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Estados Unidos Mexicanos
United Mexican States
Flag of mexico
Mexico coat of arms
flag coat of arms
Official language Spanish , since 2003 62 indigenous languages ​​have been recognized as "national languages" in Mexico
Capital Mexico city
State and form of government presidential republic ( federal republic )
Head of state , also head of government President Andrés Manuel López Obrador
area 1,972,550 km²
population 127.6 million ( 10th ) (2019; estimate)
Population density 65 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 1.1% (estimate for 2019)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 1.3 trillion ( 15. )
  • $ 2.6 trillion ( 12. )
  • 9,862 USD ( 71. )
  • 20,583 USD ( 69. )
Human Development Index 0.779 ( 74th ) (2019)
currency Mexican Peso (MXN)
independence 1810 declared recognized
by Spain in 1821
National anthem Himno Nacional Mexicano
Time zone UTC − 5 to UTC − 8
UTC − 5 to UTC − 7
(with daylight saving time, see time zones in Mexico )
License Plate MEX
ISO 3166 MX , MEX, 484
Internet TLD .mx
Telephone code +52
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Mexico ( Spanish : México [ ˈmexiko ], nahuatl : Mexihco [ meː'ʃiʔko ]), officially United Mexican States , Spanish: Estados Unidos Mexicanos , is a federal republic in North America that includes 31 states and the capital district of Mexico City . Mexico is bordered by the United States of America (USA) to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the south and west , Guatemala , Belize and the Caribbean Sea to the southeast , and the Gulf of Mexico to the east . With a total area of ​​almost two million square kilometers , Mexico is the fifth largest country on the American double continent , and the country ranks 14th globally. Mexico ranks eleventh worldwide with a population of around 128 million people and is the most populous Spanish-speaking country.

Country name

Tenochtitlan city ​​center - model from the National Museum of Anthropology of Mexico City

The country is the capital of the Aztec , Mexico- Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City , named). There are various but unsatisfactory explanations for the origin of the name Mexico (mē / ʃ / ĭ'co). Wilhelm von Humboldt indicates at the time that Mexico was derived from the name of the Aztec goddess of war Mexitli. According to one explanation, the part comes from mĕtl , which means the agave plant (also: maguey ). The part should be derived from xīctli (navel) and together with the local suffix co or ko, which is common in Nahuatl, result in the designation "the place where the navel (the center) of the maguey is". This derivation is impossible, however, because in the first two cases the vowel length, which is used in Nahuatl, is different. Instead, the place name is derived as a regular formation from the popular name mē / ʃ / ĭ'tin (plural), which is well documented in the sources , whose etymology, however, as with similar names, is opaque.

The Spaniards wrote the / ʃ / sound (German: sch ) of the Nahuatl language, as was common with them at the time, as x . Since then, however, the pronunciation of Spanish has changed, and the old x is pronounced / x / (German: ch (after a, o, u )) and now spelled j . Since México is a proper name, the spelling with x was retained; in addition, the spelling Méjico can be found in Spanish texts . In Mexico itself, value is usually placed on the spelling with x , as it is considered a separate, non-colonial spelling. The Royal Spanish Academy (Real Academia Española), which is responsible for determining the Spanish spelling, allows both spellings. In addition, the x is sometimes pronounced, for example in “Xola” and “ Xochimilco ”, as / ʃ / or / s / (for example: “Schola” or “Sotschimilko”).


Position and extent

Satellite image of Mexico

The largest part of Mexico (88%) is assigned to the North American continent, while the southern part is already part of the land bridge of Central America (which is also assigned to the North American continent). With an area of ​​1,972,550 km², the country is  almost six times the size of Germany , with 1,923,040 km² on land, 49,510 km² on water and over 5000 km² on uninhabited islands. In terms of area, Mexico ranks 14th in the world.

Mexico is over 3000 km long and has a width of 200 km to 2000 km. In the northwest is the Baja California peninsula with a length of 1200 km. To the east, the Yucatán Peninsula , which Mexico shares with Guatemala and Belize , juts out into the Gulf of Mexico .

The total length of the national border is 4538 kilometers, of which 3326 km are shared with the USA in the north of the country. Furthermore, Mexico borders in the southeast with Guatemala with 962 km and with Belize (250 km). It has 12,540 km of sea coast, of which 8,200 km on the Pacific and 3,200 km on the Atlantic. From the seaward coast, Mexico has exclusive rights of use up to 200 nautical miles (370 km).

Mexico has four time zones , see time zones in Mexico .

The highest point in Mexico, with 5,636 meters of on the border between the states of Puebla and Veracruz lying volcanic Citlaltépetl . The lowest point at about ten meters below sea level is the Laguna Salada in the municipality of Mexicali in the state of Baja California .


Mexico is a climatically diverse country that has a subtropical and alpine climate as well as a desert climate . It therefore belongs to the transition area from the humid outer tropics with eight to ten humid months in the southeast of the country to the year-round arid subtropics in the tropics to the winter rainy climate of California , which is just about to become effective in the far west (Baja California) .


Citlaltépetl volcano or Pico de Orizaba, the highest mountain in Mexico

Most of Mexico consists of a block of highlands that was lifted out on prominent fault lines in the east and west. The peripheral mountains are designed very differently: The Sierra Madre Oriental in the east is composed of parallel lines of folds and steeply rising stratified ribs of the Jura and chalk formation . In contrast, the Sierra Madre Occidental builds up in the west from flat volcanic blankets of the Tertiary . Both appear as high mountain walls from the hilly coastal lowlands.

The highlands on the border with the USA reach 1200 m above sea level. The Cordillera Neovolcánica , which consists of volcanic deposits from the Pliocene to the Quaternary period and is not only characterized by giant volcanoes, but also by a multitude of volcanic cones and craters , joins the Sierra Madre Occidental to the south . It forms the southern edge of the highland block, which breaks off in a fracture zone around 1000 m deep to the valley of the Río Balsas . In the south is the Sierra Madre del Sur, west of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas . To the northeast is the Yucatán Peninsula , the largest part of which belongs to Mexico. It consists of a limestone slab that has been lifted out of the sea since the Tertiary .

The highest peaks in the country can be found on the Transmexican volcanic belt, also called Sierra Nevada : the Citlaltépetl (5636 m), also known as Pico de Orizaba , the highest mountain in Mexico, the currently active Popocatépetl (5462 m), the Iztaccíhuatl (5230 m ) and the Nevado de Toluca (4680 m).

Three major metropolitan areas of Mexico lie in the valleys between these four volcanic mountains: Mexico City , Puebla, and Toluca .


Mexico is home to 200,000 different species, that is ten to twelve percent of all species known worldwide. With 707 known species, Mexico ranks first in reptile biodiversity , second in mammals with 438 species and fourth in amphibians with 290 known species. The flora includes 26,000 different species. In addition, Mexico ranks second in the world for diversity of ecosystems. This high biodiversity , but above all the large number of endemic species, genera and families, make Mexico one of the world's megadiversity countries . Around 2500 species are protected by law.

The largest part of the country's area is counted as one of the world's biodiversity hotspots due to the particularly high risk situation for natural diversity : These are the Mediterranean hard-leaved areas in northern Lower California and the subtropical mountain forests of northern Mexico (both cross-border with the USA), as well as all tropical ecoregions south of the tropic (continuation in all neighboring states of Mesoamerica ).

There are 68 national parks in Mexico .

Human geography

Population density of Mexico 2010 (inhabitants per km²)

The largest cities in Mexico, all of them megacities, are Mexico City, Guadalajara , Monterrey , Ecatepec de Morelos , Puebla, Nezahualcóyotl , Juárez , Tijuana , León and Zapopan . They are mostly located in the interior of the country, while the coastal areas are rather sparsely populated.

In Mexico there is also a gap between the center and the periphery, in which Mexico City clearly dominates. The metropolitan area holds 18 percent of the total population of Mexico. In addition, it is the economic center that unites around a third of the service and trade sector and two thirds of the assets. Two thirds of the budget for Mexico's secondary education and three quarters of the research budget are invested in Mexico City.
List of cities in Mexico

Metropolitan areas in Mexico

(Mexico National Advisory Council on Population Growth, 2010)

number Metropolitan area State Residents number Metropolitan area State Residents images
1 Mexico city Mexico City , México , Hidalgo 20.116.842 12th Merida Yucatan 973.046 Plaza de Armas y Catedral.jpg
Guadalajara Zapopan Monterrey Tijuana
Plaza del Sol, Zapopan.jpg

Cerro de la Silla Mountain Nuevo Leon.jpg

Torre del Casino Agua Caliente.jpg
2 Guadalajara / Zapopan Jalisco 4,434,878 13th Mexicali Baja California 936,826
3 Monterrey Nuevo León 4,106,054 14th Aguascalientes Aguascalientes 932,369
4th Puebla Puebla , Tlaxcala 2,728,790 15th Cuernavaca Morelos 924.964
5 Toluca México 1,936,126 16 Acapulco Guerrero 863.431
6th Tijuana Baja California 1,751,430 17th Tampico Tamaulipas , Veracruz 859.419
7th Leon Guanajuato 1,609,504 18th Chihuahua Chihuahua 852.533
8th Juarez Chihuahua 1,332,131 19th Morelia Michoacan 829.625
9 Torreón / Gómez Palacio Coahuila , Durango 1,215,817 20th Saltillo Coahuila 823.128
10 Querétaro Querétaro 1,097,025 21st Veracruz Veracruz 811,671
11 San Luis Potosí San Luis Potosí 1,040,443 22nd Villahermosa Tabasco 755.425


Population pyramid Mexico 2016
        year         Residents
1805 5,700,000
1842 7,000,000
1880 9,600,000
1895 12,632,000
1900 13,607,000
1910 15,160,000
1921 14,335,000
1930 16,553,000
1940 19,654,000
1948 24,461,000
1950 26,282,000
        year         Residents
1955 30,557,000
1960 34,994,000
1965 41,284,000
1970 50,695,000
1975 60,145,000
1990 81,250,000
1996 93,182,000
2000 100,350,000
2006 108,700,000
2010 112,322,757
2017 123.675.325

The population is made up of 60% mestizos , about 30% descendants of the European settlers (mostly Spaniards) and 10% indigenous peoples (according to other data 13% or 7%: among others in the central highlands of Nahua - descendants of the Aztecs - Otomí , Purépecha , Cora , Tarahumara and Huicholen ; on the northwest coast Mayo and Yaqui ; on the Gulf coast Totonak and Huaxtec ; in the southern mountainous country Zapotec , Mixtec , Mazatec , Mixe and many smaller ethnic groups ; as well as the Maya in Yucatan and in the southernmost parts of the country .)

