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Mexico Country Information

The site of advanced Amerindian civilizations, Mexico came under Spanish rule for three centuries before achieving independence early in the 19th century. A devaluation of the peso in late 1994 threw Mexico into economic turmoil, triggering the worst recession in over half a century. The nation continues to make an impressive recovery. Ongoing economic and social concerns include low real wages, underemployment for a large segment of the population, inequitable income distribution, and few advancement opportunities for the largely Amerindian population in the impoverished southern states. Elections held in July 2000 marked the first time since the 1910 Mexican Revolution that the opposition defeated the party in government, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Vicente FOX of the National Action Party (PAN) was sworn in on 1 December 2000 as the first chief executive elected in free and fair elections.

Location: Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, between Belize and the US and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and the US

Area: total: 1,972,550 sq km
Water: 49,510 sq km
Land: 1,923,040 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly less than three times the size of Texas

Border countries: Belize, Guatemala, United States

Climate: varies from tropical to desert
Terrain: high, rugged mountains; low coastal plains; high plateaus; desert

Elevation extremes:
Lowest point: Laguna Salada -10 m
Highest point: Volcan Pico de Orizaba 5,700 m

Natural resources: petroleum, silver, copper, gold, lead, zinc, natural gas, timber

Population: 104,959,594
Age structure: 0-14 years: 31.6% (male 16,913,290; female 16,228,552)
15-64 years: 62.9% (male 31,975,391; female 34,090,440)
65 years and over: 5.5% (male 2,618,713; female 3,133,208) (2004 est.)
Median age: 24.6 years
Population growth rate: 1.18%
Life expectancy at birth: male: 72.18 years
female: 77.83 years (2004 est.)

Ethnic groups: mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish) 60%, Amerindian or predominantly Amerindian 30%, white 9%, other 1%
Religions: nominally Roman Catholic 89%, Protestant 6%, other 5%

Languages: Spanish, various Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional indigenous languages
Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write): total population: 92.2%

Country name: United Mexican States
Government type: federal republic
Capital: Mexico (Distrito Federal)
Independence: 16 September 1810 (from Spain)
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory (but not enforced)

Executive branch: chief of state: President Vicente FOX Quesada (since 1 December 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Legislative branch: bicameral National Congress or Congreso de la Union consists of the Senate or Camara de Senadores (128 seats; 96 are elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms, and 32 are allocated on the basis of each party's popular vote) and the Federal Chamber of Deputies or Camara Federal de Diputados (500 seats; 300 members are directly elected by popular vote to serve three-year terms; remaining 200 members are allocated on the basis of each party's popular vote, also for three-year terms)
Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (judges are appointed by the president with consent of the Senate)

Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador-designate Carlos Alberto de ICAZA Gonzalez consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, El Paso, Houston, Laredo (Texas), Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Nogales (Arizona), Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Juan (Puerto Rico)
FAX: [1] (202) 728-1698
telephone: [1] (202) 728-1600

Embassy: Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, 06500 Mexico, Distrito Federal
mailing address: P. O. Box 9000, Brownsville, TX 78520-0900
telephone: [52] (55) 5080-2000
FAX: [52] (55) 5525-5040

Mexico has a free market economy with a mixture of modern and outmoded industry and agriculture, increasingly dominated by the private sector. Recent administrations have expanded competition in seaports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity generation, natural gas distribution, and airports. Per capita income is one-fourth that of the US; income distribution remains highly unequal. Trade with the US and Canada has tripled since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994. Real GDP growth was a weak -0.3% in 2001, 0.9% in 2002, and 1.2% in 2003, with the US slowdown the principal cause. Mexico implemented free trade agreements with Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and the European Free Trade Area in 2001, putting more than 90% of trade under free trade agreements. The government is cognizant of the need to upgrade infrastructure, modernize the tax system and labor laws, and provide incentives to invest in the energy sector, but progress is slow.

Population below poverty line: 40% (2003 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 18%, industry 24%, services 58% (2003)
Unemployment rate: 3.3% plus underemployment of perhaps 25% (2004 est.)

Agriculture - products: corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, beans, cotton, coffee, fruit, tomatoes; beef, poultry, dairy products; wood products

Industries: food and beverages, tobacco, chemicals, iron and steel, petroleum, mining, textiles, clothing, motor vehicles, consumer durables, tourism

Exports - commodities: manufactured goods, oil and oil products, silver, fruits, vegetables, coffee, cotton

Currency: Mexican peso (MXN)

Telephone system: general assessment: low telephone density with about 15.2 main lines per 100 persons; privatized in December 1990; the opening to competition in January 1997 improved prospects for development, but Telemex remains dominant
international: country code - 52

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