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The site of advanced Amerindian civilizations, Mexico came under Spanish rule for three centuries before achieving independence early in the 19th century. A devaluation of the peso in late 1994 threw Mexico into economic turmoil, triggering the worst recession in over half a century. The nation continues to make an impressive recovery. 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 Amerindian population in the impoverished southern states. Elections held in July 2000 marked the first time since the 1910 Mexican Revolution that the opposition defeated the party in government, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Vicente FOX of the National Action Party (PAN) was sworn in on 1 December 2000 as the first chief executive elected in free and fair elections.


Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, between Belize and the US and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and the US

Geographic coordinates:

23 00 N, 102 00 W


total: 1,972,550 sq km
land: 1,923,040 sq km
water: 49,510 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 4,353 km
border countries: Belize 250 km, Guatemala 962 km, US 3,141 km


9,330 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


varies from tropical to desert


high, rugged mountains; low coastal plains; high plateaus; desert

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Laguna Salada -10 m
highest point: Volcan Pico de Orizaba 5,700 m

Natural resources:

petroleum, silver, copper, gold, lead, zinc, natural gas, timber

Land use:

arable land: 12.66%
permanent crops: 1.28%
other: 86.06% (2005)

Irrigated land:

63,200 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

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

Environment - current issues:

scarcity of hazardous waste disposal facilities; rural to urban migration; natural fresh water resources scarce and polluted in north, inaccessible and poor quality in center and extreme southeast; raw sewage and industrial effluents polluting rivers in urban areas; deforestation; widespread erosion; desertification; deteriorating agricultural lands; serious air and water pollution in the national capital and urban centers along US-Mexico border; land subsidence in Valley of Mexico caused by groundwater depletion
note: the government considers the lack of clean water and deforestation national security issues

Geography - note:

strategic location on southern border of US; corn (maize), one of the world's major grain crops, is thought to have originated in Mexico


107,449,525 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 30.6% (male 16,770,957/female 16,086,172)
15-64 years: 63.6% (male 33,071,809/female 35,316,281)
65 years and over: 5.8% (male 2,814,707/female 3,389,599) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 25.3 years
male: 24.3 years
female: 26.2 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.16% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

20.69 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

4.74 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-4.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 20.26 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 22.19 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.24 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 75.41 years
male: 72.63 years
female: 78.33 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.42 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.3% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

160,000 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

5,000 (2003 est.)


noun: Mexican(s)
adjective: Mexican

Ethnic groups:

mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish) 60%, Amerindian or predominantly Amerindian 30%, white 9%, other 1%


nominally Roman Catholic 89%, Protestant 6%, other 5%


Spanish, various Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional indigenous languages


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.2%
male: 94%
female: 90.5% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: United Mexican States
conventional short form: Mexico
local long form: Estados Unidos Mexicanos
local short form: Mexico

Government type:

federal republic


Mexico (Distrito Federal)

Administrative divisions:

31 states (estados, singular - estado) and 1 federal district* (distrito federal); Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Coahuila de Zaragoza, Colima, Distrito Federal*, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico, Michoacan de Ocampo, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro de Arteaga, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz-Llave, Yucatan, Zacatecas


16 September 1810 (from Spain)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 16 September (1810)


5 February 1917

Legal system:

mixture of US constitutional theory and civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations


18 years of age; universal and compulsory (but not enforced)

Legislative branch:

bicameral National Congress or Congreso de la Union consists of the Senate or Camara de Senadores (128 seats; 96 are elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms, and 32 are allocated on the basis of each party's popular vote) and the Federal Chamber of Deputies or Camara Federal de Diputados (500 seats; 300 members are directly elected by popular vote to serve three-year terms; remaining 200 members are allocated on the basis of each party's popular vote, also for three-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 2 July 2000 for all of the seats (next to be held 2 July 2006); Chamber of Deputies - last held 6 July 2003 (next to be held 2 July 2006)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PRI 60, PAN 46, PRD 16, PVEM 5, unassigned 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PRI 222, PAN 151, PRD 95, PVEM 17, PT 6, CD 5, unassigned 4; note - special elections were held in December 2003; the PRI and the PRD each won one seat and were each assigned one additional proportional representation seat

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court of Justice or Suprema Corte de Justicia Nacional (justices or ministros are appointed by the president with consent of the Senate)

Economy - overview:

Mexico has a free market economy that recently entered the trillion dollar class. It contains a mixture of modern and outmoded industry and agriculture, increasingly dominated by the private sector. Recent administrations have expanded competition in seaports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity generation, natural gas distribution, and airports. Per capita income is one-fourth that of the US; income distribution remains highly unequal. Trade with the US and Canada has tripled since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994. Mexico has 12 free trade agreements with over 40 countries including, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, the European Free Trade Area, and Japan, putting more than 90% of trade under free trade agreements. The FOX administration is cognizant of the need to upgrade infrastructure, modernize the tax system and labor laws, and allow private investment in the energy sector, but has been unable to win the support of the opposition-led Congress. The next government that takes office in December 2006 will confront the same challenges of boosting economic growth, improving Mexico's international competitiveness, and reducing poverty.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$1.068 trillion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$699.5 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

3% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$10,100 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 4%
industry: 26.5%
services: 69.5% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

43.4 million (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 18%
industry: 24%
services: 58% (2003)

Unemployment rate:

3.6% plus underemployment of perhaps 25% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:

40% (2003 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 1.6%
highest 10%: 35.6% (2002)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

54.6 (2000)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3.3% (2005)

Investment (gross fixed):

21.1% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $181 billion
expenditures: $184 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005)

Public debt:

39.1% of GDP (September 2005)

Agriculture - products:

corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, beans, cotton, coffee, fruit, tomatoes; beef, poultry, dairy products; wood products


food and beverages, tobacco, chemicals, iron and steel, petroleum, mining, textiles, clothing, motor vehicles, consumer durables, tourism

Industrial production growth rate:

2.5% (2005 est.)

