Mexico City (Ciudad de México), is the capital and most populous city of Mexico and is one of the most important financial centers in the Americas. It is located in the Valley of Mexico (Valle de México), a large valley in the high plateaus at the center of Mexico, at an altitude of 2,240 metres (7,350 ft). The city consists of sixteen municipalities (previously called boroughs).
The 2009 estimated population for the city proper was approximately 8.84 million people, with a land area of 1,485 square kilometres (573 sq mi). Mexico City population is 21.2 million people, making it the largest metropolitan area of the world's western hemisphere and both the tenth-largest agglomeration and largest Spanish-speaking city in the world
The Greater Mexico City has a gross domestic product (GDP) of US$411 billion in 2011, making Mexico City urban agglomeration one of the economically largest metropolitan areas in the world. The city was responsible for generating 15.8% of Mexico's Gross Domestic Product and the metropolitan area accounted for about 22% of total national GDP. As a stand-alone country, in 2013, Mexico City would be the fifth-largest economy in Latin America—five times as large as Costa Rica's and about the same size as Peru's
Mexico’s capital is both the oldest capital city in the Americas and one of two founded by Amerindians (Native Americans), the other being Quito. The city was originally built on an island of Lake Texcoco by the Aztecs in 1325 as Tenochtitlan, which was almost completely destroyed in the 1521 siege of Tenochtitlan, and subsequently redesigned and rebuilt in accordance with the Spanish urban standards. In 1524, the municipality of Mexico City was established, known as México Tenochtitlán, and as of 1585 it was officially known as Ciudad de México (Mexico City). Mexico City served as the political, administrative and financial center of a major part of the Spanish colonial empire. After independence from Spain was achieved, the federal district was created in 1824.
Mexico City is located in the Valley of Mexico, located in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt in the high plateaus of south-central Mexico. With minimum altitude of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) above sea level and is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes.This valley has no natural drainage outlet for the waters that flow from the mountainsides, making the city vulnerable to flooding, however drainage was engineered through the use of canals and tunnels to assist.
Since the beginning of the 20th century the city has been slowly sinking, as much as nine metres (30 ft) in some areas due to the heavily saturated clay that Mexico city rests upon. This is because the city was built upon the land that was left from Lake Texcoco. There is also frequent seismic activity to the city.
The average annual temperature varies from 12 to 16 °C (54 to 61 °F), depending on the altitude of the borough. The temperature is rarely below 3 °C (37 °F) or above 30 °C (86 °F). The lowest temperature.
The Federal District accounts for nearly one-fourth of the gross domestic product of Mexico. More than two-thirds of the district’s income comes from the service sector and about one-fourth derives from manufacturing. Its vast range of products includes chemicals, plastics, cement, electronics, paper, and processed foods and beverages. The Federal District has the largest concentration of automobiles in the country, along with some of the most polluted air. Although it is crisscrossed by networks of bus, streetcar, subway, and railway lines, its transportation system is inadequate for its swelling population. Unemployment and the lack of safe drinking water, electricity, and sewer systems are also major concerns in many poorer neighborhoods. Nevertheless, migrants from throughout Mexico have continued to move to the capital and adjacent zones in search of economic and social opportunities, making metropolitan Mexico City one of the most populous urban areas in the world.
The executive branch of the Federal District is led by an elected chief of government (jefe del gobierno), who serves a single six-year term. The members of the district’s Legislative Assembly are elected to terms of three years. Many administrative functions are centralized, but other powers are divided among the district’s 16 subordinate delegaciones (administrative subdivisions akin to boroughs). Among the district’s many and varied cultural institutions are the National Museum of Anthropology (founded 1964) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (founded 1551; moved to its present campus in 1954). Clusters of pre-Hispanic ruins are still visible throughout the region, along with colonial Spanish, 19th-century Mexican, and modern buildings. The historic center of Mexico City and Xochimilco were together designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, as was the Luis Barragán House and Studio (which honors the architect) in 2004. Area 571 square miles (1,479 square km). Pop. (2000) 8,605,239; (2005) 8,720,916; (2010) 8,851,080.
