OUR SOUTHERN NEIGHBOR
Mexico has a long and colorful history.
Over 500 years ago, people from Europe sailed
Before that, Mexico had some of the world’s
Today, Mexico is highly industrialized.
Mexico is an important resource of workers,
resources and food for the United States.
Area: 754,120 miles
Length of Coastline:
Length of Roads:
Longest River: Rio
Grande (1,900 miles)
Highest Mountain: Pico
de Orizaba (18,700 ft.)
Major Cities: Mexico City
Major Religions: Roman
Official Currency: Peso
Workforce: 36.6 million
WHERE IS MEXICO LOCATED?
Mexico is just south of the United States.
It is shaped like a triangle.
Mexico is the widest in the north where it
borders the United States.
That border is 1,429 miles long.
In the south Mexico is bordered by the Central
American countries of Belize and Guatemala.
The Pacific Ocean borders Mexico on the west
and the Gulf of Mexico borders it on the east.
PHYSICAL REGIONS OF MEXICO
The largest region in Mexico.
COASTAL PLAINS REGION
form a rim around
the central region of plateau and mountains.
This is in the northwestern
part of Mexico.
YUCATAN PENISULA REGION
This region is in
the southeastern part of Mexico.
CENTRAL PLATEAU REGION
A plateau is an area of level highland
The plateau is divided into two parts.
The northern half is dry and farmers must use
irrigation in order to raise crops.
The southern half of the plateau is higher than
the northern half.
This area gets more rain so more crops are
grown, especially corn.
The southern half is Mexico’s heartland.
CENTRAL PLATEAU REGION
Most of Mexico’s people live in the southern
part of this region.
In this southern part is the Valley of Mexico.
This valley is 50 miles long and 40 miles wide.
Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, is located in
this large valley.
Mexico City is the 3
largest city in the World.
It is bigger than any city in the United States.
There are over 20 million people in Mexico City.
CENTRAL PLATEAU REGION
This area of Mexico has many active volcanoes.
Some of these volcanoes are active enough to
The Central Plateau also has many
Earthquakes happen when the Earth’s plates
Four important tectonic plates come together in
Earthquake of 1985
COASTAL PLAINS REGION
This area is divided up into two coastal regions.
The eastern coastal plain runs along the Gulf of
Mexico, from the Texas border to the Yucatan
This plain is warm and the southern half is a
The western coastal plain along the Pacific is
more narrow and dry than the gulf coastal plain.
Farmers use irrigation to grow cotton, wheat, and
The largest desert in this region is called the
Another desert lies in the most western part of
This desert is called Baja California.
Baja California is a peninsula, which means
that it is a strip of land surrounded by water on
Few people live in this region.
YUCATAN PENINSULA REGION
This area is near the coast and somewhat flat.
Limestone rock formed most of the peninsula.
This soft rock dissolves in water.
Because of this there are huge underground
These are some of the biggest caves in the
This area is not good for farming, so there is a
small population that lives here.
Cave Diving in
This is Mexico’s main physical feature.
High mountain ranges rise on the east, west, and
south of the Central Plateau.
The Sierra Madre Oriental (The Eastern Sierras) is the
southern part of the Rocky Mountains that are in the
The Sierra Madre Occidental (The Western Sierras)
continues in California as the Sierra Nevada range.
Deciduous forests cover the northern part of the
Sierra Madre Occidental.
The Madre del Sur (The Southern Sierras)
extend to the
An isthmus is narrow strip of land connecting
two larger land areas.
A narrow plain separates these mountains from
the Pacific Ocean.
Tropical rain forests cover the Southern Sierras.
This type of thick forest grows in warm areas
where a great deal of rain falls.
MEXICO’S TALLEST MOUNTAINS
Mexico’s tallest mountain is Pico de Orizaba,
which is an old volcano.
It is 18,700 feet high.
The people of Mexico City can see two snow
covered mountains from their homes.
One is Popocatepetl, which means “Smoking
The other is
, which means “White
Pico de Orizaba
A very high
Map of Mexico
COAST RESORTS IN MEXICO
Mexico has a long coastline with some of the
world’s most beautiful beaches.
