Mexico City

Mexico City (Ciudad de México)
Paseo de la Reforma, as seen from the Torre Mayor
Paseo de la Reforma, as seen from the Torre Mayor
Official seal of Mexico City
Nickname: "Ciudad de los Palacios"
Location of Mexico City in central Mexico
Country Mexico
Federal entity Federal District
Boroughs The 16 delegaciones
Founded (as Tenochtitlan) 1325
Head of Government Marcelo Ebrard (PRD)
 - City 1,479 1 km²
Elevation 2,240 m  (7,349 ft)
 - City (2005) 8,720,916
 - Density 5,741/km²
 - Metro 19,231,829
Time zone Central Time zone (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) Central Daylight Time (UTC-5)
1 Area of the Federal District that includes non-urban areas at the south.

Mexico City (Ciudad de México in Spanish) is the capital city of Mexico. It is the most important economic, industrial and cultural center in the country, and the most populous city with 8,720,916 inhabitants in 2005. The metropolitan area, extends beyond the limit of the Federal District and covers 40 municipalities of the State of Mexico and 1 municipality of the state of Hidalgo, according to the most recent definition agreed upon by the federal and state governments.[1] In 2005 the Metropolitan Area of Mexico City had a population of 19.2 million.[2]

Mexico City is also the Federal District (Distrito Federal in Spanish). The Federal District is coextensive with Mexico City: both are governed by a single institution and are constitutionally considered to be the same entity. This has not always been the case. The Federal District, created in 1824, was integrated by several municipalities, one of which was the municipality of Mexico City. As the city began to grow, it engulfed all other municipalities into one large urban area. In 1928 all municipalities within the Federal District were abolished, and action that left a vacuum in the legal status of Mexico City vis-à-vis the Federal District, even though for most practical purposes they were traditionally considered to be the same entity. In 1993, to end the sterile discussions about whether one concept had engulfed the other, or if any of the two entities had any existence in lieu of the other, the 44th Article of the Constitution of Mexico was reformed to clearly state that Mexico City is the Federal District, seat of the powers of the Union and capital of the United Mexican States.

Mexico City is located in the Valley of Mexico also called the Valley of Anáhuac, a large valley in the high plateaus at the center of Mexico, at an altitude of 2,240 meters (7,349 feet). It was originally built by the Aztecs in 1325 on an island of Lake Texcoco. The city was almost completely destroyed in the siege of 1521, and was redesigned and rebuilt in the following years following the Spanish urban standards. In 1524 the municipality of Mexico City was established, known as México Tenustitlan, and as of 1585 it is officially known as Ciudad de México.




Public statue commemorating the foundation of Tenochtitlan
Public statue commemorating the foundation of Tenochtitlan
Mexico City in 1628
Mexico City in 1628
Torre Latinoamericana, first Mexican skyscraper.
Torre Latinoamericana, first Mexican skyscraper.
Polanco neighborhood
Polanco neighborhood
For the Pre-Columbian detailed history of the city, see: Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco.

The original Aztec city was established in 1325 as Tenochtitlan, and immediately became the center of a growing Empire.[3] Located on a small island on the middle of Lake Texcoco, the layout of the city forced the Aztecs to build artificial islands (chinampas) and create a series of canals to allow the growth of the metropolis.[4][5] In fact, although the lake was salty, dams built by the Aztecs kept the city surrounded by clear water from the rivers that fed the lake. Two double aqueducts provided the city with fresh water; this was intended mainly for cleaning and washing.[6]

After centuries of pre-Columbian civilization, the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés first arrived in the area in 1519.[7] He did not succeed in conquering the city until August 13, 1521, after a 79-day siege that destroyed most of the old Aztec city.[8]

In 1525 the rebuilt city served as the capital of the viceroyalty of New Spain and the political and cultural center of Mexico.[9] The importance of the city was such that the Captaincy General of Guatemala, Cuba, Florida, and the Philippines were administered from it. This colonial period culminated with the construction of the baroque Metropolitan Cathedral and the Basilica of Guadalupe.[10]

