Set your curiosity free with richer, better connected information.
Sovereign state in the southern portion of North America
Top 10 Mexico related articles
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 2.1 Indigenous civilizations
- 2.2 Conquest of the Aztec Empire (1519–1521)
- 2.3 Viceroyalty of New Spain (1521–1821)
- 2.4 War of Independence (1810–1821)
- 2.5 Mexican Empire and the Early Republic (1821–1855)
- 2.6 Liberal Reform, French Intervention, and Restored Republic (1855–1876)
- 2.7 Porfiriato (1876–1911)
- 2.8 Mexican Revolution (1910–1920)
- 2.9 Political consolidation and one-party rule (1920–2000)
- 2.10 Contemporary Mexico
- 3 Geography
- 4 Government and politics
- 5 Economy
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Culture
- 8 Health
- 9 Education
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 Bibliography
- 14 External links
United Mexican States
Estados Unidos Mexicanos (Spanish)
Motto: La Patria Es Primero
("The Homeland is First")
Anthem: Himno Nacional Mexicano
("Mexican National Anthem")
and largest city
|Recognized regional languages||Spanish and 68 Amerindian languages[a]|
|National language||Spanish (de facto)[b]|
|Ethnic groups||56 Amerindian and diverse foreign ethnic groups|
|Andrés Manuel López Obrador|
|Mónica Fernández Balboa|
|Laura Angélica Rojas Hernández|
|Chamber of Deputies|
|16 September 1810|
|27 September 1821|
|28 December 1836|
|4 October 1824|
|5 February 1857|
|5 February 1917|
|1,972,550 km2 (761,610 sq mi) (13th)|
• Water (%)
• 2020 estimate
|61/km2 (158.0/sq mi) (142nd)|
|GDP (PPP)||2020 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2020 estimate|
• Per capita
high · 76th
|Time zone||UTC−8 to −5 (See Time in Mexico)|
• Summer (DST)
|UTC−7 to −5 (varies)|
|ISO 3166 code||MX|
Mexico (Spanish: México [ˈmexiko] (
Pre-Columbian Mexico traces its origins to 8,000 BC and is identified as one of six cradles of civilization; it was home to many advanced Mesoamerican civilizations, most well-known among them the Maya and the Aztecs. In 1521, the Spanish Empire conquered and colonized the territory from its base in Mexico City, which then became known as New Spain. The Catholic Church played an important role as millions of indigenous inhabitants converted. These populations were heavily exploited to mine rich deposits of precious material, which became a major source of wealth for the Spanish. Mexico became an independent nation state after the successful Mexican War of Independence against Spain in 1821.
The War of Texas Independence in 1836 and the Mexican–American War led to huge territorial losses in Mexico's sparsely populated north, contiguous to the United States. The newly instituted reforms that granted protection to indigenous communities, and curtailed the power of the military and the church, were enshrined in the Constitution of 1857. This triggered the War of the Reform and French intervention. Maximilian Habsburg was installed as emperor by France and Benito Juárez kept an opposing republican government in exile. The following decades were marked by instability and dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, who sought to modernize Mexico and restore order. The Porfiriato ended with the Mexican Revolution in 1910 and the winning Constitutionalist faction drafted a new 1917 Constitution. The revolutionary generals of the winning northern faction dominated the 1920s and served as presidents, but the 1928 assassination of Alvaro Obregón led to the formation of the Institutional Revolutionary Party in 1929, under which Mexico was a one-party state until 2000.
Mexico is a developing country, ranking 76th on the Human Development Index, but is considered a newly industrialized state by several analysts. It has the world's 15th-largest economy by nominal GDP and the 11th-largest by PPP, with the United States being its largest economic partner. The large economy, area, population and politics make Mexico a regional power and a middle power, and is often identified as an emerging power. However, Mexico continues to struggle with social inequalities, poverty and extensive crime; the country ranks poorly on the Global Peace Index. Since 2006, the conflict between the government and drug trafficking syndicates lead to over 120,000 deaths.
Mexico ranks first in the Americas and 7th in the world for the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Mexico is an ecologically megadiverse, ranking 5th in the world for its natural biodiversity. Mexico receives a significant number of tourists every year; in 2018, it was the 6th most-visited country in the world, with 39 million international arrivals. Mexico is a member of the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the G8+5, the G20, the Uniting for Consensus group of the UN, and the Pacific Alliance trade bloc.
Mexico Intro articles: 129
Mēxihco is the Nahuatl term for the heartland of the Aztec Empire, namely the Valley of Mexico and surrounding territories, with its people being known as the Mexica. The terms are plainly linked; it is generally believed that the toponym for the valley was the origin of the primary ethnonym for the Aztec Triple Alliance, but it may have been the other way around. In the colonial era, when Mexico was called New Spain, this central region became the Intendency of Mexico, during the eighteenth-century reorganization of the empire, the Bourbon Reforms. After the colony achieved independence from the Spanish Empire in 1821, said territory came to be known as the State of Mexico, with the new country being named after its capital: Mexico City, which itself was founded in 1524 on the site of the ancient Mexica capital of Mexico-Tenochtitlan.
