Mexico

Mexico is a state in the very north of Latin America. It is a unique country for the region, with many natural sights and monuments of deep antiquity. The country where people come for marvellous beaches, fire-breathing volcanoes, impenetrable jungles and lifeless deserts. A country where people live different from other nations, but all of them are very open, friendly and independent. Welcome to Mexico, the country is waiting for you!

Mexico on the map

Mexico on the map

Geographical location

Mexico is located on the mainland of North America. At the same time, this country is usually referred to the region of Latin America. The Republic is washed by the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. To the east lies the huge and oil-rich Gulf of Mexico. To the south is the Caribbean Sea. To the west lies the Pacific coast and the narrow and terribly hot Gulf of California. The total length of the coastline is 9300 kilometres.

From the north Mexico borders with the United States of America, in the south – with Belize and Guatemala. The length of the northern border (3100 kilometres) is much greater than the southern border (1000 kilometres) – there is the widest part of the republic. To the south, Mexico narrows and turns more and more to the east.

Two peninsulas play a big role in the uniqueness of Mexico as a natural zone. In the south is Yucatán, the place of origin of the Mayan civilization, which built mysterious pyramids and cities in the jungle. In the north is the California peninsula, long and narrow, resembling a tail or a sword, characterized by a very hot, arid climate. It is one of the most lifeless deserts on Earth.

The topography of Mexico is complex. The whole central part of the country is occupied by rather high mountains, the coasts passing to lowlands and plains. In the south, the mountains decrease and almost disappear, covered with dense jungles. The highest point of the country is the Orisaba volcano (5675 metres).

There are more than 150 rivers in the country, but there are no very large ones. There are especially many rivers in the south of the country. The largest lake of the country – Chapala, occupies an area of more than 1000 square kilometres.

Safety for tourists

In the global index of peacefulness, which takes into account the calmness of the situation, attitude to tourists and many other factors, Mexico is in 140th place, and it is really not the safest country for holidays.

The country has a very high crime rate: robberies, armed attacks and even kidnappings of tourists for ransom occur here more often than in any other country in the region. In some parts of Mexico, it is better not to go there at all. Especially notorious is the city of Tijuana on the border with the United States, as well as the Tepito district in Mexico City. In many places, drug traffickers are rampaging.

In addition to the criminals themselves, even a meeting with police officers can be dangerous, because there is a very high level of corruption in the country.

There are a lot of swindlers and pickpockets on the streets of Mexico. Therefore, always be careful and avoid crowded places. Moreover, the country is characterized by frequent public protests – demonstrations and rallies, which are not always peaceful. Such events should also be avoided

Abuse of Mexican food can be dangerous. For the unprepared tourist, it can be too spicy and cause digestive problems. When buying something on the street, you should remember the rules of hygiene and, for example, do not take already cooked food – it can lie in the hot sun for several hours. It is better to drink bottled water. Remember that the most common infections in the country are malaria and typhoid.

There are also many natural dangers in the country. In the water, you may encounter poisonous sea creatures and sharks. On land there are poisonous insects, snakes and crocodiles. In the jungle, there are the largest cats of the continent – jaguars, which can easily kill a grown man.

So, in order that your holiday in Mexico does not turn into a nightmare, you should always be on the alert and follow the rules of safety and personal hygiene.

Holidays

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Mexicans are famous all over the world for their noisy and cheerful holidays, always colourful and musical. There are many public and civil holidays, which are official days off.

All important dates of the modern history of the country are celebrated here, such as Independence Day, Revolution Day, Constitution Day, Flag Day and many others. Even Army Day and Navy Day are considered as weekends.

Among religious holidays, only Christmas is considered an official day off. But here they celebrate New Year, Labour Day and Columbus Day.

In addition, Mexico is famous for its festivals and carnivals. Among them, the famous Carnival of Veracruz, which takes place in April. It is the most noisy and colourful carnival of the republic, attracting many tourists.

