Location and Geography
The United Mexican States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos in Spanish), commonly known just as Mexico, consist of 31 states and DF (Federal District with the capital.) Mexico is located between the longitudes 86° and 119° W and latitudes 14° and 33°N in the Southern part of North America. Together with the United States and Canada, Mexico is entirely considered part of North America.
Mexico is bordered on the North by the United States (3,141 km), on the West and South by the Pacific Ocean, Southeast by Belize (251 km), Guatemala (871 km) and the Caribbean Sea, and on the East by the Gulf of Mexico. Mexico is the 14th largest country in the world.
There are 4 mountain ranges in Mexico, the one in the South is called Sierra Madre del Sur, the one in the centre is Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, and the two extensions of the Rocky Mountains are Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental. The tallest one is the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt with Pico de Orizaba (5,700 m makes it the highest pick of Mexico), Popocatepetl (5,462 m) and Iztaccihuatl (5,286 m).
Official language – Spanish (with 62 recognized Indigenous American languages) – want to learn some phrases? Here is quick lesson of Mexican Spanish 😀
Ethnic groups – Mestizo 70%, White 15%, Indigenous 10%, Other
Capital – Mexico City (Ciudad de México in Spanish)
Anthem – Mexican National Anthem (Himno Nacional de México)
Area – 1,972,550 square kilometres
Islands Area – around 6,000 square kilometres
Currency – Mexican peso (MXN)
Religion – Roman Catholic (82%)
Time Zone – UTC -8 to -6, in Summer -7 to -5
Drives on the right
Calling code +52
Internet TLD .mx
The biggest city is the capital Mexico City.
The second biggest city is Guadalajara, the third is Monterrey, then the largest ones are Puebla, Ciudad Juárez, Tijuana, Toluca, León.
The largest agglomerations are those of Mexico City, Puebla and Toluca.
Climate and Biodiversity
If you hear Mexico, you could think it’s always sunny and warm there. But it’s not true. For example, from March to June you can experience cold, rain, hailstone and extremely hot temperatures, even during one day. It is caused because of the big area of the country and a lot of mountains, a desert and a tropical rainforest.
The Tropic of Cancer causes there are two different climate zones in Mexico – temperate zone in the North and tropical zone in the South.
The North of Mexico can experience temperatures of more than 40°C, or even 50°C in the desert of Sonora as it has a dry hot climate.
Towns in the center of Mexico, due to the location in the mountains – above 2,000 m, have cool temperature at night and early mornings, with the yearly average temperature just of around 17 °C. You need a jacket at night but short during the day.
Hurricanes are typical in the Caribbean Sea, Campeche Bay and Baja California from July to October which is a so called rainy season there when it rains a lot.
The Yucatan Peninsula in the Southeast of Mexico is a place with no mountains so only up to 1,000 m which causes hot temperature throughout the whole year. The yearly average temperature here is around 25 °C, with just 5 °C difference between summer (July/August) and winter (Dec/ Jan.)
170,000 square kilometres are Protected Natural Areas: 64 National Parks, 34 reserve biosphere, 26 areas of protected fauna and flora, 4 natural monuments and 17 sanctuaries.
Mexico is very diverse. It belongs to one of the 18 megadiverse countries in the world. Out of 1o ecosystems, there are 9 in Mexico. It is the second country in ecosystems in the world. Around 2,500 species are protected in Mexico. More than 10% of all world species live in Mexico.
Mexico is the first in different species of reptiles (707 species known by now), second in mammals (438 species), fourth in flora (26,000 species) and fourth in amphibians (290).
Mexican cuisine is famous all over the world (e.g. tlayudas in Oaxaca, mole poblano in Puebla, cochinita pibil and lemon soup in Yucatán. In Mexico itself it varies by region. The most recognized dishes even outside of Mexico are: tortillas, quesadillas, tacos, chocolate, tamales, mole, burritos, enchiladas, pozole, menudo etc.
Mexican cuisine is characterized by a lot of lemon juice, sauces and chile (habanero, chipotle). Everything is very spicy and the meals are pretty heavy, e.g. meat, eggs, beans for breakfast. The Mexicans eat just 3 times per day, big portions though.
