Posted on Dec 28, 2013 |

 The views expressed by the author and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Project Unify Team.

When you hear México, what do you imagine? Do you imagine a country that has all the natural regions existing, a country that has some of the best beaches in the world? Do you imagine a country that has delicious food and friendly people?

Hi ! My name is Fernando Márquez, I’m an International Relations student in a city called Mexicali, which is in the far northwest part of Mexico, border with USA, I was born and have lived all my life in Mexicali. Mexicali has more than a million habitants. Opposing what most people think of Mexico, it’s a very modern country, obviously in some parts there are still little towns like the ones you see in the movies with people riding donkeys and using “sombreros”, but those places are very few now, for example, my city, which is a desert, it’s like any normal city in US or any “developed” country, people don’t use “sombreros”, almost everyone in my city has cars and almost all of the streets are paved.

United Mexican States or Mexico (the commonly used name) is a Latin American nation which has border in North with United States of America (USA) and in South with Guatemala and Belize. In the East has the Mexican Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean and on the West Coast has the Pacific Ocean.

Mexico as all the American States was “conquered” by European kingdoms, in the Mexican case was Spain, many people think that Spaniards came to create Mexico and that before them Mexico was a land with only ignorant indigenous people, well let me tell you that that’s so wrong! It’s the opposite!

The first established civilization and culture that flourished in Mexico was the Olmec Civilization, approximately 1,500 years B.C., another famous prehispanic civilizations were: toltecs, mayas (yes the ones that everybody thought that had foreseen the end of the world, but in reality they only predicted the end of an era and the beginning of another era, with the new sun, the 5th one) and mexicas.

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The mayas made a lot of scientific advances like the calendar, the use of the 0, the numeral system, the astrology applications, the use of herbs in medicine, etc.

Before the Spaniards came the region were Mexico is now was divided in 2 areas: Mesoamérica and Aridoamérica, which were from the middle of Mexico to the south and from the middle of Mexico to the north respectively. In Aridoamérica the weather was very hot and extreme because the region was mostly desert, due to that there weren’t any flourished civilization. In Mesoamérica all the civilizations flourished due to the agriculture, that could develop because the water was fresh and the regions were mostly jungle and forest.

The Spaniards “discovered” the American continent in 1492 when Christopher Columbus reached the island of Guanahani which is actually part of Bahamas. After that, another Spaniard arrived, he landed specifically in Mexico, his name was Hernán Cortés. Cortés began to fight and conquer small cultures in his way to Teotihuacán, which was the capital of the mexicas or Aztec culture, which was the most powerful of Mexico. Some cultures/civilizations chose to join efforts with Cortés because they didn’t want to fight or because they were enemies of the Aztecs. When Cortés arrived at Teotihuacán there were a lot of fights between the Spaniards and their allies and the Aztecs, but after all the fights the Spaniards conquered Teotihuacán, mostly because they were more, they had guns and armors, but most important because they brought a lot of mortal diseases to the Mexicans that didn’t existed in the region, that killed a lot of Aztecs.

After that Mexico was part of the Kingdom of Spain under the name “New Spain” (very logic) for almost 300 years. In that period the Spaniard imposed their religion (catolicism), their culture, their government, and extracted all the natural resources from Mexico to give it to the Spaniards in Europe, they killed almost all of the native people and destroyed a lot of their temples and edifications. Mexico began its fight for Independence in 1810, the Independence was began by a priest called Miguel Hidalgo, who was born in “New Spain” but had Spaniard parents, the Independence movement began with the “Dolores shout/scream” which was the scene were Hidalgo invited all of the people to fight against the Emporium, to be independent and free, from the bells of the church where he was priest. The Independence war ended in 1821, 11 years after it began, in 1821 Juan O’ Donoju, the last vice king of “New Spain” signed the Independence. But it was kind of symbolic because after the Independence was signed Agustín Iturbide, (who was the General in charge of the Spaniard army against the Mexican army, who joined forces with Vicente Guerrero, the General of the Mexican army to reach the Independence) and his partisans proclaimed him Emperor of the Mexican Emporium, which lasted only 2 years (1822, 1823) after that Vicente Guerrero, Guadalupe Victoria and others finally knocked down Iturbide with his Emporium. After that Mexico had a period of internal fights between factions, a lot of Presidents were knocked down, assumed power by coup d’état and Mexico had other Interventions: the USA and France. In the war with US, Mexico lost more than the 50% of its territory, which is all of the south part of US (California, Arizona, Texas, Nuevo Mexico, etc.).