The government of Mexico has developed some
beaches into resorts.
Cancun is a popular resort on the Yucatán
Peninsula in the east on the Gulf of Mexico.
, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlan are
other resorts in the west on the Pacific Ocean.
MAJOR BODIES OF WATER IN
No major rivers cross Mexico.
Most rivers are short and drop quickly from the
high mountains to the coast, or they drain into
The largest lakes in Mexico are Lake
the state of Jalisco and Lake
The Rio Bravo del Norte (Rio Grande) is the
largest river in Mexico and forms part of the
border between the U.S. and Mexico.
Much of Mexico has a
This is a dry climate that is usually found near
Mexican deserts have a little more rain than other
deserts in the world.
They are still very dry because of the high
mountains that surround them.
The steppe can get very hot and cold with
temperatures as high as 90
F. and as cold as 32
Some of Mexico’s coastal areas have a tropical
They are hot all year around.
These areas receive a lot of rain, but have a
drier season during the winter.
The savanna is a place where there is lots of
tall grass with a few trees.
MOUNTAINS AND CLIMATE
Without mountains, Mexico would be hot most of
Temperature usually gets hotter the closer a place
is to the equator.
However, altitude affects climate as well.
Altitude is the height a place is above sea level.
A high altitude brings cooler temperatures.
Rainfall also usually increases at a high altitude.
Because mountains cover Mexico, its climate can
be both hot and cold.
Climate Map of
Three names are given to the three different
zones of altitude that exist in Mexico
these are the hot areas at lower
between 3,000 to 6,000 feet
above sea level. There areas are not to hot or
cold. This is where most of Mexico’s people
altitudes over 8,000 feet where it is
colder and frost may form.
THE CULTURE OF
Before Europeans came to Mexico, many native
groups lived there.
They lived in villages and farmed the land.
Others developed large
An empire is a nation that rules a large area of
The Mayans built an empire in the Yucatan and
The Aztecs and
formed empires in the
Valley of Mexico.
THE CULTURE OF
At one time, millions of native people lived in
Europeans brought diseases, such as measles and
These killed many native people.
As many as 90 percent of them died by the end of
Descendants of these native people make up 10%
of the population.
These people have kept much of their culture
because they live in rural, isolated areas.
In 1519, a Spaniard named Hernando Cortes
sailed to Mexico.
He met the Aztecs, who were the native people
of the area.
He also met some smaller native groups who
did not like the Aztecs.
These smaller groups helped Cortes defeat the
More and more Spaniards arrived in Mexico.
Some of them married native women.
These people of mixed European and native
ancestry are called
About 75% of the Mexican people are
Their culture is a blend between the two
cultures they came from, but they tend to be
more European than native.
Some are wealthy, while others are poor.
OTHER CULTURES IN
About 15% of the Mexican people are neither
native people nor
This 15% is made up of immigrants.
Most of them come from countries in Central
Some came to escape political troubles, or to find
People from Japan, Canada, Spain, and the United
Most of them are sent there by the companies
they work for.
Because Spain ruled Mexico for many years, Spanish
is its official language.
The government, businesses, and schools use
Many native people speak their native languages.
There are as many as 50 native languages spoken in
Over a million native people only speak their native
Words like tortilla and tamale come from the
language of the Aztecs, not from Spanish.
The Spanish also brought their religion to
More than 90% of the people in Mexico are
Some of the poor have gone away from the
Catholic church and joined
Many people in rural areas belong to these
POPULATION TRENDS IN
In the last 100 years Mexico’s population has
In 1900, Mexico had 13 million people, today
the population is close to 100 million.
Nearly 1/3 of the population is under the age
This growth has caused problems like high
The government struggles to provide basic
services for its people.
WHERE DO MOST
Most Mexicans used to live in small farming
Today, over two
thirds of Mexico’s people live in
This is a trend throughout the world.
One out of every five Mexicans live in Mexico City.
Between 22 and 23 million people live in Mexico
City and its surrounding areas.