Lots of tropical fruit and vegetables is eaten as well, such as avocado (called aguacate in Mexico), papaya, peanuts, jícama, tomato, maize, pineapple, beans, potato, chilli pepper.
Tourism in Mexico is a huge industry. It makes Mexico the 23rd tourism country in the world, the most visited Latin American country and the second visited in the Americas. The accommodation industry is one of the largest industries in the world with some of the most lavish and popular hotels.
The main tourist attractions in Mexico are:
- beaches, such as Acapulco and Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo in Guerrero; Cancún and Playa del Carmen in Quintana Roo; Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco; Puerto Escondido, Huatulco and Zipolite in Oaxaca, Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo or La Paz in Baja California Sur, Manzanillo in Colima, Mazatlán in Sinaloa or San Blas, Sayulita and Nuevo Vallarta in Nayarit.
- Meso-American ruins, e.g. Teotihuacán and Templo Mayor in Mexico City, Chichen Itzá and Uxmal in Yucatán, Cobá and Tulum in Quintana Roo, Mitla and Monte Albán in Oaxaca, Guachimontones in Jalisco, Palenque and Yaxchilan and Bonampak in Chiapas, Cholula in Puebla, El Cerrito in Querétaro
- cities, such as Mexico City in DF, Guadalajara in Jalisco, Monterrey in Nuevo Leon, Santiago de Querétaro in Querétaro, San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato in Guanajuato, Puebla in Puebla, Oaxaca in Oaxaca, San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mérida in Yucatán, Morelia in Michoacán, Taxco in Guerrero, Zacatecas in Zacatecas, Chihuahua in Chihuahua etc.
- islands, e.g. Cozumel (the second biggest coral reef in the world) and Isla Mujeres in the Caribbean Sea, Holbox in the Gulf of Mexico, Espiritu Santo in the Gulf of California.
Mexico is a really big country with a great diversity, so every single person can find here what they like the most. Some of the activities in Mexico are the following ones:
- swimming on the beach
- swimming in unique cenotes – sinkholes (in Yucatan peninsula)
- swimming in the waterfalls (e.g. in El Chiflon Chiapas)
- swimming in a volcano crater (e.g. Valle de Santiago in Guanajuto state)
- swimming in a natural pool (e.g. in Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca state)
- try the relaxation temazcal bath of the native Indians (for example in San Jose Iturbide)
- rappel (e.g. in Valle de Santiago in Guanajuato state)
- snorkeling/diving with sea lions (on Isla Espiritu Santo)
- hiking and trekking
- camel riding (in Los Cabos)
- zip line ( in Wild Canyon in Los Cabos, or in El Chiflon waterfall)
- scuba diving and snorkel in the second biggest coral reef in the world – Cozumel Island
- paragliding and skydiving (e.g. in Guanajuato state)
- ultralight flight
- hot air balloon flight (e.g. or other adventure in San Jose Iturbide or over Teotihuacan)
- sunbathing at the beach
- ATV and 4×4 in the nature (e.g. in Guanajuato state)
- horse riding (e.g. in San Miguel de Allende)
- canoeing (e.g. in Quintana Roo state)
- visit a jungle (Lacandon jungle in Chiapas state)
- visit a Ghost town – Mineral de Pozos
- play with the monkeys in the real nature (Chiapas state)
- observe Monarch butterflies (states of Guanajuato and Michoacan)
- zip-line (e.g. in Chiapas, Yucatan peninsula)
- observe the life of the native Americans (mostly in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Yucatan)
- visit Meso-American archeological sites – ruins and pyramids
- interact with gays (e.g. in Puerto Vallarta)
- surfing (e.g. Zipolite, Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca state or Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo in Guerrero state)
- take a boat (e.g. in Huatulco bay in Oaxaca state or Acapulco St Lucy Bay in Guerrero)
- learn Mexican kind of Spanish
- learn a new skill or a new language from the native inhabitants
- learn how to make pottery from black mud
- learn from the Mexicans how to be a gentleman or just let yourself be treated by gentlemen
- try and learn how to cook Mexican cuisine
- try to catch an iguana
- cover yourself up with healing mud (e.g. in Laguna de Coyuca in Guerrero state)
- watch a serenade
- sleep in a hammock
- watch crocodiles (e.g. in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo in Guerrero state, or Cozumel Island in Quintana Roo state)