In early November, the Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout the country, when people dress up in costumes of the dead and walk merrily through the streets. This exotic holiday is also very popular with visitors.

There are also Radish Festival, bullfights, fairs where you can buy anything you like.

What fun there is in Mexico

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Mexico attracts millions of tourists every year, not only for its beautiful nature, but also for its culture, customs brought by Spanish settlers and traditions preserved since the time of the Aztecs and Mayans. For tourists, there is a developed infrastructure and a lot of entertainment.

  1. Beach holidays. Most of the popular beaches of the country are located in the south-east of the country, on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula. They are distinguished by perfectly white sand, picturesque landscape, rich coastal vegetation.
  2. Diving and snorkelling. These entertainments are very popular among tourists holidaying on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the waters of which are rich in unusual marine life. In addition to them, tourists are popular and diving to the museum of underwater sculptures, located near Cancun.
  3. Diving in cenotes. This type of diving is a trademark of the country. On the Yucatán Peninsula, there are hundreds of cenotes – sinkholes that connect to the ocean and are filled with water. In many of the cenotes, you can find traces of strange rituals conducted by the Mayans.
  4. Surfing. This sport is most popular on the Pacific coast. There are long and smooth waves almost all year round, ideal for surfing. The Sayulita resort is particularly popular.
  5. Parque Explora. Mexico is famous not only for beach entertainment, but also for a number of extreme parks. Among them, Xplor, located in an ancient meteorite crater, stands out. This park offers entertainment for all tastes – rafting on cave rivers, walking along underground trails and meeting dinosaurs, zip-lining over the jungle and bungee jumping.
  6. Skaret Ecopark. Located near Cancun at the site of an archaeological site. This park also offers tourists entertainment for all tastes – from boat trips on the Caribbean Sea, to visiting archaeological sites and various museums. Here you can watch jaguars and tropical butterflies, visit beautiful caves.
  7. Canyoning. The central parts of the country abound with picturesque canyons with steep slopes and colourful rocks. Here is a paradise for lovers of rock climbing, zip-lining and rafting on mountain rivers.
  8. Doll Island. An unusual museum of broken dolls is located on an island in one of the canals of Mexico City. This place is associated with a terrible legend about a drowned girl whose spirit constantly asked for new dolls. Nowadays, there are more than 1000 dolls hanging on the trees of the island, and it is a popular tourist spot.
  9. Pyramids. In pre-Columbian Mexico, pyramids were built by two Indian civilizations, the Mayans and the Aztecs. Now these pyramids are one of the main attractions of the country. Near Mexico City is the city of Teotihuacan, the ancient capital of the Aztecs. In it, the famous pyramids of the Sun and the Moon are located. The Yucatán Peninsula has its own pyramids, the most famous of which can be seen in the town of Chichen Itza.
  10. Gastrotour. It is impossible to visit Mexico and not enjoy its unusual, but so colourful cuisine. Tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas and tequila – these names are familiar to all gourmets, but you can enjoy their original flavour only in Mexico.
    What is important to know about Mexico.

If you are planning to visit this state, here are some of the most important things to know:

Language

The official language of the country is Spanish. It is spoken fluently by 99% of the country’s population. It is only in the jungles of the south that there are still Indians who speak their native dialects. However, 68 indigenous languages are also recognized as official languages, although only 6% of the population speaks them.

Population

The country is currently home to just over 133 million people. It is the 10th most populous country in the world and the largest Spanish-speaking nation.

The indigenous population of the country are Indians. They are still almost 30% of the total number of inhabitants. But 63% of the population are mestizos, descendants of mixed marriages between Indians and Europeans. About 5% of the population are pure-blooded Europeans.

  • More interesting facts about Mexicans, their character and local flavour can be found in this article.

Currency

The national currency is the Mexican peso, which is divided into 100 centavos.

Banknotes of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pesos are currently in circulation. As well as coins in 5, 10, 20, 50 centavos and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 pesos.