Around 1% of the population is made up of other ethnicities (mostly from Africa). In terms of population, Mexico ranks 10th in the world.

The proportion of the population of Mexicans who descended from slaves from sub-Saharan Africa has been absorbed by the mestizo population over the past 200 years. In the state of Veracruz and on the west coast, some “black” Mexicans can still be found today. The only Creole spoken on Mexican soil is the Gullah . It is spoken by the members of the black Seminoles in Nacimiento (near Múzquiz , Coahuila ). In the cities there was a Christian population of Arab descent (especially of Lebanese descent). In 2015, their number was estimated at around 1 million. The Christian Arab population in Mexico is said to be wealthy and successful, as the richest man in Mexico, Carlos Slim Helú , had Lebanese ancestors.

There is significant and hidden discrimination against the indigenous community in Mexico. Within these, child mortality is significantly higher and the literacy rate and standard of living are significantly lower than for the general population, while the upper class of Mexico consists primarily of Mexicans of Arab or European descent. The uprising of the Zapatistas in 1994 drew his support mainly from Indian communities, who revolted against the neglect and discrimination of the central government.

In 2016, the median age in Mexico was 28 years. For every 1000 inhabitants there were 18.5 births and 5.3 deaths. The fertility per woman was 2.2 children per woman in 2016 (in 1970 there were 6 children). Life expectancy was almost 76 years. The population will begin to age in the next few years, but due to the still young average age, it will grow to around 150 million people by 2050.

In 2015, 12.3 million people born in Mexico lived abroad, almost all of them in the United States. In total, there were more than 30 million people of Mexican descent (excluding illegal residents) in the United States. Mexico thus had one of the largest diaspora groups in the world. Without emigration, today's Mexican population would be around a quarter larger. In Mexico itself, just under 0.9% of the population was born abroad. Most of the migrants in Mexico came from Central American countries, where immigration to Mexico has increased in recent years due to better economic opportunities.


The official language of Mexico is Spanish , although this is not required by law. In addition to Spanish, 62 indigenous languages are also recognized as official national languages in Mexico .

The Mexican Ministry of Culture divides the languages ​​spoken in Mexico into eleven language families , 68 linguistic groups and 364 dialects . The "Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples" found in a survey in 2005 that around six million citizens speak an indigenous language.

According to the 2010 census , 6.8% of the population speak indigenous languages; 15% of them do not speak Spanish. Another 1.5% of the population understand but do not speak indigenous languages. The languages ​​with the largest number of speakers include Nahuatl (about 1.6 million), Mayathan (about 800,000), Mixtec (about 500,000), Tzeltal (about 470,000), Zapotec (about 460,000) and Tzotzil (about 430,000). There are a total of 16 indigenous languages ​​with more than 100,000 speakers in Mexico, more than any other country in America. The largest proportion of speakers can be found in southern Mexico in the states of Oaxaca , Yucatán and Chiapas .

Since in some indigenous peoples only older people can speak their own language, the head of the "Institute for Indigenous Languages" - Javier López Sánchez - announced an action program in 2013 to prevent these languages ​​from becoming extinct. In particular, Awakatec , Ixil , two varieties of Otomí and five of Zapotec are considered threatened. That is why interpreters and translators are to be trained and a linguistic language atlas created.

In addition to Spanish, immigrants brought other languages ​​to Mexico, but these are not considered national languages ​​and are not recorded in official statistics. These include English , French and German , but also Mandarin , Arabic and Quechua . Some immigrants formed closed language islands, for example the Mennonites in Chihuahua , who speak Plautdietsch (a dialect of Low German ), or the residents of Chipilo in Puebla , who have retained the Venetian language and culture of their Italian ancestors.


82.7% of Mexicans are Catholics . The Roman Catholic Church in Mexico consists of 18 archbishoprics, the largest of which is the Archdiocese of Mexico, as well as 73 dioceses and 4 territorial prelatures .

There is a growing Protestant minority of 7.5%, but it is split across many different churches. The Anglican Communion of Mexico is represented by the Anglican Church of Mexico and consists of six dioceses.

The third largest religious community in Mexico, with more than 800,000 believers are the Jehovah's Witnesses . They are organized into more than 13,000 congregations that hold meetings in dozens of languages. They report to the Central American branch near Texcoco, east of Mexico City, which is also responsible for seven other countries.

3.5% of the population describe themselves as not belonging to any religious community and 0.36% belong to other religions, including Islam and traditional Mesoamerican religions (such as the Huicholes ), which are often syncretistically mixed with Christian elements (such as the Tarahumara ). Religion is of great importance in certain layers of Mexican society, especially among the rural population and less so for the inhabitants of the big cities.


The Secretaría de Desarrollo Social (SEDESOL), the political government secretariat for social development in Mexico, comparable to a corresponding state ministry ( social ministry ), is responsible for the social area .

Headquarters of the ISSSTE , Mexico City

Public welfare

Starting in 1943, Mexico was the first country in history to include the term “social security” in its constitution. The Mexican Institute for Social Security, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS), offers health, pension and social insurance to the population. The Institute for Social Security and Social Benefits for Government Employees, Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales de los Trabajadores del Estado (ISSSTE), cares for the elderly, the unemployed and the disabled and offers social insurance for government employees. In 1998, 55 to 60 percent of the population were covered by both institutions. They are funded by contributions from employers, employees and the government. However, there is no unemployment benefit in Mexico. In 1997, social security expenditure represented approximately 18.1% of budget expenditure.


Hospital de Especialidades del Centro Médico La Raza, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS), Mexico City
Life expectancy development in Mexico
Period Life expectancy
in years
Period Life expectancy
in years
1950-1955 50.7 1985-1990 69.9
1955-1960 55.3 1990-1995 71.9
1960-1965 58.5 1995-2000 73.7
1965-1970 60.3 2000-2005 74.9
1970-1975 62.6 2005-2010 75.7
1975-1980 65.3 2010-2015 76.5
1980-1985 67.8

The responsible ministry for health in Mexico is the Secretaría de Salud (SSA).

The health care system in Mexico has a two-tier system, consisting of the health insurance of the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) and the Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales de los Trabajadores del Estado (ISSSTE) on the one hand and various private health insurances on the other. With a few exceptions in remote, rural areas, medical care in the country is very good, and even excellent in the cities.

Training in medicine and nursing takes place predominantly at public universities. Improvements in health care in Mexico have increased average life expectancy by 25 years to 76.5 years (2010–2015) over the past 60 years. Child mortality is (2009) approx. 17/1000 births.

A major health problem was the high level of obesity. According to WHO data, 28.1% of the population were severely overweight ( obese) in 2014 .


After the economic crisis of 1994–1995 ( tequila crisis ) around 50% of the population fell into poverty. The sharp increase in exports as a result of NAFTA and other free trade agreements, as well as the reorganization of public finances under President Zedillo and later under Vicente Fox , resulted in significant successes in the fight against poverty. According to the World Bank , poverty decreased to 17.6% of the population by 2004. In 2014 the poverty rate was around 3%.

In 2008, a quarter of Mexican households benefited from financial transfers through the government's Oportunidades program.

According to the National Autonomous University of Mexico (as of 2020) around ten percent of Mexico's residents (between 12.5 and 15 million people) do not have their own access to drinking water. Rural areas in particular, but also around 1.3 million people in Mexico City, have no drinking water pipes. In addition, the water supply is also poor for the population with drinking water pipes. In many areas of Mexico, the water flows only once a week or less, or it is contaminated by cracked pipes.


Crime in Mexico is very high , especially as a result of the drug war .

In 2019, around 35,000 people died as a result of the war (or the indistinguishable crime). Around 3,800 of these were women (approx. 10%) and 31,200 men (approx. 90%). In 2018, when approximately 33,000 died as a result of crime, five Mexican cities were among the top 10 most dangerous cities in the world by homicide rate . Since only around two to six percent of all crimes committed in Mexico are solved, there is de facto impunity . This is also due to the fact that only around 12 percent of all criminal offenses are reported because the police in some areas have been infiltrated by cartel members themselves or are working together with organized crime . As a result, for example, in the state of Guerrero from 2014 to 2018, the weapons of local police forces in more than a dozen locations (including in Acapulco ) were confiscated and disempowered by the military. The high crime rate paired with impunity leads to the fact that the population in some rural areas is organized in vigilante groups ( autodefensas ) in order to maintain a little public order at the local level . In general, the police are inferior to the drug cartels in many respects (staff, equipment).

The death penalty was officially abolished in Mexico on December 9, 2005.


Political corruption is widespread in Mexico at various levels. According to a study by Transparency International , bribes of 1.5 billion euros were paid in 2005, not including bribery payments by companies to business people and high-ranking politicians.

Since 1990, the non-partisan Instituto Federal Electoral (IFE) has been responsible for preparing and holding elections. However, Felipe Calderón, president from 2006 to 2012, was related to the programmer of the IFE through his wife (who is also a co-owner of the IT company), which led to speculation that the counting of the 2006 elections (but this also applies to other elections ) has not expired transparently.


In addition to the corruption of the police and the judiciary, drug crime is a major problem. Mexico is an important transit country for drug trafficking from South and Central America to the USA. However, under President Calderon, the police and military have had some severe blows against the drug cartels in recent years. The Federal Foreign Office warns travelers about criminal drug gangs in the American-Mexican border area, as well as in some coastal cities.

Violence against women

According to the 2017 UN report, Mexico is particularly dangerous for women. The report found that the rate of sexual violence against women outside of relationships is the highest in the world.


José Vasconcelos mega library in Mexico City

The Secretaría de Educación Pública (SEP) is the Mexican Ministry of Education and Culture , responsible for education and culture . The Ministry develops the educational programs and supplies the teaching materials.

During the colonial period, the Catholic Church was responsible for education. After Mexico's independence, the first foundations of the public education system were established.

In Mexico there is compulsory education for elementary ( Primaria , 6 years) and middle school ( Secundaria , 3 years). The school time in the secondary school ( preparatoria ) is also 3 years. Attending school is free. School uniforms are typical . In 2015, the literacy rate was 94.4%, and illiteracy was hardly ever seen in the younger population. In Mexico, the mean school attendance for over-25s increased from 5.5 years in 1990 to 8.6 years in 2015. It is one of the highest in Latin America. The current educational expectation is already 13.3 years. The government spends 4% of GDP on elementary and secondary schools, and around 1% on university education.

There are numerous state and non-state universities in the country, for example the Mexican Academy of Sciences or the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México , the largest university in the country, which was founded in Mexico City in 1551 . It is the best Spanish-speaking and Latin American university in the Times' international educational ranking. Other well-known universities in Mexico City are: State Polytechnic Institute (founded 1937), Colegio de México , Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (founded 1974), Ibero-American University (founded 1943), Autonomous Technological Institute (founded 1946). Other important universities in other cities are: University of Guadalajara (founded in 1792), Autonomous University of Puebla (founded in 1937), Universidad Veracruzana (founded in 1944), Center of the IPN for Research and Advanced Studies in Monterrey (founded in 1943).

