|United Mexican States |
Estados Unidos Mexicanos
|Capital and largest city||Mexico City|
Enrique Peña Nieto|
1.7 trillion (1st)|
|Drives on the
Mexico is a country in North America, bordered by the United States to the north and Guatemala and Belize to the south. It has the world's largest Spanish-speaking population and is the second most populous nation in North America overall, with 120 million people. It is also the third largest by area. The capital is at Mexico City, which is the largest city in North America.
Before the arrival of the Spanish, much of central Mexico was under the control of the Aztecs. They entered the Valley of Mexico around 1300 AD, and built their capital city of Tenochtitlan, eventually home to hundreds of thousands of people. By the time Hernan Cortes landed in 1519, the Aztecs and their allies owned the most land of any empire in the Americas except for the Incas. However, many of the peoples in the empire did not like Aztec rule, and were quick to support the Spanish.
The Spanish introduced several devastating diseases, the most deadly of which was smallpox. This ravished the Aztec population and prevented serious resistance; by 1521, all of Mexico was under Spanish control.
In the colonial period, a strict caste system was enforced. At the top were peninsulares, people born in the Iberian Peninsula. They formed the highest tier of society and government. Next were creoles, descendants of peninsulares. Creoles were fairly well-off, but were not allowed in the upper echelons of government. Low-wage labor was provided by the mulattos and mestizos, and natives and Africans were used as slaves.
The increasingly weak state of the Kingdom of Spain in the early 19th century led to popular discontent, and Mexico gained independence in the 1820s.