Tourists should take dollars with them, which are almost everywhere accepted as freely as local pesos. But the change from dollars, you will be given in pesos. If you want to exchange dollars or other currency, you can in any bank and in special points.

Approximate exchange rate: 16–18 pesos for 1 dollar.

Religion

The majority of the country’s population is Christian. Among them, almost 78% of the population professes Catholicism and 11% professes Protestantism. About 10% of the country’s population are atheists.

Climate

The territory of the country is divided by the Northern Tropic into two climatic zones. North of the 24th parallel lie the areas where subtropical climate prevails. These are areas of insufficient moisture, with some areas receiving only 300 millimetres of rainfall per year or less.

To the south are humid tropical climate zones, with a small temperature gradient throughout the year and a high level of moisture. Average annual temperatures depend strongly on the altitude of the territory above sea level. Thus, in Mexico City, lying at an altitude of 2300 metres, the average temperature in July is only +18 degrees Celsius, at its peak reaching +35. And in Cancun, lying on the Caribbean coast, the average temperature of the summer months does not fall below +28 degrees Celsius, at its peak reaching +40.

Winter is a drier season than summer in all regions of Mexico. But if in the north, the difference in the amount of precipitation is insignificant, in the south it can be very large. Thus, in the same resort Cancun, in winter-spring, up to 100 mm of precipitation per month, and in summer – up to 200 mm.

Tropical cyclones, which peak in summer, have a great influence on the climate and the amount of precipitation.

Seawater temperature

The average temperature of seawater off the coast of Mexico is not subject to strong annual fluctuations and always remains suitable for bathing. This is true for both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the country. Therefore, the bathing season here lasts all year round, although the ideal time for tourism is winter, from November to April.

  • Water temperature in winter, December-January: from +23 to +25 degrees Celsius. On the Pacific coast – up to +28.
  • Water temperature in spring, March-May: +25 to +27 degrees in May.
  • Water temperature in summer, June-July: from +28 to +29 degrees. In Acapulco – up to +30.
  • Water temperature in autumn, September-November: from +27 to +29 degrees.

Natural disasters

The main natural danger of the country is earthquakes. Mexico is located in an active seismic region, at the junction of the North American, Caribbean and Pacific plates, so there are often movements of the Earth’s crust, leading to earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Thus, in 1985 there was an earthquake of magnitude 8.1 in the country, which almost completely destroyed the capital of the country – Mexico City. Then more than 10 thousand people died.

Volcanic eruptions are another frequent disaster. There are several dozens of active volcanoes and more than a hundred extinct volcanoes in the country. The most active volcanoes in recent years are Popocatépetl, Colima and Paricutin.

Another regular disaster of the country are tropical cyclones. On the Pacific coast, cyclones are rare and weak, but the eastern shores of the country suffer much more. The hurricane season here begins in June and lasts until November. At this time, storms with heavy downpours hit the coast. Sometimes hurricanes lead to human casualties, as it happened in 1988 during the passage of Cyclone Gilbert, which claimed the lives of 433 people.

In addition, many regions of the country are at risk of wildfires. During the dry period from March to May, they often occur in the north-east of the country.

  • About the most destructive disasters in the history of Mexico can be read in this article.

Political system

Mexico is a presidential republic. The head of state is the president, who appoints the prime minister. Legislative power is represented by a bicameral Congress, consisting of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

Administratively, the country is divided into 31 states and 1 federal district.

The capital of the country is Mexico City.

The major cities and resorts

Mexico City is the capital of the country and its most populous city. More than 9 million people live in it. It is the oldest city in the country, it was founded by the Aztecs in 1324. Tourists are attracted here by both historical and archaeological monuments and cultural life. Many colourful festivals, competitions and concerts are held here.