Electricity - production:

209.2 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

193.9 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - exports:

1.07 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - imports:

390.2 million kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

3.42 million bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption:

1.752 million bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil - exports:

1.863 million bbl/day (2004)

Oil - imports:

205,000 bbl/day (2004)

Oil - proved reserves:

33.31 billion bbl (2005 est.)

Natural gas - production:

47.3 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

55.1 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas - imports:

7.85 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

424.3 billion cu m (2005)

Current account balance:

-$8.97 billion (2005 est.)


$213.7 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

manufactured goods, oil and oil products, silver, fruits, vegetables, coffee, cotton

Exports - partners:

US 87.6%, Canada 1.8%, Spain 1.1% (2004)


$223.7 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

metalworking machines, steel mill products, agricultural machinery, electrical equipment, car parts for assembly, repair parts for motor vehicles, aircraft, and aircraft parts

Imports - partners:

US 55.1%, China 7.1%, Japan 5.3% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$68.7 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$174.3 billion (30 June 2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$1.166 billion (1995)

Currency (code):

Mexican peso (MXN)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

18,073,200 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

38,451,100 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: low telephone density with about 15.2 main lines per 100 persons; privatized in December 1990; the opening to competition in January 1997 improved prospects for development, but Telmex remains dominant
domestic: adequate telephone service for business and government, but the population is poorly served; mobile subscribers far outnumber fixed-line subscribers; domestic satellite system with 120 earth stations; extensive microwave radio relay network; considerable use of fiber-optic cable and coaxial cable
international: country code - 52; satellite earth stations - 32 Intelsat, 2 Solidaridad (giving Mexico improved access to South America, Central America, and much of the US as well as enhancing domestic communications), 1 Panamsat, numerous Inmarsat mobile earth stations; linked to Central American Microwave System of trunk connections; high capacity Columbus-2 fiber-optic submarine cable with access to the US, Virgin Islands, Canary Islands, Morocco, Spain, and Italy (2005)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 850, FM 545, shortwave 15 (2003)

Television broadcast stations:

236 (plus repeaters) (1997)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

2,026,633 (2005)

Internet users:

16,995,400 (2005)


1,832 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 227
over 3,047 m: 12
2,438 to 3,047 m: 28
1,524 to 2,437 m: 81
914 to 1,523 m: 77
under 914 m: 29 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 1,605
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 69
914 to 1,523 m: 457
under 914 m: 1,077 (2005)


1 (2005)


crude oil 28,200 km; petroleum products 10,150 km; natural gas 13,254 km; petrochemical 1,400 km (2003)


total: 17,634 km
standard gauge: 17,634 km 1.435-m gauge (2004)


total: 349,038 km
paved: 116,928 km (including 6,979 km of expressways)
unpaved: 232,110 km (2003)


2,900 km (navigable rivers and coastal canals) (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 58 ships (1000 GRT or over) 767,807 GRT/1,151,898 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 6, chemical tanker 7, liquefied gas 4, passenger/cargo 9, petroleum tanker 26, roll on/roll off 4
foreign-owned: 5 (Denmark 2, France 1, Norway 1, UAE 1)
registered in other countries: 12 (Belize 1, Honduras 1, Panama 5, Portugal 1, Spain 3, Venezuela 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Altamira, Manzanillo, Morro Redondo, Salina Cruz, Tampico, Topolobampo, Veracruz

Military branches:

Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena): Army and Air Force (FAM); Secretariat of the Navy (Semar): Naval Air and Marines (2004)

Disputes - international:

prolonged drought, population growth, and outmoded practices and infrastructure in the border region have strained water-sharing arrangements with the US; the US has stepped up efforts to stem nationals from Mexico, Central America, and other parts of the world from illegally crossing the border with Mexico

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

IDPs: 12,000 (government's quashing of Zapatista uprising in 1994 in eastern Chiapas Region) (2005)

Illicit drugs:

major drug-producing nation; cultivation of opium poppy in 2004 amounted to 3,500 hectares, but opium cultivation stayed within the range - between 3,500 and 5,500 hectares - observed in nine of the last 12 years; potential production of 9 metric tons of pure heroin, or 23 metric tons of "black tar" heroin, the dominant form of Mexican heroin in the western United States; marijuana cultivation decreased 23% to 5,800 hectares in 2004 after decade-high cultivation peak in 2003; potential production of 10,400 metric tons of marijuana in 2004; government conducts the largest independent illicit-crop eradication program in the world; major supplier of heroin and largest foreign supplier of marijuana and methamphetamine to the US market; continues as the primary transshipment country for US-bound cocaine from South America, accounting for about 90% of estimated annual cocaine movement to the US; major drug syndicates control majority of drug trafficking throughout the country; producer and distributor of ecstasy; significant money-laundering center