The official name of the country has changed as the form of government has changed. The declaration of independence signed on 6 November 1813 by the deputies of the Congress of Anáhuac called the territory América Septentrional (Northern America) in the Plan of Iguala (1821). On two occasions (1821–1823 and 1863–1867), the country was known as Imperio Mexicano (Mexican Empire). All three federal constitutions (1824, 1857 and 1917, the current constitution) used the name Estados Unidos Mexicanos—or the variant Estados-Unidos Mexicanos, all of which have been translated as "United Mexican States". The phrase República Mexicana, "Mexican Republic", was used in the 1836 Constitutional Laws.
Mexico Etymology articles: 17
The earliest human artifacts in Mexico are chips of stone tools found near campfire remains in the Valley of Mexico and radiocarbon-dated to circa 10,000 years ago. Mexico is the site of the domestication of maize, tomato, and beans, which produced an agricultural surplus. This enabled the transition from paleo-Indian hunter-gatherers to sedentary agricultural villages beginning around 5000 BC. In the subsequent formative eras, maize cultivation and cultural traits such as a mythological and religious complex, and a vigesimal (base 20) numeric system, were diffused from the Mexican cultures to the rest of the Mesoamerican culture area. In this period, villages became more dense in terms of population, becoming socially stratified with an artisan class, and developing into chiefdoms. The most powerful rulers had religious and political power, organizing the construction of large ceremonial centers developed.
The earliest complex civilization in Mexico was the Olmec culture, which flourished on the Gulf Coast from around 1500 BC. Olmec cultural traits diffused through Mexico into other formative-era cultures in Chiapas, Oaxaca and the Valley of Mexico. The formative period saw the spread of distinct religious and symbolic traditions, as well as artistic and architectural complexes. The formative-era of Mesoamerica is considered one of the six independent cradles of civilization. In the subsequent pre-classical period, the Maya and Zapotec civilizations developed complex centers at Calakmul and Monte Albán, respectively. During this period the first true Mesoamerican writing systems were developed in the Epi-Olmec and the Zapotec cultures. The Mesoamerican writing tradition reached its height in the Classic Maya Hieroglyphic script. The earliest written histories date from this era. The tradition of writing was important after the Spanish conquest in 1521.
In Central Mexico, the height of the classic period saw the ascendancy of Teotihuacán, which formed a military and commercial empire whose political influence stretched south into the Maya area as well as north. Teotihuacan, with a population of more than 150,000 people, had some of the largest pyramidal structures in the pre-Columbian Americas. After the collapse of Teotihuacán around 600 AD, competition ensued between several important political centers in central Mexico such as Xochicalco and Cholula. At this time, during the Epi-Classic, Nahua peoples began moving south into Mesoamerica from the North, and became politically and culturally dominant in central Mexico, as they displaced speakers of Oto-Manguean languages.
During the early post-classic era (ca. 1000-1519 CE), Central Mexico was dominated by the Toltec culture, Oaxaca by the Mixtec, and the lowland Maya area had important centers at Chichén Itzá and Mayapán. Toward the end of the post-Classic period, the Mexica established dominance, establishing a political and economic empire based in the city of Tenochtitlan (modern Mexico City), extending from central Mexico to the border with Guatemala. Alexander von Humboldt popularized the modern usage of "Aztec" as a collective term applied to all the people linked by trade, custom, religion, and language to the Mexica state and Ēxcān Tlahtōlōyān, the Triple Alliance. In 1843, with the publication of the work of William H. Prescott, it was adopted by most of the world, including 19th-century Mexican scholars who considered it a way to distinguish present-day Mexicans from pre-conquest Mexicans. This usage has been the subject of debate since the late 20th century.
The Aztec empire was an informal or hegemonic empire because it did not exert supreme authority over the conquered territories; it was satisfied with the payment of tributes from them. It was a discontinuous empire because not all dominated territories were connected; for example, the southern peripheral zones of Xoconochco were not in direct contact with the center. The hegemonic nature of the Aztec empire was demonstrated by their restoration of local rulers to their former position after their city-state was conquered. The Aztec did not interfere in local affairs, as long as the tributes were paid.
The Aztec of Central Mexico built a tributary empire covering most of central Mexico. The Aztec were noted for practicing human sacrifice on a large scale. Along with this practice, they avoided killing enemies on the battlefield. Their warring casualty rate was far lower than that of their Spanish counterparts, whose principal objective was immediate slaughter during battle. This distinct Mesoamerican cultural tradition of human sacrifice ended with the gradually Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Over the next centuries many other Mexican indigenous cultures were conquered and gradually subjected to Spanish colonial rule.
Conquest of the Aztec Empire (1519–1521)
Although the Spanish had established colonies in the Caribbean starting in 1493, it was not until the second decade of the sixteenth century that they began exploring the coast of Mexico. The Spanish first learned of Mexico during the Juan de Grijalva expedition of 1518. The natives kept "repeating: Colua, Colua, and Mexico, Mexico, but we [explorers] did not know what Colua or Mexico meant", until encountering Montezuma's governor at the mouth of the Rio de las Banderas.:33–36 The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire began in February 1519 when Hernán Cortés landed on the Gulf Coast and founded the Spanish city of Veracruz. Around 500 conquistadores, along with horses, cannons, swords, and long guns gave the Spanish some technological advantages over indigenous warriors, but key to the Spanish victory was making strategic alliances with disgruntled indigenous city-states (altepetl) who supplied the Spaniards and fought with them against the Aztec Triple Alliance. Also important to the Spanish victory was Cortés's cultural translator, Malinche, a Nahua woman enslaved in the Maya area whom the Spanish acquired as a gift. She quickly learned Spanish and gave strategic advise about how to deal with both indigenous allies and indigenous foes. The unconquered city-state of Tlaxcala allied with the Spanish against their enemies, the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan. The Spanish gained other indigenous allies, who also joined in the war for their own reasons.