Acapulco is the largest port and resort on the Pacific coast of the country. The city was founded by Spaniards in 1531, and now it is inhabited by almost 700 thousand people. Many Hollywood stars liked to holiday here. The city is known for its beaches, historical monuments and even climate – almost all year round it is +30 degrees centigrade.

Veracruz is a resort on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, founded by Cortez in 1519. Now 550 thousand people live in it. There are a lot of architectural monuments, beautiful beaches, the city holds a famous carnival, which many consider the second most popular after Rio de Janeiro.

Cancun is a famous resort of the Yucatan Peninsula, located on the shore of the Caribbean Sea. It was founded on the site of an ancient Mayan settlement, and now it is inhabited by almost 900 thousand people. It is famous for its beaches and archaeological zones. From here, tourists go to see the ruins of Mayan cities.

Symbols of Mexico

Sombrero – the famous wide-brimmed hat, which has become an element of the national costume of the Mexican.

Guitar – Mexican mariachi guitarists in bright costumes and sombreros are another recognizable symbol of the country, no holiday is without them.

Agave – the most famous Mexican cactus, which since ancient times has been used for food, including for making tequila, the local strong alcoholic drink.

Quetzal – a brightly coloured bird that was sacred to the local Indians and even gave its name to one of the main Aztec gods, Quetzalcoatl.

Burrito – a Mexican flatbread stuffed with meat or other garnish, a symbol of the national cuisine.

How to get to Mexico

A European or Asian tourist can get to the country almost exclusively by plane. There are more than 20 international airports in the country, including all the important resorts. There are airports in Cancun, Veracruz, Acapulco, Palenque, Monterrey and other cities.

But, of course, the largest airport is located in the capital of the country – Mexico City. It is named after Benito Juárez and is the busiest airport in all of Latin America. More than 26 million people arrive and leave the country through it every year.

From Mexico City airport, there are regular flights to all continents and dozens of countries. Among them are many cities in the United States, Paris, Madrid, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Rome, Tokyo and others.

How much money to take with you

The cost of a holiday in Mexico can vary greatly, depending on whether you plan to holiday on your own at your own risk, or use the services of a travel company and trusted guides.

Mexico is located in North America south of the USA, that is quite far from Europe. Therefore, for tourists from the EU, flying here will not be cheap. For example, a round-trip ticket to Mexico City from Paris will cost at least $700.

The most inexpensive tours to the country start from 2 thousand dollars for 7 days including flight.

In the country itself, tourists are waiting for the following costs:

  • Food: prices for food here are much lower than in Europe. For example, lunch in an average restaurant will cost 20–50 dollars for two people, in a café – only 10 dollars. Fast food is even cheaper, you can eat there for 7–8 dollars, for example, a taco will cost only 1 dollar. A cup of cappuccino costs about $2.5.
  • Accommodation: the average price of a double room in a three-star hotel is $25-30, but you can get a room in a hostel for as little as $15. The most comfortable hotels offer rooms from $100.
  • Visiting attractions: beach services will be free when staying at a hotel, with the exception of additional services such as diving. Visiting many historic buildings and churches is free, but you’ll have to pay to enter a museum. A ticket to a water park costs about $15, a ferry ride to the island is $8. But a visit to the theme park will cost $100, and for a number of attractions will have to pay extra.
  • Souvenirs: from Mexico tourists bring sombreros (from 6 dollars), ponchos, maracas, leather goods. Local amulets, masks and even skulls are popular. From food products tourists bring tequila (from 5 dollars), vanilla, cactus sweets. Costs for souvenirs are individual and can vary significantly.
  • Transport: it is easier, and sometimes safer, to move around the cities by public transport – buses, and in large cities – by metro. A ticket costs about 20 cents. The cost of boarding a taxi is $0.5 and then 30 cents for each kilometre.

Thus, taking into account the reserve amount for unforeseen expenses, a holiday for two people will cost in Mexico from 2000 to 3000 thousand dollars for 7 days, taking into account the flight. And, of course, the maximum amount of the holiday can be much higher.

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