Mexico officially the United Mexican States (Spanish: Estados Unidos Mexicanos), is a federal republic in the southern half of North America. The country is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost two million square kilometers (over 760,000 sq mi), Mexico is the sixth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent nation in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million, it is the eleventh most populous country and the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world while being the second most populous country in Latin America. Mexico is a federation comprising thirty-one states and a Federal District, its capital and largest city.
The country has the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world with almost a third of all Spanish native speakers. Almost all of the Mexican population speaks Spanish, 99.3% according to the latest census, nonetheless around 5.4% still speaks an indigenous language besides Spanish. The indigenous languages with most speakers are Nahuatl, spoken by approximately 1.45 million people, Yukatek Maya spoken by some 750,000 people and the Mixtec and Zapotec languages each spoken by more than 400,000 people.
The earliest human artifacts in Mexico are chips of stone tools found near campfire remains in the Valley of Mexico and radiocarbon-dated to circa 10,000 years ago. Among the earliest complex civilizations in Mexico was the Olmec culture, which flourished on the Gulf Coast from around 1500 BCE. Olmec cultural traits diffused through Mexico into other formative-era cultures in Chiapas, Oaxaca and the Valley of Mexico. In the subsequent pre-classical period, the Maya and Zapotec civilizations developed complex centers at Calakmul and Monte Albán, respectively. During this period the first true Mesoamerican writing systems were developed in the Epi-Olmec and the Zapotec cultures. The Mesoamerican writing tradition reached its height in the Classic Maya Hieroglyphic script. During the early post-classic, Central Mexico was dominated by the Toltec culture, Oaxaca by the Mixtec, and the lowland Maya area had important centers at Chichén Itzá and Mayapán.
The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire began in 1519 when Hernán Cortés arrived at the port in Veracruz with ca. 500 conquistadores. After taking control of that city, he moved on to the Aztec capital. In his search for gold and other riches, Cortés decided to invade and conquer the Aztec empire. The territory became part of the Spanish Empire under the name of New Spain. Mexico City was systematically rebuilt by Cortés following of Tenochtitlan in 1521. Much of the identity, traditions and architecture of Mexico developed during the 300-year colonial period.
Since the early 1990s, Mexico entered a transitional stage in the health of its population and some indicators such as mortality patterns are identical to those found in highly developed countries like Germany or Japan. Mexico’s medical infrastructure is highly rated for the most part and is usually excellent in major cities.
Food and drinks
Mexican cuisine is known for its intense and varied flavors, colorful decoration, and variety of spices. Mexican food varies by region, because of local climate and geography and ethnic differences among the indigenous inhabitants and because these different populations were influenced by the Spaniards in varying degrees. The north of Mexico is known for its beef and goat production and meat dishes, in particular the well-known Arrachera cut. Central Mexico’s cuisine is largely made up of influences from the rest of the country, but also has its authentics, such as barbacoa, pozole, menudo, tamales, and carnitas. Southeastern Mexico, on the other hand, is known for its spicy vegetable and chicken-based dishes. The cuisine of Southeastern Mexico also has quite a bit of Caribbean influence, given its geographical location. Veal is common in the Yucatan. Seafood is commonly prepared in the states that border the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, the latter having a famous reputation for its fish dishes, in particular à la veracruzana.
Regarding to the beverages, the world-known Mexican alcoholic beverage is tequila. Due to the very warm climate in Mexico, the most popular drinks are beer, water and fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies and cocktails.