The United Mexican States, commonly known as Mexico is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2 million square kilometres Mexico is the fifth-largest country in the Americas by total area and the 14th largest independent nation in the world. With an estimated population of 111 million, it is the 11th most populous country and the most populous Hispanophone country on earth. Mexico is a federation comprising thirty-one states and a Federal District, the capital city.
In Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica many cultures matured into advanced civilizations such as the Olmec, the Toltec, the Teotihuacan, the Zapotec, the Maya and the Aztec before the first contact with Europeans. In 1521, Spain conquered and colonized the territory, which was administered as the viceroyalty of New Spain which would eventually become Mexico as the colony gained independence in 1821. The post-independence period was characterized by economic instability, territorial secession and civil war, including foreign intervention, two empires and two long domestic dictatorships. The latter led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910, which culminated with the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution and the emergence of the country's current political system. Elections held in July 2000 marked the first time that an opposition party won the presidency from the Institutional Revolutionary Party .
As a regional power and currently the only Latin American member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development since 1994, Mexico is firmly established as an upper middle-income country, and is considered a newly industrialized country and an emerging power . It has the 13th largest nominal GDP and the 11th largest by purchasing power parity. The economy is strongly linked to those of its North American Free Trade Agreement partners.
Campfire remains in the Valley of Mexico have been radiocarbon-dated to 21,000 BCE, and a few chips of stone tools have been found near the hearths, indicating the presence of humans at that time. Around 9,000 years ago, ancient indigenous peoples domesticated corn and initiated an agricultural revolution, leading to the formation of many complex civilizations. Between 1,800 and 300 BCE, many matured into advanced pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations such as: the Olmec, the Teotihuacan, the Maya, the Zapotec, the Mixtec, the Toltec and the Aztec, which flourished for nearly 4,000 years before the first contact with Europeans.
These civilizations are credited with many inventions and advancements in fields such as architecture , mathematics, astronomy, medicine and theology. The Aztecs were noted for practicing human sacrifice on a large scale. At its peak, Teotihuacan, containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas, had a population of more than 150,000 people. Estimates of the population before the Spanish conquest range from 6 million to 25 million.
In the early 16th century, from the landing of Hernán Cortés, the Aztec civilization was invaded and conquered by the Spaniards. Unintentionally introduced by Spanish conquerors, smallpox ravaged Mexico in the 1520s, killing millions of Aztecs, including the emperor, and was credited with the victory of Hernán Cortés over the Aztec empire. The territory became part of the Spanish Empire under the name of New Spain. Much of the identity, traditions and architecture of Mexico were created during the colonial period.
On September 16, 1810, independence from Spain was declared by priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, in the small town of Dolores, Guanajuato. The first insurgent group was formed by Hidalgo, the Spanish viceregal army captain Ignacio Allende, the militia captain Juan Aldama and "La Corregidora" Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez. Hidalgo and some of his soldiers were captured and executed by firing squad in Chihuahua, on July 31, 1811. Following his death, the leadership was assumed by priest José María Morelos, who occupied key southern cities.
In 1813, the Congress of Chilpancingo was convened and, on November 6, signed the "Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America". Morelos was captured and executed on December 22, 1815. In subsequent years, the insurgency was near collapse, but in 1820 Viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca sent an army under the criollo general Agustín de Iturbide against the troops of Vicente Guerrero. Instead, Iturbide approached Guerrero to join forces, and in 1821 representatives of the Spanish Crown and Iturbide signed the "Treaty of Córdoba", which recognized the independence of Mexico under the terms of the "Plan of Iguala"
Benito Juárez is generally regarded as Mexico's greatest president for resisting the French occupation, overthrowing the Empire, and restoring the Republic, as well as for his role in modernizing the country.
Agustin de Iturbide immediately proclaimed himself emperor of the First Mexican Empire. A revolt against him in 1823 established the United Mexican States. In 1824, a Republican Constitution was drafted and Guadalupe Victoria became the first president of the newly born country. The first decades of the post-independence period were marked by economic instability, which led to the Pastry War in 1836, and a constant strife between liberales, supporters of a federal form of government, and conservadores, proposals of a hierarchical form of government.
General Antonio López de Santa Anna, a centralist and two-time dictator, approved the Siete Leyes in 1836, a radical amendment that institutionalized the centralized form of government. When he suspended the 1824 Constitution, civil war spread across the country, and three new governments declared independence: the Republic of Texas, the Republic of the Rio Grande and the Republic of Yucatán.
Texas successfully achieved independence and was annexed by the United States, a border dispute led to the Mexican–American War, which began in 1846 and lasted for two years, settled via the "Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo" forcing Mexico to give up nearly half of its land to the U.S., including California and New Mexico. Further transferred some of its territories, southern Arizona and New Mexico, via the Gadsden Purchase in 1854. The Caste War of Yucatán, the Mayan uprising that began in 1847, was one of the most successful modern Native American revolts. Maya rebels, or Cruzob, maintained the Maya free state until the 1930s.
Dissatisfaction with Santa Anna's return to power led to the liberal "Plan of Ayutla", initiating an era known as La Reforma, after which a new Constitution was drafted in 1857 that established a secular state, federalism as the form of government and several freedoms. As the conservadores refused to recognized, the War of Reform began in 1858, both groups had their own governments, but ended in 1861 with the liberal victory led by Amerindian President Benito Juárez. In the 1860s Mexico underwent a military occupation by France, which established the Second Mexican Empire under the rule of Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria with support from the Roman Catholic clergy and the conservadores, who later switched sides and joined the liberales. Maximilian surrendered, was tried on June 14 and was executed on June 19, 1867.