We know so much about the conquest because it is among the best documented events in world history from multiple points of view. There are accounts by the Spanish leader Cortés and multiple other Spanish participants, including Bernal Díaz del Castillo. There are indigenous accounts in Spanish, Nahuatl, and pictorial narratives by allies of the Spanish, most prominently the Tlaxcalans, as well as Texcocans and Huejotzincans, and the defeated Mexican themselves, recorded in the last volume of Bernardino de Sahagún's General History of the Things of New Spain.
When the Spaniards arrived, the ruler of the Aztec empire was Moctezuma II, who after a delay allowed the Spanish to proceed inland to Tenochtitlan. The Spanish captured him, holding him hostage. He died while in their custody and the Spanish retreated from Tenochtitlan in great disarray. His successor and brother Cuitláhuac took control of the Aztec empire, but was among the first to fall from the first smallpox epidemic in the area a short time later. Unintentionally introduced by Spanish conquerors, among whom smallpox, measles, and other contagious diseases were endemic, epidemics of Old World infectious diseases ravaged Mesoamerica starting in the 1520s. The exact number of deaths is disputed, but unquestionably more than 3 million natives who they had no immunity. Other sources, however, mentioned that the death toll of the Aztecs might have reached 15 million (out of a population of less than 30 million) although such a high number conflicts with the 350,000 Aztecs who ruled an empire of 5 million or 10 million. Severely weakened, the Aztec empire was easily defeated by Cortés and his forces on his second return with the help of state of Tlaxcala whose population estimate was 300,000. The native population declined 80–90% by 1600 to 1–2.5 million. Any population estimate of pre-Columbian Mexico is bound to be a guess but 8–12 million is often suggested for the area encompassed by the modern nation.
The territory became part of the Spanish Empire under the name of New Spain in 1535. Mexico City was systematically rebuilt by Cortés following the Fall of Tenochtitlan in 1521. Much of the identity, traditions and architecture of Mexico developed during the 300-year colonial period from 1521 to independence in 1821.
Viceroyalty of New Spain (1521–1821)
The 1521 capture Tenochtitlan and immediate founding of the Spanish capital Mexico City on its ruins was the beginning of a 300-year-long colonial era during which Mexico was known as Nueva España (New Spain). The Kingdom of New Spain was created from the remnants of the Aztec empire. The two pillars of Spanish rule were the State and the Roman Catholic Church, both under the authority of the Spanish crown. In 1493 the pope had granted sweeping powers to the Spanish crown, with the proviso that the crown spread Christianity in its new realms. In 1524, King Charles I created the Council of the Indies based in Spain to oversee State power its overseas territories; in New Spain the crown established a high court in Mexico City, the Real Audiencia, and then in 1535 created the viceroyalty. The viceroy was highest official of the State. In the religious sphere, the diocese of Mexico was created in 1530 and elevated to the Archdiocese of Mexico in 1546, with the archbishop as the head of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, overseeing Roman Catholic clergy. Castilian Spanish was the language of rulers. The Catholic faith the only one permitted, with non-Catholics (Jews and Protestants) and Catholics (excluding Indians) holding unorthodox views being subject to the Mexican Inquisition, established in 1571.
In the first half-century of Spanish rule, a network of Spanish cities was created, sometimes on pre-Hispanic sites. The capital Mexico City was and remains the premier city. Cities and towns were hubs of civil officials, ecclesiastics, business, Spanish elites, and mixed-race and indigenous artisans and workers. When deposits of silver were discovered in sparsely populated northern Mexico, far from the dense populations of central Mexico, the Spanish secured the region against fiercely resistant indigenous Chichimecas. The Viceroyalty at its greatest extent included the territories of modern Mexico, Central America as far south as Costa Rica, and the western United States. The Viceregal capital Mexico City also administrated the Spanish West Indies (the Caribbean), the Spanish East Indies (that is, the Philippines), and Spanish Florida. In 1819, the Spain signed the Adams-Onís Treaty with the United States, setting New Spain's northern boundary.
The population of Mexico was overwhelmingly indigenous and rural during the entire colonial period and beyond, despite the massive decrease in their numbers due to epidemic diseases. Diseases such as smallpox, measles, and others were introduced by Europeans and African slaves, especially in the sixteenth century. The indigenous population stabilized around one to one and a half million individuals in the 17th century from the most commonly accepted five to thirty million pre-contact population. During the three hundred years of the colonial era, Mexico received between 400,000 and 500,000 Europeans, between 200,000 and 250,000 African slaves. and between 40,000 and 120,000 Asians.
The first census in Mexico (then known as New Spain) that included an ethnic classification was the 1793 census. Also known as the Revillagigedo census. Most of its original datasets have reportedly been lost, thus most of what is known about it nowadays comes from essays and field investigations made by academics who had access to the census data and used it as reference for their works such as German scientist Alexander von Humboldt. Europeans ranged from 18% to 22% of New Spain's population, Mestizos from 21% to 25%, Indians from 51% to 61% and Africans were between 6,000 and 10,000. The total population ranged from 3,799,561 to 6,122,354. It is concluded that the population growth trends of whites and mestizos were even, while the percentage of the indigenous population decreased at a rate of 13%–17% per century mostly due the later having higher mortality rates for living in remote locations and being in constant war with the colonists. Independent-era Mexico eliminated the legal basis of the Colonial caste system which led to exclusion of racial classification in the censuses to come.