The outbreak of the War of Independence in 1810, and the eventual independence of the country in 1821 were unable to hamper the influence of the city even though it shook internal politics.[11] The capital became host of the first ruler of the Mexican Empire, Agustin de Iturbide, and the year after he abdicated for the nation became a republic in March 1823.[12]

In 1824, the Mexican Federal District was established by the new government and by the signing of their new constitution, adapted off of the American one.[12] Before this designation, Mexico City had served as the seat of government for both the State of Mexico and the nation as a whole. Toluca became the capital of the state of Mexico.[13]

The war with the United States led to an invasion into Mexico City by U.S. General Winfield Scott on Sept. 14, 1847, and obligated Mexico to cede the States of California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and parts of Utah to the U.S. and recognize Texas as independent. The invasion culminated at the Castillo de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Palace) where young Mexican cadets (see Niños Héroes) fought helpless and outnumbered to keep the Americans from taking the symbolic castle. This event is remembered by a series of monolithic columns that bear their names at the base of the Castle. The short lived monarchy in 1864, led by Maximilian of Habsburg left its mark on the reconstruction of Chapultepec castle and other urban planning that was said to have been modeled after the Champs Elysee to help his wife Carlotta adjust to the city.

A three decade long dictatorship under Porfirio Diaz left a French influence upon Mexico City. The stunning, gold Angel of Independence was built under his administration to celebrate the first centenary of the beginning of the War of Independence. Other urban highlights built at the time were the Palacio de Bellas Artes and the expansion of Paseo de la Reforma a la Champs-Élysées. Mexico City suffered from the Decena Trágica in February 1913. The Decena Trágica was a battle between Francisco I. Madero's forces and Felix Diaz's. The result was a massacre of civilians and a destroyed city.

The post-revolutionary government of Mexico following the Mexican Revolution of 1910 reinforced the importance of the city which saw an important influx of immigrants during the rest of the 20th century. Most of the growth of Mexico City in population occurred in the late 20th century. In 1950, the city had about 3 million inhabitants. By 2000, the estimated population for the metropolitan area was around 18 million.

In 1968, the city hosted the Olympic Games, an event marred by the massacre of hundreds of students in what came to be known as the Tlatelolco Massacre. Another sporting event hosted by the city was the 1970 FIFA World Cup, the final match of which took place in the Estadio Azteca.

At 07:19 on September 19, 1985, the city was struck by an earthquake of magnitude 8.1 on the Richter scale which resulted in the deaths of between 5,000 (government estimate) to 20,000 people and rendered 50,000-90,000 people homeless. One hundred thousand housing units were destroyed, together with many government buildings. Up to USD $4 billion of damage was caused in three minutes. There was an additional magnitude 7.5 aftershock 36 hours later.[14] When Mexico City hosted the FIFA World Cup again in 1986, the event was seen as evidence of its rapid recovery.

During the 1990s, Mexico City continued to grow as an economic and cultural center of international importance. The construction of new skyscrapers such as Latin America's tallest building, the Torre Mayor (a literal translation of which is Greater Tower), and World Trade Center México (a remodelling of the Hotel de México, built in the 1970's) and the never ending influx of immigrants made such development possible.

Mexico City, as a municipality, had mayors (alcaldes, later known as presidentes municipales) until 1928 when the municipality (officially known as municipalidad de México) was abolished and its ayuntamiento (city hall corporation) disbanded. The municipality has never been recreated but starting in 1987 major constitutional changes allowed a greater autonomy of the Federal District. In 1997 the residents of the city were allowed for the first time to elect a Head of Government of the Federal District (Jefe de Gobierno del Distrito Federal), who was previously appointed by the president of Mexico. Leftist leader Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas was the first elected Head of Government. The Head of Government of the Federal District is often presented to people outside of Mexico as the "mayor of Mexico City"



Iztaccíhualt volcano to the east of the city
Iztaccíhualt volcano to the east of the city