In 2008, a total of 2,724,000 students were enrolled in Mexico, 66.5% of them in the 1,685 state universities and 33.5% in the 2,167 private universities.


One of the best-known research initiatives in Mexico in recent years is the construction of the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT), which is used to observe that part of the universe covered by cosmic dust. The State Cosmic Commission was established in 1962, but was later recalled. In recent years, plans for her reappointment have emerged.

Research and development spending is only around 0.5% of GDP, making it the lowest in the OECD.If income levels and growth rates are taken into account, Mexico averaged around ten percent from 1996 to 2005.

Most of the scientific publications come from the capital. 75% of the dissertations take place in Mexico City.


Pre-Columbian history

According to the current state of research, the first settlement ( Tlapacoya ) was around 20,000 to 22,000 years ago. The first traces of agriculture can be found around 1500 to 900 BC. Around 1500 BC. The city of Tlatilco in the Valley of Mexico was settled in the 4th century BC and was not given up again until the 4th century. Tlatilco was under the cultural influence of the Olmecs . More complex cultures formed from 900 to 300 BC. Between 100 and 900 AD the so-called Mesoamerican civilizations emerged. The Mayan , Olmec, Toltec and Aztec cultures developed . Around 1500 AD, the Aztecs were the ruling people in what is now Mexico.

Spanish colonial times

New Spain at the time of its greatest expansion (1763). The light green areas were de jure part of the viceroyalty, but were not effectively under Spanish control.

In 1517 and 1518, the first Spanish expeditions under Francisco Hernández de Córdoba and Juan de Grijalva reached the Yucatán peninsula . The newly "discovered" high cultures and the abundant gold objects made the tierra firme, the mainland, interesting for the Spaniards . In the years 1519 to 1521, Hernán Cortés succeeded in overthrowing the so-called Aztec Empire with the help of numerous indigenous allies. At the same time, Francisco de Montejo Yucatán and Pedro de Alvarado conquered what is now Guatemala, where they subjugated the last Mayan cities. Today's Mexico became the viceroyalty of New Spain and, because of its richness in gold and silver, one of the most important possessions of the Spaniards. Over the next three centuries, the Spanish and their missionaries spread the Catholic faith and the Spanish language.

19th century

Emperor Agustín de Iturbide
Republic of Mexico 1824 - adoption of the state constitution
Mexico's cedings since the state was founded in 1821 until today
Benito Juarez García

Favored by the weakening of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars on the Iberian Peninsula , independence from Spain was declared on September 16, 1810, which resulted in a long war that led to final independence on September 27, 1821.

The young nation's first head of state was Agustín de Iturbide , who ruled the country as emperor from 1822 ( First Empire of Mexico ). As early as 1823 he had to abdicate after a military uprising , and Mexico became a republic. In the same year the area of ​​Guatemala, from which the later independent states Guatemala , El Salvador , Nicaragua , Costa Rica and Honduras were formed, separated from Mexico and became the Central American Confederation .

In 1835 the United States tried in vain to buy the Texas and California territories from Mexico . In 1836, the Americans living in Texas proclaimed the independent Republic of Texas . In 1845 Texas was annexed by the United States. In addition, the USA claimed other Mexican areas up to the Rio Grande . This led to the Mexican-American War with a US invasion in 1846. After Mexico's defeat in 1848, the country ceded its northern territories, including the later US states of California, New Mexico , Arizona , Nevada , Utah and Colorado, with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo .

In 1853, with the Gadsden purchase, the southern area of ​​what is now the US states of Arizona and New Mexico was acquired for US $ 10 million by the US in order to provide a cheaper route for a planned railway line to California, which was never built enable.

Emperor Maximilian I.

A debt crisis in the winter of 1861/62 led to troops from France , the United Kingdom and Spain landing on the country's Gulf coast and occupying parts of Mexico. In the following years the country was under the occupation of France , which installed the Habsburg Maximilian as emperor (April 10, 1864) ( Second Empire of Mexico ). President Benito Juárez , who drove the French out of the country with the help of the USA, finally ended the era of the Mexican Empire with the execution of Maximilian on June 19, 1867 in Querétaro ( abdication on May 14, 1867).

20th century

In 1905, the Clipperton Island , which belongs to France, was occupied to support its own claims to ownership. In 1931, both sides agreed, the Italian King Victor Emmanuel III. to use as a mediator to whom the island of France was awarded.

Rebel areas during the Mexican Revolution

The long dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910 and his resignation in 1911. The revolutionary forces defeated the army but got lost in internal quarrels that kept the country in constant turmoil for 20 years. At the end of the revolution, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) controlled the country.

During the First World War in 1917 the German Empire sought an alliance with Mexico against the USA; in the event of a victory for the Central Powers , the territories lost in 1848 would be regained. A secret telegram ( Zimmermann dispatch ), with which a corresponding proposal should be submitted to the Mexican government, was intercepted by the British and contributed to the USA's entry into the war against the German Empire.

During the revolution in 1917, the constitution, which is largely in force to this day, was passed. An uprising by Catholic peasant militias against anti-clerical articles of the constitution expanded into the Guerra Cristera in 1926 , which in 1929 led to mediations under US leadership. The Mexican government decided not to implement the provisions, but it was not until 1992 that they were removed from the constitution.

Mexico joined the League of Nations in 1931 , which was dissolved again in 1946. The country gained great importance for Europeans as a country of exile during fascism . In the Spanish Civil War , the country supported the Republicans together with France, the Soviet Union and the United States against the nationalists under Francisco Franco , who were supported by the German Empire , Italy and Portugal .

Mexico was the only country (of 17 members of the League of Nations ) that loudly protested the annexation of Austria by Germany on March 19, 1938 . Mexico pointed out the consequences for (world) peace if the obligations of the League of Nations and international law are not complied with. In recognition of this act, the Erzherzog-Karl-Platz in Vienna was renamed Mexikoplatz in 1956 . During the Second World War Mexico remained neutral until 1941 and declared war on the Axis powers after the two oil tankers Potrero del Llano and Faja de Oro were sunk by German submarines .

In 1945 Mexico became a founding member of the United Nations , the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and in 1948 the Organization of American States .

In some states, women were allowed to vote in local and state elections earlier than nationally. Yucatán and San Luis Potosí were the first states to give women the right to vote in 1922 and 1923. In 1946, women everywhere were given municipal suffrage. When Adolfo Ruiz Cortines won the presidential election in 1952, he kept his promise to introduce a vote on the active and passive right to vote for women at national level in parliament. On December 22, 1952, the President's bill was passed unanimously by Congress and a few days later the Senate also approved it with one vote against. The regulations came into force and promulgated on October 6, 1953. In 1954 women were able to vote in congressional elections, and on July 6, 1958, for the first time in presidential elections.

The Party of Institutionalized Revolution controlled Mexico until the end of the 20th century. For a long time during the PRI's reign there was no clear separation between the institutions of the state and those of the “official party”, that is, the PRI. For example, the organization of elections was subject to the PRI. This led to numerous reports of electoral irregularities such as falsification of election lists, multiple voting, buying votes, voting controls, ballot box robbery and incorrect counting of votes. Between the 1940s and 1970s, Mexico experienced a period of strong economic growth and growing prosperity ( Mexican Miracle ).

In November 1993, the country joined the APEC and on January 1, 1994 Mexico formed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and the United States . On the same day the Chiapas conflict broke out, in which the Zapatistas fight against discrimination and the effects of globalization . On May 18, 1994, Mexico became the first Latin American member state of the OECD . At the end of 1994 / beginning of 1995 the country was hit by the tequila crisis after the government was unable to maintain the fixed exchange rate of the peso against the US dollar. After financial aid from the USA, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank , the crisis came to an end in 1995. On January 1, 1995, Mexico became a founding member of the World Trade Organization .

Mexican military in combat in the state of Michoacan (2007)

Drug war

Since a government declaration by President Felipe Calderón on December 11, 2006, the armed conflicts in Mexico, which both by police and military units against the criminal organizations active in drug trafficking (so-called Mexican drug cartels ) as well as between relatives , have been described as the drug war in Mexico of the drug cartels themselves.


Political indices
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 67.2 out of 120 98 of 178 Stability of the country: Warning
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index 6.07 out of 10 72 of 167 Incomplete democracy
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World Index 62 of 100 - Freedom status: partially free
0 = not free / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking 45.45 out of 100 143 of 180 Difficult situation for freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 31 of 100 124 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020

Mexico is an electoral democracy . However, the proper functioning of the country's democratic institutions is hindered by corruption and the poor security situation in the country.

Administrative division

Mexico is a federal republic consisting of 31 member states and the capital Mexico City (until 2016 a federal district , Spanish Distrito Federal ). The member states are divided into a total of over 2400 Municipios , Mexico City into 16 Delegaciones . The member states are ruled by governors . In the Mexican Constitution, Article 73 regulates the powers of the Mexican Congress , Article 124 stipulates that all powers not assigned to Congress lie with the states. In reality, however, this federalism was not implemented for a long time. The dominance of the central executive branch also affected the member states and municipalities. The federal units did not act so much out of their assigned rights and duties, but were integrated into a system of negotiation. Since 1980, as a result of the National System for Fiscal Coordination , the state has collected 95 percent of taxes and passed some of them on to the subordinate units. Although this distribution was formally regulated, in reality there were always inconsistencies. The central government often failed to comply with federal procedures, and the president could even dismiss and install governors over constitutional rights he was entitled to.

As a result of the electoral successes of the opposition at the state level and the reduction in the power of the PRI, developments in Mexican federalism occurred which strengthened it. In 1993, under the government of Carlos Salinas de Gortari , the member states were given further powers. This gave them responsibility for health care and primary education. These developments were also continued by the subsequent presidents. Vicente Fox tried with the program for an authentic federalism 2002-2006 to promote decentralization . The local administrations should become more professional and thus the municipalities should be strengthened in their position. The different federal levels should also work together in joint commissions.

