OFFICIAL NAME: United Mexican States
CAPITAL: Mexico City
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Federal Multiparty Republic
AREA: 1,972,547 Sq Km (761,605 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 105,146,900
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Mexico is located in the southern
region of the North American Continent. It is bound by the
United States of America to the north, the Gulf of California
to the northwest, the Pacific Ocean to the west and southwest,
Guatemala and Belize to the south as well as the Gulf of
Mexico to the east. Around 66% of the country is mountainous
and the terrain rises steeply from the Pacific Ocean and
Gulf of Mexico coastal plains to a central plateau which
is bound by the Sierra Madre Occidental to the west and
the Sierra Madre Oriental to the east. In the north the
Sonoran Desert covers most of the region which lies west
of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The Central Meseta in the
northern plateau region contains three great desert basins,
called Bolsons. Central Mexico consists of rolling hills
interspersed by broad basins and valleys. South of the plateau
the Sierra Madre de Chiapas extends to the Guatemalan border.
In the southeast limestone lowlands or broad plains of the
Yucatan Peninsula reach the Gulf of Mexico. There are a
few large rivers and a number of smaller ones and the country's
largest lake is Lake Chapala. Major Cities (pop. est.);
Mexico City 9,815,800, Guadalajara 1,650,000, Ciudad Netzahualcoyotl
1,255,500, Monterrey 1,069,000, Puebla 1,007,200, Leon 872,500,
Juarez 789,300, Tijuana 698,800 (1990). Land Use; forested
26%, pastures 39%, agricultural-cultivated 13%, other 23%
CLIMATE: Mexico has a tropical and temperate climate depending
on altitude, winds and cool Pacific Ocean currents. A tropical climate
is experienced along the coastal region of the Yucatan Peninsula and the
lower areas of southern Mexico while a temperate climate is experienced
in areas with an elevation higher than 900 metres (3,000 feet). Most of
Mexico is dry with about 14% of the land area receiving adequate rainfall
in all seasons. During summer and autumn both the east and west coasts
are subject to hurricanes. Average temperature ranges in Mexico City are
from 6 to 19 degrees Celsius (43 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit) in January to
12 to 26 degrees Celsius (54 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit) in May.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Mestizos who account
for around 55% of the population and are of mixed AmerIndian and European
(Spanish) descent. The AmerIndians account for 29% of the population while
15% of the population is divided among the Whites and a small number of
Black Africans. Other ethnic minorities include Mulattoes, who are of mixed
Black and Spanish descent, and the Chinese.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 42 persons per sq km (109
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 72.6% urban, 27.4% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 49.2% male, 50.8% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
66.5 years male, 73.1 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 36% under 15,
32% 15 to 29, 18% 30 to 44, 9% 45 to 59, 4% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1990).
Birth Rate; 31.5 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 5.3 per 1,000 (1990). Increase
Rate; 26.2 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 46.6 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with 93% of the population Roman
Catholic. Other religious minorities include Protestants and Jews.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Spanish which is spoken by
the majority of the population while 7% of the population speak various
AmerIndian languages only.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
38.0%, incomplete primary 31.7%, primary 17.3%, incomplete secondary 8.1%,
higher 4.9% (1980). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 87.3%
MODERN HISTORY - WWI TO 1993: In 1929 the last military revolt
of the country's Revolution saw the formation of the National Revolutionary
Party (PNR). In 1934 Pres. Gen. Lazaro Cardenas implemented further land
reforms, cooperative farms and the nationalization of US and British oil
companies. In 1938 the PNR was renamed the Mexican Revolutionary Party
(PRM) and in 1946 the PRM was renamed the Institutional Revolutionary Party
(PRI). During the 1940's Mexico experienced an "Economic Miracle"
after receiving a boost to the economy, resulting from US collaboration
during World War II. In 1953 women received the right to vote in all elections
and in 1968 the Olympic Games were held in Mexico City. During the 1970's
major new petroleum deposits were discovered on the Gulf of Mexico coast
and due to a slump in world petroleum prices combined with the end of agricultural
self sufficiency the economy declined. In 1982 Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado
was elected President and embarked on an anti-corruption program. In Aug.
1982 the government announced that it could no longer meet its foreign
debt of $80 Billion which resulted in the devaluation of the Peso several
times and the nation's banks being taken over by the government. In 1984
the country eased its foreign investment policies and in 1985 a severe
earthquake struck Mexico City killing around 7,000 people. In May 1987
a former executive of the state-owned petroleum concern, Pemex, was sentenced
to 10 years imprisonment for the embezzlement of $54 Million. In 1988 Carlos
Salinas de Gotari was elected President. In May 1990 Norma Corona Sapienz,
President of the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights was assassinated.
