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Mexico History

Image credit: Patryk Kosmider | Shutterstock
Image credit: Patryk Kosmider | Shutterstock

Mexico history began nearly 4,000 years ago. Before the Spanish colonization in 1519, Mexico was the site of advanced Amerindian civilizations, which had elaborate urban centers for religious, political and commercial use. The Olmec civilization flourished from about 1600 BCE to 400 BCE in the south-central lowlands of Mexico. A later civilization in Teotihuacan reached its peak around 600 CE, and greatly influenced the cultural and theological systems of the Toltec and Aztec civilizations that followed. The Maya civilization, which existed for several thousand years, reached its peak between 250 and 900 CE throughout southeast Mexico and northern Central America.

From the time of Hernando Cortez’s conquest, Mexico was a colony of Spain. Along with other Spanish colonies in the New World, Mexico fought and gained its independence. On Sept. 16, 1810, in the town of Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico won its independence from the Spaniards. That date is now celebrated as Mexico’s Independence Day.

In 1910, Francisco Madero led a revolution against the autocratic leader Porfirio Diaz that lasted a decade and led to a new Mexican Constitution in 1917.

In late 1994, a devaluation of the peso threw Mexico into economic turmoil, triggering the worst recession in over half a century. The elections held in 2000 marked the first time since the 1910 Mexican Revolution that an opposition candidate – Vicente Fox of the National Action Party (PAN) – defeated the party in government, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The PRI, however, returned to power in 2012 with the election of Enrique Peña Nieto as Mexico’s president.

Today, Mexico is thriving as an economic force, spurred by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that was signed in 1994. Mexico now is the third largest trading partner of the United States and represents the second largest export market for U.S. products and services.