Country Portrait: Mexico

Country facts:

  • Full name: United Mexican States
  • Capital: Mexico City
  • 14th largest country in the world (1,973,000,000 km²)
  • Largest cities: Mexico City, Ecatepec, Guadalajara
  • Population: 109 Mio
  • Growth rate: 1.26%
  • Age expectancy: 76.1 years
  • Languages: Spanish, Indigenous dialects
  • Ethnic Mix: Mestizo (60%), Amerindian (30%)

After New Spain won independence from Spain, it was decided that the new country would be named after its capital, Mexico City, which was founded in 1524 on top of the ancient Aztec capital ofMéxico-Tenochtitlan. The name comes from the Nahuatl language, but its meaning is not known. It has been suggested that it is derived from Mextli or Mēxihtli, a secret name for the god of war and patron of the Aztecs, Huitzilopochtli, in which case Mēxihco means “Place where Mēxihtli lives”.

According to the World Tourism Organization, Mexico has one of the largest tourism industries in the world. In 2005 it was the seventh most popular. The most notable tourist draws are the ancient Mesoamerican ruins, and popular beach resorts. The coastal climate and unique culture – a fusion of European (particularly Spanish) and Mesoamerican cultures; also make Mexico attractive. The peak tourist seasons in Mexico are during December and during July and August, with brief surges during the week before Easter and during spring break at many of the beach resort sites which are popular among vacationing college students from the United States

Mexican culture reflects the complexity of the country’s history through the blending of pre-Hispaniccivilizations and the culture of Spain, imparted during Spain’s 300-year colonization of Mexico. Exogenous cultural elements mainly from the United States have been incorporated into Mexican culture. As was the case in most Latin American countries, when Mexico became an independent nation, it had to slowly create a national identity, being an ethnically diverse country in which, for the most part, the only connecting element amongst the newly independent inhabitants was Catholicism.

The country has also hosted the FIFA World Cup twice, in 1970 and 1986. Mexico’s most popular sport is association football (soccer). I don’t remember how they played in 2006. But they must have played well, because afterwards some of the players started playing for European teams…

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