Boroughs and neighborhoods
For administrative purposes, the Federal District is divided into 16 "delegaciones" or boroughs. While not fully equivalent to a municipality, the 16 boroughs have gained significant autonomy, and since 2000 their heads of government are elected directly by plurality (they were previously appointed by the head of government of the Federal District). Given that Mexico City is organized entirely as a Federal District, most of the city services are provided or organized by the Government of the Federal District and not by the boroughs themselves, while in the constituent states these services would be provided by the municipalities. The 16 boroughs of the Federal District with their 2010 populations are:
1. Álvaro Obregón (pop. 727,034)
2. Azcapotzalco (pop. 414,711)
3. Benito Juárez (pop. 385,439)
4. Coyoacán (pop. 620,416)
5. Cuajimalpa (pop. 186,391)
6. Cuauhtémoc (pop. 531,831)
7. Gustavo A. Madero (pop. 1,185,772)
8. Iztacalco (pop. 384,326)
9. Iztapalapa (pop. 1,815,786)
10. Magdalena Contreras (pop. 239,086)
11. Miguel Hidalgo (pop. 372,889)
12. Milpa Alta (pop. 130,582)
13. Tláhuac (pop. 360,265)
14. Tlalpan (pop. 650,567)
15. Venustiano Carranza (pop. 430,978)
16. Xochimilco (pop. 415,007)
The boroughs are composed by hundreds of colonias or neighborhoods, which have no jurisdictional autonomy or representation. The Historic Center is the oldest part of the city (along with some other, formerly separate colonial towns such as Coyoacán and San Ángel), some of the buildings dating back to the 16th century. Other well-known central neighborhoods include Condesa, known for its Art Deco architecture and its restaurant scene; Colonia Roma, a beaux arts neighborhood and artistic and culinary hot-spot, the Zona Rosa, formerly the center of nightlife and restaurants, now reborn as the center of the LGBT and Korean-Mexican communities; and Tepito and La Lagunilla, known for their local working-class foklore and large flea markets. Santa María la Ribera and San Rafael are the latest neighborhoods of magnificent Porfiriato architecture seeing the first signs of gentrification.
West of the Historic Center (Centro Histórico) along Paseo de la Reforma are many of the city's wealthiest neighborhoods such as Polanco, Lomas de Chapultepec, Bosques de las Lomas, Santa Fe, and (in the State of Mexico) Interlomas, which are also the city's most important areas of class A office space, corporate headquarters, skyscrapers and shopping malls. Nevertheless, areas of lower income colonias exist in some cases cheek-by-jowl with rich neighborhoods, particularly in the case of Santa Fe.
The south of the city is home to some other high-income neighborhoods such as Colonia del Valle And Jardines del Pedregal, and the formerly separate colonial towns of Coyoacán, San Ángel, and San Jerónimo. Along Avenida Insurgentes from Paseo de la Reforma, near the center, south past the World Trade Center and UNAM university towards the Periférico ring road, is another important corridor of corporate office space. The far southern boroughs of Xochimilco and Tláhuac have a significant rural population with Milpa Alta being entirely rural.
East of the center are mostly lower-income areas with some middle-class neighborhoods such as Jardín Balbuena. Urban sprawl continues further east for many miles into the State of Mexico, including Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl, now increasingly middle-class, but once full of informal settlements. These kind of slums are now found on the eastern edges of the metropolitan area in the Chalco area.
North of the Historic Center, Azcapotzalco and Gustavo A. Madero have important industrial centers and neighborhoods that range from established middle-class colonias such as Claveria and Lindavista to huge low-income housing areas that share hillsides with adjacent municipalities in the State of Mexico. In recent years much of northern Mexico City's industry has moved to nearby municipalities in the State of Mexico. Northwest of Mexico City itself is Ciudad Satélite, a vast middle to upper-middle-class residential and business area.
Influence of Los Zamoras
During The Mexican War of Independence in 1810-1821, the Spanish military invaded Mexico City with an iron fist. When citizens refused to cooperate with the Spanish Army they began killing the citizens and began destroying the city. However, in the midst of the chaos a single family took it upon themselves to change the course of history by leading the rebels against the Spanish Army and even managed to push the Spaniards out of Mexico City. The family who lead this last push against the Spanish Military were Los Zamoras.