States of Mexico
Vereinigte Staaten Guatemala Belize Honduras El Salvador Baja California Baja California Sur Sonora Chihuahua Sinaloa Durango Coahuila Nuevo León Tamaulipas Zacatecas Nayarit Colima Colima Aguascalientes Guanajuato Michoacán Mexiko-Stadt Tlaxcala Morelos Guerrero Michoacán Hidalgo Puebla Querétaro México Jalisco San Luis Potosí Veracruz Oaxaca Tabasco Campeche Chiapas Quintana Roo Campeche Yucatánmap
About this picture
Constituent state Capital founding year Population 2015 area
Aguascalientes Aguascalientes Aguascalientes 1835 1,312,544 000000000005625.00000000005,625 km²
Baja California Baja California Mexicali 1952 3,315,766 000000000071546.000000000071,546 km²
Baja California Sur Baja California Sur La Paz 1974 712.029 000000000073943.000000000073,943 km²
Campeche Campeche San Francisco de Campeche 1857 899.931 000000000057727.000000000057,727 km²
Chiapas Chiapas Tuxtla Gutiérrez 1824 5,217,908 000000000073681.000000000073,681 km²
Chihuahua Chihuahua Chihuahua 1824 3,556,574 000000000247487.0000000000247,487 km²
Coahuila Coahuila Saltillo 1824 2,954,915 000000000151445.0000000000151,445 km²
Colima Colima Colima 1857 711.235 000000000005627.00000000005,627 km²
Mexico city Mexico city unavailable 1824 8,918,653 000000000001479.00000000001,479 km²
Durango Durango Victoria de Durango 1824 1,754,754 000000000123367.0000000000123,367 km²
Guanajuato Guanajuato Guanajuato 1824 5,853,677 000000000030621.000000000030,621 km²
Guerrero Guerrero Chilpancingo de los Bravo 1849 3,533,251 000000000063794.000000000063,794 km²
Hidalgo Hidalgo Pachuca de Soto 1869 2,858,359 000000000020856.000000000020,856 km²
Jalisco Jalisco Guadalajara 1824 7,844,830 000000000078630.000000000078,630 km²
México (state) México Toluca 1824 16.187.608 000000000022333.000000000022,333 km²
Michoacan Michoacan Morelia 1824 4,584,471 000000000058667.000000000058,667 km²
Morelos Morelos Cuernavaca 1869 1,903,811 000000000004892.00000000004,892 km²
Nayarit Nayarit Tepic 1917 1,181,050 000000000027862.000000000027,862 km²
Nuevo León Nuevo León Monterrey 1824 5,119,504 000000000064203.000000000064,203 km²
Oaxaca Oaxaca Oaxaca de Juarez 1824 3,967,889 000000000093343.000000000093,343 km²
Puebla Puebla Puebla de Zaragoza 1824 6,168,883 000000000034251.000000000034,251 km²
Querétaro Querétaro Santiago de Queretaro 1824 2,038,372 000000000011658.000000000011,658 km²
Quintana Roo Quintana Roo Chetumal 1974 1,501,562 000000000042535.000000000042,535 km²
San Luis Potosí San Luis Potosí San Luis Potosí 1824 2,717,820 000000000061165.000000000061,165 km²
Sinaloa Sinaloa Culiacan Rosales 1831 2,966,321 000000000057331.000000000057,331 km²
Sonora Sonora Hermosillo 1831 2,850,330 000000000184946.0000000000184,946 km²
Tabasco Tabasco Villahermosa 1824 2,395,272 000000000024747.000000000024,747 km²
Tamaulipas Tamaulipas Ciudad Victoria 1824 3,441,698 000000000080148.000000000080,148 km²
Tlaxcala Tlaxcala Tlaxcala de Xicohténcatl 1857 1,272,847 000000000003997.00000000003,997 km²
Veracruz Veracruz Xalapa Enríquez 1824 8,112,505 000000000071856.000000000071,856 km²
Yucatan Yucatan Merida 1824 2,097,175 000000000039671.000000000039,671 km²
Zacatecas Zacatecas Zacatecas 1824 1,579,209 000000000075416.000000000075,416 km²

Constitutional development

Himno Nacional Mexicano , the official hymn of Mexico since 1943, but used since 1854

The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States has existed since 1917. It was created as a result of the Mexican Revolution and was drawn up by a constituent assembly . The Constitution was a compromise verschiedenster interest groups, which is why they anticlerical , national , anti-imperialist , republican , paternalistic and socially - reformist contains items. In addition, there are also liberal elements such as civil liberties , legal security , universal suffrage , which, however, remained limited to men until 1953, the welfare state and the guarantee of private property , whereby other forms of property were also recognized as constitutional. Article 27, the longest article of the Mexican Constitution, attributes ownership of land and water to the state and gives it the right to delegate management to private individuals and collectives. This article was primarily intended to limit the power of large landowners . A similar goal is shown in Article 123, which establishes workers' rights. Both articles together formed for a long time the ideological basis of legitimation of the post-revolutionary governments for the revolutionary project and political control.

The rights of the people formally guaranteed in the constitution, however, for a long time took a back seat to the reality of the Mexican political system. In Mexican corporatism , the possibility of enforceability of rights was not particularly pronounced and in its place stood a system of political favors, loyalties, and favors that were differentiated in negotiations. The enforcement of constitutional rights was thus primarily linked to the mobilization abilities of various social groups and their importance for maintaining the government of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional . For a long time, state institutions and courts did not take care of the enforcement of rights, but functionalized them within the framework of the current political order.

The Constitution of Mexico has been amended over 150 times since it was proclaimed in 1917, and Articles 27 and 123 were amended in the 1990s as part of the economic realignment. In addition, the relationship between state and church has been reorganized. In addition, there were above all reforms intended to improve the human rights situation in Mexico. Under the presidency of Carlos Salinas de Gortaris , Article 102 was added to regulate the powers of the Attorney General. The Mexican Congress and the parliaments of the states are obliged to create organs that are supposed to monitor the observance of the human rights guaranteed in the constitution, but have no powers with regard to elections, legal proceedings and employment relationships. Under Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León , a right to public security was enshrined in the constitution. Despite these amendments to the constitution, the human rights situation in Mexico has hardly improved, which is why the social, political and cultural integration of the constitutional reforms is still questionable.

Constitutional law

Mexico has been a presidential federal republic since 1917 . The President is the head of the federal government and at the same time the highest representative of the state. He is directly elected by the people for a single six-year term, the so-called sexenio . Re-election is prohibited (Article 83 of the Constitution). An early end of the term of office occurs in the event of death or if the President resigns (Art. 86). The president has a lot of power. He has the right of initiative in legislative procedures and a veto right on legislative initiatives from Congress. In addition, the President is the Supreme Commander in Chief of the Mexican military and appoints its highest ranks, a number of senior civil servants and the Attorney General . Until 1996 he was also able to appoint the head of government of the federal district of Mexico City , who has been directly elected since then. With the approval of Congress and the Council of Ministers, the Mexican President can declare a state of emergency . He has the right to initiate declarations of war , sets the guidelines for foreign policy and signs international treaties. In addition to the constitutional powers, further informal rules shaped the presidency over the long period of rule of the 'Partido Revolucionario Institucional'. The president dominated the party, he abstained from criticizing his predecessor and had to submit to these traditions, otherwise he could be excluded from the center of power. During the six-year term of office, he reached the peak of his power in the third and fourth years and took care of his successor towards the end of the term of office. Despite the popular election, the succession was not made transparent, but rather regulated in an informal process between various factions and groupings in the Mexican political class. The climax was the act of announcement ('destape'), in which the President named his successor with a finger pointing ('dedazo').

Mexico's President Vicente Fox (2000–2006) addresses the Mexican Parliament

The Congress of the Union of Mexico ( Congreso de la Unión ) is a bicameral parliament . The House of Representatives has 500 members, the Senate consists of 128 senators. The 500 MPs are elected every three years. 300 of them are in a direct dial ( Personenwahl determined), 200 over list positions ( majority vote ) selected. The senators are elected for six years. In each of the 32 states three senators are appointed, two of them by majority vote , the third senatorial post is awarded to the strongest opposition party. The 32 remaining senatorial seats are awarded nationally according to a proportional representation system. Like the President, MPs and Senators may not be re-elected after their term of office. The most important function of the House of Representatives is the annual examination, discussion and approval of the federal budget , whereby a rejection is not planned. The most important powers of the Senate, on the other hand, are the approval of international treaties and the authorization of the deployment of troops abroad. In addition, the congress has the enactment of laws and decrees, the economic, territorial and political organization of the country, the approval of declarations of war, the promotion of education and labor legislation as areas of responsibility. The 71-year rule of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional was reflected in its dominance in parliament. From 1970 to 1988 it occupied an average of 78 percent of the seats in Congress. The increasing delegitimation of the system and, from 1989 onwards, the increasingly successful activity of the opposition parties in the federal states, with their effects on the composition of the Senate, led to the end of the dominance of the PRI by 1997 at the latest and thus to a strengthening of the importance of parliament.

The central government had a strong impact on the states for a long time , and this influence is still there today. The governors were directly elected by the people, but their room for maneuver was severely limited by their contact with the president and dependent on his benevolence. This is due to the various dependencies of the states on the federal government, as this allocates part of the tax revenue to the states and municipalities. In addition, the ministries have representations ( delegaciones ) in the states, administrative districts and municipalities. Federal funds are allocated through these, in particular for social welfare and development programs. In poorer states in particular, these agencies can have more resources at their disposal than the state budget, and in some cases they have more power than the governors and other regional and local politicians. The presidents tried to expand their influence in this way. Carlos Salinas de Gortari in particular , President from 1988 to 1994, did this with his 'National Solidarity Program'.

The Supreme Court of Mexico, the Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación , consists of eleven federal judges (Ministros) who are proposed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Their term of office is limited to 15 years, the president is appointed from among them for four years and may not be re-elected immediately afterwards. In the 71 year long rule of the PRI, the judiciary lost more and more influence. Only with the constitutional reform of 1995 did the Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación regain the power to judge the constitutionality of politics. Since 2000, the Attorney General has to be confirmed by the Senate.

Electoral system

During the long period of dominance of the PRI, the elections in Mexico were more of an acclamatory nature, there was no competition between the parties and therefore no election campaign . The candidate ran a campaign across the country, forming alliances with local party officials. Since 1946 the Federal Electoral Review Commission , which is subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior , later renamed the Federal Electoral Commission , organized the elections. The PRI always had the majority in this commission. In 1988, the body showed itself to be incapable of acting in the conflicts after the election and President Salinas took the decision and enforced it. Election victories by the opposition were the result of negotiations between the parties and the president after the election had already taken place.

Since the late 1970s, the 1917 electoral law has been reformed again and again. In 1991 the Instituto Federal Electoral was founded, which in the course of the 1990s established itself as an independent electoral authority that also includes non-governmental organizations and election observers . It was founded by the state, but it was able to survive several presidencies and thereby gain independence and influence. It creates and manages the electoral roll and forgery-proof identification cards and accompanies the reforms of the electoral law. The Instituto Federal Electoral initiated reforms that made it easier for all parties to access party funding and media. It monitors the elections, the counting of the votes and announces the election results. It also takes action against election irregularities. Thus, the Federal Electoral Institute put together with the Federal Electoral Tribunal against tampering old PRI circuits in the gubernatorial elections in Yucatan and Tabasco through in 2000 and 2001 respectively. The Instituto Federal Electoral is recognized by all Mexican parties and also internationally.

