Background Note: Mexico
AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information
Program provides Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings, and Public Announcements.
Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information
on entry requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, areas of instability,
crime and security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts
in the country. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends
that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Public Announcements
are issued as a means to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats
and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks
to the security of American travelers. Free copies of this information are available
by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-on-demand
system: 202-647-3000. Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings also are
available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page: http://travel.state.gov/. Consular
Affairs Tips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on obtaining
passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are on the Internet and hard copies
can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
Office, telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained from the Office
of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies,
Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-4000.
National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's
single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone:
1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators
for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time,
excluding federal holidays.
can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and
a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm
give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet
entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280)
is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel.
Information on travel
conditions, visa requirements, currency and customs regulations, legal holidays,
and other items of interest to travelers also may be obtained before your departure
from a country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see
"Principal Government Officials" listing in this publication).
citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas are encouraged
their travel via the State Department’s travel registration web site at https://travelregistration.state.gov/
or at the Consular section of the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country by filling
out a short form and sending in a copy of their passports. This may help family
members contact you in case of an emergency.
1,972,500 sq. km. (761,600 sq. mi.); about three times the size of Texas.
Capital--Mexico City (13 million, 2000 census metro area). Other major
cities--Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana, Acapulco,
Merida, Leon, Veracruz.
Terrain: Coastal lowlands, central high plateaus, and
mountains up to 5,400 m. (18,000 ft.).
Climate: Tropical to desert.
Noun and adjective--Mexican(s).
Population (2004 estimate): 105 million.
Annual growth rate (2004 net): 1.2%.
Ethnic groups: Indian-Spanish (mestizo)
60%, Indian 30%, Caucasian 9%, other 1%.
Religions: Roman Catholic 89%, Protestant
6%, other 5%.
Education: Years compulsory--12
(note: preschool education was made mandatory in Dec. 2001). Literacy--89.4%.
(2004 est.): Infant mortality rate--21.69/1000. Life expectancy--male
72.18 years; female 77.83 years.
Work force (2000, 39.81 million): Agriculture,
forestry, hunting, fishing--21.0%; services--32.2%; commerce--16.9%;
manufacturing--18.7%; construction--5.6%; transportation and
communication--4.5%; mining and quarrying--1.0%.
Independence: First proclaimed September 16, 1810; republic
Constitution: February 5, 1917.
(chief of state and head of government). Legislative--bicameral. Judicial--Supreme
Court, local and federal systems.
Administrative subdivisions: 31 states and
a federal district.
Political parties: Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI),
National Action Party (PAN), Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), Green Ecological
Party (PVEM), Labor Party (PT), and several small parties.
Nominal GDP (2004):
$677 billion (rank in world: 12).
GDP (PPP method, 2004): $1.01 trillion (rank
in world: 12).
Per capita GDP (2004): $6,517 (rank in world: 51).
GDP (PPP method, 2004): $9,774 (rank in world: 54).
Annual real GDP growth:
(2005 est.) 3.0%; (2004) 4.4%; (2003) 1.3%; (2002) 0.9%; (2001) -0.3%; (2000)
6.6%; (1999) 3.7%.
Avg. real GDP growth (1999-2003): 2.1%.
(2005 est.) 3.2%; (2004) 5.2%; (2003) 4.0%; (2002) 5.0%; (2001) 6.4%; (2000) 9.5%;
Natural resources: Petroleum, silver, copper, gold, lead, zinc,
natural gas, timber.
Agriculture (4% of GDP): Products--corn, beans,
oilseeds, feed grains, fruit, cotton, coffee, sugarcane, winter vegetables.
(24.0% of GDP): Types--manufacturing, energy, construction.
(72% of GDP): Types--commerce and tourism (20%), financial services (12%),
and transportation and communications (10%).
Trade (Goods): Exports
(2004)--$189 billion. Imports (2004)--$197 billion. Exports to U.S.
(2004)--$165 billion (87% of total). Imports from U.S. (2004)--$110 billion
(55% of total). Major markets--U.S., EU, Japan, Canada, China.
is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world and the second most-populous
country in Latin America after Portuguese-speaking Brazil. About 70% of the people
live in urban areas. Many Mexicans emigrate from rural areas that lack job opportunities--such
as the underdeveloped southern states and the crowded central plateau--to the
industrialized urban centers and the developing areas along the U.S.-Mexico border.