In 1910 another big decisive event happened in Mexico: The Mexican Revolution, in which Francisco Madero began to fight General Porfirio Díaz who was an authoritarian dictator who was 36 years as President. After that Mexico has been a country with authoritarian Presidents, and for 70 years there was only one political party ruling the country, that is very corrupt, called PRI, and in 2000 for the first time in the last 100 years in Mexico a President from another political party (PAN) won the elections.

That was the historical overview of my country, now I will share with you some geographical aspects of Mexico:

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Mexico is a multicultural country divided in 31 states and the capital, which is Mexico City.

The 31 states of Mexico are: Baja California (where I live), Baja California Sur, Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, Michoacán, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Campeche, Morelos, Hidalgo, Aguascalientes, Querétaro, Guanajuato, Mexico state, Yucatán and Quintana Roo.

There are a lot of differences between the different states in the country, but you can notice the difference a lot between the north part of Mexico and the South.

The northern part of Mexico has usually a hot and dry weather and the natural region is desert, some states have beaches, mountains and forests. Like Baja California, my state, which has deserts (Mexicali, my city which is the capital of the state), has beaches (Rosarito, Ensenada, San Felipe), has forests (Tecate) and mountains (La Rumorosa). Also Mexicali is the hottest city of Mexico, in summer we usually reach 50 degrees and in winter 0 degrees and even below 0.

The southern part of Mexico has usually a humid weather because most of the states have a lot of jungles, beaches, and some forests. In the southern part of the country rains a lot and sadly there are usually hurricanes, floods and heavy rains, but thanks to all the water the landscape is very beautiful and very green, there are a lot of waterfalls, rivers, lakes and most of the best beaches in the world like Cancún, Huatulco, Cozumel, Veracruz, etc. Also there is a wide variety of animals and exotic animals in the southern part of Mexico, like toucans, jaguars, crocodiles, turtles, different types of monkeys, different types of birds, parrots and more.

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The center of the country has usually cool weather, not so cold, not so hot, has mountains and forests, also in the center of Mexico is the capital: Mexico City.

Mexico, as I mentioned before, has a wide variety of cultures, when people from other countries visit the north and south part of Mexico they say that they are so different that look like 2 different countries.

Mexico is one of the most visited countries in the world, due to the cultural richness and the different kinds of landscapes and their beauty. We are very glad to receive tourists and obviously would like to receive you in our country J.

The people from the north of the country usually have a lighter skin and are taller (not everyone), the way that the people from the north speak is very different from the southern people, even some words are different and the people from Mexico City speak very different to other Mexicans too, we call the people from the capital “chilangos”. People from the south are more likely to have darker skin and to be shorter, because in that part of Mexico the big prehispanic civilizations flourished and the people that lies in north are results of the mixtures of races, because in the north there wasn’t any established civilization before. Another aspect of the differences between the north and south is the food, in the center and south you can usually find typical Mexican food like mixiotes, mole, pozole, tamales, gorditas, tlacoyos, but in the north is uncommon to eat and find that food in restaurants, and for me that’s wrong because the food is part of our culture and in the north the people wrongly has more US culture than Mexican, in north usually people speaks English, in south is uncommon that people know English, that’s mainly because the northern part of Mexico has border with US and that influences a lot both positively and negatively.

A big problem that Mexico has with US in the border is the migration. It’s known that thousands of Mexicans cross illegally the border to US per year, and that’s true, most of these people are from the southern part of the country and from Central and South America, these people risks their lives and pay thousands of dollars to people to cross them to US because in their home places they don’t have opportunities to work or doesn’t earn enough money to have an adequate life. The US government and border patrol treat immigrants like animals, they kill immigrants just because they crossed the border, the border patrol violates the human rights of these people constantly and there are some groups of US sick people that hunt immigrants as fun. Daily the US government dumps more than 1,000 immigrants in Mexico, even if they are not Mexicans, and Mexicali, my city is the city where US dumps more immigrants at nights, some nights the border patrol dumps more than 200 immigrants without money, ID, papers and food.