Party landscape

The Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) was the dominant party in Mexico for a long time, ruling almost unrestrictedly in the federal government, states and municipalities until the 1990s and providing the president until 2000. It emerged from the Partido Nacional Revolucionario (PNR) founded in 1929, which was still territorially organized under Plutarco Elías Calles and not incorporated into sectors. In contrast to Calles with his system of regional power elites, Lázaro Cárdenas del Río established a division into functional sectors in the Partido de la Revolución Mexicana (PRM). So farmers, urban middle and lower classes and workers were integrated into the party through national organizations. Between 1938 and 1940 this also applied to the military. Nevertheless, even these transformations under Cárdenas initially did not change the dominance of local power elites. Nevertheless, in addition to the traditional connections of the caciques, new networks emerged which were shaped by trade unions, teachers' associations and other national and social organizations. In 1946 the PRI was founded as a corporate party. It ensured a further shift in the balance of power from the peripheral elites to the metropolitan modernization coalition and for a long time served as a connecting hinge between the two. The PRI benefited from the election law passed in 1946, which restricted non-party candidates and required parties to be nationally anchored, which was controlled by the Interior Ministry , which allowed the parties. The influence and power of the local caciques and military caudillos declined, while actors loyal to state institutions and rulers strengthened their positions. From the 1970s, the situation of the PRI changed. It was becoming increasingly difficult to integrate the rural population, national and transnational migrants into the party structure. The same was true for the student movement of 1968 and the new social movements of the 1980s with actors such as women, migrants, underemployed, youth and intellectuals.

In contrast to the PRI, the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) was founded in 1939 as an opposition party. It originated in the catholic northwest of Mexico in the context of the anti-clerical politics of the PRI. For many years the PAN was the only legal political force that was viable on its own. Various currents such as socially oriented, neoliberal and Catholic conservatives gathered in it . Since the government of Carlos Salinas de Gortari in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the neoliberals in the PAN have been promoting cooperation with the PRI. Many members of the PAN campaigned for the enforcement of civil liberties. From the end of the 1980s onwards, together with other parties, they began to stand up for democratic and orderly elections and for more legal security. At the regional and municipal level, the PAN was able to achieve electoral victories on this site, at the federal level it needed the support of the Partido Verde Ecologista de México (PVEM) as well as non-partisan and non-partisan alliances, known as Amigos de Fox , to get Vicente Fox to be To win the presidential election. In 2006 the PAN was able to defend this position.

In addition to the two big parties, there were and are some smaller left-wing parties that have had to work illegally for a long time. The Partido Comunista Mexicano (PCM), founded in 1919, is one of the oldest parties in Mexico. Until the assassination of Leon Trotsky in 1940, there were clashes between Trotskyists and Stalinists . The PCM was banned again and again and could only operate freely since the presidency of José López Portillo from 1976 to 1982 and was allowed to participate in elections. In the 1980s she joined forces with other small left parties in order to have better chances in elections and so slowly to participate in the process of democratization. In 1989 this party went into the newly founded Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD), where it met a more moderate base from the PRI, which did not want to support the new economic course of government.

In addition to the three big parties, there are other, smaller ones such as the Partido Popular Socialista de México , Partido Nueva Alianza , Partido del Trabajo , the Convergencia por la Democracia and the Movimiento Regeneración Nacional .

Foreign and Security Policy

Mexico's President Felipe Calderón (2006–2012) with US President Barack Obama , 2009

Mexico's foreign policy is shaped by the historical experience of the 19th century. As a result of foreign interventions, especially after the French intervention in Mexico and then after the Mexican Revolution , the Doctrina Juárez determined Mexican foreign policy. It was based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries and the right of nations to self-determination. Mexican politics was limited to influencing multilateral organizations. In the 1970s, this position changed, at the latest with the debt crisis of 1982 it was obsolete. Instead of equating the revolutionary state with national sovereignty , the government of José López Portillos came to understand that this lies in international participation. This subsequently led to various steps towards international integration. In 1986 Mexico joined the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and in 1993 the Asia-Pacific Economic Community . Mexico joined the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in 1994 and left the group of 77 at the same time . In addition, the country was one of the founding members of the World Trade Organization in 1995 .

Mexico is a member of the United Nations . Mexico has been advocating reform of the UN Security Council since the 1990s . It positions itself with the support of Canada , Italy , Pakistan , South Korea , Spain , Argentina , Turkey and Malta , united under the name Uniting for Consensus , against the proposal of the G4 countries Germany , Brazil , India and Japan , the permanent Claim seats on the Security Council. Mexico is primarily directed against the seat of Brazil, as it sees the power structure in Latin America at risk. Mexico is also a member of the Organization of American States , the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States , the G8 + 5 and the G20 economic powers

The Mexican border with the USA , here near Tijuana , has been increasingly expanded since 2005 .

Relations with the United States have dominated foreign policy since the 19th century . This dominance received a new economic, political and social dimension in 1994 with the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement . With this agreement, the new neoliberal economic model was institutionalized externally. As a result, there was a further intensification of cooperation between the USA and Mexico, which went far beyond increasing economic integration. Increasingly, the issue of the security of the border between the United States and Mexico came into focus. On the one hand, the issue of the illegal immigration of Mexicans to the United States and human trafficking is on the agenda , and on the other, security in connection with the smuggling of weapons, drugs and money in the context of the Mexican drug war . As a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 , the relationship between the two countries changed. On the one hand, the focus of US politics was now shifting to other regions; on the other hand, the USA was disappointed by Mexico's rejection of the Iraq war . In addition, in 2003 the laws of Agricultural Jobs, Opportunity, Benefits and Security Act , Land Border Security and Immigration Improvement Act and Border Security and Immigration Reform Act were passed in the USA , which pursued a far more restrictive border and immigration policy than Vicente Fox and thus led to irritation.

Countries with a Mexican embassy (as of 2008)

Since the 1960s, Mexico’s relations with other Latin American states have grown in importance alongside those with the United States. Mexico increasingly took part in Latin American cooperations such as the Latin American free trade zone , which became the Latin American integration association in 1981 . The country also supported the revolutionary movements in Latin America diplomatically, symbolically and materially. Contrary to US expectations, Mexico also maintained diplomatic relations with Cuba after the revolution . Together with Venezuela , Mexico continued to build the Latin American economic system , which included Cuba but not the USA. With the reference back to the United States in the 1980s, however, the Latin American integration of Mexico subsided. The idea of ​​forming a debtor cartel with Argentina and Brazil and thus overcoming the debt crisis was rejected in this context. In the 1990s, Mexico concluded free trade agreements with Chile , Colombia , Bolivia , Nicaragua and Venezuela , but the focus of Mexican foreign policy was not again increasingly focused on Latin America. Nevertheless, there were some intensified collaborations. The Puebla-Panamá plan was announced and the development of the American free trade zone was accelerated, although the former was temporarily not pursued any further and the latter has not yet materialized. In addition, Mexico began to increasingly criticize the human rights situation in Cuba, so that despite rapprochement with Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, there was no return to the Latin American policy of the 1960s and 1970s.

In 1975 Mexico was the third Latin American country, after Uruguay and Brazil, to sign an economic and trade agreement with the European Community . In the 1980s, further agreements and contracts followed, which promoted cooperation on scientific and socio-political issues, for example, as well as in combating drugs, promoting tourism, cultural policy and environmental policy. The importance of Europe for President Fox was also evident in the number of 16 trips he made abroad to this region. European-Mexican relations were also increasingly institutionalized during his tenure. Nevertheless, Europe did not meet the expectations placed in it for Mexico, which means that Asia, and above all the People's Republic of China , gained increasing importance in foreign policy .


F-5 - Luftwaffe fighter aircraft

The Mexican military is subordinate to the Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional (SEDENA), which was founded in 1884 as the War and Navy Secretariat ( Secretaría de Guerra y Marina ). In 1937 it was renamed Secretaría de la Defensa . Since then the Secretaría de Marina (SEMAR) has been responsible for the Mexican Navy, the Armada de México . The armed forces follow the tradition of the Mexican War of Independence . They have a reputation for being politically neutral and less prone to corruption than other state institutions and authorities. In contrast to the situation in many other Latin American countries, the Mexican military did not interfere in economic and political transformations. It never acted independently, but only got involved on the orders of the President or the Governors.

corvettes of the Mexican Navy

Until recently it was visible after the military conflict in the 19th century, mainly as a result of natural disasters. But there were also other domestic operations, such as the suppression of the railway strike in 1959, the suppression of the student protests in 1968 and the fight against the guerrillas in the 1970s. In the 1980s and no later than the 1990s, pressure from the United States and the increasing level of drug-related crime led to interventions against the cartels. It turned out that the military could not contain the drug trade, but was increasingly susceptible to corruption by the Narcos. Under President Calderón, the military has been increasingly deployed since the beginning of 2007 in the war declared on the drug cartels to fight the drug mafia. As part of its cooperation in the fight against drugs, the United States managed to expand its influence over the Mexican military. Mexico became part of the United States Northern Command and has been part of the United States' Area of ​​Responsibility since October 2002 . The new operational situation led to changes in the Mexican military. It increasingly loses reference to the Mexican Revolution , takes on more and more police tasks, is increasingly entangled in human rights violations and is increasingly subordinate to the security interests of the USA. In some cases, Mexican soldiers also undergo US training.

The Mexican armed forces are divided into the army , which also includes the air force , and the navy . Conscription is compulsory in Mexico ( Servicio Militar Nacional ). All male residents over 18 are required to do military service, which lasts twelve months. At the age of 16 the service can be started voluntarily, women can also serve voluntarily. The army consists of 192,000 soldiers, of whom 130,000 belong to the army, 37,000 to the navy and 8,000 to the air force. There are also 300,000 reservists and 25,000 members of paramilitary units. Mexico spent almost 0.5 percent of its economic output or 5.8 billion US dollars on its armed forces in 2017.

Legal system

Headquarters of the Attorney General's Office on the Paseo de la Reforma

The Mexican legal system suffers from a loss of trust among the population and structural deficits. The Mexican legal system was integrated into the system of rule of the PRI and was therefore rather not perceived as a social regulatory authority, but understood as an appeals and mobilization authority. This leads to the system having legitimacy problems. 72 percent of Mexicans do not consider it imperative to abide by the law, 71 percent do not see human rights as secured in their country and 20 percent support vigilante justice . This is also due to the fact that the Mexican legal system was constituted as a project of the elite and thus did not correspond from the beginning with the reality of life of the majority of the population. In addition, there is the involvement of the police in drug trafficking and organized crime and their susceptibility to corruption. It also accepts the use of violence outside of the legal framework and personal enrichment to a high degree.

