Mexico: What to know?

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Mexico is a country in Middle America, bordered by the North Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Central American countries. It has a land area of 761,605.8 square miles and a mixed heritage population. The United States is its largest trading partner, and its cuisine is a blend of Spanish and Amerindian cuisines.

Mexico is described as being in “Middle America” – the transitional area between North and South America which includes Mexico, Central America and the West Indies. It forms the southern border of the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. It is bordered to the west and south by the North Pacific Ocean, to the east by the Gulf of Mexico, and to the southeast by the Central American countries of Guatemala and Belize. The capital of Mexico is Mexico City, known locally as “Distrito Federal” (Federal District), “DF” or simply “México.

Mexico has a land area of ​​761,605.8 square miles (1,972,550 sq km). It is the 14th largest country in the world and the fifth largest in the Americas, after Canada, the United States, Brazil and Argentina. The lowest point in the country is Laguna Salada which sits at an elevation of 32.7 feet (10 m), and its highest point is Volcan Pico de Orizaba at 18,700.79 feet (5,700 m).

Indigenous peoples of Mexico included the Aztecs, Mayans, and Zapotecs. Europeans arrived in 1517 and Spain ruled Mexico for about 300 years, before Mexico declared independence – September 16, 1810, and actually its independence was recognized by Spain – September 27, 1821. For its inhabitants, the country is known as Estados Unidos Mexicanos. It is a federal republic.

As might be expected from its history, many people of Mexico are of mixed heritage. Sixty percent are a mix of Amerindians and Spaniards referred to as mestizo; 30% are either Amerindian or mostly Amerindian; 9% are defined as “white” by the census. The majority of people – 76.5% – are Roman Catholic, with 6.3% Protestant and 92.7% speaking only Spanish, with 5.7% speaking both Spanish and at least one indigenous language, such as Mayan, and 0.8% speaking just an indigenous language. Ninety-one percent of the population is literate.

The United States is Mexico’s largest trading partner, for both imports and exports. Its major exports include fruits and vegetables, coffee, cotton, petroleum and petroleum products, manufactured goods, and silver. It relies on imports of machinery, electrical equipment, parts for automobile and aircraft assembly and automobile repair, and steel mill products. Service industries are the largest sector of the economy.

The Mexican diet is a blend of Spanish and Amerindian cuisines and food items. Corn is the staple food and is often served as tortillas. Chicken, pork, and beef are used, and foods are often seasoned with chilies and herbs such as oregano, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon. Beans, or frijoles, are often served, as are sweet potatoes and avocados.

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