Hey guys 🙂
Did you know that train travel in Mexico is almost non-existent?
People travel by bus, car or air. Bus travel is the most popular way to travel in Mexico with numerous long-distance bus lines connecting major cities across the country. Large cities have centralized bus stations resembling more like airport terminals. On the most frequent routes, there is a choice of three service levels: De Lujo (Luxury), Primera clase (First class) and Segunda clase (Second class). Travelling by the ‘luxurious executive-class’ buses is akin to travelling first class by air.
Interesting, right? I have some more interesting information on Mexico for you. It’s from one of my e-books: Mexico: The Country, Its History & The Maya World
Happy Reading 🙂
Mexico (México ‘meh-hee-koh’ in Spanish) is a multicultural country with gorgeous beaches, ancient pyramids, beautiful landscapes, natural and ecological wonders and a colourful history.
The country boasts of one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and about 24 UNESCO-declared World Cultural Heritage sites. It is also the most populous Spanish-speaking country and the second-largest Roman Catholic nation in the world.
Mexico or the land of the Mexica (the Aztec, ‘meh-shee-ka’ in their Nahuatl language) enjoys a unique cultural blend of different indigenous cultures with colonial Spanish traditions and modern industrialization. The country is part of the North American continent and is located directly south of the United States. To the south-east, it is bordered by Guatemala and Belize. The Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea lie on the east coast, and the Pacific Ocean on the west and south.
Covering almost two million square kilometres, the ‘United Mexican States’ (its official name) is the fifth-largest country in the Americas by total area and the 14th largest independent nation in the world. It extends all along the 3,100 km-long southern border of the United States, most of which is formed by the Río Bravo, a major river known as Rio Grande in the neighbouring country.
Mexico has 31 states and a Federal District (Distrito Federal), where the capital, Mexico City, commonly called ‘DF’ (dey-efe) is located. The estimated population of the country is 111 million, of which approximately 75 percent live in urban areas. Over 20 million people live in the metropolitan area of the capital. Two other major cities are Guadalajara and Monterrey.
Under the amended constitution of 1917, Mexico is a federal republic whose head of state and government is the president, directly elected to a non-renewable six-year term. It has two legislative houses, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Since the establishment of the modern constitution in 1917, a single party, the PRI, ruled over the country till 2000, when the right-wing opposition party PAN won the national elections. In 2006, the PAN party won again. But in 2012, the PRI returned to power. Enrique Peña Nieto is the current President of Mexico.
The Mexican flag has three equal vertical bands of green, white, and red. The coat of arms, which has an eagle with a snake in its beak perched on a nopal (noh-pahl) – the prickly pear cactus, is centred in the white band.
The Mexican peso (MXN $) was the first currency in the world to use the ‘$’ sign, which was later adopted by the United States dollar. It is by far the most traded currency in Latin America.
From swamp to desert and from tropical lowland jungle to high alpine vegetation, Mexico has it all. Over half the country is located at an altitude greater than 1000 metres. An extremely mountainous country, the varied topography and climate in different regions has led to its regional diversity and uneven economic development. The north is largely arid and semi-desert with an extreme climate of very hot summers and very cold winters. In some northern regions, it snows. The south is tropical and heavily forested, with a hot and humid climate. The central region of the country with its mild climate, is the most developed. At times, the temperate forests of the central region experiences snowfall at higher altitudes. Overall, the climate throughout much of Mexico is characterized by high temperatures and moderate to low rainfall, with the rainy season lasting from June to September.
Geographically, Mexico is divided into different physical regions: the immense Central Plateau, the Pacific Lowlands, the Gulf Coast Plains, the Yucatán (yoo-cah-tahn) Peninsula, the Southern Highlands, the Chiapas(chee-ah-pahs) Highlands, and the Baja (ba-ha) California Peninsula.
The Central Plateau, which begins from the northern border with the United States, is flanked by two great mountain ranges – the Sierra Madre Occidental in the west and the Sierra Madre Oriental in the east – that run down parallel to the narrow coastal plains. More than halfway down, they are crossed by the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt that extends 900 km from west to east across the central-southern region. Mexico City lies in this volcanic highland area, as do most of the country’s major peaks (several of them snow-clad all year long) and volcanoes (active as well as inactive). These include the two snow-capped volcanoes, Popocatépetl (5,452 m) and Iztaccíhuatl (5,386 m), both of which are located near Mexico City; and the country’s highest peak, Pico de Orizaba (5,747 m), located north-west of the city of Veracruz. Due to the frequent seismic activity, earthquakes are fairly common in the capital city. In 1985 a major earthquake in Mexico City killed thousands and left nearly 30,000 homeless.
The north-central part of the country is mostly a semi-arid desert: a vast, high, windswept plateau flanked by the Occidental and Oriental chains of the Sierra Madre. Most of the population is gathered in several large cities like Chihuahua (chee-wah-wah), an important industrial and commercial centre as well as capital of Mexico’s largest state of the same name, and Ciudad Juárez (syooh-dahd hwa-rehs), another important city in the same state.