The Secretaría de Seguridad Pública is responsible for internal security in Mexico , while other tasks of a normal interior ministry are performed by the Secretaría de Gobernación . As of 2009, there were over 1,661 police authorities with around 350,000 members at federal, state, and city and municipal levels. The areas of responsibility thus distributed and overlapping between the many police organizations, inadequate coordination and poor pay promote the abuses mentioned above. Only at the federal level was the creation of the Policía Federal a combination of the various police forces. The Procuraduría General de la República is responsible for criminal prosecution at federal level, as well as for monitoring and reforming the judiciary and the constitution. It is headed by the Attorney General , who is appointed directly by the President and is therefore directly dependent on the executive.

The Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional (CISEN) reports to the Secretaría de Gobernación . It is the intelligence service of Mexico and in its history it has always been directed more inward than towards external opponents. He observed, for example, opposition and dissenters in the years after the revolution and the time of the sole rule of the PRI.


Ovens at a tequila distillery
Mexico is the second largest steel producer in Latin America, with around a quarter of total production.

The economy of Mexico reached the 15th place in the world rankings in 2016 with about US $ 1,049 billion, making it number 2 in Latin America. Adjusted for purchasing power, the gross domestic product was US $ 2,315 billion, which puts the country in 11th place. The gross domestic product per capita was on a comparable level with other emerging countries such as Brazil, the People's Republic of China or Turkey. Mexico currently ranks 12th in the world export rankings, with most exports going to the USA. Mexico's economy is therefore heavily dependent on the USA. In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Mexico ranks 51st out of 137 countries (2017-2018). Corruption is a big problem in the Mexican economy.

The gross domestic product (in 2016) is divided into:

  • Agriculture : 3.7 percent of GDP is generated by 13.4 percent of employees
  • Industry : 33.1 percent of GDP is generated by 24.1 percent of employees
  • Services : 63.2 percent of GDP is generated by 62.5 percent of employees

Mexico's economy has been heavily deregulated and privatized since the 1990s . The dominance of private firms is growing steadily, and the privatization of railways, seaports and airports is coming to an end, as is the further privatization of banks. The liberalization of the energy sector continues. Reforms are still pending in the telecommunications and petrochemicals sectors. The maquiladora industry strengthened its position in the Mexican economy and predominantly dominates the textile sector. Due to advancing industrialization , favorable demographics, increasing domestic consumption and proximity to the US market, Mexico's economy has considerable potential.

There is a north-south divide in Mexico. Northern states that are close to the USA such as Nuevo León or Sonora are richer and more industrialized than southern states such as Chiapas , Guerrero or Oaxaca, which are among the poorest regions in Mexico. The most important economic center, however, is by far the central region around the capital Mexico City .

Mexicans living abroad returned over US $ 26 billion to their homeland in 2016. Most of these transfers come from the United States. Remittances are therefore an important economic factor and account for 2.7% of economic output.

The unemployment rate was relatively low in 2017 at 3.9%. However, a large number of the workforce is underemployed. It is estimated that the underemployment rate is over 20%.

Agriculture: Production of: corn , wheat, soybeans , rice, beans , wool , coffee , fruits , tomatoes ; Beef , poultry , dairy products , wood products .
Industry: Production / extraction of: food and beverages ( wine , tequila ), tobacco , chemicals , iron and steel , crude oil , building materials , mineral raw materials , textiles , clothing , motor vehicles , consumer goods, tourism
Exports: Produced goods, oil products, silver , fruits, vegetables, avocado , coffee , wool , alcohol , tobacco
Exports to: USA 81%, Canada 2.8%, People's Republic of China 1.4% (2016); $ 373.9 billion fob (2016)
Imports: Metalworking machines, steelworking factories (parts), agricultural machines, electrical equipment, auto parts, machines, aircraft and aircraft parts
Imports from: USA 46.5%, People's Republic of China 18.8%, Japan 4.6% (2016); $ 387.1 billion fob (2016)

Sources: CIA World Factbook , Federal Foreign Office country information on Mexico

Energy industry

El Cajón Dam was built from 2003 to 2007 on the Rio Grande de Santiago in the state of Nayarit for $ 800 million

Mexico's energy generation is still up to 70 percent dependent on crude oil . Estimates assume that electricity consumption will increase by 3.2 to 5.6 percent annually by 2020.

In Mexico the coverage of the electricity supply is 97% (2006). In urban areas almost 100% and in rural areas around 95%.

The installed capacity for power generation is 58 GW (2008). 75.3 percent of the installed capacity is thermal, 19.0% hydropower , 2.4% nuclear energy and 3.3% renewable energy (excl. Hydropower). In 2007 Mexico exported 1.3 TWh of electricity to the USA and imported 0.6 TWh from the USA.

In 2009 the gross electricity generation was 233.4 TWh .:

Thermal power plants 41.18%
private electricity generation 32.76%
Hydropower 11.33%
Coal power plants 7.23%
Nuclear power 4.50%
Geothermal 2.89%
Wind power 0.11%

The largest supplier of equipment for power generation in Mexico is, according to company statements, Siemens .

Mexico has great potential for the use of renewable energies, especially wind power and solar energy . Between 2006 and 2015, Mexico intends to generate an additional 14.8 GW of electricity through renewable energy systems.

The largest reservoir in Mexico, the Manuel M. Torres Dam in Chiapas , dams the Río Grijalva and, with an output of 2,400  MW , is the fourth most productive in the world.

The expansion of the production of bioethanol as a fuel for cars is also an option, whereby it must be taken into account that there is already not enough maize from domestic production available to feed the population. Molasses from the sugar industry is therefore preferred as a raw material for bioethanol production . The production potential is estimated at 56 million liters per year, the future consumption at 164 million liters.

The state monopoly Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) is responsible for the generation and distribution of electrical energy.

Natural resources

PEMEX gas station, the petroleum company of Mexico

The oil sector plays a central role in the Mexican economy. The income from the petroleum export amounts to 10% of the Mexican export earnings.

Mexico is the sixth largest producer of crude oil worldwide with 3.7 million barrels per day and the tenth largest oil exporting nation (2007). After the US , Mexico ranks second in the Western Hemisphere, just ahead of Canada .

The state-owned petroleum company PEMEX is the largest Mexican company and the largest company in Latin America , with almost 140,000 employees and sales of almost 100 billion US $ (2006).


Cement Factory ( Cemex ) Monterrey , Mexico
New Beetle Cabrio, has been built in Puebla since 2003

The automotive industry (OEM and supplier industry) in Mexico contributes 3% to total GDP, 17.3% to the manufacturing industry and 21.4% to exports and employs 13% of the workers in Mexico (84% of which are in the supply industry and 16% in the automotive industry). Today (2012) it represents the largest industry and employs around one million people. Numerous free trade agreements with 43 countries enable high export quotas. The proportion of vehicles produced for export rose from 34 percent to 82 percent between 1990 and 2016. By 2016 the production reached 3.3 million units, which was the seventh largest producer in the world.

The company Ford is investing $ 2 billion to the model Ford Fiesta to produce in Mexico. This will create around 30,000 jobs at suppliers and at Ford itself.

Many of the vehicles produced in Mexico are sold to the United States and Canada. In 2004, for example, Toyota built a plant directly on the border with the USA, in which 50,000  pick-ups are produced per year.

General Motors de Mexico, S. de RL de CV is the largest automaker in Mexico and the ninth largest company in the country, with sales of US $ 11.8 billion. General Motors has been active in Mexico since 1935 and today has factories in Toluca , Silao, Guanajuato, Ramos Arizpe , Coahuila and Mexico City. GM assembles various models in Mexico for the domestic market and for export worldwide. GM Mexico sells the brands Chevrolet , Pontiac , Cadillac , Saab and Fiat in Mexico .

Nissan Mexicana SA de CV has been producing vehicles and vehicle parts in Mexico since 1966 and imports Nissan vehicles from other countries (e.g. from Brazil ) for the Mexican market. The company was founded in 1961, the head office (approx. 450 employees) is in Mexico City .

With 9,000 employees, the company was ranked 16th among the largest companies in Mexico in 2006. The output in 2007 was 496,000 vehicles, 214,000 vehicles were sold in Mexico ( market share 19.5%).

Volkswagen de México has been operating a production plant in Puebla since 1964, employing around 15,000 people. Around 80% of the 450,000 vehicles produced there in 2008 are exported. The target for 2012 is 600,000 vehicles. The VW Beetle was builtin the plant until 2003.

Founded in 1906, Cemex is a global manufacturer of building materials, primarily ready-mixed concrete , and one of the largest cement manufacturers in the world (annual sales approx. 13 billion US dollars; as of the end of 2017). In addition to the two main business areas cement and concrete , Cemex operates almost 400 mining sites for mineral raw materials such as sand , gravel and quarry stone worldwide . Cement clinker and precast concrete parts are also produced. The company's monopoly-like position resulted in cement prices twice that of the US.


Agricultural use of Mexico
A Tarahumara indigenous woman herds goats in northwestern Mexico

The contribution of agriculture to Mexico's GDP has steadily declined in recent years and is now (2006) 3.9%, while the contribution was 7% in 1980 and 25% in 1970.

Nevertheless, 18% of those employed are still employed in agriculture (2003), many of whom produce food for their own needs as part of subsistence farming .

In northern Mexico, with the introduction of sheep and goats, a semi-sedentary form of transhumance ( remote grazing) has developed since the Conquista , in which, depending on the rainy and dry season, people alternate between the pastures on the highlands and on the slopes of the Sierra. The shepherds often cover hundreds of kilometers through sometimes inaccessible terrain.

Agricultural products

Although corn is the typical staple food in Mexico, agriculture in Mexico focuses on horticulture , tropical fruits, and vegetables . With the implementation of the NAFTA Free Trade Agreement, it was widely expected that many of the Mexican corn growers would turn to more labor-intensive products, such as: B. fruits, nuts, vegetables, coffee and sugar cane .

However, Mexico has been inundated with highly subsidized US farm produce and meat at a price 20 percent below production costs, while subsidies have been cut in Mexico. While Mexico was still largely self-sufficient in maize at the beginning of the 1990s, many small-scale farms had to give up and agricultural imports rose. The many landless people could not be absorbed in the newly emerging supplier industries. Mexico today has to import 60 percent of its wheat and 70 percent of its rice needs.

