Mexico Mexico
¤ Introduction ¤ Why Mexico?
¤ Recreation ¤ Geography
¤ General Information
¤ Request for Proposal

Areas of Mexico
¤ Mexico City ¤ Beyond Mexico City
¤ Baja Region ¤ Northern Mexico
¤ Central Highlands ¤ Central Gulf Coast
¤ Southern Mexico ¤ Yucatán Peninsula
¤ Beach Resorts Pacific Coast
¤ Beach Resorts Caribbean Coast

Introduction

Mexico is a vibrant and exciting country, providing an experience that includes a multitude of cultures, cuisine, environments, handicrafts, art and history. This diversity originates mainly from its topography, which covers 1,953,162 sq. km (754,120 sq. miles). To explore all of Mexico one would have to travel across vast deserts, journey up or around snow-capped volcanoes, hike through ancient ruins, wade along tropical jungle-fringed beaches, and walk the streets of various communities ranging from timeless villages to chic resorts and modern cities.

Mexico Map

Modern roads, airplanes, television and radio have helped to unite the divergent areas of the country, solidifying the concept of Mexico as one nation.

To be Mexican holds many meanings for the country's diverse population. Along with Mestizos (people of mixed European and Indian ancestry) and the few people who claim direct Spanish descent, there are over 50 indigenous peoples, who are descended from Mexico's pre-Hispanic inhabitants. These cultures have retained their own languages and distinct ancient traditions, despite the modernization of Mexico.

World Incentive Nexus recommends three different companies in Mexico to handle all details and coordination of programs for groups of 15 to 3,000 guests; from assistance in booking luxury 5-star or Gran Turismo hotel accommodations, and planning unique, customized programs for the most discriminating clients to identifying ecological and adventure programs for more energetic groups. Contact details may be found below.

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Why take an incentive group to Mexico?

The diversity of its 11 distinct regions, with their own histories, cultures, art, and topography, makes Mexico a treasure-trove of marvels waiting to be experienced. Rich remnants of ancient civilizations merge with modern Mexico. Temples and cathedrals contrast with futuristic buildings, motorways, and luxurious beach resorts. Whether your group craves the excitement of a wilderness adventure or the pampering of a 5-star resort, it can be accomplished in Mexico. For those who enjoy art and architecture, Mexico provides many fine examples. Throughout Mexico, visitors can wander through galleries catering to all tastes, from historic and contemporary art to indigenous folk art. Neo-Classical and Grand Baroque buildings share space with ancient temples and neo-Colonial modern buildings. The ancient civilizations of Mexico produced some of the most spectacular architecture in the world. Acapulco Fireworks

The ease of traveling to Mexico from various worldwide cities also makes Mexico an attractive destination. The reasonable prices are often a pleasant surprise for groups that have not yet been to Mexico.

GSA International Incentives is a highly qualified Destination Management Company, specializing in Meetings, Incentives and Conventions in all regions of Mexico. They have the ability to arrange all hotel accommodations, group arrivals, transfers, registration, excursions, and special programs. Their key staff are native born Mexicans, completely bi-lingual in Spanish and English, with headquarters based in the United States near Miami, allowing for smooth program development and easy access to all regions of Mexico.

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Geography

Mexico is at the southern extremity of North America, bounded to the north by the USA, northwest by the Gulf of California, west by the Pacific Ocean, south by Guatemala and Belize, and east by the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

Over half of 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 are roughly parallel to the coast. The northern area of this plateau (40% of Mexico) is arid and thinly populated. A range of volcanic mountains crosses the southern area. This is the heart of Mexico and almost half of the population lives in this area. To the south the land falls away to the sparsely populated Isthmus of Tehuantepec. In the east, the Gulf Coast and the Yucatán Peninsula are flat and receive over 75% of Mexico's rain. 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, are swampy lowlands with coastal lagoons.

