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Mexico

Background:

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.

Geography

Location:

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

Map references:

North America

Area:

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

Area - comparative:

slightly less than three times the size of Texas

Land boundaries:

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

Coastline:

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

Climate:

varies from tropical to desert

Terrain:

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: 12.99%
permanent crops: 1.31%
other: 85.7% (2001)

Irrigated land:

65,000 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:

tsunamis along the Pacific coast, volcanoes and destructive earthquakes in the left 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 left 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 lefts 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

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

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

People

Population:

106,202,903 (July 2005 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 31.1% (male 16,844,400/female 16,159,511)
15-64 years: 63.3% (male 32,521,043/female 34,704,093)
65 years and over: 5.6% (male 2,715,010/female 3,258,846) (2005 est.)

Median age:

total: 24.93 years
male: 24.04 years
female: 25.85 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.17% (2005 est.)

Birth rate:

21.01 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Death rate:

4.73 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Net migration rate:

-4.57 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 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 (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 20.91 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 22.85 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.88 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 75.19 years
male: 72.42 years
female: 78.1 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.45 children born/woman (2005 est.)

Nationality:

noun: Mexican(s)
adjective: Mexican

Ethnic groups:

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

Religions:

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

Languages:

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

Literacy:

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

Government

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

Capital:

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

Independence:

16 September 1810 (from Spain)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 16 September (1810)

Constitution:

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

Suffrage:

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

Source: CIA World Factbook