Aside from the problems that México has with US, México has a lot of touristic cities which are very beautiful:

Guadalajara

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Guadalajara is a city located in the center- west part of México. It’s called “Occidental Pearl”. This city with more than 4 million people is one of the most important cities of México, and a touristic international destiny. Guadalajara has a lot of cultural sites, like the “Degollado” Theatre, which is a very beautiful theatre that has a lot of history. The Cathedral which is in the image above is very beautiful and has a lot of history. Guadalajara is a rainy city. All the historic center of the city is very beautiful, I have been there several times and each time I got amused, it’s a must-visit in México.

Also this city was the venue of the Panamerican Games 2011, so it has a lot of impressive sport venues. Near Guadalajara is Chapala, Ajijíc and other towns that are very rustic and beautiful with lakes, spas, forests and there’s also an archeological site from 2 hours and a half by car.

Mexico City

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Mexico City! Ah… What can I say? I really love Mexico City, this is the capital of México, it’s one of the most populated metropolis in the world. It has more than 16 million habitants. This city has it all, it’s the city with more museums in the world, it has over 150 museums. This city has a lot of history, in the prehispanic México, this was the capital of Mesoamérica, it was called Teotihuacán, in the historic center of the city there’s an archeological site called “Mayor Temple” which are ruins of a prehispanic Temple. Also 2 hours away from the city you can find an impressive and beautiful archeological site with the Pyramids of Teotihuacán: The Sun, the moon and the Quetzalcóatl Pyramid.

The nightlife in Mexico City is also impressive you can find thousands of clubs and bars of many different types, there’s even an igloo club, which it’s below 0, like a real igloo.

Los Cabos

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Los Cabos is one of the most visited touristic sites and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It’s worldwide famous for its crystalline water and clean and soft sand, it has also one of the biggest and more full of life coral reefs in the world. It it’s also ideal for water and adventure sports like snorkeling, kayak, rappel, zip-line, etc.

Los Cabos has several exclusive and very nice resorts, which are like a city, some of these have even malls inside and private beaches. If you are looking for a calm and beautiful destination with perfect beaches then Cabo is for you.

Cancún

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Cancún is one of the most famous touristic destinies in the world. This awesome beach is in the heart of the Yucatán peninsula, it’s also in the mystic Mayan Riviera. In Cancún you can find beautiful beaches and one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. It has a lot of adventure sports like Los Cabos: rappel, snorkel, kayak, diving, etc.

Near from Cancún you can find “Women Island” which is very beautiful and within the activities you can do, you can swim with sharks, I’ve done it myself. Also near from Cancún you can find one of the 7 wonders of the world, which is the Pyramid of Chichen Itzá.

Puebla

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Puebla is one of the most historical cities in México. Puebla is a very important industry city in México with more than 2 million people. It’s known because it has the Volkswagen production main plant there, were the vast majority of the VW cars are made. It also has a high cultural richness, from the Cathedral (one of the most beautiful and biggest catholic churches of Latin America) to the Municipal Palace and the Palafoxian Library, Puebla offers something to do for everyone. It’s also famous because of its colorful building and houses, specially blue, yellow and red, in June of this year (2013) the World Tae Kwon Do Championships were held there.

Also near from Puebla you can find the town Cholula, which is very rustic and beautiful and held’s the majestic and mysterious Pyramid of Cholula and on the top of a mount above the ruins of the Cholula Pyramid you can find the church depicted above.

Chiapas

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Chiapas is one of the most beautiful states in México, it’s famous due to its beautiful jungles, colonial cities, beaches and archeological sites. The most visited cities in Chiapas are: San Cristobal de las Casas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapa de Corzo and others. In this state you can enjoy the “Lacandona” jungle, a lot of majestic waterfalls like blue water waterfall, the Pyramids and archeological sites of Palenque, Bonampak and Yaxchilán.