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History & Culture

Mayan Owl Dance

The first people may have arrived in Mexico 20,000 years before Columbus. Their descendants built a succession of highly developed civilizations during the period 1200 BC to 1500 AD. The Maya and Aztec are the best known cultures. Other civilizations include the Olmecs of the Gulf Coast, the Zapotecs of Oaxaca, and the warlike Toltecs of Mula. The largest empire of ancient Mexico was in and around the imperial city of Teotihuacán. Historians divide Mexico's history into four pre-Hispanic periods. These cultures and periods in the history of Mexico provided the country with a fascinating procession of people and cultures, many of which still flourish in Mexico. The following are the many areas to consider visiting in order to fully experience Mexico's history and culture.

Mexico City

A Brief History of Mexico City

Archeologists have found remnants of people who lived in the area now known as Mexico City as early as 10,000 BC. Many indigenous peoples populated this site, from the Toltecs, to the Tula empire, and finally the Aztecs.

Mexico City, originally known as Tenochtitlan, was founded in the 14th century by the seventh of the Aztec Nahuatl tribes to have left the legendary island of Aztlán. Legend says that the site was chosen because the wandering Aztecs saw an eagle, perched on a cactus, eating a snake. They took this to be a sign to cease their wandering and build a city.

Tenochtitlan, built on a series of islands nestled among five lakes, would grow into a sophisticated city-state whose empire stretched across most of central Mexico. (Today, the central island site is the area around the Zócalo, downtown.) Tenochtitlan become the jewel of Mesoamerica and amazed the Spaniards, who marveled at its grandeur. Spanish adventurers found a city linked by a maze of canals, with thousands of canoes ferrying diverse merchandise, while opulent palaces and imposing temples rose overhead.

After the Spanish Conquest destroyed Tenochtitlan, Mexico City was built on its ruins, using the very stones and foundations of the older city. This 16th century city was characterized by crude fortifications and severe flooding, a result of filling in the existing canals for use as roads. After a catastrophic flood in 1629 (which left the city underwater for five years), Mexico City was rebuilt in the European Grand Baroque style. The capital blossomed throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Builders began using tezontle, a reddish volcanic rock, adorning it with grayish-silver stones. Wrought iron balconies, patios bordered by columns and ornate churches with highly-detailed stone reliefs and opulent gold-leaf altars led traveler Phillip Latrobe the name it "The City of Palaces." Mexico City Historic Building


The neo-Classical style came into vogue in the late 18th century, leaving a legacy of grand buildings whose style would be emulated well into the next century. The Mexican Revolution early in the 20th century left its architectural legacy in neo-Colonial buildings, although one can also find beautiful examples of Art Deco.

 


Mexico City Historic Building

Mexico City has nurtured and preserved its architectural riches, confirming the legend in the Mexicáyotl Chronicles: "As long as the world exists, neither the fame nor the glory of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) will ever end."



 

Mexico City in the 21st Century

The capital of Mexico is Mexico City, which is spread across more than 2000sq km of a single highland valley. This is a city of contrasts; a seething, cosmopolitan city with music, glamour and excitement but also a metropolis of poverty and overcrowding. Mexico City is a magnet for both visitors and Mexicans alike, boasting nearly a quarter of the country's population, and is known for its colonial palaces, world-renowned cultural treasures, quiet, peaceful plazas, green parks, and unfortunately, its pollution and slums as well. Despite its problems, the city is sensuous and well worth visiting. Not to be missed in Mexico City are:

  • Museo Nacional de Antropologia: a treasure house of Mexican archeological marvels. This is located in a large woodland park, Chapultepec Park, in the midst of the City. The Museo Nacional de Historia is also located in Chapultepec Park.


  • The old suburbs of Coyoacán and San Ángel are full of colonial atmosphere and memories of the famous artists, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. On weekends there are vibrant markets.


  • The Zócalo is one of the world's largest plazas (Russia's Red Square is the only one larger). The first palace on this spot was built by Aztec emperor Moctezuma II in the early 16th century and was destroyed by Cortes in 1521 so that he could have a larger courtyard for bullfights. The second palace lasted until 1692 when it was destroyed during riots. The most recent palace was used as the vice regal residence until Mexican independence in the 1820s. Today, visitors can enjoy the colorful Diego Rivera murals in the courtyard area which depict the history of Mexico from the arrival of the Aztec plumed serpent to the 1910 revolution.