Mexico city and its metropolitan area are located at the Valley of Mexico or Anáhuac a 9,560 sq km (3,691 sq mi) valley that lies at an average of 2,240 m (7,349 ft) above sea level but below the Tropic of Cancer. This valley is surrounded by mountains on all four sides creating a basin with only one small opening at the north, trapping all exhaust emissions of the city. At the southern part of the basin the mountain range reaches an altitude of 3,952 m (12,965 ft) above sea level; and to the east the volcanoes reach an altitude of more than 5,000 m (16,000 ft). The region receives anti-cyclonic systems, producing weak winds that do not allow for the dispersion of accumulated air pollutants, produced by the 50,000 industries operating in the metropolitan area and the 4 million vehicles circulating.[15] Both the federal and the local governments have implemented numerous plans to alleviate the problem of air pollution, amongst them a constant monitoring of environmental conditions, mainly of the concentration ozone and nitrogen oxides, and reported real-time over the Internet, and at specific intervals through other media. If the levels of these two pollutants reach critical levels, contingency actions are implemented which may include the shutting down of some factories, a change in primary school hours and the extension of the A day without a car program to two days of the week. Some of the measures implemented to reduce air environmental pollution include the improvement of industry technology, a strict biannual vehicle emission inspection and the improvement in the quality of fuels (both gasoline and diesel). In 1986, the non-urban forest areas of the southern boroughs were declared National Ecological Reserves by president de la Madrid. Other areas of the Federal District became protected in the following years.

Given the topography of the city, the lower region of the valley receives less rain than the upper regions of the south; the lower boroughs of Iztapalapa, Iztacalco, Venustiano Carranza and the west portion of Gustavo A. Madero are usually drier and warmer than the upper southern boroughs of Tlalpan and Milpa Alta, a mountainous region of pine and oak trees known as the range of Ajusco. The average annual temperature varies from 12 to 16º C (53 to 60º F) depending on the altitude of the borough. Lowest temperatures, usually registered during January and February may reach -2 to -5º C (28 to 23º F), usually accompanied by snow showers on the southern regions of Ajusco, and the highest temperatures, perceived during May, may reach up to 32º C (90º F).

Originally, the Lake of Texcoco occupied the great majority of the valley. This lake was actually a system of interconnected lakes with varying altitudes. The northern lakes, located at lower altitudes were salty, whereas the higher lakes to the south were fresh. The Aztecs built impressive dikes to separate the fresh water used to raise crops in chinampas and to prevent recurrent floods. These dikes were destroyed during the siege of Tenochtitlan, and during colonial times the Spanish preferred to drain the lake to prevent floods. Only a small section of the original lake survived, however it is located outside the Federal District, in the State of Mexico in the municipality of Atenco.

Geophysical maps of the Federal District
Topography Hydrology Climate patterns

Political and administrative organization


Political structure

National Palace, former seat of the Executive power of the Union
National Palace, former seat of the Executive power of the Union

Mexico City, being the seat of the powers of the Union, did not belong to any particular state but to all. Therefore, it was the president, representing the federation, who used to designate the head of government of the Federal District. In the 1980s, given the size of the city, the inherent political inconsistencies of the system (like that occurred in 1988 when the opposition candidate had won the majority of votes in the Federal District, yet the head of government designated was a member of the party in power), as well as the dissatisfaction with the inadequate response of the federal government to assist the city after the 1985 earthquake, the citizens began to request political and administrative autonomy in order to manage their own local affairs. Some political groups even proposed that the Federal District be converted into the 32nd state of the federation.

In response to the demands, in 1987 the Federal District received a greater degree of autonomy, with the elaboration the first Statute of Government and the creation of an Assembly of Representatives. In the 1990s this autonomy was expanded and since 1997 residents can directly elect the head of government of the Federal District and the representatives of a unicameral Legislative Assembly (which succeeded the previous Assembly) by popular vote. The first elected head of government was Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. Cárdenas resigned in 1999 in order to run in the 2000 presidential elections and designated Rosario Robles to succeed him, who became the first woman (elected or otherwise) to govern Mexico City. In 2000 Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected, and resigned in 2005 to run in the 2006 presidential elections. The current head of government is Marcelo Ebrard candidate of the Democratic Revolution Party.