This gigantic city was built on the top of the Aztec
capital of Tenochtitlan.
This is a city of many differences.
It has beautiful tree
lines streets and tall
It also has some of the worst
Slums are poor, overcrowded areas.
Mexico City has many busy, noisy city markets
There are many horrible traffic jams that are
much worse than U.S. Cities
OTHER MAJOR CITIES IN
Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city. It
is also located on the Central Plateau. It is an
important and growing industrial center.
Monterrey is the largest city in Northern
Mexico. It produces much of Mexico’s steel
Tampico and Vera Cruz are Mexico’s biggest
ports. Both sit on the Gulf of Mexico. Vera
Cruz is a major rail center.
Acapulco, on the Pacific coast, is also an
The most important natural resource Mexico
has is oil.
Most of the oil that has been discovered is
along the Gulf of Mexico.
Most of the oil and natural gas fields are
Offshore means that they are in water not land.
Mexico’s economy depends a lot on oil.
A lot of gas and oil is exported to the U.S.A.
Offshore Drilling at
OTHER NATURAL RESOURCES
Mexico has many
Minerals are materials that are valuable, solid,
and found in the earth.
Workers in Mexico mine uranium, mercury, iron
ore, coal, zinc, copper, lead, and silver.
Mexico is the worlds leading producer of silver.
The biggest mining regions are in the Central
Plateau and the Sierra Madre Occidental.
Mexico also has large forest resources.
LAND REFORM IN MEXICO
Only about 12 percent of Mexico’s land can be
used for farming.
About 25% of Mexico’s people are farmers.
At one time rich landowners controlled almost all
In 1910, there was a
A revolution is the overthrowing of a government.
Because of this revolution, land reform occurred
that took land from the wealthy and gave it to the
The largest manufacturing industry in Mexico is
producing metal products.
Other important manufacturing products are
cars, textiles, chemicals, food products,
electrical goods, glass, and paper.
There are many foreign
owned assembly plants
near the U.S.
Companies from the U.S. produce goods in
Mexico and then sell the finished goods in the
SERVICE INDUSTRIES IN
A Service industry is a job or business that
provides a service directly to a customer.
The biggest service industries are tourism,
banking, and insurance.
Tourism is the biggest service industry because
tourists come to Mexico for the sunshine,
beautiful beaches, and scenery.
They also visit the remains of Mexico’s ancient
Mexico, the United States, and Canada signed
the North America Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) in 1994.
These means that these three countries got rid
A barrier divides one thing from another.
Trade barriers divide countries because they
limit imports or put special taxes on them.
Products from all three NAFTA countries cross
international borders easily.
Mexico does more than two
thirds of its trade
with the U.S.
Mexico hopes that the U.S. will trade more with
They also hope U.S. companies will continue to
invest money in Mexico.
This would lead to more jobs for people in
U.S. President Bill
NAFTA in 1994.
A negative view of
There is a great gap between the rich and poor
At least 40 percent of Mexico’s population
today lives in poverty.
Rural areas experience a lot of poverty.
Mexico’s small farmers
and farm workers remain poor.
The poorest people in Mexico are its native
OTHER PROBLEMS IN
In 1994, a group called the Zapatistas raised
and army and tried to overthrow the
They were upset over NAFTA and the
government’s treatment of the poor.
A lot of poor people have turned to the drug
trade to make money.
The sale and distribution of illegal drugs has
not been stopped by the U.S. and Mexican
governments. It is not easy to do this.
Drug money seized
by the Drug
The beginnings of
a new border wall
between the U.S.
This is the money a country owes to other
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Mexico borrowed
huge sums of money to pay for industrial
Mexico owes a large amount of money.
Because of this the government cut back on
imports, medical care, education, and care for
ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS IN
Air pollution is a serious problem in Mexico City.
It may cause up to 100,000 deaths a year.
Millions of tons of untreated waste flow into rivers
Mexico City produces 11,000 tons of garbage
everyday, but only 75 percent of it is actually
Deforestation and soil erosion are also problems.
The Smog of
Lack of Garbage
Mexico City is a big