Colonial law with Spanish roots was introduced and attached to native customs creating a hierarchy between local jurisdiction (the Cabildos) and the Spanish Crown. Upper administrative offices were closed to native-born people, even those of pure Spanish blood (criollos). Administration was based on the racial separation. Society was organized in a racial hierarchy, with whites on top, mixed-race persons and blacks in the middle, and indigenous at the bottom. There were formal legal designations of racial categories. The Republic of Spaniards (República de Españoles) comprised European- and American-born Spaniards, mixed-race castas, and black Africans. The Republic of Indians (República de Indios) comprised the indigenous populations, which the Spanish lumped under the term Indian (indio), a Spanish colonial social construct which indigenous groups and individuals rejected as a category. Spaniards were exempt from paying tribute, Spanish men had access to higher education, could hold civil and ecclesiastical offices, were subject to the Inquisition, and liable for military service when the standing military was established in the late eighteenth century. Indigenous paid tribute, but were exempt from the Inquisition, indigenous men were excluded from the priesthood; and exempt from military service.
Although the racial system appears fixed and rigid, there was some fluidity within it, and racial domination of whites was not complete. Since the indigenous population of New Spain was so large, there was less labor demand for expensive black slaves than other parts of Spanish America. In the late eighteenth century the crown instituted reforms that privileged Iberian-born Spaniards (peninsulares) over American-born (criollos), limiting their access to offices. This discrimination between the two became a sparking point of discontent for white elites in the colony.
The Marian apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe said to have appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego in 1531 gave impetus to the evangelization of central Mexico. The Virgin of Guadalupe became a symbol for American-born Spaniards' (criollos) patriotism, seeking in her a Mexican source of pride, distinct from Spain. The Virgin of Guadalupe was invoked by the insurgents for independence who followed Father Miguel Hidalgo during the War of Independence.
The rich deposits of silver, particularly in Zacatecas and Guanajuato, resulted in silver extraction dominating the economy of New Spain. Taxes on silver production became a major source of income for Spain. Other important industries were the haciendas and mercantile activities in the main cities and ports. Wealth created during the colonial era spurred the development of New Spanish Baroque.
As a result of its trade links with Asia, the rest of the Americas, Africa and Europe and the profound effect of New World silver, central Mexico was one of the first regions to be incorporated into a globalized economy. Being at the crossroads of trade, people and cultures, Mexico City has been called the "first world city". The Nao de China (Manila Galleons) operated for two and a half centuries and connected New Spain with Asia. Silver and the red dye cochineal were shipped from Veracruz to Atlantic ports in the Americas and Spain. Veracruz was also the main port of entry in mainland New Spain for European goods, immigrants from Spain, and African slaves. The Camino Real de Tierra Adentro connected Mexico City with the interior of New Spain. Mexican silver pesos became the first globally used currency.
Spanish forces, sometimes accompanied by native allies, led expeditions to conquer territory or quell rebellions through the colonial era. Notable Amerindian revolts in sporadically populated northern New Spain include the Chichimeca War (1576–1606), Tepehuán Revolt (1616–1620), and the Pueblo Revolt (1680), the Tzeltal Rebellion of 1712 was a regional Maya revolt. Most rebellions were small-scale and local, posing no major threat to the ruling elites. To protect Mexico from the attacks of English, French, and Dutch pirates and protect the Crown's monopoly of revenue, only two ports were open to foreign trade—Veracruz on the Atlantic and Acapulco on the Pacific. Among the best-known pirate attacks are the 1663 Sack of Campeche and 1683 Attack on Veracruz. Of greater concern to the crown was of foreign invasion, especially after Britain seized in 1762 the Spanish ports of Havana, Cuba and Manila, the Philippines in the Seven Years' War. It created a standing military, increased coastal fortifications, and expanded the northern presidios and missions into Alta California. The volatility of the urban poor in Mexico City was evident in the 1692 riot in the Zócalo. The riot over the price of maize escalated to a full-scale attack on the seats of power, with the viceregal palace and the archbishop's residence attacked by the mob.
Due to the importance of New Spain administrative base, Mexico was the location of the first printing shop (1539), first university (1551), first public park (1592), and first public library (1640) in the Americas, among other institutions. Important artists of the colonial period, include the writers Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, painters Cristóbal de Villalpando and Miguel Cabrera, and architect Manuel Tolsá. The Academy of San Carlos (1781) was the first major school and museum of art in the Americas. German scientist Alexander von Humboldt spent a year in Mexico, finding the scientific community in the capital active and learned. He met Mexican scientist Andrés Manuel del Río Fernández, who discovered the element vanadium in 1801. Many Mexican cultural features including tequila, first distilled in the 16th century, charreria (17th), mariachi (18th) and Mexican cuisine, a fusion of American and European (particularly Spanish) cuisine, arose during the colonial era.
