Contributed by Jocelyn M. Hicks, IFCC President
Mexico, on the continent of North America, is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. To the north liesthe United States, and to the south is Guatemala and Belize in Central America. It occupies a land area of 1,923,040 sq. km., and comprises 32 States.
Mexico is the site of advanced Amerindian civilizations, and was under Spanish rule for three centuries before achieving independence in the early 19th century. Although the devaluation of the peso in 1994 caused great economic harm, Mexico continues to make an impressive recovery. The current President, Vicente Fox of the National Action Party, took office in 2000 as the first President elected in a free and fair election.
Mexico has a varied topography, ranging from high, rugged mountains to coastal plains, and high plains, plateaus and desert. The climate ranges from tropical to desert. Mexico has known tsunamis, erupting volcanoes, earthquakes and hurricanes.
Mexico enjoys several natural resources, including petroleum, natural gas, minerals (silver, copper, gold, lead, zinc), and timber. About 12-13% of the land is farmed in arable crops and 1-2% in permanent crops.
The current population is estimated to be about 108 million, with about 31% of the population being younger than age 16y, 64% age 16-64y, and the remainder over age 64y. Life expectancy among males is about 73 y, and about 78 y for females. Ethnic groups include Mestizo (American-Spanish), 60%, Amerindian, 30%, Caucasian, 9%, and other, 1%. The religion is predominantly Catholic (89%), Protestant (6%), and other (5%). The major languages are Spanish, Mayan, Nahuatl, and other indigenous languages.
The literacy rate is high--about 92%.
The legal system is a mixture of U.S. constitutional theory, a civil law system, and judicial review of legislative acts. There is a bicameral Congress, consisting of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.
Mexico faces several challenges: to upgrade the infrastructure; to modernize the tax system and labor laws; and to allow private investment in the energy sector. It must continue to boost its economic growth and improve its international competitiveness, reduce poverty, and improve the water quality throughout the country.
Despite these issues, Mexico is a great country to visit and for foreigners to live. Its people are energetic, helpful and charming. I always enjoy visiting Mexico.