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Friday 24th May
Mexico Information - Page 2
The first Mexican culture of which archaeological evidence has been discovered is the Olmec. Subsequent cultures following and overlapping were the Maya, Zapotec and Mixtec, Teotihuacan, Toltec and finally Aztec.

The Aztecs successfully expanded their rule over many other peoples in Mexico until, in 1519, a Spanish expedition under Hernan Cortes landed at Tabasco. By 1521 the Spaniards had defeated the Aztecs and established the colony of New Spain.

Independence from Spain was declared in 1810 but it took over ten years of struggle to become free of Spanish rule.

For a short period, between 1821 and 1823, the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua became part of the Mexican empire.

In 1836, American settlers, who were the majority in Texas, tried to break from Mexico, resulting in fighting between the USA and Mexico. Later, in 1845 the USA annexed Texas and war broke out (1846-8) resulting in the defeat of Mexico and the American purchase of California, Arizona and New Mexico.

Civil wars wracked Mexico throughout the 1850s, leading to European intervention, and finally, the capture of Mexico City by the French army which placed Archduke Maximilian of Austria on the throne of Mexico (1863).

By 1867 Maxilian was defeated and then executed. From 1876 to 1910, Mexico enjoyed its longest period free from war, under President Diaz. His failure to deliver political freedom led to the Revolution which lasted from 1910-1920.

Through the 1920s and 30s the reforms for which the Revolution was fought (land reform, education, a reduction in Church power) were put into practice. In 1938 the oil industry and the USA and British owned companies were nationalized.

By 1980 Mexico had become an important world oil producer. The oil revenues and the loans provided by overseas banks led to increasing inflation, and eventually, a financial collapse in 1982.

Mexico was badly affected in the 1987 worldwide stock-market crisis, eventually incurring huge debts. Severe financial difficulties were experienced in 1994. Another downturn in the economy was suffered following the 2008 global financial crisis.

There are high levels of unemployment with many people trying to get work in the neighbouring USA. The USA is an important trading partner and many US manufacturers take advantage of lower wage costs by locating assembly plants south of the border.

A large proportion of the people live in the towns with around a quarter working in industry and the highest proportion of the workforce employed in the services sector. About eighteen percent of the working population is employed in agriculture.

The variation in climate leads to the production of a variety of crops such as wheat, maize, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, cocoa, coffee, rice, chicle gum and tobacco. Mexico produces honey, oranges, bananas and pineapples. The agricultural sector includes ranches with large herds of beef cattle. Mexican fisheries produce shrimps, prawns, oysters, sardine and tuna.

Oil production plays a major part in the Mexican economy. Other resources are natural gas, silver, copper, gold, lead and zinc.

Mexico City and the surrounding area is an important manufacturing region. There is a domestic motor vehicle industry. Industries include iron and steel, consumer durables, chemicals, textiles, clothing, and food and beverages. Mexico also has a flourishing crafts industry making items such as pottery and furniture.

The service sector is important to the Mexican economy with tourism a major earner of foreign currency. Cancun, the huge tourist resort area on the Yucatan coast, earns much of Mexico's tourist revenue.

Another source of hard currency is the money sent back to the country by Mexicans working in the USA. During the 2008 global financial crisis remittances fell. This was particularly due to the recession in the US construction industry, an important employer of Mexican labour.

In October 2018 the USA, Canada and Mexico agreed a trade deal: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mexico's earliest surviving examples of art are the rock paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco and the giant heads of the Olmec civilization.

The Maya were also fine craftsmen and like the Toltecs and Aztecs they used their art to decorate their temples with friezes, statues, carvings and wall paintings.

Although much pre-conquest decorative art was broken up or, in the case of gold work, melted down, a rich heritage remains. Unfortunately almost all the books and writings of the Maya and Aztecs were lost or deliberately destroyed.

Little survives of Mexico's Pre-Columbian past. There are some examples of Mayan writing, the Codices, and a few fragments of Aztec poetry.

After the Mexican Revolution politically committed artists such as Diego Rivera, won international fame, in particular for their monumental frescoes. Frida Kahlo, once married to Rivera, is Mexico's most famous woman artist.

In addition to the country's international standing in painting and architecture, Mexico is also well represented in all the other arts. In 1990 Octavio Paz, the famous Mexican author, won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Mexican folk dance and music is important to Mexican culture. Traditional Amerindian folk dances have been incorporated into Christian festivities.

Mexican folk music is based mainly on the guitar. Mariachi bands in which the guitars are backed up by trumpets and violins are popular strolling players.

Carlos Chavez is a famous contemporary Mexican composer and musician whose works are often based on Amerindian legends.

Football is Mexico's most popular sport. In 1986 Mexico was the venue for football's World Cup.

Wrestling is the second most popular sport and its contestants, often masked like cartoon heroes are major national figures.

Jai Alai is also a popular Mexican sport, a form of Basque pelota.

Bullfighting takes place in all Mexican cities and betting at cockfights is a village pastime. Rodeos are also popular.

Public Holidays and fiestas are important to the Mexican way of life, especially Semana Santa, Holy Week. Christmas is also a major celebration.

The Day of the Dead or All Saints Day is celebrated. On this day, Mexicans remember their dead and celebrate the continuance of life. Families take picnics to cemeteries to be near their dead relatives.

Independence Day is celebrated with fireworks, music and dancing after the more solemn observations in the day.

News from Mexico is available in Newslink.

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