War of Independence (1810–1821)
On 16 September 1810, a "loyalist revolt" against the ruling junta was declared by priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, in the small town of Dolores, Guanajuato. This event, known as the Cry of Dolores (Spanish: Grito de Dolores) is commemorated each year, on 16 September, as Mexico's independence day. The first insurgent group was formed by Hidalgo, the Spanish viceregal army captain Ignacio Allende, the militia captain Juan Aldama and La Corregidora (English: "The Magistrate") Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez. Hidalgo and some of his soldiers were captured and executed by firing squad in Chihuahua, on 31 July 1811.:17–27
Following Hidalgo's death, the leadership was assumed by Ignacio López Rayón and then by the priest José María Morelos, who occupied key southern cities with the support of Mariano Matamoros and Nicolás Bravo.:35–37 In one notable incident, Nicolas Bravo captured 200 royalist soldiers, whom Morelos ordered should be executed in revenge of the murder of Bravo's father. In an act of mercy, Bravo instead pardoned the prisoners, most of whom then joined the insurgent cause.:40–41 In 1813 the Congress of Chilpancingo was convened and, on 6 November, signed the "Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America". This Act also abolished slavery and the caste system.:44–50 Morelos was captured and executed on 22 December 1815.:46
In subsequent years, the insurgency was near collapse, but in 1820 Viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca sent an army under the criollo general Agustín de Iturbide against the troops of Vicente Guerrero who had among his trusted soldiers, Filipino Mexicans who were concentrated in Guerrero, a state later named after Vicente Guerrero himself and where the Mexican flag was first sewn. Chief among the Filipino-Mexican soldiers was General Isidoro Montes de Oca who defeated Royalist armies 3 times his force's size. Then, the Criollo Royalist, Agustin Iturbide, instead of attacking Vicente Guerrero, approached Guerrero to join forces as he was impressed with his tenacity despite fighting larger odds, and on 24 August 1821 representatives of the Spanish Crown and Iturbide signed the "Treaty of Córdoba" and the "Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire", which recognized the independence of Mexico under the terms of the "Plan of Iguala".:53–80
Mexico's short recovery after the War of Independence was soon cut short again by the civil wars, foreign invasion and occupation, and institutional instability of the mid-19th century, which lasted until the government of Porfirio Díaz reestablished conditions that paved the way for economic growth. The conflicts that arose from the mid-1850s had a profound effect because they were widespread and made themselves perceptible in the vast rural areas of the countries, involved clashes between castes, different ethnic groups, and haciendas, and entailed a deepening of the political and ideological divisions between republicans and monarchists.
Mexican Empire and the Early Republic (1821–1855)
The first thirty-five years after Mexico's independence were marked by political instability and the changing form of the Mexican State, from a monarchy to a federated republic. There were military coups d'état, foreign invasions, ideological conflict between Conservatives and Liberals, and economic stagnation. Catholicism remained the only permitted religious faith and the Catholic Church as an institution retained its special privileges, prestige, and property, a bulwark of Conservatism. The army, another Conservative institution, also retained its privileges. Former Royal Army General Agustín de Iturbide, became regent, as newly independent Mexico sought a constitutional monarch from Europe. When no member of a European royal house desired the position, Iturbide himself was declared Emperor Agustín I. The young and weak United States was the first country to recognize Mexico's independence, sending an ambassador to the court of the emperor and sending a message to Europe via the Monroe Doctrine not to intervene in Mexico. The emperor's rule was short (1822–23) and he was overthrown by army officers.:87–88
The successful rebels established the First Mexican Republic. In 1824, a constitution of a federated republic was promulgated and former insurgent general Guadalupe Victoria became the first president of the newly born republic.:94–95 Central America, including Chiapas, left the union. In 1829, former insurgent general and fierce Liberal Vicente Guerrero, a signatory of the Plan de Iguala that achieved independence, became president in a disputed election. During his short term in office, April to December 1829, he abolished slavery. As a visibly mixed-race man of modest origins, Guerrero was seen by white political elites as an interloper. His Conservative vice president, former Royalist General Anastasio Bustamante, led a coup against him and Guerrero was judicially murdered. There was constant strife between Liberals, supporters of a federal form of decentralized government and often called Federalists and their political rivals, the Conservatives, who proposed a hierarchical form of government, were termed Centralists.:101–115, 125–127
Mexico's ability to maintain its independence and establish a viable government was in question. Spain attempted to reconquer its former colony during the 1820s, but eventually recognized its independence. France attempted to recoup losses it claimed for its citizens during Mexico's unrest and blockaded the Gulf Coast during the so-called Pastry War of 1838–39. Santa Anna lost a leg in combat during this conflict, which he used for political purposes. Emerging as a national hero in defending Mexico was creole army general, Antonio López de Santa Anna, who had participated in the overthrow of the emperor, fought the Spanish invasion, and came to dominate the politics for the next 25 years, until his own overthrow in 1855.
