Covering almost 2 million square kilometers, Mexico is the 14th largest country in the world.  With an estimated population of 109 million, it is the 11th most populous country and the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world.  Mexico is crossed from north to south by two mountain ranges known as Sierre Madre Oriental and Sierra Madre Occidental;S they are the extension of the Rocky Mountains from northern North America. From east to west at the center, the country is crossed by the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, also known as the Sierra Nevada. The Tropic of Cancereeffectively divides the country into temperate and tropical zones. Land north of the twenty-fourth parallel experiences cooler temperatures during the winter months. South of the twenty-fourth parallel, temperatures are fairly constant year round and vary solely as a function of elevation. This gives Mexico one of the worlds most diverse weather systems in the world and  accounts for the country’s incredible biodiversity.


Human presence in Mesoamerica has been shown to date back 40,000 years.  For thousands of years, Mesoamerica was a land of hunter-gatherers. Around 9,000 years ago, ancient indigenous peoples domesticated corn and initiated an agricultural revolution, leading to the formation of many complex civilizations. These civilizations revolved around cities with writing, monumental architecture, astronomical studies, mathematics, and militaries. These advanced civilizations lasted for almost three thousand years.  In 1519, the native civilizations of Mesoamerica were invaded by Spain; among them the Aztecs, Mayans, Olmecs, etc. This was one of the most important conquest campaigns in America; it eventually ended the Aztec Empire and gave rise to the Viceroyalty of New Spain in 1535.  It became the first and largest provider of resources for the Spanish Empire, and the most populated of all Spanish colonies.  In 1810, almost 300 years after the New Spain was created, independence from Spain was declared. This was the catalyst for a long war that ended in 1821 and which eventually led to the creation of the ephemeral first Mexican Empire which was ruled by the first and only emperor. Two years later, he was deposed by the republican forces. In 1824, a republican constitution was drafted, creating the United Mexican States.  It was governed by an elected President and still exists today.


Mexico has one of the largest tourism industries in the world. In 2005 it was the seventh most popular tourist destination worldwide, receiving over 20 million tourists per year; it is the only country in Latin America to be within the top 25. Tourism is also the third largest sector in the country’s industrial GDP.[79] The most notable tourist draws are the ancient Meso-American ruins, and popular beach resorts. The coastal climate and unique culture – a fusion of European (particularly Spanish) and Meso-American cultures also make Mexico attractive.


Mexico(city)Ongoing economic concerns include the commercial and financial dependence on the US, low real wages, underemployment for a large segment of the population, inequitable income distribution (the top 20% of income earners account for 55% of income), and few advancement opportunities for the largely Amerindian population in the impoverished southern states.  Lack of structural reform is further exacerbated by an ever increasing outflow of the population into the United States, decreasing domestic pressure for reform.  However, from 2000-2004 the population in extreme poverty has decreased from 24.2% to 17.6% in the general population and from 42% to 27.9% in rural areas


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