ACHIEVEMENTS AND FACTS:

  1.  – Mexico City is the 2nd. Most populated city in the world
  2.  – Did you know that the meteorite that extinguished the dinosaurs 65 million years ago landed in Mexico? In the state of Yucatán?
  3.  – Mexico means “umbilicus of the moon” metztli (moon), xictli (umbilicus) y co (place)
  4.  – Mexico is the country that most exports silver in the world
  5.  – Mexico is the country with more taxis
  6.  – Mexico is the country with most obese people in the world (sadly we just surpassed US)
  7.  – Mexico City is the city that has most museums in the world (more than 150)
  8.  – Mexico is the 4th. Place in the world with more biodiversity
  9.  – Mexico has the first place in the world of variety of reptiles, the 2nd in mammals and the 4th in plants.
  10.  – Chihuahua which is the biggest state in Mexico is bigger than United Kingdom.
  11.  – The person who invented the color TV was Mexican, he was Guillermo González Camarena
  12.  – Mexico was the first “non-developed” country and the first in Latin America to host the Olympic Games in 1968.
  13.  – The richest man in the world is Mexican: Carlos Slim, a big contrast because more than 50 million people in Mexico is poor.
  14.  – Mario Molina was the first Mexican and the only one to win the Science Nobel Prize in 1995.
  15.  – In 1982 the Mexican Diplomatic Alfonso García Robles won the Peace Nobel Prize.
  16.  – In 1990 the Mexican writer  Octavio Paz won the Literature Nobel Prize.
  17.  – The typical Mexican sports are: Ball Game, which was practiced by all the prehispanic civilizations, in this game the men have to shot the ball through a circle, but you can only hit/touch the ball with the hips, the ball is very hard and heavy, it was usually from animal skin and the men had to wear a special type of underwear that was very hard in order to hit the ball.
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  19.  – The other typical Mexican sport is the “charrería” in which people riding horses have to lace with rope wild horses or have to ride a bull without falling. Also the Mexican free wrestling is very famous worldwide, but is more a show than a sport.

Mexico also has a lot of achievements in sports:

  1.  – The Mexican soccer selection was Olympic Champion in the past Olympic Games, London 2012

– In 2005 and 2011 the Mexican soccer selection under 17 years was World Champion in the u17 World Cup.

– In boxing Mexico has a great tradition of World champs, Mexico has 116 World Boxing Champs, Mexicali (my city!) and the neighborhood of Tepito in Mexico City are very famous for having world boxing champs. The most famous mexian boxers have been: Julio César Chávez, Juan Manuel Márquez (who defeated Pacquiao recently), Erik “Terrible” Morales, “Maromero” Páez (from Mexicali), Marco Antonio Barrera and lately Saúl “Canelo” Alvarez.

– In the Olympic sport of diving we have very good results at international level, with Olympic medalists like Paola Espinoza, Laura Sánchez, Ivan García, Fernando Platas, Carlos Girón, etc.

– In Tae Kwon Do Mexico is also very successful with Maria del Rosario Espinoza, 2008 Olympic Champ in Beijing and World Champ in Beijing too in 2007, also Guillermo Pérez, Olympic Champion in 2008, the brothers Iridia and Oscar Salazar who won Bronze and silver medals respectively in Athens 2004. The TKD World Championships 2013 were held in Puebla, Mexico and the Mexican selection got a very good result with gold, silver and bronze medals.

– In Athletics Mexico has also good results with champions like Ana Gabriela Guevara in short distances, Ernesto Canto in long distances, etc.

– Mexico has hosted a lot of international major sports event like: The Olympic Games 2008, World TKD Championships 2013, World Soccer Cups 1970 and 1986, Panamerican Games 1955, 1975 and 2011, World Karate Championships 1991, etc.

To finish this article I just want you to know that México is not a “not-developed” country like US and other western countries want you to think. México is a rich country in people, in culture, in nature, in color, in food and also in industry and other economic sectors.

México isn’t a country of fat, lazy and dirty people, México is full of working people that work diligently to feed their families. México as you could see, also it’s a very beautiful country to explore so you are very welcome to visit it! It’s also cheaper than many other touristic countries, so it’s a good option to explore something new and beautiful.

Oh! And other misconceptions, Mexicans don’t wear boots, sombreros (hats), moustache and ride horses or donkeys, at least the vast majority doesn’t do that. It’s true that Mexican food is very spicy, but it’s very tasty too, Taco Bell is NOT Mexican food, Mexicans are very friendly and yes we love to party!

I hope that you find this article useful and interesting and that clears some of the misconceptions you have about Mexicans. I’m Fernando Márquez! Have a good day 😀

This article has been written by Fernando Márquez, he is the Mexican Ambassadors for Project Unify. Read about him and other ambassadors here.

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