By Allan Englekirk and Marguerite Marin
1. Mexico, or Estados Unidos Mexicanos, is bordered by the United States to the north, the Gulf of
Mexico to the east, Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea to the southeast, and the Pacific to the
south and west. The northwest portion of Mexico, called Baja California, is separated from the rest of
the nation by the Gulf of California. The Sierra Madre, an extension of the Rocky Mountain chain,
divides into the Oriental range to the east and the Occidental range to the west. The central highlands,
where the majority of Mexico's 75 million people live, lies in between these two mountain systems.
Overall, Mexico occupies 759,530 square miles.
1.The earliest inhabitants of Mexico are believed to have been hunters who migrated from Asia
approximately 18,000 years ago. Over time, these early peoples built highly organized civilizations,
such as the Olmec, Teotihuacan, Mayan, Toltec, Zapotec, Mixtec, and Aztec societies, the majority of
which were accomplished in art, architecture, mathematics, astronomy, and agriculture. In 1517
Spanish explorer Francisco Fernández de Córdoba discovered the Yucatán, a peninsula located in the
southeast of Mexico. By 1521 the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortéz had managed to conquer the
Aztec empire, the most powerful Indian nation in Mexico at the time. For the next 300 years, Mexico,
or New Spain, would remain under colonial rule.
2.Spain's generally repressive colonial regime stifled the growth of commerce and industry, monitored
or censored the dissemination of new and possibly revolutionary ideas, and limited access to
meaningful political power to anyone but nativeborn Spaniards. An unequal distribution of land and
wealth developed and, as the nation grew in numbers, the disproportion between the rich and poor
continued to increase, as did a sense of social unrest among the most neglected of its populace. Their
discontent resulted in a successful revolt against Spain in 1821.
3.In the latter part of the nineteenth century, under the 30-year authoritarian rule of Porfirio Díaz,
noticeable industrialization occurred in Mexico, financed in large part by foreigners. Mining was
revitalized and foreign trade increased. Dynamic growth brought relative prosperity to many economic
sectors of various regions of the country, complemented by increased levels of employment. As the
century ended, however, a vast majority of the nations's inhabitants had realized little if any