Learn About the Geography of Mexico

by Roxanna Brock McDade

Mexico is a county in North America that's south of the United States. Mexico also shares borders with the countries of Belize and Guatemala. The bodies of water that border it are the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific Ocean. It's the most populated Spanish-speaking country in the world and the tenth most populated country overall. The major cities of the country are Mexico City, Guadalajara, León, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, and Tijuana.

Mexico Map

Fun Facts

  • The official name of Mexico is the United Mexican States
  • The capital is Mexico City.
  • The population is around 126,000,000.
  • About 25% of the population lives in or near Mexico City. The middle of the country is the most populated. Most Mexicans live between the states of Jalisco and Veracruz.
  • Mexico's population is relatively young. In fact, nearly 30% of the population consists of children ages 14 and younger! A little more than 60% of the population is between ages 15 and 64, and only a small percentage is older.
  • The official language is Spanish
  • The currency is the peso.
  • Mexico covers about 761,600 square miles.
  • Significant rivers include the Rio Grande and the Yaqui River.
  • Natural resources found in Mexico include antimony, copper, gold, lead, natural gas, petroleum, silver, timber, and zinc.
  • Mexico faces natural hazards including tsunamis, hurricanes, volcanoes, and earthquakes.

Geography of Mexico

Mexico includes a lot of different types of terrain. The center of Mexico is made up of deep canyons and high mountains. The north of the country contains deserts. The south and east of the country have dense rain forests. The mountains that make up a lot of Mexico's geography consist of two major mountain ranges: the Sierra Madre Occidental in the west and the Sierra Madre Oriental in the east. Additionally, the Central Plateau has smaller mountain ranges. The mountain areas have valuable resources like metals. The Yucatán Peninsula is located off of a tip of southeastern Mexico and is bordered on three sides by the Gulf of Mexico. The Maya people once occupied the peninsula, and many artifacts of their civilization remain today.

History

The first complex, organized society in Mexico emerged around 1200 B.C. They were known as the Olmec people, and they were located in the southeastern part of the country. The Maya, Toltec, and Aztec civilizations followed the Olmec. These ancient societies studied the stars, made great works of art, built large cities, and erected pyramids. However, when the Spanish arrived in the first part of the 16th century, they brought diseases that sickened and killed the natives. The Spanish captured Mexico and ruled the land until 1821.

Mexico's Government and Economy

Mexico's economy benefits from the natural resources of the land, including copper, oil, and silver. Manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism also are essential parts of Mexico's economy.

Mexico is a federal republic that consists of 31 states and a federal district. The Mexican constitution dates back to 1917 and has been amended many times since. The constitution grants civil liberties and personal freedoms to the Mexican people. The federal government is described in the constitution, and the government's powers are divided between the executive, judicial, and legislative branches, a lot like how the United States government is set up.

People and Culture of Mexico

Mexican culture is influenced by the rich history of its native peoples, the Spanish who ruled the country for three centuries, and the influence of the United States on its northern border. Since ancient times, Mexico has produced great art and impressive artists. Ancient cultures created beautiful jewelry, murals, and sculptures. Today, artists make paintings, sculptures, murals, jewelry, and photographs.

Along with art, Mexicans have a long history and tradition of sports. An ancient ball game was played in Mexico centuries ago, and back then, the losers were sometimes killed. Today, competitors in bullfighting and rodeo still endanger their lives while engaging in sports, but the most popular sports in Mexico are ones that are common in other countries, too, like soccer and baseball.

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