According to some estimates, the population of the area around Mexico City is
about 18 million, which would make it the largest concentration of population
in the Western Hemisphere. Cities bordering on the United States--such as Tijuana
and Ciudad Juarez--and cities in the interior--such as Guadalajara, Monterrey,
and Puebla--have undergone sharp rises in population in recent years.
is one of the Government of Mexico’s highest priorities. The education budget
has increased significantly in recent years; funding in real terms for education
has increased by almost 25% over the last decade. Education in Mexico also is
being decentralized from federal to state authority in order to improve accountability.
Although educational levels in Mexico have improved substantially in recent decades,
the country still faces daunting problems.
is mandatory from ages 6 through 18. In addition, the Mexican Congress voted in
December of 2001 to make one year of preschool mandatory, which went into effect
in 2004. The increase in school enrollments during the past two decades has been
dramatic. By 1999, 94% of the population between the ages of 6 and 14 were enrolled
in school. Primary, including preschool, enrollment totaled 17.2 million in 2000.
Enrollment at the secondary public school level rose from 1.4 million in 1972
to 5.4 million in 2000. A rapid rise also occurred in higher education. Between
1959-2000 college enrollments rose from 62,000 to more than 2.0 million.
developed cultures, including those of the Olmecs, Mayas, Toltecs, and Aztecs
existed long before the Spanish conquest. Hernando Cortes conquered Mexico during
the period 1519-21 and founded a Spanish colony that lasted nearly 300 years.
Independence from Spain was proclaimed
by Father Miguel Hidalgo on September 16, 1810. Father Hidalgo’s declaration of
national independence, known in Mexico as the “Grito de Dolores”, launched a decade
long struggle for independence from Spain. Prominent figures in Mexico’s war for
independence were Father Jose Maria Morelos; Gen. Augustin de Iturbide, who defeated
the Spaniards and ruled as Mexican emperor from 1822-23; and Gen. Antonio Lopez
de Santa Ana, who went on to control Mexican politics from 1833 to 1855. An 1821
treaty recognized Mexican independence from Spain and called for a constitutional
monarchy. The planned monarchy failed; a republic was proclaimed in December 1822
and established in 1824.
the rest of the 19th century, Mexico’s government and economy were shaped by contentious
debates among liberals and conservatives, republicans and monarchists, federalists
and those who favored centralized government. During the two presidential terms
of Benito Juarez (1858-71), Mexico experimented with modern democratic and economic
reforms. President Juarez’ terms, and Mexico’s early experience with democracy
were interrupted by the Habsburg monarchy’s rule of Mexico (1864-67), and by the
authoritarian government of Gen. Porfirio Diaz, who was president during most
of the period between 1877 and 1911.
severe social and economic problems erupted in a revolution that lasted from 1910-20
and gave rise to the 1917 constitution. Prominent leaders in this period--some
of whom were rivals for power--were Francisco I. Madero, Venustiano Carranza,
Pancho Villa, Alvaro Obregon, Victoriano Huerta, and Emiliano Zapata. The Institutional
Revolutionary Party (PRI), formed in 1929 under a different name, emerged as a
coalition of interests after the chaos of the revolution as a vehicle for keeping
political competition in peaceful channels. For 71 years, Mexico’s national government
was controlled by the PRI, which won every presidential race and most gubernatorial
races until the July 2000 presidential election of Vicente Fox Quesada of the
National Action Party (PAN).
1917 constitution provides for a federal republic with powers separated into independent
executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Historically, the executive is
the dominant branch, with power vested in the president, who promulgates and executes
the laws of the Congress. The Congress has played an increasingly important role
since 1997 when opposition parties first made major gains. The president also
legislates by executive decree in certain economic and financial fields, using
powers delegated from the Congress. The president is elected by universal adult
suffrage for a 6-year term and may not hold office a second time. There is no
vice president; in the event of the removal or death of the president, a provisional
president is elected by the Congress.
Congress is composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. Consecutive re-election
is prohibited. Senators are elected to 6-year terms, and deputies serve 3-year
terms. The Senate’s 128 seats are filled by a mixture of direct-election and proportional
representation. In the lower chamber, 300 deputies are directly elected to represent
single-member districts, and 200 are selected by a modified form of proportional
representation from five electoral regions. The 200 proportional representation
seats were created to help smaller parties gain access to the Chamber.
judiciary is divided into federal and state court systems, with federal courts
having jurisdiction over most civil cases and those involving major felonies.