Mexico also contended with indigenous groups which controlled territory that Mexico claimed in the north. The Comanche controlled a huge territory in the sparsely populated region of central and northern Texas. Wanting to stabilize and develop the frontier, the Mexican government encouraged Anglo-American immigration into present-day Texas. The region bordered the United States, and was territory controlled by Comanches. There were few settlers from central Mexico moving to this remote and hostile territory. Mexico by law was a Catholic country; the Anglo Americans were primarily Protestant English speakers from the southern United States. Some brought their black slaves, which after 1829 was contrary to Mexican law. Santa Anna sought to centralize government rule, suspending the constitution and promulgating the Seven Laws, which place power in his hands. When he suspended the 1824 Constitution, civil war spread across the country. Three new governments declared independence: the Republic of Texas, the Republic of the Rio Grande and the Republic of Yucatán.:129–137
The largest blow to Mexico was the U.S. invasion of Mexico in 1846 in the Mexican American War. Mexico lost much of its sparsely populated northern territory, sealed in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Despite that disastrous loss, Conservative Santa Anna returned to the presidency yet again and then was ousted and exiled in the Liberal Revolution of Ayutla.
Liberal Reform, French Intervention, and Restored Republic (1855–1876)
The overthrow of Santa Anna and the establishment of a civilian government by Liberals allowed them to enact laws that they considered vital for Mexico's economic development. It was a prelude to more civil wars and yet another foreign invasion. The Liberal Reform attempted to modernize Mexico's economy and institutions along liberal principles. They promulgated a new Constitution of 1857, separating Church and State, stripping the Conservative institutions of the Church and the military of their special privileges (fueros); mandating the sale of Church-owned property and sale of indigenous community lands, and secularizing education. Conservatives revolted, touching off civil war between rival Liberal and Conservative governments (1858–61).
The Liberals defeated the Conservative army on the battlefield, but Conservatives sought another solution to gain power via foreign intervention by the French. Mexican conservatives asked Emperor Napoleon III to place a European monarch as head of state in Mexico. The French Army defeated the Mexican Army and placed Maximilian Hapsburg on the newly-established throne of Mexico, supported by Mexican Conservatives and propped up by the French Army. The Liberal republic under Benito Juárez was basically a government in internal exile, but with the end of the Civil War in the U.S. in April 1865, that government began aiding the Mexican Republic. Two years later, the French Army withdrew its support, Maximilian remained in Mexico rather than return to Europe. Republican forces captured him and he was executed in Querétaro, along with two Conservative Mexican generals. The "Restored Republic" saw the return of Juárez, who was "the personification of the embattled republic," as president.
The Conservatives had been not only defeated militarily, but also discredited politically for their collaboration with the French invaders. Liberalism became synonymous with patriotism. The Mexican Army that had its roots in the colonial royal army and then the army of the early republic was destroyed. New military leaders had emerged from the War of the Reform and the conflict with the French, most notably Porfirio Díaz, a hero of the Cinco de Mayo, who now sought civilian power. Juárez won re-election in 1867, but was challenged by Díaz, who criticized him for running for re-election. Díaz then rebelled, crushed by Juárez. Having won re-election, Juárez died in office of natural causes in July 1872, and Liberal Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada became president, declaring a "religion of state" for rule of law, peace, and order. When Lerdo ran for re-election, Díaz rebelled against the civilian president, issuing the Plan of Tuxtepec. Díaz had more support and waged guerrilla warfare against Lerdo. On the verge of Díaz's victory on the battlefield, Lerdo fled from office, going into exile. Another army general assumed the presidency of Mexico.
After the turmoil in Mexico from 1810 to 1876, the 35-year rule of Liberal General Porfirio Díaz (r.1876-1911) allowed Mexico to rapidly modernize in a period characterized as one of "order and progress". The Porfiriato was characterized by economic stability and growth, significant foreign investment and influence, an expansion of the railroad network and telecommunications, and investments in the arts and sciences. The period was also marked by economic inequality and political repression. Díaz knew the potential for army rebellions, and systematically downsized the expenditure for the force, rather expanding the rural police force under direct control of the president.
The government encouraged British and U.S. investment. Commercial agriculture developed in northern Mexico, with many investors from the U.S. acquiring vast ranching estates and expanding irrigated cultivation of crops. The Mexican government ordered a survey of land with the aim of selling it for development. In this period, many indigenous communities lost their lands and the men became landless wage earners on large landed enterprises (haciendas). British and U.S. investors developed extractive mining of copper, lead, and other minerals, as well as petroleum on the Gulf Coast. Changes in Mexican law allowed for private enterprises to own the subsoil rights of land, rather than continuing the colonial law that gave all subsoil rights to the State. An industrial manufacturing sector also developed, particularly in textiles. At the same time, new enterprises gave rise to an industrial work force, which began organizing to gain labor rights and protections.
Díaz ruled with a group of advisors that became known as the científicos ("scientists"). The most influential cientifco was Secretary of Finance José Yves Limantour. The Porfirian regime was influenced by positivism. They rejected theology and idealism in favor of scientific methods being applied towards national development. As an integral aspect of the liberal project was secular education.
Díaz's long success did not include planning for a political transition beyond his own presidency. He made no attempt, however, to establish a family dynasty, naming no relative as his successor. As the centennial of independence approached, Díaz gave an interview where he said he was not going to run in the 1910 elections, when he would be 80. Political opposition had been suppressed and there were few avenues for a new generation of leaders. But his announcement set off a frenzy of political activity, including the unlikely candidacy of the scion of a rich landowning family, Francisco I. Madero. Madero won a surprising amount of political support when Díaz changed his mind an ran in the election, jailing Madero. The September centennial celebration of independence was the last celebration of the Porfiriato. The Mexican Revolution starting in 1910 saw a decade of civil war, the "wind that swept Mexico."
