Republic in S North America, bordered on the N by the United States, with the Rio Grand e the NE boundary, on the S by Belize and Guatemala, on the E by the Gulf of Mexico, and on the W by the Pacific Ocean. Before Europeans arrived, Mexico harbored one the most highly developed Indian cultures in the New World. They were the Olmec, whose power was at its height from 1200 to 400 b.c.; the Zapotec, with a religious center at Mitla and an imposing city at Monte Alban; the Mixtec, who by the 14th century overshadowed the Zapotec; the Toltec, the most powerful culture in the Valley of Mexico c. a.d. 900, whose main centers were Tula and Cholula; the post-classic Maya in Yucatan, whose era of greatest development was from c. a.d. 600 to 900 and whose noted city, Chichen Itza, was founded c. a.d. 515; and the Aztecs, who dominated central Mexico at the time of the Spanish conquest, and whose capital city, Tenochtitlan, was founded c. 1325 on the site of present Mexico City.
The first Europeans in Mexico were two Spanish voyagers, shipwrecked in 1511. Francisco Hernand ez de Cordoba from Spain discovered Yucatan in 1517, and the next year Juan de Grijalva explored the coast at least as far as Veracruz. Hernan Cortes, the conqueror, reached Mexico in early 1519, founded Veracruz, and marched to the Aztec capital. He took the ruler Montezuma captive, but a revolt forced him to flee in 1520. Returning in August 1521, he destroyed Aztec power. Francisco de Coronado started N in 1540 in search of the mythical kingdom of Quivira and opened up what became the southwestern United States. In 1598, Juan de Onate led an expedition that gave Spain possession of modern New Mexico.
Spanish towns were established by the conquistadors, including Culiacan in 1531, Puebla in 1535; Campeche in 1540, Valladolid, later Morelia, in 1541, and Guadalajara and Merida in 1542. In 1535 the region as far S as Panama became the Viceroyalty of New Spain, which six years later put down an Indian revolt in the Mixton War. During the colonial period Mexico was a source of vast wealth for Spain from Central America and from the Spanish Pacific. Every year vast treasure fleets would land at Acapulco on the W coast; their cargo would be carried overland for shipment from Veracruz to Spain. The Spanish pushed N to found San Francisco in 1776, and to claim the land as far N as the present United States–Canada border.
The first movement for independence began in 1810 but ended on January 17, 1811, with a defeat at Calderon Bridge. On February 24, 1821, Augustin de Iturbide and Vicente Guerrero agreed on the Plan of Iguala, which called for independence but would protect the ruling classes. Spain reluctantly acquiesced, and Iturbide became the Emperor Augustin I. The emperor reigned only until February 1823, when he was forced to abdicate; Guadalupe Victoria then became president. For more than 30 years politics was a series of revolts and changes in government, dominated by the eccentric Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
In 1836 Texas, to which large numbers of Americans had moved, won independence from Mexico by defeating Santa Anna. The annexation of Texas by the United States in 1845 brought on the Mexican War. In March 1846 U.S. troops invaded Mexico, won several battles, and captured Mexico City. By the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848, Mexico gave up any claim to Texas and ceded a large region N of the present border. The United States paid Mexico $15 million and assumed claims of American citizens. By the Gadsden Purchase in 1853, Mexico sold the United States land now making up parts of Arizona and New Mexico.
In 1854 leaders opposed to Santa Anna drew up the Plan of Ayutla, calling for a liberal government. This led to the War of Reform and the overthrow of Santa Anna in 1855. British, French, and Spanish forces land ed at Veracruz in 1862, ostensibly to collect debts. Great Britain and Spain withdrew, but France remained and in June 1864 took Mexico City. The French set up an Austrian archduke as Emperor Maximilian I. When French forces withdrew in 1867 and the United States threatened action, a revolt ended Maximilian’s brief rule, and he was executed.
In 1876 Porfirio Diaz led a successful revolt against the existing government and thereafter was the effective ruler of Mexico for 34 years. He brought prosperity but governed in the interests of the wealthy. A period of revolts began in 1910 and ended, temporarily, in 1913 when Aldolfo de la Huerta seized power. President Woodrow Wilson of the United States refused to recognize his regime and , using the excuse of an incident at Tampico involving American sailors, land ed troops in Veracruz in 1914. Argentina, Brazil, and Chile interceded to prevent war. He followed this with an invasion of northern Mexico in 1917 in pursuit of the revolutionary Pancho Villa. In the 1920s and 1930s, Presidents Alvaro Obregon and Plutarco Elias Calles, socialists, put through labor and agrarian reforms and took control of natural resources from foreign owners.
This trend continued after World War II as the nation emphasized industrialization. From 1945 to 2000 the government was stable; the cand idate of the official party always wins the presidency. Mexico is the fifth-largest oil producing nation, but its rapid population growth has created a need for increased food production. In late 1982 a drop in oil prices caused severe balance of payments problems and a capital outflow that threatened the nation’s stability. In 1982, the government responded with economic austerity policies, a renegotiation of Mexico’s international debt, and a loosening of direct foreign investment regulations. In 1985, a major earthquake damaged Mexico City. The continuing economic crisis impacted the ruling PRI party whose cand idate, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, narrowly won the 1988 election. In 1992, Mexico, the United States, and Canada negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which erased many trade barriers and created a trading bloc of 370 million people. In 1994, there was renewed turmoil with an uprising in the state of Chiapas and the assassination of PRI presidential cand idate Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta. The PRI won the 1994 elections, but the float of the peso against the U.S. dollar created a devaluation that plunged the country into a deeper financial crisis in 1995. The United States provided $12.5 billion to shore up the Mexican banking system, but required substantial economic reforms. In 1996, the PRI agreed to electoral reforms, and in the 1997 elections, they were forced into a coalition in the Chamber of Deputies after failing to win the majority of the seats for the first time. In 1998, Mexico joined with OPEC to limit oil production and boost sagging oil prices. In the 2000 elections PRI finally lost power as the conservative PAN cand idate Vicente Fox Quesada won the presidency, ending more than 70 years of PRI rule. Mexico has seen some economic growth through its free trade policies and development of maquiladora factories, but economic downturn in the United States along with increased foreign competition have hurt Mexico’s export industries.
Mexico City is the capital and largest city; the next largest are Guadalajara and Monterrey.
Mexico is a great place to take a vacation. There are a number of things to do and see. Mexico is situated on the Gulf of Mexico, and both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. Every year millions of people travel to Mexico to sit and relax on the beach, have some authentic foods, get some great shopping deals, and check out the culture.
Many people go to Mexico for some warm weather. This subtropical climate will allow a person to go to the beach any season of the year. While the mountains in northern Mexico may get a little chilly the rest of Mexico has warm weather all year.
There are some popular tourist destinations that people visit each year. Acapulco allows a person to sit on the beach during the day and enjoy the busy nightlife once the sun sets. Cancun is a popular beach resort town. Tijuana is only minutes from San Diego and will allow a person to party the night away.
Mexico is a great place to visit. Many people head to Mexico to enjoy the warm weather, relax on the beach, and experience another culture.