Under the constitution, trial and sentencing must be completed within 12 months
of arrest for crimes that would carry at least a 2-year sentence. In practice,
the judicial system often does not meet this requirement. Trial is by judge, not
jury, in most criminal cases. Defendants have a right to counsel, and public defenders
are available. Other rights include defense against self-incrimination, the right
to confront one’s accusers, and the right to a public trial. Supreme Court justices
are appointed by the president and approved by the Senate.
President--Vicente FOX Quesada
Ernesto DERBEZ Bautista
Ambassador to the U.S.--Carlos DE ICAZA
to the United Nations--Enrique BERRUGA Filloy
Ambassador to the OAS--Jorge
Mexico maintains an embassy in the United States
at 1911 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20006 (tel. 202-728-1600). Consular
offices are located at 2827 - 16th St. NW, 20009 (tel. 202-736-1012),
and the trade office is co-located at the embassy (tel. 202-728-1686).
its embassy, Mexico maintains 48 diplomatic offices in the U.S. Consulates general
are located in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami,
New Orleans, New York, San Antonio, San Diego, and San Francisco; consulates are
(partial listing) in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis,
July 2, 2000, Vicente Fox Quesada of the opposition "Alliance for Change" coalition,
headed by the National Action Party (PAN), was elected president, in what are
considered to have been the freest and fairest elections in Mexico’s history.
Fox began his 6-year term on December 1, 2000. His victory ended the Institutional
Revolutionary Party’s (PRI) 71-year hold on the presidency.
introduction of proportional representation has made the bicameral Mexican Congress
a more pluralized institution. Currently, no party holds an absolute majority
in either house. As competition among Mexico’s three major parties in Congress
increases, the legislative branch is playing an increasingly important role in
Mexico’s democratic transformation.
Mexico’s armed forces number about 225,000. The army makes
up about three-fourths of that total. The navy is a completely autonomous cabinet
agency and as such there is no joint chief of staff position. Principal military
roles include national defense, narcotics control, and civic action assignments
such as search and rescue and disaster relief. Mexican military and naval forces
provided disaster assistance to the U.S. in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,
which struck Louisiana and Mississippi in August 2005.
U.S. relations with Mexico are as important and complex as with
any country in the world. A stable, democratic, and economically prosperous Mexico
is fundamental to U.S. interests. U.S. relations with Mexico have a direct impact
on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans--whether the issue is trade
and economic reform, homeland security, drug control, migration, or the promotion
of democracy. The U.S. and Mexico are partners in NAFTA, and enjoy a rapidly developing
trade relationship. In March 2005 Mexico formed the Security and Prosperity Partnership
(SPP) with the U.S. and Canada. The SPP contemplates trilateral and bilateral
initiatives to develop new avenues of cooperation that will enhance security,
competition, and economic resilience.
scope of U.S.-Mexican relations goes far beyond diplomatic and official contacts;
it entails extensive commercial, cultural, and educational ties, as demonstrated
by the annual figure of nearly a million legal border crossings a day. In addition,
more than a half-million American citizens live in Mexico. More than 2,600 U.S.
companies have operations there, and the U.S. accounts for 55% of all foreign
direct investment in Mexico. Along the 2,000-mile shared border, state and local
governments interact closely.
There is frequent
contact at the highest levels. The Presidents’ meetings have included the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation Summit in Bangkok in October 2003; President Bush’s visits
to Monterrey in January 2004 (Summit of the Americas) and March 2002; his April
2001 visit to Guanajuato; President Fox’s state visit to the U.S. in September
2001, and his meeting with the President at Crawford, Texas in March 2004. The
two Presidents met again in Crawford in March 2005, along with Canadian Prime
Minister Martin, to launch the Security and Prosperity Partnership for North America,
a trilateral initiative to encourage even greater commercial activity while enhancing
security for the region.
Since 1981, the
management of the broad array of U.S.-Mexico issues has been formalized in the
U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission, composed of numerous U.S. cabinet members and
their Mexican counterparts. The commission holds annual plenary meetings, and
many subgroups meet during the course of the year to discuss border security and
counter terrorism, trade and investment opportunities, financial cooperation,
consular issues and migration, legal affairs and anti-narcotics cooperation, education,
energy, border affairs, environment and natural resources, labor, agriculture,
health, housing and urban development, transportation, and science and technology.