Sugar cane is grown on around 160,000 small and medium-sized farms in 15 Mexican states. The cultivation area is around 700,000 ha with a sugar cane yield of around 72 t / ha. 57 sugar factories are currently in operation. The Mexican sugar industry is characterized by high production costs and a lag in investment. Mexico's sugar production is greater than its domestic consumption. In 2005 Mexico was the sixth most important sugar cane producing country with a production of 45,127,000 t.


Tourism is of increasing importance to Mexico's economy. In 2016, the country was visited by over 35 million tourists. Tourism revenue was $ 39.7 billion that same year. Frequently visited tourist destinations in the country are the sites of Chichén Itzá , the old town of Mexico City and the city of Cancun, which was built especially for tourism . The country has a total of 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites , making it 7th in the world. The largest group of foreign tourists come from the neighboring United States.

Foreign trade

Mexican states by GDP per capita in US dollars (2012)

Mexico has now signed 32  free trade agreements with over 40 countries, including the EU (since 2000), Japan , Guatemala , Honduras and El Salvador . Mexico has been a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement ( NAFTA ) since January 1, 1994 . In the first few years after its entry into force, the country's economic situation improved only marginally. Since the inception of free trade, exports have tripled to date, and 90 percent of Mexican exports are now under free trade agreements.

The USA alone takes 80 percent of Mexico's exports. 80 percent of exports are industrial products, 15.6 percent crude oil and refined products and 3 percent agricultural products. The highest increase is recorded in oil exports. Due to the sharp rise in oil prices , growth of 27.3 percent was recorded. However, it was possible to diversify exports in recent years. The automotive industry, electronics, tourism and maquila factories have grown in importance in duty-free zones.

Economic indicators

The key economic indicators of gross domestic product, inflation, budget balance and foreign trade have developed as follows in recent years:

Change in gross domestic product (GDP), real
in% compared to the previous year
year 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Change in% yoy 1.4 −5.8 5.1 4.0 4.0 1.4 2.8 3.3 2.9 2.0
Source: World Bank
Development of GDP (nominal)
absolute (in billion US $) per inhabitant (in thousands of US $)
year 2015 2016 2017 year 2016 2016 2017
GDP in billion US $ 1,170 1,077 1,150 GDP per inhabitant (in thousands of US $) 9.3 8.4 8.9
Source: World Bank
Development of the inflation rate Development of the budget balance
in% compared to the previous year in% of GDP
("minus" means deficit in the national budget)
year 2015 2016 2017 2018 year 2016 2017 2018
inflation rate 2.6 2.8 ~ 4.8 ~ 3.2 Budget balance −2.9 ~ −2.9 ~ −2.5
Source: GTAI ~ = estimated
Main trading partner (2016)
Export (in%) to Import (in%) of
United StatesUnited States United States 81.0 United StatesUnited States United States 46.5
CanadaCanada Canada 2.8 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 18.8
China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 1.4 JapanJapan Japan 4.6
GermanyGermany Germany 1.1 GermanyGermany Germany 3.6
JapanJapan Japan 1.0 Korea SouthSouth Korea South Korea 3.5
SpainSpain Spain 0.9 CanadaCanada Canada 2.5
Source: GTAI
Main products of foreign trade (2016)
Export goods (share in%) Imported goods (share in%)
electronics 16.1 Motor vehicles and parts 23.5
machinery 13.9 electronics 16.5
Motor vehicles and parts 9.6 machinery 10.4
Electrical engineering 8.9 Electrical engineering 10.2
food 4.8 food 6.3
Others 46.7 Others 33.1
Source: bfai
Development of foreign trade
in US $ billion and its change compared to the previous year in%
2014 2015 2016
Billion US $ % yoy Billion US $ % yoy Billion US $
(1st half)
% year-on-year
import 400.0 +4.9 395.2 −1.2 387.1 −2.1
export 396.9 +4.5 380.6 −4.1 373.9 −1.8
balance −3.1 −14.6 −13.2
Source: GTAI

State budget

The state budget included expenditures in 2016 of the equivalent of 255.9 billion US dollars , which were income equivalent to 224.3 billion US dollar against. This results in a budget deficit of 3.0% of GDP .
The national debt amounted to 2016 607 billion US dollars or 58.1% of GDP. The state 's government bonds are rated BBB + by the American rating agency
Standard & Poor’s (as of November 2018). The country is thus considered to be a debtor of average quality.

In 2006 the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was as follows:


In 2018, Mexico was ranked 51st out of 160 countries in the Logistics Performance Index , which is compiled by the World Bank and measures the quality of infrastructure. Of all the countries in Latin America, Mexico ranks third behind Chile and Panama .

Road traffic

The main passenger and freight traffic in Mexico takes place on the road and highway network. In 2012, the country's road system was 377,660 km. In the same year, the length of the motorway network was 7176 km.

When it comes to road safety, the country is in the midfield worldwide. In 2013 there were a total of 6.1 road deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants in Mexico. For comparison: In Germany there were 4.3 deaths in the same year. A total of 15,000 people were killed in traffic. The country has a relatively advanced rate of motorization by global standards. In 2010 there were 275 motor vehicles for every 1,000 inhabitants in the country.

Rail transport

air traffic

Mexico has a nationwide network of modern airports in the country. The system is considered safe and reliable. The airport infrastructure is considered to be the most advanced in Latin America. Every metropolitan region with over 500,000 inhabitants has an international airport. Mexico has 1,834 airfields, the third largest number of any country in the world.

The seven largest airports in the country serve 90% of the traffic (order by air traffic):

  1. Mexico City International Airport 'Benito Juárez'
  2. Cancun International Airport
  3. Don Miguel Hidalgo International Airport and Costilla (Guadalajara)
  4. General Mariano Escobedo International Airport (Monterrey)
  5. General Abelardo L. Rodríguez International Airport (Tijuana)
  6. General Juan N. Álvarez International Airport (Acapulco)
  7. General Heriberto Jara Corona International Airport (Veracruz)
  8. Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (Puerto Vallarta).

All airports are privately owned with the exception of Mexico City International Airport. This airport is the largest in Latin America (44th in the world) and handles around 26 million passengers annually.

There are more than 70 airlines in Mexico. The largest airline is Aeroméxico . Smaller airlines are Aeroméxico Connect (Aeroméxico's regional subsidiary), Volaris , Interjet , Aeromar , Viva Aerobus , Magnicharters and Republicair .

Some previously known airlines have ceased operations in recent years: Aviacsa (2009), Mexicana de Aviación and its subsidiary Click Mexicana (2010).

Mexico and the US recently signed an open skies agreement. This now also allows 'low-cost' airlines 'point-to-point' connections to establish direct flights between Mexican and US cities. This approach is intended to decentralize air traffic in North America by connecting small cities directly and bypassing the aviation hubs.


Mexico has 67  seaports and ten inland ports .



Art in Mexico is shaped by the recourse to pre-Columbian traditions and the influence of the Spanish conquerors. Although the Spaniards violently broke with high representatives of Indian power, a strong reference to pre-colonial art remained. In addition, masked parades took place in Mexico City under the viceroy's government to preserve the memory of the Aztec dynasty. The traditional art forms were also linked with new motifs. For example, pen- and - ink paintings were created with depictions of Mary that referred to the Christian faith introduced by the Spaniards. The entire feather art, which was previously only available to the nobility, was reinterpreted as Christian and was used, for example, for bishop's caps and altar covers, although traditional Aztec color meanings were retained. Until the 19th century, Pátzcuaro was a center of feather processing with important handicraft facilities. Another field of image representation with traditional principles was maps and genealogical representations. The maps showed connections between the European form of cartography and Mexican glyphs .

During the 19th century European artists traveled to Mexico and presented the country in all its diversity artistically. The most important of them was probably Johann Moritz Rugendas , who created landscapes, genre scenes and studies of nature and the population. Mexican art flourished in the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution. Artists such as David Alfaro Siqueiros , José Clemente Orozco and Juan O'Gorman dealt in their work with the revolution and social issues as well as Mexican history up to the pre-Columbian era. The most famous Mexican artists to date are Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo . Together with others, Diego Rivera founded muralism , the art form of monumental public wall paintings, which found widespread use in Mexico and can be seen today in many public buildings as well as in other countries in Latin America and in the USA. Significant murals by Rivera can be found in the Palacio National and show events in Mexican history. Contemporary art in Mexico primarily deals with social issues such as violence and crime. Exemplary representatives are Teresa Margolles , Daniel Guzmán and Eduardo Abaroa.


The world's best-known Mexican modernist architect is Luis Barragán .



Popular music in Mexico consists of a wide range of musical styles and genres. It has its origins in pre-Columbian and European, predominantly Spanish, culture. The most important styles are the Mexican Son and the Corrido , which were already played in the 18th century. Elements of the corrido can also be found in the Narcocorrido , which has embodied typical Mexican folk music since the beginning of the 21st century. The ranchera emerged during the Mexican Revolution at the beginning of the 20th century and found its expression as Norteña in northern Mexico. In the 1920s, the dance styles Bolero and Danzón, originally from Cuba, were further developed into independent forms. Agustín Lara , a creator of the Mexican bolero, also composed the soundtrack for the first Mexican sound film Santa from 1932. World-famous folk songs are: Bésame mucho (bolero), Cielito lindo (ranchera), El Rey (ranchera), Granada (bolero), La Bamba (folk song), La Cucaracha (Corrido), Las mañanitas (folk song), México Lindo y Querido (Ranchera), Solamente una vez (Bolero), Somos Novios (Bolero).

A musical group that plays all styles of traditional music is called a mariachi . Mariachi music was included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2011.

The forefather of Mexican rock music ( rock nacional ) is Carlos Santana , who created Latin rock in the 1960s . Other well-known pop musicians from Mexico are: Maná , Luis Miguel , Alejandro Fernández , Thalía , Marco Antonio Solís , Pepe Aguilar , Paulina Rubio , Angelica Maria , Alejandra Guzmán , Gloria Trevi and Cristian Castro .

In the field of classical music, the first Mexican opera La Parténope , composed by Manuel de Sumaya , premiered in 1711. In the 19th century the waltz was popular and Mexican composers ( Ernesto Elorduy , Juventino Rosas , Felipe Villanueva ) created a distinct Mexican form. The Mexican symphony orchestra Orquesta Sinfónica Mexicana was founded in 1928 by Carlos Chávez . Rolando Villazón, who was born in Mexico, is one of the most internationally recognized contemporary tenors .