See also: Boroughs of the Mexican Federal District and Colonias of Mexico City

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 Mexico City
The 16 boroughs of Mexico City

1. Alvaro Obregón
2. Azcapotzalco
3. Benito Juárez
4. Coyoacán
5. Cuajimalpa
6. Cuauhtémoc
7. Gustavo A. Madero
8. Iztacalco

9. Iztapalapa
10. Magdalena Contreras
11. Miguel Hidalgo
12. Milpa Alta
13. Tláhuac
14. Tlalpan
15. Venustiano Carranza
16. Xochimilco

The boroughs are composed by hundreds of colonias or neighborhoods, which have no jurisdictional autonomy or representation. It is plausible that the name, which literally means colony, arose in the late 19th, early 20th centuries, when one of the first urban developments outside the city's core was inhabited by a French colony in the city. Some colonias have identifiable attributes: la Condesa is known for its Art Deco architecture, and for being the artistic center of the city; Santa Fe is the business and financial district, Roma is a Beaux Arts neighborhood and probably one of the oldest in the city, Polanco is an important commercial center known for its large Jewish community, and Tepito is known for its impressively large flea market.



Mexico City is one of the most important economic hubs of Latin America. It produces an amazing 25% of Mexico's Gross Domestic Product, making the city alone the 30th largest economy in the world, and the third largest economy in Latin America. Also the city's nominal GDP per capita is the highest in Latin America at $17,696.[16] Mexico City's Human Development Index (HDI) is the highest in the country at 0.8830, higher than the national average. Amongst other welfare indicators 50% of the habitants of Mexico City have access to the Internet, 58% own a cell phone, with virtually each household having a phone line, and while 17% of Mexicans nationwide live in poverty, 15% of the residents of Mexico City do. Mexico is also one of the largest financial and commercial hubs in Latin America. The Mexican stock exchange (Bolsa Mexicana de Valores) and the country's largest banks and insurers as well as many international financial services conglomerates for Latin America are headquartered in the city. Amongst them Banamex, of Citigroup is the largest, which generates almost three times as much revenues than all 16 Citigroup's branches in the rest of Latin America.[17]. Most of the conglomerates are headquartered at Santa Fe, the business district of the city.

Santa Fe Financial District
Santa Fe Financial District

Over the last two decades the economic base has shifted strongly, as the manufacturing activities move to the state of Mexico (Mexico city suburbs) and even to other states. Part of this was due to an environmental program of tax incentives offered by the government to manufacturers: existing companies could be eligible to tax-certificates if they installed pollution control equipment. New plants, on the other hand, were only eligible to the same benefits if they were to be located outside Mexico City.[18]



Greater Mexico City, extending to the states of Mexico and Hidalgo
Greater Mexico City, extending to the states of Mexico and Hidalgo

Historically, and since pre-Hispanic times, the valley of Anáhuac has been one of the most densely populated areas in Mexico. When the Federal District was created in 1824, the urban area of Mexico City extended approximately to the area of today's Cuauhtémoc borough. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the elites began migrating to the south and west and soon the small towns of Mixcoac and San Ángel were incorporated by the growing conurbation. Today the city could be clearly divided into a middle and high-class area (south and west, including Polanco, Lomas de Chapultepec, Ciudad Satélite, Jardines del Pedregal and Santa Fe), and a lower class area to the east (Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, Pantitlán, Chalco and Moctezuma). Today, the west area, Santa Fe, is the most expensive area in the country, on par with New York's Fifth Avenue and the Champs Elysées of Paris.

Up to the 1980s, the Federal District was the most populated federal entity in Mexico, but since then its population has remained stable at around 8.7 million. The growth of the city has extended beyond the limits of the Federal District to 40 municipalities of the state of Mexico and one of the state of Hidalgo, and with a population of 19.3 million it is one of the most populated conurbations in the world. Nonetheless, the annual rate of growth of the Metropolitan Area of Mexico City is much lower than that of other large urban agglomerations in Mexico,[2] a phenomenon most likely attributable to the environmental policy of decentralization. The net migration rate of the Federal District from 1995 to 2000 was negative.[19]

Mexico City is also home to large communities of immigrants, most notably South America (mainly from Argentina but also from Chile, Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela), from Europe (mainly from Spain but also Germany, Italy, France and Poland), the Middle East (mainly from Lebanon and Turkey), and recently from Asia (mainly from China and Korea). While no official figures have been reported by INEGI, estimates of each of these communities are quite significant. Due to the economic integration of all North American countries under NAFTA, Mexico City is also home to a large American community.