A strong partnership with Mexico is critical
to combating terrorism and controlling the flow of illicit drugs into the United
States. In recent years, cooperation on counter-narcotics and Mexico’s own initiatives
in fighting drug trafficking have been unprecedented. The U.S. will continue working
with Mexico to help ensure that Mexico’s cooperation and anti-drug efforts grow
even stronger. The U.S. and Mexico continue to cooperate on narcotics interdiction,
demand reduction, and eradication.
and Environmental Affairs
Cooperation between the United States and Mexico
along the 2,000-mile common border includes state and local problem-solving mechanisms;
transportation planning; and institutions to address resource, environment, and
health issues. In 1993, the Border Liaison Mechanism (BLM) was established. Chaired
by U.S. and Mexican consuls, the BLMs operate in "sister city" pairs and have
proven to be effective means of dealing with a variety of local issues ranging
from accidental violation of sovereignty by law enforcement officials and charges
of mistreatment of foreign nationals to coordination of port security and cooperation
in public health matters such as tuberculosis.
the number of people and the volume of cargo crossing the U.S.-Mexico border grow,
so, too, does the need for coordinated infrastructure development. The multi-agency
U.S.-Mexico Binational Group on Bridges and Border Crossings meets twice yearly
to improve the efficiency of existing crossings and coordinate planning for new
ones. The 10 U.S. and Mexican border states have become active participants in
The United States and Mexico
have a history of cooperation on environmental and natural resource issues, particularly
in the border area, where there are serious environmental problems caused by rapid
population growth, urbanization, and industrialization. Cooperative activities
between the U.S. and Mexico take place under a number of agreements such as:
- An 1889 convention establishing the International
Boundary Commission, reconstituted by the Water Treaty of 1944 as the International
Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico (IBWC). The IBWC has settled
many difficult U.S.-Mexico boundary and water problems, including the regularization
of the Rio Grande near El Paso through the 1967 Chamizal settlement. The IBWC
divides the use of international waters, builds and operates water conservation
and flood control projects, and constructs and maintains boundary markers on the
land boundary and on international bridges. In recent years, the IBWC has worked
to resolve longstanding border sanitation problems, to monitor the quantity and
quality of border waters, and to address water delivery and sedimentation problems
of the Colorado River. Current issues include Mexico’s water debt to the U.S.
on the Rio Grande, ecology of the Colorado River Delta, shared wastewater treatment
facilities in San Diego/Tijuana, and the asserted impact on Mexican groundwater
sources which may be caused by the lining of the All-American Canal.
series of agreements on border health (since 1942), wildlife and migratory birds
(since 1936), national parks, forests, marine and atmospheric resources. In July
of 2000, the U.S. and Mexico signed an agreement to establish a binational Border
Health Commission. The Border Health Commission held its inaugural meeting in
- The 1983 La Paz Agreement
to protect and improve the border environment and Border XXI, a binational, interagency
planning program, begun in 1996, to address environmental, natural resource, and
environmental health concerns in the border area. The U.S. and Mexico have initiated
discussion to develop a new border environmental program that will build on the
progress of Border XXI while enhancing decentralization and stakeholders’ involvement.
- The 1993 North American Agreement on Environmental
Cooperation (NAAEC), creating the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation
under NAFTA by the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, to improve enforcement of environmental
laws and to address common environmental concerns.
November 1993 agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, also related to NAFTA, establishing
the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) which works with local communities
to develop and certify environmental infrastructure projects such as wastewater
treatment plants, drinking water systems, and solid waste disposal facilities.
The sister organization, the North American Development Bank (NADBank), uses capital
and grant funds contributed by partner governments to help finance border environmental
infrastructure projects certified by the BECC. The U.S. and Mexico are in the
process of combining the Board of Directors from both the BECC and the NADBank
into a single institution. The resulting single board will streamline the project
certification cycle and provide an increase in environmental infrastructure.
U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Antonio O. Garza,
Deputy Chief of Mission--Stephen R. Kelly
Minister Counselor for
Political Affairs--Leslie Bassett
Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs--James
Minister Counselor for Public Diplomacy--James Dickmeyer
for Consular Affairs--David Donahue
Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs--Karen
Minister Counselor for Management Affairs--James E. Robertson
Counselor for Agricultural Affairs--Suzanne Heinen
Consul General--Ronald Kramer
for Labor Affairs--vacant
Counselor for Scientific and Technological Affairs--David
Embassy in Mexico is located at Paseo de la Reforma 305, 06500 Mexico, DF.
U.S. mailing address: Box 3087, Laredo, Texas 78044-3087; tel. (from the U.S.):
(011) (52) 555-080-2000; Internet: http://mexico.usembassy.gov/
The embassy and the 22 U.S. Consulates
General, Consulates, and consular agents provide a range of services to American
students, tourists, business people, and residents throughout Mexico.