Mexican Revolution (1910–1920)
The Mexican Revolution was a decade-long transformational conflict in Mexico, with consequences to this day. It saw uprisings against President Díaz, his resignation, an interim presidency, and the democratic election of a rich landowner, Francisco I. Madero in 1911. In February 1913, a military coup d'état overthrew Madero's government, with the support of the U.S., resulted in Madero's murder by agents of Federal Army General Victoriano Huerta. A coalition of anti-Huerta forces in the North, the Constitutionalist Army overseen by Venustiano Carranza, and a peasant army in the South under Emiliano Zapata, defeated the Federal Army. In 1914 that army was dissolved as an institution. Following the revolutionaries' victory against Huerta, revolutionary armies sought to broker a peaceful political solution, but the coalition splintered, plunging Mexico into civil war again. Constitutionalist general Pancho Villa, commander of the Division of the North, broke with Carranza and allied with Zapata. Carranza's best general, Alvaro Obregón, defeated Villa, his former comrade-in-arms in the battle of Celaya in 1915, and Villa's forces melted away. Carranza became the de facto head of Mexico, and the U.S. recognized his government. In 1916, the winners met at a constitutional convention to draft the Constitution of 1917, which was ratified in February 1917. With amendments, it remains the governing document of Mexico. It is estimated that the war killed 900,000 of the 1910 population of 15 million.
The U.S. has had a history of inference and intervention in Mexico, most notably the Mexican-American War. During the Revolution, the Taft administration supported the Huerta coup against Madero, but when Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated as president in March 1913, it refused to recognize Huerta's regime and allowed arms sales to the Constitutionalists. Wilson ordered troops to occupy the strategic port of Veracruz in 1914, which was lifted. After Pancho Villa was defeated by revolutionary forces in 1915, he led a raid into Columbus, New Mexico incursion, prompting the U.S. to send 10,000 troops led by General John J. Pershing in an unsuccessful attempt to capture Villa. Carranza pushed back against U.S. troops being in northern Mexico. The expeditionary forces withdrew as the U.S. entered World War I. Germany attempted to get Mexico to side with it, sending a coded telegram in 1917 to incite war between the U.S. and Mexico, with Mexico to regain the territory it lost in the Mexican-American War. Mexico remained neutral in the conflict.
Consolidating power, President Carranza had peasant-leader Emiliano Zapata assassinated in 1919.:312 Carranza had gained support of the peasantry during the Revolution, but once in power he did little to distribute land, and, in fact, returned some confiscated land to their original owners. President Carranza's best general, Obregón, served briefly in Carranza's administration, but returned to his home state of Sonora to position himself to run in the 1920 presidential election. Carranza chose a political and revolutionary no-body to succeed him. Obregón and two other Sonoran revolutionary generals drew up the Plan of Agua Prieta, overthrowing Carranza, who died fleeing Mexico City in 1920. General Adolfo de la Huerta became interim president, followed the election of General Álvaro Obregón.
Political consolidation and one-party rule (1920–2000)
The first quarter-century of the post-revolutionary period (1920-1946) was characterized by revolutionary generals serving as Presidents of Mexico. In consolidating power, victorious eorthern revolutionary generals systematically worked to tame the military and bring it under civilian n control. Alvaro Obregón (1920–24); Plutarco Elías Calles (1924-28; and behind the scenes power until 1935); Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–40); and Manuel Avila Camacho (1940–46) succeeded in that endeavor, such that the modern Mexican military is under civilian rule and since 1946 no member of the military has been president of Mexico. The post-revolutionary project of the Mexican government sought to bring order to the country, end military intervention in politics, and create organizations of interest groups. Workers, peasants, urban office workers, and even the army for a short period were incorporated as sectors of the single party that dominated Mexican politics from its founding in 1929.
Obregón instigated land reform and strengthened the power of organized labor. He gained recognition from the United States and took steps to settle claims with companies and individuals that lost property during the Revolution. He imposed his fellow former Sonoran revolutionary general, Calles, as his successor, prompting an unsuccessful military revolt. As president Calles provoked a major conflict with the Catholic Church and Catholic guerrilla armies when he strictly enforced anticlerical articles of the 1917 Constitution. The Church-State conflict was mediated and ended with the aid of the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Although the constitution prohibited reelection of the president, Obregón wished to run again and the constitution was amended to allow non-consecutive re-election. Obregón won the 1928 elections, but was assassinated by a Catholic zealot, causing a political crisis of succession. Calles could not become president again, since he has just ended his term. He sought to set up a structure to manage presidential succession, founding the party that was to dominate Mexico until the late twentieth century. Calles declared that the Revolution had moved from caudillismo (rule by strongmen) to the era institucional (institutional era).
Despite not holding the presidency, Calles remained the key political figure during the period known as the Maximato (1929-1934). The Maximato ended during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas, who expelled Calles from the country and implemented many economic and social reforms. This included the Mexican oil expropriation in March 1938, which nationalized the U.S. and Anglo-Dutch oil company known as the Mexican Eagle Petroleum Company. This movement would result in the creation of the state-owned Mexican oil company Pemex. This sparked a diplomatic crisis with the countries whose citizens had lost businesses by Cárdenas's radical measure, but since then the company has played an important role in the economic development of Mexico. Cárdenas's successor, Manuel Ávila Camacho (1940-1946) was more moderate, and relations between the U.S. and Mexico vastly improved during World War II, when Mexico was a significant ally, providing manpower and materiel to aid the war effort.