National Museum of Art
National Museum of Art
Palace of Fine Arts
Palace of Fine Arts

Famous landmarks in Mexico City include the Zócalo (officially Constitution Square), the main central square with its time clashing Spanish-era Metropolitan Cathedral and Palacio Nacional, and ancient Aztec temple ruins Templo Mayor are all within a few steps of one another. (The Templo Mayor was discovered in 1978 while workers were digging to place underground electric cables.) The most recognizable icon of Mexico City is the golden Angel of Independence. found on the wide, elegant avenue Paseo de la Reforma, modeled by the order of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico after the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Another important avenue, is the Avenida de los Insurgentes, which extends 28.8 km (18 miles), being one of the largest single avenues in the world.

The Chapultepec park houses the Chapultepec Castle museum on a hill that overlooks the park and its numerous museums, monuments and the national zoo and the National Museum of Anthropology (which houses the Aztec Calendar Stone). Another magnificent piece of architecture is the Fine Arts Palace, a stunning white marble theater/museum whose weight is such that it has gradually been sinking into the soft ground below. Its construction began during the presidency of Porfirio Díaz and ended, after being interrupted by the Mexican Revolution in the 1930s. The Plaza of the Three Cultures in the Tlatelolco neighborhood, and the shrine and Basilicas of Our Lady of Guadalupe are also important sites to visit. There is a double decker bus known as the "Turibus" that circles most of these sites, and has timed audio describing the sites in multiple languages as they are passed.

In addition, the city has around 160 museums, over 100 art galleries, and some 30 concert halls. It has the fourth highest number of theaters in the world after New York, London and Toronto. In many locales (The Palacio Nacional and the Instituto Nacional de Cardiología to name a few), there are murals by Diego Rivera. He and his wife Frida Kahlo lived in the southern suburb of Coyoacán, where several of their homes, studios, and collections are open to the public. Nearby is the house of Leon Trotsky, where he was murdered in 1940.

In addition there are several restored Haciendas that are now restaurants such as the San Angel Inn, Hacienda de Tlalpan and the Hacienda de los Morales, all of which are stunning remnants of Mexican glory and house some of the best food in the world.



Football is Mexico's most televised sport. Several very well known teams, including Club América, Cruz Azul and Pumas, are based in Mexico City. The Aztec Stadium (Estadio Azteca), has capacity to seat approximately 110,000 fans. Atlante, the city's fourth club, also plays there. Mexico City also has an Olympic Stadium in Ciudad Universitaria, which is home of the Pumas soccer team. Cruz Azul plays in the Estadio Azul, which is located within Mexico City as well.

Mexico hosted the Football World Cup in 1970 and 1986. Azteca is the only stadium in the world to host the final match of the Football World Cup twice. Mexico City also hosted the 1968 Olympic Games, winning bids against Buenos Aires, Lyon and Detroit, and being the only Latin American city to host such an event. Mexico City hosted the 1955 Pan American Games and then the 1975 Pan American Games after Santiago and São Paulo withdrew.

Stadium of the National Autonomous University of Mexico
Stadium of the National Autonomous University of Mexico

Baseball is also another popular sport with a growing fan base. Mexico City is home to the Diablos Rojos de Mexico (Red Devils) of the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol, with the team playing their home games at the Foro Sol Stadium. The Red Devils used to share the stadium with the baseball club "Tigres" until the club moved to nearby Puebla.

Starting with the 2005 season, NASCAR will hold annual Busch Series races at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Drivers Carlos Contreras, Michel Jourdain Jr., Jose Luis Ramírez, and Adrian Fernandez enjoy a homecoming with the race; all are from Mexico City originally.