Consulates General, Consulates, and Officials
Consulate General, Ciudad
Address: Avenida Lopez Mateos 924-N, 32000 Ciudad Juarez,
U.S. Postal Address: Box 10545, El Paso, Texas 79995-0545
(from the U.S.): (011)(52) 656-611-3000
General, Guadalajara--Sandra Salmon
Address: Progreso 175, 44100, Guadalajara,
U.S. Postal Address: Box 9001, Brownsville, Texas 78520-0901
Address: Avenida Constitution 411 Poniente, 64000 Monterrey,
U.S. Postal Address: Box 9002, Brownsville, Texas 78520-0902
Address: Tapachula 96, 22420 Tijuana, Baja California
U.S. Postal Address: P.O. Box 439039, San Diego, California 92143-9039
Address: Calle Monterrey 141 Pte., 83260, Hermosillo, Sonora
Postal Address: Box 1689, Nogales, Arizona 85628
Tel.: (011)(52) 662-2893500
Consulate, Matamoros--John Naland
Ave. Primera 2002, 87330, Matamoros, Tamaulipas
U.S. Postal Address: Box 633,
Brownsville, Texas 78522-0633
Tel.: (011)(52) 868-812-4402
Address: Paseo Montejo 453, 97000, Merida, Yucatan
Postal Address: Box 9003, Brownsville, Texas 78520-0903
Tel.: (011)(52) 999-925-5011
Consulate, Nogales--Cynthia Sharpe
Calle San Jose s/n, 84065, Nogales, Sonora
U.S. Postal Address: P.O. Box 1729,
Nogales, AZ 85628-1729
Tel.: (011)(52) 631-313-4820
Nuevo Laredo--Michael Yoder
Address: Calle Allende 3330, Col. Jardin, 88260
Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas
U.S. Postal Address: Box 3089, Laredo, Texas 78044-3089
Address: Hotel Acapulco Continental, Costera
M. Aleman 121-Local 14,
39670 Acapulco, Guerrero
Tel. (from the U.S.):
Cabo San Lucas--Michael
Address: Blvd. Marina, Local C-4, Plaza Nautica, Zona Centro,
23410 Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur
Tel.: (011)(52) 624-143-3566
Address: Plaza Caracol
2, #320-323, Blvd. Kukulkan, Km. 8.5 Zona Hotelera,
77500 Cancun, Quintana
Tel.: (011)(52) 998-883-0272
Morelos y Ocampo #305, Col. Centro
26200 Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila
Tel. (011)(52) 877-772-8661
Address: Plaza Villa Mar en El Centro, Plaza Principal, Parque Juarez
Melgar y 5a Av.), Piso 2, 77622 Cozumel, Quintana Roo
Tel.: (011)(52) 987-872-4574
Hotel Fontan, Blvd. Ixtapa, Ixtapa, Zihuantanejo, Gro. 40880, Mexico
Address: Paseo de los Hujes 236, Col. El Hujal,
40880 Zihuatanejo, Guerrero
Hotel Playa Mazatlan, Rodolfo T. Loaiza 202, Zona Dorada,
Tel.: (011)(52) 669-916-5889
Address: Macedonia Alcala 407, Int. 20,
68000 Oaxaca, Oaxaca
Address: Prol. General Cepeda No. 1900, Franccionamiento Privada Blanca,
Piedras Negras, Coahiula, C.P. 26700
Address: Zaragoza 160, Edificio Vallarta Plaza, Piso
2, Int. 18,
48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Tel.: (011)(52) 322-222-0069
Calle Monterrey #390
esq. Sinaloa, Col. Rodriguez
88630 Reynosa, Tamaulipas
San Luis Potosi--Carolyn Lazaro
Edificio "Las Terrazas," Av. Venustiano Carranza 2076-41, Col. Polanco,
San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi
Tel.: (011)(52) 444-811-7802
Miguel de Allende--Philip Maher
Address: Dr. Hernandez Macias 72
Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Tel.: (011)(52) 415-152-2357
American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico
78-4 06600 Mexico
Tel: (011)(52) 555-724-3800
offices also in Guadalajara and Monterrey)
Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Office of Latin
America and the Caribbean
14th and Constitution, NW
Tel: 202-482-0305; 202-USA-TRADE
Further Electronic Information
of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://www.state.gov/, the Department
of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information, including Background Notes and
daily press briefings
along with the directory of key officers
of Foreign Service posts and more.
provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered
by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help
with the export process, and more.
a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic,
business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The
site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market
research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the
National Trade Data Bank.