  • The floating gardens of Xochimilco is an amazing piece of Aztec engineering. Take a gondola ride along ancient canals, listen to Mariachi bands and visit the Museo Dolores Olmedo Patiño with its superb Diego Rivera collection.


  • Plaza de las Tres Culturas celebrates the three major cultures that shaped Mexico. There are Aztec ruins, a 17th century colonial church of the Baroque style and several fine 20th century buildings.


Beyond Mexico City

Day excursions from Mexico City are a must, as some of the best sightseeing can be experienced close to this hub city of Mexico. Some of the more important locations include:

  • The largest ancient Mayan city of Teotihuacán (site of two enormous pyramids dedicated to the Sun and Moon).


  • The quaint town of Tepoztlán has a lovely central plaza and ornate churches replete with dazzling mirrored altars.


  • The hilltop ruins of Cacaxtla to view the vividly colored frescos of warriors in battle.


  • Mayan in Ceremonial Dress
  • Cuetzalán, known for its Sunday market that attracts scores of Indians in traditional dress.


  • Cholula is a pre-Hispanic religious center with more than 400 shrines and temples. The largest pyramid in Mexico, the Pyramid of Tepanapa, is found in the Cholula area.


  • Valle de Bravo is a resort town set amid pines, on a large lake, at an elevation of 1869m. It is called the Switzerland of Mexico.


  • Ixtapan de la Sal is a picturesque village with excellent hot springs and spa facilities.


  • Other sights beyond a day trip include the colonial cities of Puebla and Taxco (an old silver mining town and the silver capital of Mexico).


Baja California

Ventanas

This area is a peninsula 1100km (700 miles) long that extends from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas. The enclosed gulf is rich in marine life and offers excellent opportunities for experienced divers and anglers. Areas of interest in Baja California are:

  • Tijuana, the world's most-visited border town offers many cultural activities.


  • Reserva de la Biosfera El Vizcaíno which includes major gray whale breeding sites and pre-Hispanic rock art in the dissected plateau of the Sierra de San Francisco.


  • Loreto, the first capital of the Californias, is notable for two restored missions. It is also a great area for water and mountain recreational activities.


  • La Paz is the capital of Baja California Sur and is on a bay on the Gulf of California. Tourists visit the area for its water sports and deep-sea fishing.


  • Los Cabos, The Arches

  • Cabo San Lucas has beautiful beaches and many biological wonders.




Northern Mexico

This region includes the great Desierto Sonorense (Sonora Desert), and the Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon). The eastern part of this large area has a geography unlike any other area in Mexico. Its deserts are impressive for their stark, rugged beauty and sheer expanse. Areas worth visiting are:

  • Alamos, a town with protected Spanish colonial architecture.


  • Excursions into the Sierra Madre and the Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon) railroad trip.


  • Chihuahua has a Mexican Revolution Museum, which is housed in Pancho Villa's headquarters. There are many edifices dating from the colonial area.


  • In Canutillo, Pancho Villa's hacienda sits in a dusty Western setting that evokes images of the days long gone.


  • Monterrey stands beneath the highest peaks of the Sierra Madre Oriental in a setting of great beauty. It is the third largest city in Mexico. It is a fascinating mixture of old and new, industry and style, tradition and efficiency.


Central Highlands

This area enjoys a milder climate and is the most populous region of Mexico. Many of the colonial cities include a unique blend of indigenous and Spanish culture. The main attractions of this region are the architecture, the views and excellent local cooking. Areas to visit within the Central Highlands are:

Woman with Pottery

  • Guadalajara is often called the country's most Mexican city and is the second largest city in Mexico. The current location is the fourth site for the city of Guadalajara after the first three settlement attempts failed. The Guadalajara of today was founded in 1542. Many unique Mexican traditions began here, including mariachi music, tequila, the broad-rimmed sombrero hat, charreadas (rodeos), and the Mexican Hat Dance. This city has fine museums, galleries, historic buildings, nightlife, culture and good restaurants. Shopping at the nearby town of Tlaquepaque is a paradise of unique bargains with pottery, leather, ceramics and other works from many local artisans.


  • Ajijic is a quaint, friendly little town with cobbled streets and brightly painted houses on the shore of Lago de Chapala.