Because of the families impact during the Mexican War of Independance, they have always been seen as a family of high status and were offered to be in charge of a borough, Xochimilco, when the opportunity arose. The family took the opportunity and now have political influence within the city itself. The family also has a business in the heart of Xochimilco that deals with Medium services to the public.
The majority (82%) of the residents in Mexico City are Roman Catholic, higher than the national percentage, though it has been decreasing over the last decades. Many other religions and philosophies are also practiced in the city: many different types of Protestant groups, different types of Jewish communities, Buddhist, Islamic and other spiritual and philosophical groups. There are also growing numbers of irreligious people, whether agnostic or atheist.
The Secretariat of Public Security of the Federal District (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública del Distrito Federal – SSP) manages a combined force of over 90,000 officers in the Federal District (DF). The SSP is charged with maintaining public order and safety in the heart of Mexico City. The historic district is also roamed by tourist police, aiming to orient and serve tourists. These horse-mounted agents dress in traditional uniforms.
Under policies enacted by Mayor Marcelo Ebrard between 2009 and 2011, Mexico City underwent a major security upgrade with violent and petty crime rates both falling significantly despite the rise in violent crime in other parts of the country. Some of the policies enacted included the installation of 11,000 security cameras around the city and a very large expansion of the police force. Mexico City has one of the world's highest police officer-to-resident ratios, with one uniformed officer per 100 citizens.
Art, Museums, Music, Theater and Entertainment
Because of the rich history of Mexico City, it is blessed with early colonial art dating back to the time during the Aztec rule. There is also a lot of religious themed artistic expressions in Mexico city because of the country's Catholic views. After the Mexican Revolution an artistic movement originated in Mexico City, muralism. Many works of famous muralists such as Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera are displayed in numerous buildings throughout the city. Frida Kahol, wife of Rivera, who was one of the most renowned Mexican Painters, lived in Mexico city and her house has become a museum that displays many of her works. Other artists have immigrated to Mexico city such as Leopoldo Mendez, Remedios Varo and Jose Luis Cuevas.
Mexico city has several museums dedicated to art that include Mexican Colonial, modern, contemporary and international art. The Museo Tamayo, Museo de Arte Moderno (Museum of Modern Art), University Museum/Contemporary Art, The Museo Soumaya, The Colleccion Jumex, Museo Jumex and other many museums can be found throughout Mexico City that are all open to the public. Some of these museums houses a large collection of pieces by all major Mexican artists of the last 400 years and also hosts many visiting exhibits. There are more than 150 museums throughout Mexico city and most can be visited from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am-5pm. One recent addition to city’s museum is the Museum of Remembrance and Tolerance that showcases all major historical events of discrimination and genocide.
Music, theater and entertainment
Mexico City is home to a number of orchestras offering season programs which include Mexico city Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonic Orchestra and Mineria Symphony Orchestra, however there are also many smaller ensembles that enrich the city's musical scene.
The city is also a center of popular culture and music, having multitude of venues hosting Spanish and foreign-language performers that include 10,00 seat National Auditorium that regularly schedules Spanish and English-Language pop and rock artists as well as world leading ensembles.
The world’s largest dome screen is found at The Papalote Children’s Museums. There are also amusement parks such as Six Flags Mexico (largest amusement park in Latin America) located in Ajusco Neighborhood in Tlalpan Borough, southern Mexico city. During winter the main square of the Zocalo is transformed into a gigantic ice skating rink, which is stated to be the largest in the world behind Moscow’s Red Square.
The Cineteca Nacional (the Mexican Film Library), near the Coyoacán suburb, shows a variety of films, and stages many film festivals, including the annual International Showcase. Cinépolis and Cinemex, the two biggest film business chains, also have several film festivals throughout the year, with both national and international movies. Mexico City tops the world in number of IMAX theatres, providing residents and visitors access to films ranging from documentaries to popular blockbusters on these especially large, dramatic screens.
Association football is Mexico’s most popular and most televised franchised sport. Mexico city has four teams that include América, UNAM, Cruz Azul and Diablos Rojos del México. Mexico City also remains to be the only Latin American city to host the Olympic Games, having held the Summer Olympics 1968. They have also hosted NASCAR Nationwide Series and Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
Baseball is another professional sport in the city and is home to Mexican League baseball’s Mexico Red Devils. Mexico city also has about ten Little Leagues for young baseball players.
