natural environments, Mexico is home to tracts of tropical rainforests, vast areas of low-lying plains and desert, volcanic mountains and temperate beaches and lagoons. Its capital and major cities are typically built up, busy and lively – with a vast network of public transport, highways and roads. Rural areas, on the other hand, are distinctly less developed, with small-scale housing, unsealed roads and rustic farms.
History and Government of Mexico
People have been living in Mexico for more than 13,000 years. Mesoamericans occupied the area early on, with archaeological evidence pointing towards Mesoamericans leading a hunter-gatherer existence. Maize farming is thought to have become commonplace by 1500 BC, which led to the farming of other commodities as well. A variety of cultures contributed to the early history of Mexico, with the Olmec, Toltec, Maya, Teotihuacan and Aztecs all bringing unique cultural, religious and artistic styles to the region, with the Mayan and Aztec Empires having the greatest (and most enduring) impact on the region.
Mayan society can be traced back to 300 BC, while the Aztecs enjoyed prosperity from 1325 to around 1521 AD. Many ancient ruins and constructions from these periods are still standing all throughout Mexico, and can be visited and viewed today. By the 16th century, the Spanish had arrived in Mexico and what followed was a period of colonialism that lasted nearly 300 years.
During this time, Mexico was seen as a part of ‘New Spain’ along with Cuba and Puerto Rico. This was not a particularly good time for Mexicans who (under colonial law) were generally not allowed to travel outside of Mexico and were denied access to education. Mexico achieved independence from the Spaniards after the War of Independence (1810-1821) but peace was short lived as two decades later the Mexican-American War brought more confrontation and armed conflict to parts of Mexico.
Mexico’s Revolution of 1910 - 1921 was a period of instability, marked by political turmoil and bloodshed. More recently, Mexico has enjoyed an economic resurgence after decades of economic hardship, which lasted from the 1970s to the mid 1990s. The earthquake of 1985 didn’t help matters, with wide-scale damage and loss of life compounding the economic problems and political uncertainty of Mexico. Currently, Mexico is benefiting from a period of improved economic conditions, although the gap between the wages earned by Mexicans and their northern neighbours continues to widen. Mexico is now operating in a free market economy and the growth of tourism, agriculture and industry has ensured an improved economy for the country, although financial inequality still exists within.
Mexico at a glance
- Mexico City (population 8.7 million)
- 113.7 million
- (GMT-06:00) Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey - New
- Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin), Type B (American 3-pin)
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