  • The silver city of Guanajuato (silver was found in this area in 1559) is on the famous Independence Route, along which Mexico's struggle for independence can be traced. This city has grand mansions and colorful houses nestled against steep slopes and along crooked, cobbled alleyways.


  • The beautiful colonial town of San Miguel de Allende was the most northerly Spanish settlement in Central Mexico, having been established as a mission in the 1540s by Franciscan friar, Fray Juan de San Miguel. It is a city known for its vibrant fiestas and multitude of good restaurants.


  • The small historic town of Dolores Hidalgo is where the Mexican independence movement began in earnest in 1810 by parish priest Miguel Hidalgo. Today Hidalgo is Mexico's most revered hero. This is the city to visit for those interested in the history of Mexico.



Central Gulf Coast

This is an area with a fascinating pre-history although only one major archeological site remains in this area, El Tajìn, near Papantla. Mexico's ancestral culture started in this area with the Olmecs in 1200 BC. Areas in the Central Gulf Coast to visit include:

  • The town of Jalapa and its superb Museum of Anthropology, complete with seven huge Olmec heads of sculpted basalt and scores of other interesting artifacts.


  • Catemaco, a quiet town that gently slopes down to beautiful Lake Catemaco. It is known for its brujos (shamans) and their annual convention held on Cerro Mono Blanco (White Monkey Hill) on the first Friday in March.


  • Surrounded by jungle, the ruins of El Tajín, near Papantla, have been extensively reconstructed, although more than any other site in Mexico, it retains a mystical feel. The site was first occupied about 100 AD and the existing ruins date from 600-700 AD, its peak as a town and ceremonial center.


  • White Water Rafting


  • The tropical port of Veracruz is the most appealing of the coastal cities with a festive atmosphere and one of the country's most riotous carnavales. Veracruz was Mexico's main gateway to the outside world from the day Cortés landed until the advent of the airplane. There has been significant reconstruction of San Juan de ulua Fortress, which is an interesting location. The state of Veracruz is an area filled with great adventure possibilities, such as sea kayaking, white water rafting, rappelling, and hiking. Most of the adventure companies are very well organized with rigorous safety standards, modern radio equipment and friendly, experienced staff. There are also a few adventure resorts which are quite comfortable.


Southern Mexico

Toucan

This region includes the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Tabasco. The highlights of southern Mexico include:


 

  • The city of Oaxaca was first a Aztec settlement. Later the Spanish laid out a new town in 1529, with narrow streets and lovely colonial stone buildings. It is a place to ramble and enjoy the markets, handicrafts, cafés and local festivities.


  • Monte Albán was a sacred city in prehistoric times and the religious center of the Zapotec culture, which flourished 2000 years ago. It is possible to visit the ruins of the ancient Zapotec capital on a superb hillside site.


  • Tuxtla Gutiérrez is the capital of Chiapas and the home of Mexico's marimba music. It is a good base from which to explore the nearby villages where life has changed little since pre-Hispanic times. A short drive away is the impressive Sumidero Canyon.


  • Hierve El Agua, where mineral springs run into icy-cold bathing pools cut from rock atop a cliff. From the cliff, visitors can view expansive panoramas of the mountainous countryside. The surrounding cliffs are encrusted with petrified minerals, which give the appearance of huge frozen waterfalls and provides one of the most unusual bathing experiences.


  • Palenque, a small, yet important archeological site, is one of the most aesthetically appealing sites of the Mayan world.


  • Bonampak is famous for the finest Mayan murals ever discovered. Bonampak was hidden from the outside world by dense jungle until 1946. The ruins are situated around a rectangular plaza and the buildings house murals depicting ancient Mayan ceremonies.



Yucatán Peninsula

This entire section of Mexico is the realm of the Maya. When crossing the Rio Usumacinta into the Yucatán Peninsula the appearance of the countryside changes, as do the houses and the people. Here are inheritors of a glorious and often violent history. The Maya live today where their ancestors lived a millennium ago. The highlights of the Mayans include:

  • Mérida is the capital of the state of Yucatán, and is a charming city of narrow streets, colonial buildings and shady parks. It is the center of Mayan culture in Yucatán.


