Mexico


Mexico
Mexico is a big country in North America. North of Mexico are the United States, south of Mexico are Guatemala and Belize. Mexico is between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
People living in Mexico or who are from there are called Mexicans. Most Mexican people speak Spanish. There are also Mexicans who speak Native American languages, like Nahuatl, Maya, and Zapotec. The capital of Mexico is Mexico City.
History.
Before the Europeans came, many great Native American cultures existed in Mexico. The earliest was the Olmec culture. The Olmecs are famous for the large stone heads they made. On the Yucatan peninsula lived the Mayans. The Mayans lived in city states ruled by kings. The Mayans were most powerful between 200 and 900 A.D. Another powerful culture was the one of Teotihuacan. Teotihuacan was a very large city, one of the largest that time. After Teotihuacan declined the Toltecs became powerful. Toltec influence has been found from the southern parts of the U.S. all the way to Costa Rica. A famous Toltec ruler was Quetzalcoatl. The Toltec culture declined too, and it was succeeded by the Aztecs. The Aztecs called their own empire Mexico. A famous Aztec king was Montezuma II.
In 1519 the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés came to Mexico. The Aztecs thought he was the returned Quetzalcoatl, so they did not want to fight against him. Cortes allied himself with the enemies of the Aztecs. In 1521 they conquered the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. The Aztec Empire became part of Spain. It was called New Spain.
In 1810 the Mexican priest Miguel Hidalgo started the Mexican war of independence. In 1821 the Spanish finally retreated and Mexico became independent. The first leader of independent Mexico was Agustin de Iturbide, he became emperor. But the Mexicans were not happy with him, and in 1823 the country became a republic.
A man who was very important in Mexico in the early 19th century was Antonio López de Santa Anna. He was the president of Mexico 11 times. When he was president Texas declared independence (1836). In this war the famous Battle of the Alamo took place. Between 1846 and 1848 there was war between Mexico and the United States again. In this war Mexico lost many areas. After this war Santa Anna was sent away to Venezuela.
Between 1858 and 1861 there was war again, between liberals and conservatives. The liberal Benito Juarez won the war and became president afterwards. Juarez stayed president until France invaded Mexico and made Maximilian of Habsburg emperor. But Maximilian was very unpopular. He was executed in 1867, and Juarez became president again.
Conservatives thought Juarez had too much power. In 1876 they ousted him, and made Porfirio Diaz, a general who had won a battle against the French, president. Porfirio Diaz made the country wealthier, but the poor people became poorer. The poor were so unhappy they started the Mexican Revolution in 1910.
The next 10 years the country was in chaos. There were many presidents who ruled for a short time and all kinds of people fought against each other. Famous people from this period are Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa and Francisco I. Madero. When Álvaro Obregón became president in 1920 the fighting calmed down.
In 1929 President Plutarco Elías Calles founded the National Mexican Party, PNM. The party was later renamed Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI. The party would rule for a very long time. Most PRI presidents weren't popular, it was said that they were only president to become richer themselves. An exception was president Lázaro Cárdenas. He was president between 1934 and 1940.
After several decades more and more people became unhappy with the PRI. In 1968 security forces shot at protesters, this caused several hundred deaths and became known as the Tlatelolco massacre. Another uprising was in 1994 when Zapatistas rebelled in the province Chiapas.
Mainly through ballot box fraud the PRI managed to stay into power until 2000, when Vicente Fox of the National Action Party, PAN, was elected president. In total the PRI had governed Mexico for 71 years.
Politics.
Mexico is a constitutional federal democracy ruled by a president. The president is elected every 6 years. The current president is Felipe Calderón. He has spoken against American plans to build a wall between the two countries to slow illegal immigration.
Geography.
Mexico is in the southern part of North America and is roughly shaped like a triangle. Mexico is more than 3000 km (1,850 miles) long from northwest to southeast. Mexico is between two large seas: the Pacific Ocean in the West and the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea in the East. Mexico has two large peninsulas. Baja California in the Northwest, and Yucatan in the Southeast. In central and western Mexico are the Sierra Madre mountains. In the Sierra Madre is the Pico de Orizaba, the highest mountain of Mexico. In central Mexico there are also a few volcanoes like the Popocatépetl and the Iztaccíhuatl. The Pico de Orizaba is also a volcano. In the north of Mexico are deserts, in the south are tropical rainforests. Some rivers in Mexico are the Río Bravo (known in the US as the Rio Grande), the Río Grijalva, the Río Balsas, the Río Pánuco, and the Río Yaqui.
People.
Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world. It is also the second most populous country in Latin America (after Brazil). 60% of the Mexicans have Native American and European forefathers, they are called mestizos. Almost 15% of the Mexicans are pure Native American and 10% are European. Most Mexicans (90%) speak Spanish. 10% of the Mexicans speak a Native American language, like Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, Maya or Zapotec. Most people in Mexico are Roman Catholic (89%). 6% are Protestant.


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