Mexico - travel, hotels and resources

     
     
   
 
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Location: Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, between Belize and the US and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and the US


Map references: North America

Area:
total: 1,972,550 sq km
land: 1,923,040 sq km
water: 49,510 sq km

AreaŚcomparative: slightly less than three times the size of Texas

Land boundaries:
total: 4,538 km
border countries: Belize 250 km, Guatemala 962 km, US 3,326 km

Coastline: 9,330 km

Climate: varies from tropical to desert

Terrain: high, rugged mountains; low coastal plains; high plateaus; desert
 
Mexico
Mexico, officially United Mexican States, republic (1995 est. pop. 93,986,000), 761,600 sq mi (1,972,544 sq km), S North America; bordered by the U.S. (N), the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea (E), Belize and Guatemala (SE), and the Pacific Ocean (W). Principal cities include Mexico City (the capital), Guadalajara, and Monterrey. The country is predominantly mountainous, and less than 15% of the land is considered arable. There are lowlands in the southeast and along the coasts, but the heart of the country is the extensive Mexican plateau, with elevations generally above 4,000 ft (1,220 m). Fringed by the ranges of the Sierra Madre, the plateau (except for the arid north) is a region of broad, shallow lakes where more than half of the country's population is concentrated. To the south is a chain of extinct volcanoes, including Popocatepetl, Ixtacihuatl, and Citlaltepetl, which at 18,406 ft (5,610 m) is Mexico's highest point. The population has grown rapidly in the 20th cent., more than quadrupling from 1940 to 1990. However, declining fertility rates are slowing population growth. The great majority of the people are of mixed Spanish and indigenous descent, but a sizable minority are of purely indigenous descent. The official language is Spanish, but some Mexicans still speak only indigenous tongues. About 90% of the people are Roman Catholic

Before Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World, the Valley of Mexico was already a bustling center of life and commerce. Known for being the longest continuously inhabited city in the Western Hemisphere (it was founded in 1325), Mexico City now ranks as the largest city in the world. Once called Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital city was built on a one-square mile island in an enormous shallow lake. By the early 1500's it was the capital of a military empire that stretched from Texas to Honduras. The Spanish crown, led by Hernan Cortes, conquered the Aztec Empire in 1521. It was not until the early 1800s that Mexico began its long, hard quest for independence - which it won in 1821.

Not only is Mexico City the capital of Mexico, but it is also Mexico's commercial center. The zocalo, or central plaza, is the world's largest square and Mexico City's main historic district. A whirlwind of history can be discovered in the district's museums, hotels, cathedrals, and public buildings. One mile to the north is the Tlatelolco Reforma and Chapultepec Park. Once housing the historic Aztec marketplace, it is now home to the Plaza of Three Cultures, depicting the three dramatic eras of Mexico City's evolution. The elegant Paseo de la Reforma surrounds Mexico City from west to northeast. It was modeled after the Champs-Elysees in Paris and built during the reign of Emperor Maximilian, the Archduke who ruled Mexico from 1864-67. Just south of the Reforma is the fashionable Zona Rosa, or the Pink Zone. Built in the 1920's and reminiscent of Greenwich Village, its location is ideal - half-way between the zocalo and Chapultepec Park. Most of the superior and deluxe Mexico City hotels are located here, as well as the city's finest restaurants, historic landmarks and public buildings.
   
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