  • Chichén Itzá is the most famous and best restored of the Yucatán Peninsula's Mayan sites. Found here is El Castillo, or Kukulkán's Pyramid, a masterpiece of Toltec-Mayan architecture. Within are the "Red Tiger with Jade Eyes," snaking columns of the Temple of the Warriors, and a ball court in perfect condition. El Castillo was devoted to the cult of Kukulkán, however experts who have studied its architecture have found another curiosity. Each of the four stairways has 91 steps, making a total of 364 steps. The upper platform constitutes one more step, making a total of 365 steps, the number of days in a solar year. Each side of the pyramid has 52 panels, which equals the years in a Toltec cycle. The nine terraces that form the four faces of the pyramid are divided by a flight of stairs resulting in 18 sections, corresponding to the 18 months of the Maya calendar.


  • Chichén Itzá The Mayans were amazing astronomers and mathematicians, and many experts believe that El Castillo was used for astronomical purposes and charted the sun's path. This theory is confirmed by a most striking effect that is created by the sun's rays during the vernal (March 20) and autumnal (September 21) equinoxes. At approximately 3:00 p.m., when the sun bathes the western balustrade of the pyramid's main stairway, seven isosceles triangles are formed, imitating the slithering body of a serpent creeping downward, finally joining the carved stone serpent's head at the bottom of the stairway. The illusion of the serpent's movement is caused by the shadows cast by the pyramid's terraces as the sun sets.
  • Tulum, the Toltec "City of the Dawn" is majestically situated on a palm-lined beach on the Caribbean. Originally a fortress, Tulum was abandoned almost 75 after the Spanish Conquest. Today, it is flooded with visitors from nearby Cancún, who marvel at El Castillo, Tulum's largest building, with a serpent motif echoing that of Chichén Itzá.
  • Tulum
  • Chetumal before the Spanish Conquest was a Mayan port for shipping. The town was finally settled in 1898 and was destroyed by Hurricane Janet in 1955. During the rebuilding a new town was created on a grand scale with wide boulevards. Chetumal is also the gateway to Belize, with many jungle areas for hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and other adventure sports. One can also find eco-resorts specializing in soft adventure programs. It is even possible to explore the nocturnal life of the crocodile from a kayak on a jungle lagoon and then to return to the shore and have your group treated to a lavish dinner with a chef, bartender, waiters, tables, chairs and elegant service in the middle of the jungle. This unique event can be created exclusively for your group.


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Mexico's Beach Resorts

Pacific Coast

Acapulco - Diver
  • Acapulco is probably the most famous resort in Mexico,with many beaches as well as numerous world-class hotels. There is also the old town of Acapulco, which has a long and illustrious history. When the Spanish arrived in 1512 they found Indians that had been living in the area for over 2000 years. Under Spanish rule, Acapulco became a major port. After Mexico's independence, trade ties with Spain were severed and the city declined as a port, remaining relatively isolated until a road to Mexico City was built in 1927.


  • Roqueta Island is visited regularly by glass-bottomed boats from which an underwater image of the Virgin of Guadalupe can be seen.


  • Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, to the north of Acapulco, is a new resort complex complete with fishing, scuba and golf.


  • Mazatlán is Mexico's principal Pacific Coast fishing port. It is also famous for its beaches. El Faro, at the south end of the city, is the second-highest lighthouse in the world and from the top there is a magnificent 360-degree view of the city and coast. In prehistoric times, Mazatlán was populated by Totorames and later settled by the Spanish.


  • Puerto Vallarta is the largest town in the immense Bahia de Banderos resort area. There are a hundred miles of coastline with sandy beaches and many facilities for water activities. The only way to visit Yelapa, a Polynesian-style village, is to journey in a dugout canoe from Puerto Vallarta.


  • Smaller resorts include San Blas, Barra de Navidad, Zihuatanejo, Puerto Escondido, and Puerto Ángel.


Caribbean Coast

Coral Beach
  • Cancún was built in the 1970s by the Mexican government as an investment in the tourism business. The new world-class resort was built on a desert sand spit offshore from the little fishing village of Puerto Juarez in the Yucatán Peninsula. Dozens of mammoth hotels march along the island's shore. The dazzling white sand of Cancún's beaches is light in weight and cool underfoot, even in the blazing sun, because it is composed of microscopic plankton fossils called disco-aster (a tiny star-shaped creature). The sand combined with the crystalline azure waters of the Caribbean makes the beaches pure delight.