From 1946 the election of Miguel Alemán, the first civilian president in the post-revolutionary period, Mexico embarked on an aggressive program of economic development, known as the Mexican miracle, which was characterized by industrialization, urbanization, and the increase of inequality in Mexico between urban and rural areas. With robust economic growth, Mexico sought to showcase it to the world by hosting the 1968 Summer Olympics. The government poured huge resources into building new facilities. At the same time, there was political unrest by university students and others with those expenditures, while their own circumstances were difficult. Demonstrations in central Mexico City went on for weeks before the planned opening of the games, with the government of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz cracking down. The culmination was the Tlatelolco Massacre, which claimed the lives of around 300 protesters based on conservative estimates and perhaps as many as 800.
Although the economy continued to flourish for some, social inequality remained a factor of discontent. PRI rule became increasingly authoritarian and at times oppressive in what is now referred to as the Mexican Dirty War
Luis Echeverría, Minister of the Interior under Díaz Ordaz, carrying out the repression during the Olympics, was elected president in 1970. His government had to contend with mistrust of Mexicans and increasing economic problems. He instituted some with electoral reforms. Echeverría chose José López Portillo as his successor in 1976. Economic problems worsened in his early term, then massive reserves of petroleum were located off Mexico's Gulf Coast. Pemex did not have the capacity to develop these reserves itself, and brought in foreign firms. Oil prices had been high because of OPEC's lock on oil production, and López Portilla borrowed money from foreign banks for current spending to fund social programs. Those foreign banks were happy to lend to Mexico because the oil reserves were enormous and future revenues were collateral for loans denominated in U.S. dollars. When the price of oil dropped, Mexico's economy collapsed in the 1982 Crisis. Interest rates soared, the peso devalued, and unable to pay loans, the government defaulted on its debt. President Miguel de la Madrid (1982–88) resorted to currency devaluations which in turn sparked inflation.
In the 1980s the first cracks emerged in the PRI's complete political dominance. In Baja California, the PAN candidate was elected as governor. When De la Madrid chose Carlos Salinas de Gortari as the candidate for the PRI, and therefore a foregone presidential victor, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, son of former President Lázaro Cárdenas, broke with the PRI and challenged Salinas in the 1988 elections. In 1988 there was massive electoral fraud, with results showing that Salinas had won the election by the narrowest percentage ever. There were massive protests in Mexico City to the stolen election. Salinas took the oath of office on 1 December 1988. In 1990 the PRI was famously described by Mario Vargas Llosa as the "perfect dictatorship", but by then there had been major challenges to the PRI's hegemony.
Although Salinas won by fraud, he embarked on a program of neoliberal reforms which fixed the exchange rate of the peso, controlled inflation, opened Mexico to foreign investment, and began talked with the U.S. and Canada to join their free-trade agreement. In order to do that, the Constitution of 1917 was amended in several important ways. Article 27, which allowed the government to expropriate natural resources and distribute land, was amended to end agrarian reform and to guarantee private owners' property rights. The anti-clerical articles that muzzled religious institutions, especially the Catholic Church, were amended. Signing on to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) removed Mexico's autonomy over trade policy. The agreement came into effect on 1 January 1994; the same day, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) started a two-week-long armed rebellion against the federal government, and has continued as a non-violent opposition movement against neoliberalism and globalization.
In 1994, following the assassination of the PRI's presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio, Salinas was succeeded by substitute PRI candidate Ernesto Zedillo. Salinas left Zedillo's government to deal with the Mexican peso crisis, requiring a $50 billion IMF bailout. Major macroeconomic reforms were started by President Zedillo, and the economy rapidly recovered and growth peaked at almost 7% by the end of 1999.
In 2000, after 71 years, the PRI lost a presidential election to Vicente Fox of the opposition National Action Party (PAN). In the 2006 presidential election, Felipe Calderón from the PAN was declared the winner, with a very narrow margin (0.58%) over leftist politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador then the candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). López Obrador, however, contested the election and pledged to create an "alternative government".
After twelve years, in 2012, the PRI won the presidency again with the election of Enrique Peña Nieto, the governor of the State of Mexico from 2005 to 2011. However, he won with a plurality of about 38%, and did not have a legislative majority.
After founding the new political party MORENA, Andrés Manuel López Obrador won the 2018 presidential election with over 50% of the vote. His political coalition, led by his left-wing party, founded after the 2012 elections includes parties and politicians from all over the political spectrum. The coalition also won a majority in both the upper and lower congress chambers. AMLO's (one of his many nicknames) success is attributed to the country's other strong political alternatives exhausting their chances as well as the politician adopting a moderate discourse with focus in conciliation.
Mexico has contended with high crime rates, official corruption, narcotrafficking, and a stagnant economy. Many state-owned industrial enterprises were privatized starting in the 1990s, with neoliberal reforms, but Pemex, the state-owned petroleum company is only slowly being privatized, with exploration licenses being issued. In AMLO's push against government corruption, the ex-CEO of Pemex has been arrested.
Although there were fears of electoral fraud in Mexico's 2018 presidential elections, the results gave a mandate to AMLO. Mexico's literacy rate is high, at 94.86% in 2018, up from 82.99% in 1980, with the literacy rates of males and females being relatively equal.
As of mid-March, the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico has seen few cases.