Playa del Carmen
|National Commission for Natural Protected Areas (CONANP-Mexico's protected area agency)|
|Background: The site of advanced Amerindian civilizations,
Mexico came under Spanish rule for three centuries before achieving
independence early in the 19th century. A devaluation of the peso in late
1994 threw Mexico into economic turmoil, triggering the worst recession in
over half a century. The nation continues to make an impressive recovery.
Ongoing economic and social concerns include low real wages,
underemployment for a large segment of the population, inequitable income
distribution, and few advancement opportunities for the largely Amerindian
population in the impoverished southern states.
Government type: federal republic
Capital: Mexico City
Currency: 1 New Mexican peso (Mex$) = 100 centavos
Geography of Mexico
Location: Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico,
between Belize and the US and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and the
People of Mexico
Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world and the second most-populous country in Latin America after Portuguese-speaking Brazil. About 70% of the people live in urban areas. Many Mexicans emigrate from rural areas that lack job opportunities--such as the underdeveloped southern states and the crowded central plateau--to the industrialized urban centers and the developing areas along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to some estimates, the population of the area around Mexico City is about 18 million, which would make it the largest concentration of population in the Western Hemisphere. Cities bordering on the United States--such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez--and cities in the interior--such as Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Puebla--have undergone sharp rises in population in recent years.
Although educational levels in Mexico have improved substantially in recent decades, the country still faces daunting problems. Education is one of the Government of Mexico's highest priorities. The education budget for 2000--$23 billion--represented a 6.8% increase over the previous year's figure and 23% more funding in real terms for education in 2000 than in 1994. Educational funding now represents 27% of the budget. Education in Mexico also is being decentralized from federal to state authority in order to improve accountability.
Education is mandatory from ages 6 through 18. In addition, the Mexican Congress voted in December of 2001 to make one year of preschool mandatory by 2004. The increase in school enrollments during the past two decades has been dramatic. By 1999, 94% of the population between the ages of 6 and 14 were enrolled in school. Primary, including preschool, enrollment totaled 17.2 million in 2000. Enrollment at the secondary public school level rose from 1.4 million in 1972 to 5.4 million in 2000. A rapid rise also occurred in higher education. Between 1959-2000 college enrollments rose from 62,000 to more than 2.0 million.
Population: 106,202,903 (July 2005 est.)
SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State