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Overview of Mexico: History, Geography, Government, Population

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History

Since being colonized by the Spanish in the 16th century, Mexico developed as a country while holding on to many cultural roots. In the last century, the change in governmental leadership has had a great influence on the development and wellbeing of the Mexican people. For example, 1910 – 1920 marked the Mexican Revolution against the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, which resulted in the upheaval of a poor regime that led to poor wages and a rising in food prices.

Economy

Currently, Mexico has the 11th largest economy in the world with $2.4 trillion dollars, however has roughly $480.5 billion dollars in debt as well as large income inequality issues among classes. Mexico has the 10th largest oil industry in the world and the largest silver industry in the world. Crops that are typically grown include corn, wheat, and soybeans. Mexico also trades with other countries and has free trade agreements with 46 other countries. In regards to stability, Mexico has several industries that are thriving along with a few that are suffering, and experts believe that “In the long term Mexico will remain stable but in the short term growth will remain sluggish.”

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Labor force & employment

Mexico has roughly 54.51 million individuals currently employed with an unemployment rate of 3.6%. 13.4% of jobs are agricultural based while 24.1% are industrial and 61.9% are services. The child labor force in Mexico should also not go unnoticed, with roughly 3.6 million children aged 5 to 17 that are employed, making up roughly half of the child labor force in Latin America.

Geography

Mexico is located just under the United States. Bodies of water that surround Mexico include the Pacific Ocean (West and South), the Gulf of Mexico (East), and the Caribbean Sea (Southeast). Due to these surrounding bodies of water, Mexico has roughly 6,000 miles of shoreline. Mexico is bordered by the U.S. from the North and Belize and Guatemala from the South. The Capitol of Mexico is Mexico City, shown with a star on Figure 2 near the center of the country. Mexico’s largest river is the Rio Grande, which runs roughly 1,300 miles across the US border. In addition to large bodies of water, Mexico has other topological features including the Sierra Madrea Occidental mountain range, a desert area in the Baja California peninsula, and volcanoes located near the center of the country.

Government

The form of government is currently a Federal Presidential Republic. Mexican government currently is based off of the 1917 constitution and consists of three main branches: executive, legislative, and judiciary. The President, currently Enrique Peña Nieto, leads the executive branch as well as the commander in chief for the army. To become president, the candidate must be voted in by a majority of the 31 states that comprise Mexico. The capital of the country is Mexico City.

Religion

The majority of the Mexican population, 88 percent, are identified as Roman Catholic, and there are approximately 11,000 Roman Catholic churches across the country. The other 12 percent of the population have varying religions. While The Constitution of Mexico allows individuals to believe in and practice any religion, there are some restrictions such as religion being prohibited in public schools and prohibiting clergy from holding a governmental position.

Health and welfare of residents

There is a large range of levels of wellbeing in Mexico based on geographic location, socioeconomic status, heritage, and many other factors. For example, many indigenous groups in Mexico, such as the Chiapas, along with rural and impoverished areas, have very poor health care and high mortality rates. In areas like this, advanced medical care is too expensive or too far away, so individuals put faith in curanderos, or traditional healers. Mexico city and other urbanized areas are known to have the most advanced medical care.

Education

Mexico in recent years has been making large strides to improve education, as seen through literacy rates increasing from 70% to roughly 90% of the population from 1970 to 2000. Mexico mandates schooling for children from preschool through the age of 18 and also has many higher education options such as universities, technological institutions, and teacher training colleges. With this being said, roughly 21 percent of students aged 7 to 16 end up dropping out of school.

Population change

The population for Mexico has been increasing at a much faster rate compared to that of Nicaragua, a country slightly south of Mexico. The graph above shows total population in thousands, with Mexico having roughly 30 million people in 1950 and Nicaragua having just approximately 1 million inhabitants. Since 1950, Mexico’s population has quadrupled and reached roughly 125 million people in 2015. Nicaragua, on the other hand, has remained at a fairly constant size and had roughly 6 million people in 2015, showing an overall increase of only 5 million over 65 years compared to 95 million in Mexico. There could be several reasons for why there is such a drastic difference in population behavior for these two countries. Since this graph is the total population, one thing to consider would be immigration and emigration. Perhaps due to the improvements in facilities (such as education as seen above), Mexico has drawn in more individuals to immigrate there increasing their total population. Additionally, improvements in facilities could lead to better healthcare options, increasing lifespan while decreasing mortality rates and leading to growth. Nicaragua, on the other hand, has not been growing as rapidly showing that perhaps there are not many people immigrating or emigrating to or from Nicaragua. The net population therefore, after factoring in births, deaths, immigration, and emigration in Nicaragua, results in a very small change in population over this 65 year span.

Rate of natural increase

In the span of 65 years, the rate of natural increase decreased for Mexico from roughly 32% to 15%, following approximately the same pattern as Central America as a whole. In a similar pattern, Nicaragua’s rate of natural increase decreased from roughly 33% to 16%, however it took approximately 10 more years than Mexico until the RNI became to decrease more rapidly. The rate of natural increase is determined by taking the crude birth rate (births per 1000) and subtracting the crude death rate (deaths per 1000) to determine how fast a country will grow over a given time, and it can also be used to predict how long it will take for a country to double. One of the driving forces in determining RNI is the fertility rate, and this graph implies that the fertility rate of Mexico and Nicaragua would be decreasing which causes the decrease in RNI since the difference between births and deaths is lower.

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