Mexico is located in North America, and shares its northern border with the United States. Mexico shares land borders with Guatemala and Belize. Mexico also borders on three bodies of water: the Pacific Ocean to the south and the west, the Gulf of Mexico to the East, and the Caribbean Sea to the southeast.
As a large country with both coastal and inland regions, Mexico’s climate is highly variable. While people in inland cities enjoy a fairly temperate climate, on the country’s coast the temperature reaches much higher figures, with high levels of humidity. The climate also tends to be warmer and more humid in the southern parts of the country. Around the southern Yucatan region, temperatures range between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius for much of the year. Further north, temperatures typically remain in the high teens and low 20s. Between May and September there’s a rainy season that affects most of the country.
In much of the western world, Mexico is known and loved for its cuisine, and for the sheer variety of foods and dishes that were introduced to the rest of the world when the country was discovered by Europeans and Westerners. Some of those foods include zucchini, avocado, tomato, vanilla, guava, and of course, many varieties of beans and chiles.
Mexico is known to have been inhabited by humans at least 13,000 years ago, by ancient Mesoamerican cultures such as the Mayas, Aztecs, and Olmecs. By 1521 the Aztec Empire’s capitol city—Mexico-Tenochtitlan—was one of the world’s largest cities, with at least 30,000 people.
At the end of the 15th century, however, the Spanish had already discovered Mexico, and had begun a campaign of exploration and conquest. In 1521, the Mexican capital fell, beginning 300 years of Spanish rule. Mexico was renamed New Spain, and the Spanish conquerors immediately set to work exploiting native peoples and local resources. For three centuries, “New Spain” was the seat of Spain’s power in the Americas. However, the ruling class was comprised only of Spanish-born Spaniard: resentment among the poorer classes grew, and the country was ripe for revolt.
The Mexican War of Independence raged from 1810 to 1821, resulting in victory for Mexico and the withdrawal of Spain. However, strife continued over the next few decades, as Spain made attempts to retake Mexico, and an endless succession of presidents came and went. Eventually the country was able to attain some political and economic stability, and although revolution, counter-revolution, and civil war continued into the 20th century, Mexico also saw significant economic growth.
Mexico’s plant life is diverse and exotic, with gloriously colourful flowers such as the bright purple Mexican passion flower, which resembles a sea anemone or jellyfish. Two well-known flowers that are Mexican natives are the poinsettia, and the dahlia, the latter of which is Mexico’s native flower.
Native animals include the sleek jaguar, as well as many species of rodent, reptile, fish, and bird. There’s also a diverse and colourful array of amphibians, including the axolotls, a curious kind of salamander that is found nowhere else in the world.
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