The history of film in Mexico began in January 1895 with the Kinetoskop and in August 1896 with the Cinématographe . As a result, an own Mexican silent film production developed . Most of these films, however, are lost or have not survived. As a result of the change to sound film , the film industry grew and gained in importance. For the first time there were internationally known stars like the actress Dolores del Río , who also shot in the United States of America. After the end of the Second World War and into the early 1950s, Mexican film experienced its “golden age”. Among other things, Luis Buñuel shot films during this time that were internationally successful, both with audiences and at festivals. An example of this is Buñuel's film The Forgotten ( Los Olvidados ) from 1950. Other directors and actors also achieved international fame. With the end of this era began a long period in which rather cheap productions with a thematic focus on action , violence and eroticism dominated and international successes failed to materialize. This only changed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A new Mexican film came out, which was able to build on more successful times with high-quality films such as Bittersweet Chocolate ( Como aguapara chocolate ) from 1992, which was one of the most successful foreign films of the year in the USA. The trend towards high quality Mexican films that could attract international interest continued. After the turn of the millennium, Amores Perros and Y Tu Mamá También - Lust for Life ( Y Tu Mamá También ) were able to win international prizes and an equally foreign-language audience. Mexican filmmakers also established themselves internationally. For example, Guillermo del Toro was able to gain a foothold as a director in Hollywood.


The media landscape in Mexico was for a long time and is still politically dominated today. Although the majority of the media are privatized and there was no direct censorship, there was no free reporting. The political elite and parts of the business community have had, and still are, great influence over the reporting. For a long time there was the state monopoly on paper , subsidies , mixing of news with comments and advertising, ordered reports and placed information and pictures. The poor pay of journalists, who were and are susceptible to corruption and the payment of government agencies and companies, also had a beneficial effect . Companies such as PEMEX , the President, state authorities as well as those of the federal states and municipalities, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional and its sub-organizations as well as other parties and organizations have maintained and sometimes maintain long-term relationships with certain journalists who provided them with information and whose reporting was accordingly controlled . In the 1990s and 2000s, the networks between PRI and journalists were still being used to discredit PAN or PRD-led governments and governors at the state level.

But there were also journalists who broached the maladies of the system and pointed to violations of human rights and deficiencies in the rule of law . These were often victims of state repression. In the 1990s, the successor to the weekly Proceso , which was published by Julio Scherer García , saw an upswing in investigative journalism and the establishment of print media in northern Mexico and Mexico City. Overall, newspapers only play a subordinate role in Mexico, as they are too expensive for the majority of people and therefore only have a limited range . Of the 300 newspapers, 35 of which appear in Mexico City, Reforma is the largest with 186,000 copies, followed by El Universal with 139,000, Exélsior with 112,000 and La Jornada with 82,000 copies.

The relationship between the state and the media is only weakly regulated in Mexico. The Ley Federal de Radio y Televisión dates back to 1960, when, instead of laws, unrecorded agreements were more decisive. This media law no longer meets today's requirements. A new law that would regulate the media market, combat monopolies and limit the influence of the advertising industry has been before parliament since 2002, but has not yet been passed. The legislative initiative goes back to demands from the 1970s and is intended to lead to the establishment of an independent media council, to strengthen non-commercial channels in the issuing of licenses and to legalize free radio stations. Despite the changes in the political power structure, the law has so far not been enforced against the silent majorities in the PRI and PAN. Around 2000 licenses for electronic media have been issued by the Mexican government. 80 percent of them are operated commercially. There is a significant concentration in the television market. Televisa has a market share of around 50 percent, TV Azteca around 30 percent. The rest is accounted for by regional channels. The two large broadcasting groups exert their influence through programs that are also successfully marketed internationally, such as telenovelas . Televisa is considered one of the most influential media groups in the world. The government has recently invested heavily in public programs. The range of radio and television programs operated by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the Instituto Politécnico Nacional will be expanded.

11 journalists were killed in Mexico in 2017. According to the Reporters Without Borders report, the victims' deaths are directly related to their journalistic activities.

The Internet is becoming increasingly popular in Mexico. In 2016, 58 million Mexicans used the internet (45.1% of the population).


Mexican cuisine is characterized by the synthesis of Aztec and Spanish-colonial, in the south also Mayan traditions. Regionally there are big differences in Mexico between the coast and the central highlands, the Chile-loving south and the beef-oriented north.

The most important meal of the day is lunch, and the lunch break on a normal working day is correspondingly long. In the evening, usually only a small snack is consumed, a few fruits, a taco or something similar. In a hot, tropical country with mostly lush vegetation, fruits and certain vegetables play a dominant role.

The tortillas that go with every meal are typical of Mexico . Usually there are also chillies or chilli sauces on the table, the heat of which can be very different. The hottest chilli is the Chile Habanero , a mostly green, approximately three centimeter tall representative of its genus. The chile jalapeño , which is served in slices in traditional restaurants, is much milder .

Another popular dish in Mexico are the so-called churros . These are elongated, deep-fried pieces of dough that are traditionally served with sugar or chocolate.

Drinking water is usually sold in bottles or canisters because tap water is often not suitable for drinking. The horchata , a sweet rice / cinnamon drink that was introduced by the Spaniards and is served chilled, is popular. The common alcoholic beverages are beer , tequila , mezcal, and pulque .

Mexican food has grown in popularity over the past few decades and some dishes, similar to Italian cuisine , are already among the best known internationally.


Soccer game in the Aztec Stadium

The Mexican national sport is Charrería and is particularly common in the north of the country. The sport is based on the activities of the charro and consists of various point competitions, which makes it similar to the rodeo . Another traditional sport introduced to Mexico by the Spanish is bullfighting . Other popular and common sports in Mexico are soccer , boxing , baseball, and basketball . Mexican show wrestling, known under the name Lucha Libre , is also special . The Football in Mexico is organized at club level in a national league system. The top division is the Primera División, founded in 1943 . There are currently 18 teams playing in it, the champion is determined in the playoff system from eight teams. The most successful team is Club América from Mexico City with twelve championship titles, followed by Deportivo Guadalajara with eleven and Deportivo Toluca with ten titles. Mexico hosted the Football World Cup in 1970 and the Football World Cup in 1986 , with both final games taking place in the Aztec Stadium , currently the third largest football stadium in the world. The Mexican national soccer team took part in 15 of 20 possible World Cup finals and is one of the most successful American national teams alongside Argentina and Brazil. The continental championship football associations North and Central America and the Caribbean Mexico won already ten times. Internationally known footballers from Mexico include Hugo Sánchez , Rafael Márquez , Ricardo Osorio , Pável Pardo and Javier Hernandez ( Chicharito ).

Nigel Mansell , won the
Mexican Grand Prix in 1987 and 1992

The origins of baseball in Mexico are in the 1870s. The highest league is the Liga Mexicana de Béisbol , which was founded in 1925 and has the highest classification of Major League Baseball , making it one of the best leagues in the world. There are currently 16 teams playing in it, the record champion is Diablos Rojos del México from Mexico City. Over 100 players have made it into the American-Canadian Major League Baseball, including players like Fernando Valenzuela , Vinny Castilla and Aurelio Rodríguez . The national team won bronze medals at four Pan American Games .

The highest basketball league in Mexico is the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional , which was founded in 2000 and currently comprises 24 teams. Boxing is another popular and successful sport as Mexican boxers have won several world titles and Olympic medals. There is traditionally a special rivalry with the boxers from Puerto Rico . From 1962 to 1970, from 1986 to 1992 and since 2015, the Mexican Grand Prix has been held as part of Formula 1 . Because of her successes, the golfer Lorena Ochoa , who has been leading the LPGA Tour since 2007 , is very popular.

Logo of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City

Mexico hosted the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. It was the only Latin American host country until 2016 , when the 2016 Summer Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro . In Mexico City, 112 nations with a total of 5516 athletes took part, there were 172 competitions in 20 sports. Outstanding were the world record in the long jump by Bob Beamon and the Fosbury flop in the high jump. Overall, a particularly large number of records were set at these games. Mexican athletes have won 55 medals at the Olympic Games so far , which puts Mexico in 39th place in the all-time medal table. The medals could be won in various sports such as horse riding , diving , swimming , boxing , polo and fencing .

Celebrations and parties

public holidays
date Surname German name Remarks
January 1st Año Nuevo New Year National holiday
6th January Día de Reyes Holy Three Kings
February 5th Aniversario de la Constitución Mexicana Constitution Day public holiday, is celebrated on Monday, e.g. B. on February 3, 2014 or on February 2, 2015
February 24th Día de la Bandera Flag day
March 21st Natalicio de Benito Juarez Birthday of Benito Juárez National holiday
April Jueves Santo Maundy Thursday National holiday
April Viernes Santo Good Friday National holiday
1st of May Día del Trabajo Labor Day National holiday
5th of May El Cinco de Mayo 5th of May National holiday
September 1 Informe presidencial Government statement
16th September Día de la Independencia Independence day legal national holiday
12th of October Día de la Raza Anniversary of the "encounter of two worlds" Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus (1492)
November 1st and 2nd Días de los Muertos day of the Dead
November 2 Día de los Fieles Difuntos All Souls National holiday
20th November Aniversario de Revolución Mexicana Revolution day National holiday
12th of December Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe
25 December Navidad Christmas National holiday



  • Bernecker , Braig , Hölz, Zimmermann (eds.): Mexico today. Politics, economy, culture . Vervuert, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-86527-140-5 .
  • Marianne Braig , Markus-Michael Müller: The political system of Mexico. In: Klaus Stüwe, Stefan Rinke : The political systems in North and Latin America. An introduction. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2008, ISBN 978-3-531-14252-4 , pp. 389-416.
  • Frank Jacob , Riccardo Altieri (ed.): Modern Mexico. About independence struggle and revolution. ALTIJA (self-published), New York 2016.
  • Jürgen Neubauer: Mexico. A country portrait. Ch.links, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86153-667-3 .
  • William H. Prescott: History of the Conquest of Mexico. Continuum, London / New York 2009, ISBN 978-1-4411-4699-1 .
    • German: The conquest of Mexico. The fall of the Aztec Empire. Parkland, Cologne 2000, ISBN 3-88059-993-9 .
  • John Ross: Mexico. History-society-culture . Unrast, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-89771-018-8 .
  • Stefan Rinke: Conquistadors and Aztecs. Cortés and the conquest of Mexico. CH Beck, Munich 2019, ISBN 978-3-406-73399-4 .

Audio book

Web links

Wiktionary: Mexico  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Mexico  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: Mexico  - on the news
Wikimedia Atlas: Mexico  - geographical and historical maps
Wikivoyage: Mexico  Travel Guide
Wikisource: Mexico  - Sources and Full Texts

Individual evidence

  1. a b population, total. In: World Economic Outlook Database. World Bank , 2020, accessed January 31, 2021 .
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Coordinates: 23 °  N , 102 °  W