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Mexico Country Guide

Mayan Temple, Mexico

A vibrant country, Mexico is home to palm-fringed beaches, historic ruins, and culinary wonders. Set in the northern area of the American continent, the country is made up of 31 states and one federal district. It’s the most populated Spanish speaking country in the world with an estimated 120 million citizens. Visit Mexico and discover its fascinating journey. 

When traveling to Mexico, you must taste its most loved distilled beverage: the tequila or you can start with a spicy Michelada. The land that introduced avocados to the world, has much to offer. Mexico has given us enigmatic portraits by Frida, captivating poetry by Octavio Paz and revolutionary films by Alejandro Iñarritu. Mexico celebrates life as it celebrates death, with color and passion. 

Mexico History: key facts and information

Though the history of Mexico is extensive, we will do our best to share its highlights. Its intricate history and pre-columbine heritage are still palpable today. There are rural areas inhabited by indigenous tribes that keep the spirit of their ancestors alive. Many pre-Columbine ruins can be visited throughout the country, including Mexico's top attractions: the city of Teotihuacán and the Mayan Pyramids at Chichén Itzá.

The Olmecs were Mexicos first known society and made the giant stone head sculptures. Villages and agriculture developed in the southern region by 300 B.C. and between 100 B.C. and 700 A.D. Teotihuacán, the biggest pre-Columbian city in the Americans was built. It's style heavily influenced other civilizations that came after. 

Mexico was home to the Mayans, a bright civilization with knowledge in several fields, including astrology, architecture, and communication. The Aztecs also settled in the region and took over the central valley area. By 1427 the Aztecs, Mayans and the Toltecs made an allegiance to conquer smaller cultures. The Aztecs extended to the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf Coast and established a ruling model known as calpulli. Though sometimes depicted as a blood-thirsty civilization the Aztecs were admirable too.

In 1519, Spaniard Hernán Cortés reached Veracruz and was invited by Aztec King Moctezuma II to Tenochtitlán, on his way there Cortés wasted no time and made allies that would help him conquer the kingdom. By 1521, Cortés conquered the Aztecs in name of the Spanish crown. Catholicism made its way too and missionaries began arriving in 1523.

On September 16th, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla called for a rebellion. In response, Vicente Guerrero and royalist general Agustín de Itúrbide worked to claim independence from Spain and successfully did so in 1821. Although a constitution was drafted, Itúrbide declared himself emperor, though this did not last. Antonio López de Santa Ana overthrew him and became president. From 1823 to 1836, Santa Ana ruled and was defeated during the Mexican-American war and went into exile in 1855.

Mexico Rebels

Porfírio Díaz served as president following the French occupation, he ushered the industrial age in Mexico. Nonetheless, Díaz was a dictator, and Mexican people were tired of the unbalanced distribution of power. By 1910 the Mexican Revolution started and went on for ten years. At last in 1934, Lázaro Cárdenas became president and implemented the ejido system that benefitted the citizens and the nation.

Mexico's history is reflected in the country's flag. The green stands for hope and victory, white is for the purity of the Mexican ideals and red represents the blood shed by Mexico's heroes. Today, Mexico offers visitors a journey to the past while enchanting them with its rich nature and culture.  

If you are thinking about visiting Mexico, continue reading to find out what to do, safety tips and visa information.

Mexico Basic Information

  • Country: Mexico
  • Capital: Mexico City (Distrito Federal)
  • Population: 120
  • Currency: Pesos
  • Language: Spanish
  • Time Zone: +1 hour (DST) (GTM -5)
Flag of Mexico

When to Go

When is it the best time to visit Mexico? That really depends on the region you are planning to visit. However, as a general rule, Mexico is ideal during winter. You will probably want to avoid hurricane season, in September. We highlight what you must know about each season.

  • High season: in Mexico is between December and April. This is the driest period in the country. Christmas and Easter are important celebrations and transportation and accommodation are full.
  • Shoulder season: occurs in July and August. It’s a hot period in most of the country except in the Pacific coast, where it rains. 
  • Low season: is from May to June and from September to November. Although May and June can be also warm months. Due to its location, September is the month of hurricanes, so travelers during this time can expect heavy rains

 

Mexico is a good destination for:

Mexico Entry Requirements

The most important requirement for all visitors is to have a valid passport and request a tourist permit, available upon arrival. This permit will be stamped and should be kept until the traveler leaves Mexico.

Citizens of some countries should also apply for a visa. Before embarking on a trip to Mexico it is advised that travelers check the requirements attached to their nationality.

People who hold a valid visa for the USA are not required to apply for a Mexican visa.

 

Mexico Country Atractions

The country of Mexico has a wide range of activities, landmarks, and beaches. We know travelers want to know the top attractions in Mexico and we have narrowed down some of the most memorable highlights. Read below to find out where to go.

  1. Palenque: Located in Chiapas, the Palenque temples are surrounded are at the heart of a jungle. A jaw-dropping architectonic structure built by the Mayans.
  2. Mexico City:  México is one of the most populated cities in Latin America and has much to offer to locals and visitors. There are several landmarks worth investing time in. Among them, Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Museo Nacional de Antropología.
  3. Teotihuacán: Once upon a time, Teotihuacán was Mesoamerica’s greatest city. The set of pyramids is located 50 km northeast of Mexico City. It’s pyramids are called Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon. It’s a busy attraction and busiest between 10 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon.
  4. Volcán Paricutín: An ideal spot for trekking, this volcano was discovered not too long ago. It’s a young volcano that grew until 1952. Visitors explore the area on foot, but horses are also an option to get near the top.
  5. Nature Reserve in Puerto Peñasco: Named a World Heritage by UNESCO, this nature reserve is in Sonora State, Northwest of Mexico. Over 4 million years beneath the earth, rocks were melted by hot magma creating large subterranean pools of extremely hot liquid. Pressure build up over time and it finally exploded through the desert floor. Today you can see evidence of nature at work.
  6. Chichén Itzá: An ancient Mayan city on the Yucantán Peninsula, history shows that it was a center of power around 600 AD. Most of the original stones remain today. 

 

Travel Tips

Traveling is, usually, a fun and enriching experience. However, when going to Mexico as a tourist there are a few things you should keep in mind before you book your trip.

  • Yes, it is safe to go to Mexico. There are areas in the country that are dangerous but if you take the necessary precautions, you will be able to enjoy your trip. To ensure your safety, beware of the things you carry and how you carry yourself. Don’t draw attention to yourself with irresponsible behavior.
  • Research the places you want to visit before your trip: México is a beautiful country but it is a large country as well. Check distances between cities, research transport prices and availability. A little research can come a long way.
  • Learn some basic phrases in Spanish before your trip. Words like: thank you and please can make a big difference.
  • Don’t drink the water. We mean it. Tap water is not safe to drink in Mexico, buy bottled purified water.
  • Remember we talked about safety? Watch out for scams, you might be offered things on the street or at the beach.
  • Keep an open mind and try local food, visit markets and connect with people.
  • Convert your money into pesos, US dollars are rarely accepted.
  • Tipping between 10 and 15 percent at restaurants is commom practice, servers rely on tips to survive.