Subsecretaria de Turismo
mariano Escobedo No, 726
11590 Mexico D.F.
Tel: +52 5211 0099


Physical geography

Mexico forms part of North America, and it shares extensive borders with the US, as well as Guatemala and Belize to the south. Mexico has very irregular topography, with many mountains, plains, valleys and plateau. It is a very large country: at 1,953,162 square kilometres it is much bigger than most visitors think. 6,000 square kilometres alone are islands. The capital of Mexico is Mexico City, and towns such as Cancun, Acapulco and La Paz are popular with tourists.


As Mexico consists of several different regions, each with its own seasonal weather, the climate varies considerably. Average annual temperatures vary between 10°C and 26°C over most of the country. Some parts of the country are covered in snow, or are arid desert, but others are tropical or grassland, bushland or temperate. Oak forests, pine, jungle and mangrove swamp can all be found.

Economic geography

The Mexican economy operates on the rise and fall of the Nuevo Peso. Agriculture is today only a minor part of the Mexican economy, with industry forming over 25 per cent of GDP, and services 65 per cent. Mexico has great mineral reserves. Of its non-renewable resources, oil helps to keep the economy afloat, and Mexican silver is world-famous, Mexico being the world's largest exporter of silver.


Mexico is home to a population of 90 million in 31 states. Of these, eight million are of pure Indian descent, four million of European descent, and the majority are mestizos, a mixture of Indian and European. The official language is Spanish, but many locals of more isolated regions speak only their Indian mother tongues: N huatl, Pur, Pecha and many others.

A brief history

The pre-Hispanic Aztec empire fell to Hernan Cortez's small army within two years of his arrival on the shores of Mexico in 1519. A new capital was built on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, and missionaries converted the native tribes to Christianity. Over the centuries, as European diseases reduced the native population by 80 per cent, the Spanish monarchy sold titles and power to wealthy merchants. Most of the elaborate palaces, cathedrals and plazas in Mexian cities date from this period. Mexico became independent in 1821, after a series of violent peasant revolts against their exploitation by both Spanish colonials and the creollos, Mexican-born descendants of Spanish settlers. The Mexican victory against Texan settlers at the Alamo triggered a disastrous war against the United States, and thus Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California were lost to the North Americans. A certain strong feeling towards 'gringos' persists to this day. In 1861, French forces invaded, but Napoleon's puppet emperor, Maximillian, was eventually executed as Mexican patriots regained power. The dictator Porfirio Diaz came to power in the late 1800s, and under his control, land holdings came under the power of an elite class. Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa and other peasant leaders ended the Diaz era, and an anarchic period followed. The Revolutionary Institutional Party was eventually established, and still retains majority power at the present time. New political parties are continually appearing, as Mexico moves towards greater democratisation while enjoying the prospect of dramatic economic growth.


The vast majority of Mexicans are Catholic, although various strands of Protestantism exist alongside. Strong local traditions have survived and mixed in with Christianity.


Mexico has three time zones, ranging from the majority six hours earlier than GMT, through seven and eight hours ahead.


The value of the Nuevo Peso fluctuates significantly. Major credit cards are widely accepted. Banks are open from 0900 to 1430 Monday to Friday, with high street casas de cambio (exchange houses) opening longer hours, and exchanging foreign currencies.

What one should not fail to see

As one of the world's earliest civilisations, Mexico has many interesting archaeological and historical sites, as well as a wide range of impressive outdoor scenery and recreations in most states. Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring Generally, November to May are the more temperate seasons.

How to dress

Beachwear for the beach, otherwise relatively casual, with heavier clothing according to season and altitude.

Main resorts

Mexico's miles of coastline yields uncounted beautiful beaches. Acapulco is deservedly popular, but the Cancun-Tulum area, Morelia, Cholula and Isla Mujeres are just some of the hundreds of resorts available.

What to eat and drink

Mexican cuisine is spectacular, due to its mix of Native American, European, and even Chinese and Moorish influences. The style is often hot and spicy. Mole de guajolote, turkey in a rich sauce, is a favourite dish for special occasions, with diverse frijoles, beans dishes, more normal. Many other specialities are well-known the world over, such as guacamole, tacos, tortillas, enchiladas and more. Mexican beers are also world-famous.

What to buy

Handicraft and leather goods, pottery and glass are good buys, and Mexico has a long tradition of gold, silver and metalwork.

Frontier regulations

US and Canadian citizens do not need a visa or tourist card, or even a passport, so long as they have photo ID, plus a valid voter's registration card, birth certificate, or naturalisation papers. For most other visitors, a passport and tourist card are standard. The 90-day endorsement is best extended when first stamped, if necessary. Health regulations US and Canadian citizens need proof of smallpox vaccination if entering Mexico from another nation from which proof of vaccination is required.

Main travel routes

Mexico has extensive travel links. Miscellaneous Americans are not universally popular in Mexico, due to their reputation for rudeness and arrogance. Politeness and an effort to speak Spanish are respected more by Mexicans than money.

Representatives abroad

CANADA: 2 Bloor St West, Suite 1801, Toronto, Ontario. M4W 3E2. Tel: +1 (416) 925 0704 FRANCE: 4 Rue Notre Dame des Victoires 75002 Paris. Tel +33 1 4020 0734 GERMANY: Weisenhuyttenplatz 26 D600 Frankfurt AM Main, Tel:+49 69 253413 SPAIN: Calle Velazquez 126, Madrid, Tel +34 1 261 3120 UK: 60 Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DS. Tel: +44 (0)171 859 3177 US:1911 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20006. +1 202 728 1750.