In 2005, Mexico City became the first city to host a NFL regular season game outside of the United States, and has also hosted several NBA pre-season exhibition games along with exhibition matches among MLB teams at the Foro Sol.

Other sports facilities in Mexico City are the Palacio de los Deportes indoor arena and Francisco Márquez Olympic Swimming Pool.



Xochimilco Light Rail Train
Xochimilco Light Rail Train
Periférico's Second Level Elevated Highway
Periférico's Second Level Elevated Highway

Mexico City is served by the Sistema de Transporte Colectivo Metro, an extensive metro system (207 km), the largest in Latin America, the first portions of which were opened in 1969. The system has 11 lines in 175 stations. One of the busiest in the world, the metro transports approximately 4 million people every day, surpassed only by Moscow's (7.5 million), Tokyo's (5.9 million), and New York City's (4.9 million). It is heavily subsidized, and it is the cheapest in the world, each trip currently costing MXN 2 (around EUR 0.13 or USD 0.19). A number of stations display Pre-Columbian artifacts and architecture that were discovered during the metro's construction. However, the Metro does not extend outside the limits of the Federal District and therefore an extensive network of bus routes has been implemented. These are mostly managed by private companies which are allowed to operate buses as long as they adhere to certain minimal service quality standards.

The city government also operates a network of large buses, in contrast with the privately operated microbuses, with fares barely exceeding that of the metro. Electric transport other than the metro also exists, in the form of trolleybuses and the Xochimilco Light Rail line. The city's first bus rapid transit line, the Metrobús, began operation in June 2005 on Avenida Insurgentes. As the microbuses were removed from its route, it was hoped that the Metrobús could reduce pollution and decrease transit time for passengers.

There are plenty of lime-green colored taxi cabs, which, while occasionally unsafe if taken randomly from the street instead of designated locales, are undeniably economical. Since late 2002, they have been joined by red and white taxis as part of a program to replace older vehicles with new ones. The freeway system is so dense that there is an ongoing project to finish the construction of an elevated highway that runs on top and parallel to the main ring road (the Periférico) which is currently already partially operational. This elevated highway is colloquially called segundo piso ("second level" [of the Periférico]).

Mexico City is served by Mexico City International Airport (IATA Airport Code: MEX). This airport is the largest in Latin America in traffic, transporting close to 25 million passengers per year.[20] This traffic, however, exceeds the current capacity of the airport. The government has engaged in an extensive restructuring that includes the building of a second adjacent terminal and the enlargement of 4 other airports (at the nearby cities of Toluca, Querétaro, Puebla and Cuernavaca) that, along with Mexico City's airport conform the Grupo Aeropuertuario de la Ciudad de México, distributing traffic to different regions in Mexico. Mexico City's airport is the main hub for 10 of the 12 national airline firms.

The city has four major bus stations (North, South, Observatorio, TAPO), with bus service to cities across the country, and one train station, used for commercial and industrial purposes (interstate passenger trains are now virtually non-existent in Mexico). It was recently announced that a Tren Suburbano (suburban rail) will be built to serve the metropolitan area. There are also several toll expressways which connect Mexico City with several other major cities. The city does not have an expressway network that connects points within the city; all cross-city trips must be done on arterial roads. This is one reason why the city's streets are so congested.

There is also a scheme, called Hoy No Circula ("one day without a car"), whereby only vehicles with certain ending numbers on their license plates are allowed to circulate on certain days in an attempt to cut down on pollution and traffic congestion. The program groups vehicles by their ending license plate digits, and every weekday vehicles having any of the day's two "hoy no circula" digits are banned from circulating. For instance, on Fridays, vehicles with plates ending in 9 or 0 may not drive. The scheme is controversial since it has resulted in many better-off households buying extra cars reducing the program's benefits; also, newer vehicles are exempt from complying with the program, a move said to have been pushed by auto makers to boost sales of new vehicles.



The library of National Autonomous University of Mexico.
The library of National Autonomous University of Mexico.