  • Cozumel floats in the midst of the Caribbean's crystalline waters south of Cancún. It is the largest of Mexico's islands. It was made famous by Jacques Cousteau and is alluring for divers from all over the world. Unfortunately, its beaches are not suitable for swimming.


  • Casa de los Suenos
  • Isla Mujeres (Island of Women) has a reputation as a backpackers' Cancún, a place where one can escape the high energy, mega-resort for the laid-back life of a tropical isle. The chief attribute of this resort is its relaxed social life in a tropical setting with turquoise blue and bathtub-warm water. Even on this remote island there is a bed and breakfast which is known for luxury and pampering of guests, with its own private dock, swimming pool, kayaks, snorkeling gear and other amenities; quite rare for a nine-room resort.



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Recreation & Sports

  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Horseback Riding
  • Jai Alai
River Kayaking

 

 

 

  • Kayaking (lake, ocean, river)
  • Mountain Biking
  • Parasailing

 

 

 

 

Rappelling

 

  • Rappelling
  • Sailing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Snorkeling
  • Soccer
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Water Skiing
  • Water Surfing


Leisure

  • Animal Reserves
Jaguar
  • Art Galleries
  • Bird Watching
  • Duty Free Shopping
  • Feasts & Festivals (more than 120 of them)
  • Gambling
  • Museums (Fine Art, History, Archeological, Architecture)
  • Whale Watching

General Information

Accommodations

Mexico offers a wide range of hotels from the modern, elegant and expensive to the clean and modest. There are a number of chain hotels, "dude" ranches, thermal spas and resorts. A number of modest guesthouses are also available. Mexico operates a 5-star grading system similar to that in Europe with an additional Gran Turismo category. There are many hotels with spacious and luxurious swimming pools next to beautiful sandy beaches.

Climate

The tropic of Cancer cuts across Mexico north of Mazatlán and Tampico. South of the tropic it's hot and humid along the coastal plains on either side of the country. Inland at higher elevations, such as Guadalajara or Mexico City, the climate is more dry and temperate. Mountain peaks are often capped with snow.

The hot, wet season is May to October, with the hottest and wettest months falling between June and September for most of the country. Coastal areas are wetter and hotter than elevated inland ones. There is considerable local variation.

Communications

Telephone service, facsimile, telex, telegrams, radio and television are all readily available. Most major hotels also have internet connections in the business center or in guest rooms on concierge floors.

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Ecology & Environment

Mexico has an enormous range of natural environments as it bridges temperate and tropical regions and lies in the latitudes that contain most of the world's deserts. Its rugged mountainous topography creates numerous microclimates, which support one of the most diverse arrays of plant and animal species of any country on the planet. Yet many of Mexico's species are endangered. The human impact on Mexico's environment has been enormous, and the country has a litany of environmental problems. Fortunately, there are several new ecological resorts and progress is being made in several areas of the country.

Electricity

110 volts AC, 60Hz.

Food & Beverage

Mexican cuisine is delicious and varies from region to region. Each region has its own unique dishes. International cuisine is available at most hotels in the larger cities and at most restaurants. There is a wide variety of exotic fruit, such as papayas, mangoes, guavas, zapotes, pineapples, mameyes and prickly pears.

Both local and imported alcoholic beverages are available in Mexico. One of the local spirits is tequila made from maguey, a variety of cactus. Hidalgo, Domecq and Derrasola are good Mexican white wines. Excellent reds include Los Reyes and Calafia. Mexico is also a producer of excellent beer; both dark and light beers are worth sampling.

Government

Mexico is a federal republic of 31 states and one federal district (Mexico City). The states are further divided into 2394 municipios (municipalities). Mexico has an elected president and a two-chamber federal congress.

Mexico enjoys a strong position among developing nations. Today the economy is rebounding under a rejuvenated market-oriented system, with less government interference and an orientation toward less protectionism while boosting exports. These reforms have generated a renewal of foreign support and key investment in several important sectors.

