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Mexico Country Guide

Explore Mexico in North America

Mexico with the capital city Mexico City is located in North America (Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico). It covers some 1,972,551 square kilometres (slightly less than three times the size of Texas) with 109,955,000 citizens.

Map of the area of  in

The landscape offers high, rugged mountains with low coastal plains, high plateaus and desert. The average density of population is approximately 56 per km². The notable climate conditions in Mexico can be described as varying from tropical to desert. Potential threats by nature are tsunamis along the Pacific coast, volcanoes and destructive earthquakes in the center and south, and hurricanes on the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean coasts.

To reach someone in Mexico dial +52 prior to a number. There are 19,425,000 installed telephones. And there are 83,528,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 1900 Mhz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".mx". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 127V - 60Hz.

About the flag and history of Mexico

Three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and red; Mexico's coat of arms (an eagle with a snake in its beak perched on a cactus) is centered in the white band; green signifies hope, joy, and love; white represents peace and honesty; red stands for hardiness, bravery, strength, and valor; the coat of arms is derived from a legend that the wandering Aztec people were to settle at a location where they would see an eagle on a cactus eating a snake; the city they founded, Tenochtitlan, is now Mexico City
note: similar to the flag of Italy, which is shorter, uses lighter shades of red and green, and does not have anything in its white band.

The site of several advanced Amerindian civilizations - including the Olmec, Toltec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Maya, and Aztec - Mexico was conquered and colonized by Spain in the early 16th century. Administered as the Viceroyalty of New Spain for three centuries, it achieved its independence early in the 19th century. The global financial crisis beginning in late 2008 caused a massive economic downturn the following year, although growth returned quickly in 2010. Ongoing economic and social concerns include low real wages, underemployment for a large segment of the population, inequitable income distribution, and few advancement opportunities for the largely indigenous population in the impoverished southern states. The elections held in 2000 marked the first time since the 1910 Mexican Revolution that an opposition candidate - Vicente FOX of the National Action Party (PAN) - defeated the party in government, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). He was succeeded in 2006 by another PAN candidate Felipe CALDERON, but the PRI regained the presidency in 2012. Since 2007, Mexico's powerful drug-trafficking organizations have engaged in bloody feuding, resulting in tens of thousands of drug-related homicides.

Geography Quick-Facts

Summary Continent: North America
Neighbours: Guatemala, United States, Belize
Capital: Mexico City
Size 1,972,550 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 761,606 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly less than three times the size of Texas
Population 109,955,000
Currency Name: Peso, Currency Code: MXN
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD) .mx
Telephone Country Prefix +52
Mobile Phone Connections 83,528,000
Landline Phone Connections 19,425,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value name Value World Rank
Area 1,964,375 (sq km) 14

People and Society

Value name Value World Rank
Population 116,220,947 11
Population growth rate 1.07 (%) 108
Birth rate 18.61 (births/1,000 population) 103
Death rate 4.94 (deaths/1,000 population) 187
Net migration rate -2.99 (migrant(s)/1,000 population) 176
Maternal mortality rate 50.00 (deaths/100,000 live births) 108
Infant mortality rate 16.26 (deaths/1,000 live births) 103
Life expectancy at birth 76.86 (years) 72
Total fertility rate 2.25 (children born/woman) 99
Health expenditures 6.30 (% of GDP) 99
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.30 (%) 80
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 220,000 25
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 32.10 (%) 23
Children under the age of 5 years underweight 3.40 (%) 103
Education expenditures 5.30 (% of GDP) 63
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 9.8 (%) 107


Value name Value World Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity) 1,788,000,000,000 12
GDP - real growth rate 3.90 (%) 83
GDP - per capita (PPP) 15,600 88
Labor force 50,700,000 12
Unemployment rate 5.00 (%) 47
Distribution of family income - Gini index 48 25
Investment (gross fixed) 21.50 (% of GDP) 77
Taxes and other revenues 23.5 (% of GDP) 133
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -2.70 (% of GDP) 104
Public debt 35.40 (% of GDP) 101
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 3.60 (%) 101
Central bank discount rate 4.50 (%) 80
Commercial bank prime lending rate 4.92 (%) 159
Stock of narrow money 180,700,000,000 20
Stock of broad money 738,000,000,000 20
Stock of domestic credit 445,600,000,000 27
Market value of publicly traded shares 454,300,000,000 22
Industrial production growth rate 3.60 (%) 78
Current account balance -11,000,000,000 176
Exports 370,900,000,000 16
Imports 379,400,000,000 15
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 163,600,000,000 18
Debt - external 352,900,000,000 31
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 301,900,000,000 18
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 129,700,000,000 26


