General Information


Area: 1,953,162 sq km (754,120 sq miles).

Population: 100,349,766 (2000).

Population Density: 51.4 per sq km.

Capital: Mexico City. Population: 9,815,785 (2000).

Geography: Mexico is at the southern extremity of North America and is bounded to the north by the USA, northwest by the Gulf of California, west by the Pacific, south by Guatemala and Belize, and east by the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Mexico's geographical features range from swamp to desert, and from tropical lowland jungle to high alpine vegetation. Over half the country has an altitude above 1000m (3300ft). The central land mass is a plateau flanked by ranges of mountains to the east and west that lie roughly parallel to the coast. The northern area of this plateau is arid and thinly populated, and occupies 40 per cent of the total area of Mexico. The southern area is crossed by a range of volcanic mountains running from Cape Corrientes in the west through the Valley of Mexico to Veracruz in the east, and includes the magnificent volcanoes of Orizaba, Popocatépetl, Ixtaccíhuatl, Nevado de Toluca, Matlalcueyetl and Cofre de Perote. This is the heart of Mexico and where almost half of the population lives. To the south, the land falls away to the sparsely populated Isthmus of Tehuantepec whose slopes and flatlands support both commercial and subsistence agriculture. In the east the Gulf Coast and the Yucatán peninsula are flat and receive over 75 per cent of Mexico's rain. The most productive agricultural region in Mexico is the northwest, while the Gulf Coast produces most of Mexico's oil and sulphur. Along the northwest coast, opposite the peninsula of Baja California, and to the southeast along the coast of Bahía de Campeche and the Yucatán peninsula, the lowlands are swampy with coastal lagoons.

Government: Republic since 1917. Gained independence from Spain in 1821. Head of State and Government: President Vicente Fox Quesada since 2000.

Language: Spanish is the official language. English is widely spoken.

Religion: 90 per cent Roman Catholic.

Time: Mexico spans three different time zones:
South, Central and Eastern Mexico: GMT - 6 (Central Standard Time). (GMT - 5 from first Sunday in April to Saturday before last Sunday in October.)
Nayarit, Sonora, Sinaloa and Baja California Sur: GMT - 7 (Mountain Time). (GMT - 6 from first Sunday in April to Saturday before last Sunday in October.)
Baja California Norte (Pacific Time): GMT - 8 (GMT - 7 from first Sunday in April to Saturday before last Sunday in October).

Electricity: 110 volts AC, 60Hz. US 2-pin (flat) plugs are usual.


Telephone: IDD is available. Country code: 52. Outgoing international code: 00. Long-distance calls are very expensive.

Mobile telephone: AMPS network is operated by IUSACELL. No GSM network exists at present. Handsets can be hired.

Fax: Major hotels have facilities.

Internet/E-mail: ISPs include DSICom Internet (website: and Internet Mexico (website: Cybercafés exist in all regions, particularly the main tourist areas.

Telegram: Services are operated by Telegrafos Nacionales and international telegrams should be handed in to their offices. The main office is situated in Balderas y Colón, México 1DF.

Post: Airmail to Europe takes about six days. Surface mail is slow. Within the capital there is an immediate delivery (Entrega Inmediata) service, which usually takes two or three days.

Press: The major daily newspapers published in Spanish are Excélsior, El Universal, La Prensa and El Día. The English-language papers available are New York Times, The News, Mexico City Times, and USA Today.

BBC World Service and Voice of America frequencies: From time to time these change.

BBC (website:

MHz 17.84 15.22 6.195 5.975

Voice of America (website:

MHz 9.455 6.130 5.995 1.530