Health and Safety

Please see Travel Advice Contacts below for more information.

Holidays

    Jan 1New Year's Day
    Feb 5 Constitution Day
    Mar 21 Birthday of Benito Juárez
    Early April Easter
    May 1 & 2 Labor Day
    May 5 Anniversary of Battle of Puebla
    Sep 15-16 Independence Day
    Oct 12 Discovery of America Day
    Nov 1 All Saints' Day
    Nov 2 All Souls' Day/Día de los Muertos
    Nov 20 Anniversary of the 1910 Mexican Revolution
    Dec 10 Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe
    Dec 25 Christmas

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Languages

Spanish is the official language, but English is widely spoken.

Money

The unit of currency is the Peso.

Nightlife

In the larger cities and resorts the range of entertainment is broad, with music clubs (jazz, salsa, mariachi, rock etc.), discos, bars and lounges. In the largest cities opera, classical music concerts, cinemas and theater (in Spanish) are available. Small towns are limited to a primitive cinema, a bar and perhaps some form of entertainment at the local hotel. The best entertainment in Mexico is the fiesta and folk dancing.

Passports & Visas

Visitors to Mexico should have a valid passport. Some nationalities have to obtain visas. Most Western nationalities require only an easily obtained Mexican government tourist card. Since the regulations sometimes change, check with a Mexican Government Tourism Office or Mexican embassy for visitor requirements.

Health and Safety

Please see Travel Advice Contacts below for more information.

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Special Events

  • February 2 - Día de la Candelaría, Candlemas On this day there are processions, bullfights, and dancing in many towns, which commemorate the presentation of Jesus in the temple 40 days after his birth.
  • Late February or early March - Carnaval
    This is a big celebration prior to the 40-day penance of Lent. In Mazatlán, Veracruz, and La Paz there are huge parades, music and dancing, fireworks and fun.
  • December 16-24 - Posadas Candlelit parades of children and adults reenacting the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.
  • Local Fiestas Ballet Folklorico

    Every city, town, barrio (neighborhood) and village has its own fiestas, often in honor of a patron saint. There are also festivals of arts, dance, music, handicrafts, and harvest celebrations.

 


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Time

South, Central and Eastern Mexico: GMT - 6
Nayarit, Sonora, Sinaloa, and Baja California Sur: GMT - 7
Baja California Norte: GMT - 8

Daylight Savings Time begins on the first Sunday in April and ends the last Saturday in October.

Tipping

Service charges are rarely added to hotel, restaurant or bar bills. Many of the staff depend on tips for their livelihood; 15% is expected and 20% if the service has been very good. Airport porterage is charged at the equivalent of US$1 per bag.

Topography

The topography of Mexico is varied: coastal plains, mountain ranges (with altitudes from about 100 meters to peaks as high as 5286 meters), broad plateaus, rolling hills, broad valleys, active volcanoes, deserts, marshy plains, tropical rainforest, jungles, and a tropical savanna.

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Travel into Mexico and within the country

Air Travel

From the USA and Canada there are numerous airlines with direct flights to at least one destination in Mexico. About 30 Mexican cities receive direct flights from North America with connections to many other locations in Mexico. Among the airlines with direct flights to Mexico from Europe are Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa. There are no direct flights from New Zealand or Australia; the best route is through the USA or Japan. There are also direct flights from Central and South America and the Caribbean to Mexico.

Within the country there is an excellent network of daily scheduled flights between principal commercial centers. Many of the smaller airports also have the capacity for large planes.

Land Travel

Mexico can be reached by road from the USA, Guatemala or Belize. Traffic drives on the right. Mexico's road network extends almost 252,000km (157,500 miles) of which somewhat less than half is paved.

Sea Travel

Regular passenger ships run from the USA, South America, and Australia. A few of the major ports in Mexico include Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán.

Rail

There are railway connections from many US and Canadian cities to points in Mexico. Internally, Mexico has a good railway network with trains linking all main towns in the country.

Travel Advice Contacts (Information on health issues, safety, visas, etc.)

These websites are provided as basic guidelines. Please refer to the State Department of your home country for more details and current information.

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