Value name Value World Rank
Electricity - production 254,400,000,000 (kWh) 17
Electricity - consumption 203,800,000,000 (kWh) 19
Electricity - exports 1,320,000,000 (kWh) 50
Electricity - imports 624,500,000 (kWh) 71
Electricity - installed generating capacity 59330000 (kW) 15
Electricity - from fossil fuels 75.0 (% of total installed capacity) 101
Electricity - from nuclear fuels 2.3 (% of total installed capacity) 28
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 19.4 (% of total installed capacity) 92
Electricity - from other renewable sources 3.3 (% of total installed capacity) 45
Crude oil - production 2,934,000 (bbl/day) 9
Crude oil - exports 1,299,000 (bbl/day) 13
Crude oil - proved reserves 12170000000 (bbl) 19
Refined petroleum products - production 1,458,000 (bbl/day) 17
Refined petroleum products - consumption 2,133,000 (bbl/day) 13
Refined petroleum products - exports 199,000 (bbl/day) 33
Refined petroleum products - imports 496,000 (bbl/day) 12
Natural gas - production 55,100,000,000 (cu m) 18
Natural gas - consumption 59,150,000,000 (cu m) 15
Natural gas - exports 13,000,000 (cu m) 49
Natural gas - imports 13,950,000,000 (cu m) 22
Natural gas - proved reserves 490,300,000,000 (cu m) 32
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 445,300,000 (Mt) 15


Value name Value World Rank
Telephones - main lines in use 19,684,000 15
Telephones - mobile cellular 94,565,000 13
Internet hosts 16,233,000 9
Internet users 31,020,000 12


Value name Value World Rank
Airports 1,724 3
Railways 17,166 (km) 16
Roadways 366,095 (km) 17
Waterways 2,900 (km) 34
Merchant marine 52 70