In June 1990 Pres. Salinas created a National Commission of Human Rights
to curb abuses and promote human rights. During 1991 negotiations were
held for a North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that culminated
with meetings between US Pres. Bush and Pres. Salinas at Camp David in
Dec. 1991. In Jan. 1991 Pres. Salinas established a Integral Program to
Fight Atmospheric Pollution with a budget of US $2.5 billion and in March
1991 due to a record breaking increase in Mexico City's pollution levels
shut down the 18 de Marzo refinery which was responsible for 4% of the
city's pollution. In June 1991 the government began to re-privatise the
country's banks while the government also finalized the privatization of
the state-owned telephone company, Telmex. In Aug. 1991 the ruling PRI
won midterm Chamber of Deputies' elections taking nearly all 300 directly
elected seats. In Sept. 1991 Mexico and Chile signed a free-trade agreement
while Mexico also signed agreements in 1991 with five Central American
nations that would allow them to negotiate bilateral trade agreements.
Also in 1991 a series of reforms aimed at improving Mexico's human rights
record was introduced, although a report from Amnesty International claimed
the reforms had failed to halt the torture and ill-treatment of civilians
by law enforcement agents. In March and April 1992 schools were closed
in Mexico City after pollution levels reached dangerous levels while industry
was order to cut output to 75% and 300,000 cars were forced to stay off
the roads. On April 22, 1992 a series of sewer explosion rocked the city
of Guadalajara destroying some 20 blocks, resulting in some 200 deaths
and 1,500 injuries. Following the disaster 11 officials from the local
government, the water board and Pemex were charged for criminal negligence
for not taking the necessary precautions after residents had complained
of strong petrol odors coming from the sewers several days earlier. On
Aug. 12, 1992 agreement on a NAFTA was reached by Mexico, the US and Canada
with Jan. 1, 1994 as the target implementation date, although it still
required ratification by the three governments. In July and Aug. 1992 state
elections resulted in the PRI winning all but one state that fell to the
right-wing National Action Party (PAN). On Aug. 29, 1992 some 40,000 demonstrators,
led by PRD leader Cuauhtemoc Cardenas Solorzano, protested in Mexico City's
main square against the controversial elections and demanding electoral
reforms. Also in Aug. 1992 the government announced plans for the privatization
of some 60 enterprises, included mining, gas, petrol and fertilizer companies
that resulted in union-led strikes in several of the industries throughout
the year. Also in 1992 the government announced plans to convert 144,000
transport and freight vehicles to natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas
by 1994. In 1993 the government continued with its privatization program
with the introduction of new regulations to open up the electricity sector,
water-supply system and maritime port authorities to private companies.
In Aug. 1993 amendments to NAFTA were made that included trade sanctions
against any member for breach of national laws that included wage levels
and standards, the environment or human rights while in Nov. 1993 the governments
of the US and Mexico ratified the treaty. In Oct. 1993 the Pres. Salinas
announced economic measures agreed upon by the government, labor unions
and the private sector that include company tax cuts and an increase in
the minimum wage. In the same month the government also introduced radical
agricultural reforms that included direct cash grants versus price subsidies.
In Nov. 1993 the PRI announced Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta as the next
Presidential candidate and Pres. Salinas' successor for the planned 1994
elections. Under Mexico's constitution a President is not allowed to hold
two consecutive terms in office. Also in 1993 electoral reforms were introduced
that included donation ceilings, increased independence for electoral institutes
and regulations on access to the media.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the New Peso (MexP) divided
into 100 Centavos.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $324,951,000,000 (1993).
Public Debt; USD $85,960,000,000 (1993). Imports; USD $65,366,500,000 (1993).
Exports; USD $60,882,000,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $6,167,000,000
(1993). Balance of Trade; MexP -80,166,000,000,000 (1994). Economically
Active Population; 33,651,812 or 38.9% of total population (1993). Unemployed;
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA,
the EU and Japan.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Aluminum, Barley, Beans, Cattle, Coal, Coffee,
Copper, Cotton, Fruit, Gold, Iron, Lead, Maize, Oil and Natural Gas, Phosphates,
Rice, Silver, Sorghum, Sugar, Uranium, Wheat, Zinc.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Aluminum Refining, Cement, Iron and
Steel, Machinery, Mining, Oil and Natural Gas Production and Refining,
Pottery, Services, Textiles, Transportation, Vehicles.
MAIN EXPORTS: Chemicals, Coffee, Cotton, Fruit and Vegetables, Machinery
and Industrial Goods, Oil and Gas, Shrimps.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 26,361 km (16,380 mi) (1991),
passenger-km 5,404,000,000 (3,358,000,000 passenger-mi) (1991), cargo ton-km
34,000,000,000 (23,287,000,000 short ton-mi) (1991). Roads; length 242,294
km (150,554 mi) (1991). Vehicles; cars 6,941,104 (1989), trucks and buses
2,828,479 (1989). Merchant Marine; vessels 640 (1990), deadweight tonnage
1,803,313 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 16,439,900,000 (10,215,277,000
passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km 1,526,635,000 (1,045,592,000 short ton-mi)
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 392 with a total circulation
of 11,256,000 (1986). Radio; receivers 21,000,000 (1994). Television; receivers
13,100,000 (1992). Telephones; units 7,620,900 (1993).
MILITARY: 175,000 (1995) total active duty personnel with 74.3%
army, 21.1% navy and 4.6% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 0.5% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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