Officially the United Mexican States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos), the country is divided into 31 states and Mexico City. Mexico’s population of 123 million makes it the eleventh most populous country in the world.
Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Nearly 93 percent of the population speaks Spanish. Mayan, Nahuatil and other indigenous languages also are spoken in Mexico.
About 60 percent of Mexicans are of Indian-Spanish (Mestizo) descent, another 30 percent are Indian and 9 percent are Caucasian. Just over 80 percent of the Mexican people belong to the Catholic Church, down from over 90 percent in the 1990s. That number still makes Mexico the second largest Catholic country in the world, behind Brazil.
The Mexican federal government has three branches: executive, legislative and judicial, similar to the United States government. The seat of the federal government is in Mexico City. Mexico’s government operates within the framework of a federal presidential representative democratic republic based on a congressional system. The President of Mexico is both head of state and head of government. Mexico also has a multi-party electoral system. The federal government functions under the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, which was enacted in 1917.
Mexico’s capital city, Mexico City, is a sprawling urban area of over 21 million people, making it the largest metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere and the fifth largest metropolitan area in the world. The city sits in the Valley of Mexico at an altitude of 7,350 feet. It was originally built on an island in Lake Texcoco by the Aztecs in 1325 and was known as Tenochtitlan. Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city with a metropolitan population of nearly 4.5 million. Located in the central highlands, Guadalajara is a major commercial center. Farther north, Monterrey, Mexico’s third largest city with about 4 million people, is the industrial capital of the country.