Mexico City also hosted an NFL regular season game in 2005 at the Azteca Stadium. The city has also hosted several NBA pre-season games and international basketball FIBA Americas Championship.
Bullfighting also takes place every Sunday during bullfighting season which is typically November through January. These are held at Plaza Mexico which seats about 50,000 people, making it the world’s largest bullring.
Mexico City's golf courses have hosted Women's LPGA action, and two Men's Golf World Cups. Courses throughout the city are available as private as well as public venues.
Mexico City Festivals
Epiphany (Dia de los Reyes Magos)
Epiphany (Twelfth Night, Dia de los Reyes Magos,Three Kings Day) is the day when gifts are exchanged in a traditional manner. In the distant past, January 6th was the day when the Three Kings arrived at the Nativity to give their gifts to baby Jesus. On this day, the Rosca de los Reyes (King's Loaf) is served, a round doughnut-like cake, which contains a little plastic doll somewhere inside. By tradition, if you are served the slice that contains the doll, you must host a party on Dia de la Candelaria in February.
Benito Juarez’ Birthday
This event is celebrated on third Monday in March, to celebrate the birthday of one of Mexico's most famous and revered heroes and the first president of the country, Benito Juarez. The day is marked with a public holiday along with political and social events, fireworks, contests, dancing, etc.
This festival takes place 46 days before the Easter Sunday (3rd day preceding Ash Wednesday). The carnival kicks off a five-day celebration before the Catholic lent. Beginning on the weekend before Lent, the carnival is celebrated with full enthusiasm accompanied with parades, floats and dancing in the streets.
Holy Week in Mexico is an important religious observance as well as important vacation period. It is preceded by several observances such as Lent and Carnival, as well as an observance of a day dedicated to the Virgin of the Sorrows, as well as a mass marking the abandonment of Jesus by the disciples. Holy Week proper begins on Palm Sunday, with the palms used on this day often woven into intricate designs. In many places processions, masses and other observances can happen all week, but are most common on Monday Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, with just about every community marking the crucifixion of Jesus in some way on Good Friday. Holy Saturday is marked by the Burning of Judas, especially in the center and south of the country, with Easter Sunday usually marked by a mass as well as the ringing of church bells.
Lent is celebrated with great fervor and energy in all parts of Mexico. This religious festival of 40 days starts from Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter. This is a period of temperance and self-restraint for the Christian community. Some Mexicans observe meatless Fridays, some of them eat seafood or some people give up eating sweets. The ‘empanadas de vigilia’ is the popular dish prepared during lent.
Independence Day (Dia de la Independencia )
September 16th is Mexico's most important and revered National Holiday. It is an official holiday that commemorates Mexico's Constitution. From the evening of September 15th, festivities begin in the city. At 11pm, the president of the Republic shouts the Cry (El Grito) of "Viva Mexico" from the balcony of the National Palace - an event televised and broadcast on radio to every nook and cranny of the nation, as Mexicans cry back with "Viva!" in a deeply traditional annual ritual. The Zocalo in Mexico City brims and buzzes with unabated excitement. Celebrations are particularly lively at the revolutionary Colonial centres, especially Queretaro and San Miguel de Allende - important and significant places before, during and after the war of Independence from Spain.
Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos)
Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and by people of Mexican ancestry living in other places, especially the United States. It is acknowledged internationally in many other cultures. The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. In Mexico city, Dia de los Muertos is a public holiday. It is celebrated October 31, November 1 and November 2 to coincide with the Western Christian residuum of All hallow tide: All Saints' Eve, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves.
Dia de la Revolucion (Day of the Revolution)
This is a major national holiday, which commemorates the end of the revolution in 1910 after the defeat of Dictator José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori, after ruling for 35 years. The day is celebrated on the third Monday in November, and is marked with social events, and the festive parties are as loud and significant like the Independence Day celebrations.
Our Lady of Guadalupe (Di de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe)
Not a public holiday, but it is probably Mexico's biggest religious festivals celebrated on 12th December. The people of Mexico celebrate this day with a mass ceremony and a traditional fair in honor of the Lady Guadalupe. The day is packed with free concerts on the Basilica de Guadalupe's plaza.