The large basin where Mexico City is located has been known historically as the Anáhuac Valley or the Valley of Mexico. Situated close to the capital are the ruins of the pre-Hispanic cultures of central Mexico: the massive Pyramids of Teotihuacán (teo-tee-wah-kahn) and the Toltec capital at Tula.
The Central Highlands, north of Mexico City, boast of many colonial towns like the silver-mining towns of Zacatecas and Guanajuato (gwah-nah-hwa-toh) and historic centres like San Miguel de Allende (san mee-gel deh ah-yen-deh) and Querétaro (keh-reh-tah-roh). To the north-west lie the beautiful states of Jalisco (ha-lees-koh) and Michoacán (mee-cho-ah-kahn). Between them, these two states share some of the most scenic country sights in Mexico along with a reputation for producing some of the finest traditional crafts. The beautiful historical state capitals of Guadalajara (gwah-dah-lah-ha-rah) and Morelia are a testimony to its rich cultural heritage.
The Pacific Lowlands which lie between the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Pacific Ocean (including the Gulf of California) are home to famous resort cities like Mazatlán. The Gulf Coast plain between the Sierra Madre Oriental and the Gulf of Mexico is characterized by swampy lowlands and numerous lagoons. The country’s most important port, Veracruz, is located in this region, which is also the site of many of Mexico’s petroleum discoveries. This region gets abundant rainfall and is frequently prone to hurricanes that often cause extensive damage.
In the south-eastern part of the country, the Yucatán Peninsula (extending toward Cuba) separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea. It comprises of the states of Quintana Roo, Yucatán and Campeche. The northern Peninsula is a hot and semi-arid flat, low-lying region without surface rivers while the southern Peninsula gets abundant rainfall and is covered by dense tropical rainforests. The famous international tourist destination, Cancún, is located along the eastern coast of the Yucatán in the state of Quintana Roo (keen-tah-nah roh). The eastern peninsula also boasts of many magnificent Maya cities like Chichén Itzá and Uxmal(oosh-mahl) and exotic tourist zones like the beautiful Riviera Maya.
The Southern Highlands consist of steep mountain ranges, deep valleys, and dry plateaus. The Sierra Madre del Sur, a continuation of the two northern ranges, runs through the southern states of Oaxaca (wah-ha-cah) and Chiapas. It runs parallel to the Pacific coast, creating a rugged coastline where the mountains meet the sea. This is where one finds coastal resort cities like Huatulco (wah-tuhl-koh), Acapulco, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo (iks-tah-pah see-wah-tah-neh-ho), Manzanillo (man-sah-nee-yoh) and Puerto Vallarta (pwehr-toh vah-yahr-tah) in the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Colima and Jalisco.
The beautiful mountainous state of Oaxaca is home to some of the largest populations of pure indigenous groups. Its capital, Oaxaca City is one of the most enticing destinations in the country with an extraordinary mix of colonial and indigenous life, colourful markets and fascinating archaeological sites.
The Chiapas Highlands are home to many high mountains and dense tropical forests. Some of its mountains rise to more than 9,000 feet. The beautiful mountainous state of Chiapas, best known as the centre of the Zapatista uprising of the mid-1990s, has remained a favourite tourist destination. The region’s heavy rainfall feeds its numerous scenic waterfalls and the lush surroundings offer plenty of opportunities for adventure tourism. The indigenous cultures prevalent in this region, the beautiful town of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, the picturesque Maya ruins of Palenque together with a number of lesser-known Maya ruins continue to dominate the itinerary of most tourists.
The west coast of Mexico incorporates the Baja California Peninsula, comprising of the two states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. Stretching from the U.S. border south-east for 1,300 km, the peninsula is extremely arid and mountainous, with a very narrow coastal plain. Its long coastline of fine white beaches, peaceful bays and imposing cliffs attracts numerous American tourists. The largest city in the northern state of Baja California, Tijuana (tee-hwa-nah) is situated on the Mexico-US border adjacent to its sister city of San Diego, California. This border is the most frequently crossed international border in the world, with 250 million legal crossings per year. At the southern tip of the peninsula in the state of Baja California Sur, lies the scenic tourist resort of Los Cabos, the popular destination of the rich and famous, especially from the neighbouring United States.
Mexico follows three time zones. Most of the country follows Central Standard Time which is six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. The northern states of Chihuahua, Nayarit, Sonora, Sinaloa and Baja California Sur follow Mountain Standard Time while Baja California follows Pacific Standard Time. The Central Time Zone is two hours ahead of the Pacific Time Zone, one hour ahead of the Mountain Time Zone.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. You can read all about Mexico and my adventures across this beautiful ancient land, right here on my blog. Check out my three e-books available for sale on this blog:
If you’re a fan of Mills & Boon novels or love reading romance novels, here’s one for you on this blog:
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See you soon, take care 🙂