The 13th-largest country in the world, Mexico, is a federal republic in North America. Mexico has a population of nearly 130 million, making it the 10th most populous country. The country is comprised of 31 states and the country’s capital — Mexico City.
Mexico shares its border with three other countries — the United States, Guatemala, and Belize.
People have lived in the region where Mexico is today for thousands of years. The oldest human presence has been identified back to 8,000 B.C.E., but some evidence supports that human settlement occurred much earlier. These new discoveries challenge the formerly accepted consensus that the Clovis people were the first to reach the Americas around 11,500 years ago.
In 2020, archaeologists uncovered thousands of stone tools inside the Chiquihuite Cave in central Mexico. Studying and dating the tools suggested that the cave was used for at least 20,000 years. This new discovery changed the way that a lot of scientists thought about early human settlement. The formerly accepted “Clovis theory” — which suggested that early inhabitants first made their way to the Americas across the Beringia land bridge — could be challenged by this new information. After this discovery, along with a few others in Texas, Chile, and New Mexico, researchers had to reconsider the idea of humans being in the Americas long before the last ice age.
Regardless of how long ago the very first humans came to the Mesoamerican region of Mexico, we know for a fact that the area was one of the first cradles of civilization. It was home to the Olmecs, who lived in the area where Veracruz is today. The Maya civilization started in Mexico, in the southeastern part of the country. The Zapotec, Purepecha, and Teotihuacan civilizations also made their home in the Mesoamerican region.
By the time European explorers had arrived in Mexico, the country was dominated by the Aztec empire. In 1521, Spain began conquering Mexico from the capital city, formerly known as Tenochtitlan. They called the area New Spain and worked to expand the territory, and spread Christianity and the Spanish language. By the early 1800s, Mexico was working to gain independence from Spain. They fought the Mexican War of Independence and won, signing the Treaty of Córdoba and establishing independence from Spain.
Today, Mexico has one of the largest economies, the 12th-largest by nominal GDP and by PPP. It’s been identified as an emerging power because of its economic rise, large population, and cultural influence. One thing that holds Mexico back from growing is the social and political struggles. Mexico is ranked 136th on the Global Peace Index out of 163 countries. That’s mainly due to the drug trafficking issues in the country that have led to over 120,000 deaths since 2006.
The United States
The largest border that Mexico shares is with the United States. The Mexico-United States border is 1,954 miles long, cutting through both land and water territory. While the majority of the border lies along the Rio Grande River, some of the border also runs across the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts as well. The U.S. states that border Mexico include Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, with the largest being Texas. The Mexican states that border the U.S. include Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, and Baja California, with the largest being Chihuahua. It is the most frequently crossed international border in the world with 48 border crossings and 330 ports of entry. In fact, there are an average of 350 million crossings that are recorded annually. The border wait times vary but usually average around an hour.
The Guatemala Border
The Guatemala-Mexico border is 541 miles long, touching Chiapas, Tabasco, and Campeche in Mexico. It is the major border between North and Central America. It consists of 10 border crossing sites which are very loosely monitored and controlled. Both of Mexico’s Central American borders — with Guatemala and Belize — are significantly less monitored and patrolled than the Mexico-United States border.
The Belize Border
The Belize-Mexico border is the smallest international border along Mexico at just 156 miles long. It runs along the southeast part of the country, along the Hondo River and Blue Creek. The border has two crossings which are international bridges. It’s not used nearly as often as the Mexico-United States border, but it’s a much easier process to get across the Belize-Mexico border. This border gained notoriety for being the site of frequent drug trafficking.