Value name Value World Rank
Military expenditures 0.50 (% of GDP) 161

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Name Since
Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila
The 34,658 ha site, between the foothills of the Tequila Volcano and the deep valley of the Rio Grande River, is part of an expansive landscape of blue agave, shaped by the culture of the plant used since the 16th century to produce tequila spirit an ...
Ancient Maya City and Protected Tropical Forests of Calakmul, Campeche
Ancient Maya City and  Protected Tropical Forests of Calakmul, Campeche, is a renomination and extension of the existing 3,000 ha cultural World Heritage property, Ancient Maya City of Calakmul, Campeche. It now becomes mixed natural and cultural p ...
Archaeological Monuments Zone of Xochicalco
Xochicalco is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a fortified political, religious and commercial centre from the troubled period of 650–900 that followed the break-up of the great Mesoamerican states such as Teotihuacan, Monte Albán, Palen ...
Archaeological Zone of Paquimé, Casas Grandes
Paquimé, Casas Grandes, which reached its apogee in the 14th and 15th centuries, played a key role in trade and cultural contacts between the Pueblo culture of the south-western United States and northern Mexico and the more advanced civilizations o ...
Camino Real de Tierra Adentro
Camino Real de Tierra Adentro was the Royal Inland Road, also known as the Silver Route. The inscribed property consists of 55 sites and five existing World Heritage sites lying along a 1400 km section of this 2600 km route, that extends north from M ...
Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)
The ensemble of buildings, sports facilities and open spaces of the Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), was built from 1949 to 1952 by more than 60 architects, engineers and artists who were involve ...
Earliest 16th-Century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl
These 14 monasteries stand on the slopes of Popocatepetl, to the south-east of Mexico City. They are in an excellent state of conservation and are good examples of the architectural style adopted by the first missionaries – Franciscans, Dominicans ...
El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve
The 714,566 hectare site comprises two distinct parts: the dormant volcanic Pinacate Shield of black and red lava flows and desert pavements to the east, and, in the west, the Gran Altar Desert with its ever changing and varied sand dunes that can re ...
El Tajin, Pre-Hispanic City
Located in the state of Veracruz, El Tajin was at its height from the early 9th to the early 13th century. It became the most important centre in north-east Mesoamerica after the fall of the Teotihuacan Empire. Its cultural influence extended all alo ...
Franciscan Missions in the Sierra Gorda of Querétaro
The five Franciscan missions of Sierra Gorda were built during the last phase of the conversion to Christianity of the interior of Mexico in the mid-18th century and became an important reference for the continuation of the evangelization of Californ ...
Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco
Built in the 16th century by the Spanish on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the old Aztec capital, Mexico City is now one of the world's largest and most densely populated cities. It has five Aztec temples, the ruins of which have been identified, a cathe ...
Historic Centre of Morelia
Built in the 16th century, Morelia is an outstanding example of urban planning which combines the ideas of the Spanish Renaissance with the Mesoamerican experience. Well-adapted to the slopes of the hill site, its streets still follow the original la ...
Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán
Inhabited over a period of 1,500 years by a succession of peoples – Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs – the terraces, dams, canals, pyramids and artificial mounds of Monte Albán were literally carved out of the mountain and are the symbols of a sacre ...
Historic Centre of Puebla
Puebla, which was founded ex nihilo in 1531, is situated about 100 km east of Mexico City, at the foot of the Popocatepetl volcano. It has preserved its great religious structures such as the 16th–17th-century cathedral and fine buildings like the ...
Historic Centre of Zacatecas
Founded in 1546 after the discovery of a rich silver lode, Zacatecas reached the height of its prosperity in the 16th and 17th centuries. Built on the steep slopes of a narrow valley, the town has breathtaking views and there are many old buildings, ...
Historic Fortified Town of Campeche
Campeche is a typical example of a harbour town from the Spanish colonial period in the New World. The historic centre has kept its outer walls and system of fortifications, designed to defend this Caribbean port against attacks from the sea. ...
Historic Monuments Zone of Querétaro
The old colonial town of Querétaro is unusual in having retained the geometric street plan of the Spanish conquerors side by side with the twisting alleys of the Indian quarters. The Otomi, the Tarasco, the Chichimeca and the Spanish lived together ...
Historic Monuments Zone of Tlacotalpan
Tlacotalpan, a Spanish colonial river port on the Gulf coast of Mexico, was founded in the mid-16th century. It has preserved its original urban fabric to a remarkable degree, with wide streets, colonnaded houses in a profusion of styles and colours, ...
Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines
Founded by the Spanish in the early 16th century, Guanajuato became the world's leading silver-extraction centre in the 18th century. This past can be seen in its 'subterranean streets' and the 'Boca del Inferno', a mineshaft that plunges a breathtak ...
Hospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara
The Hospicio Cabañas was built at the beginning of the 19th century to provide care and shelter for the disadvantaged – orphans, old people, the handicapped and chronic invalids. This remarkable complex, which incorporates several unusual features ...
Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California
The site comprises 244 islands, islets and coastal areas that are located in the Gulf of California in north-eastern Mexico. The Sea of Cortez and its islands have been called a natural laboratory for the investigation of speciation. Moreover, almost ...
Luis Barragán House and Studio
Built in 1948, the House and Studio of architect Luis Barragán in the suburbs of Mexico City represents an outstanding example of the architect’s creative work in the post-Second World War period. The concrete building, totalling 1,161 m2, consist ...
Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
The 56,259 ha biosphere lies within rugged forested mountains about 100 km northwest of Mexico City. Every autumn, millions, perhaps a billion, butterflies from wide areas of North America return to the site and cluster on small areas of the forest r ...
Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque
A prime example of a Mayan sanctuary of the classical period, Palenque was at its height between AD 500 and 700, when its influence extended throughout the basin of the Usumacinta River. The elegance and craftsmanship of the buildings, as well as the ...
Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza
This sacred site was one of the greatest Mayan centres of the Yucatán peninsula. Throughout its nearly 1,000-year history, different peoples have left their mark on the city. The Maya and Toltec vision of the world and the universe is revealed in th ...
Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan
The holy city of Teotihuacan ('the place where the gods were created') is situated some 50 km north-east of Mexico City. Built between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D., it is characterized by the vast size of its monuments – in particular, the Temple ...
Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal
The Mayan town of Uxmal, in Yucatán, was founded c. A.D. 700 and had some 25,000 inhabitants. The layout of the buildings, which date from between 700 and 1000, reveals a knowledge of astronomy. The Pyramid of the Soothsayer, as the Spaniards called ...
Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla in the Central Valley of Oaxaca
This property lies on the northern slopes of the Tlacolula valley in subtropical central Oaxaca and consists of two pre-Hispanic archaeological complexes and a series of pre-historic caves and rock shelters. Some of these shelters provide archaeologi ...
Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco
The fortified town, first established in the 16th century to protect the Royal Route inland, reached its apogee in the 18th century when many of its outstanding religious and civic buildings were built in the style of the Mexican Baroque. Some of the ...
Rock Paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco
From c. 100 B.C. to A.D. 1300, the Sierra de San Francisco (in the El Vizcaino reserve, in Baja California) was home to a people who have now disappeared but who left one of the most outstanding collections of rock paintings in the world. They are re ...
Sian Ka'an
In the language of the Mayan peoples who once inhabited this region, Sian Ka'an means 'Origin of the Sky'. Located on the east coast of the Yucatán peninsula, this biosphere reserve contains tropical forests, mangroves and marshes, as well as a larg ...
Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino
Located in the central part of the peninsula of Baja California, the sanctuary contains some exceptionally interesting ecosystems. The coastal lagoons of Ojo de Liebre and San Ignacio are important reproduction and wintering sites for the grey whale, ...