Mexico City is the location of National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). UNAM is North America's oldest university (established in 1551) the most prestigious university in Mexico, and the largest with 269,000 students. Three Nobel laureates and most of Mexico's modern-day presidents are among its former students. UNAM conducts 50% of Mexico's scientific research and has presence all across the country with satellite campuses and research centers. The National Autonomous University of Mexico ranks 74th in the Top 200 World University Ranking published by The Times Higher Education Supplement in 2006[21], making it the highest ranked Spanish-speaking university in the world.

The second largest university is the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN). Other universities in the city include the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM), ITAM, ITESM (3 campi), Universidad La Salle, the Universidad del Valle de Mexico (UVM), Universidad Anáhuac, Universidad Iberoamericana and the American accredited Alliant International University.

Contrary to what it is in the constituent states of the Mexican federation, the curriculum of Mexico City's public schools is managed by the federal level Secretary of Public Education. However, funding is allocated by the government of Mexico City.



Mexico City is the most important center for the television, advertising, music, newspaper and book publishing industries in Mexico. Two national newspapers are published in the city: El Universal and Excélsior. Other important regional newspapers are Reforma (from Grupo Reforma), and La Jornada.

There are 60 radio stations operating in the city and 11 free-access TV channels. The two most important private Mexican broadcast networks (Televisa and TV Azteca) are headquartered in Mexico City. Other important local networks are Once TV, Canal 22 and UNAM TV.


Urban Problems

As one of the largest urban areas in the world, Mexico City suffers from no shortage of the problems common to many large cities, including traffic, poverty, short water supply, and pollution. This is perhaps exacerbated by Mexico's developing country status. This city has a high number of street children; some estimate as many as 50,000[citation needed].

Violent crime is also a major concern; in 2003, Mexico had the second-highest number of kidnappings in the world, with some 3,000 reported cases. In taxis, a particular problem has arisen; individuals are sometimes kidnapped by unauthorized taxi drivers, in order to empty their bank accounts at ATMs. Victims are sometimes kept overnight in order to bypass daily withdrawal limits. Inside other transportation, mostly microbuses, pickpocketing is still a common activity, and Mexico City inhabitants take various levels of precaution to avoid being victims of this. As a general rule, if you are unaware of the route you are to take then you should only use official taxis from stands ("sitios") as these are closely regulated.

Police reform has also been a focus of the government for the past decade; there is a general sense of distrust against the authorities, as conventional wisdom holds that all Mexico's police forces are corrupt one way or another. This issue came to a head in November 2004, when an angry crowd in Tláhuac was whipped up into a frenzy and burned two undercover federal police officers alive [3] and seriously injured another, on rumors that they were kidnappers.



Chapultepec Castle
Chapultepec Castle

Mexico City was traditionally known as la Ciudad de los Palacios ("the City of Palaces"), a nickname attributed to Baron Alexander von Humboldt when visiting the city in the 19th Century. Since 2000 the local administration of the PRD introduced a new nickname: la Ciudad de la Esperanza, or "The City of Hope". Acceptance or rejection of this new sobriquet is largely determined by one's political preferences.

The city is colloquially known as Chilangolandia after the locals' nickname (chilangos). Many natives of Mexico City dislike the nickname, as it is often used as an insult by those who live outside the city. The origin of the term is unknown, but it is used to distinguish the busy-body, selfish, big-city people from those who live in the rest of the country, and who generally believe they are more relaxed and respectful of others. Some argue that the term "chilango" refers to workers who have come to Mexico City looking for employment. Still others think that it comes from the word chili, which was cultivated by the Mexicas. On the other hand, "chilango" has been adopted by the hippest young urban classes of the city. There's even a magazine called Chilango which covers Mexico City's numerous entertainment possibilities and other subjects related to the city. It's no longer offensive to most people in the city. People from Mexico City who avoid the term chilango instead use "defeño", derived from the Spanish pronunciation of "D.F.".


Sister cities


See also



  1. Escenarios Demográficos y Urbanos de la Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México, published by the Consejo Nacional de Población (CONAPO)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Síntesis de Resultados del Conteo 2005 INEGI
  3. (August 8, 2005) Tenochtitlán (in English). Research Machines plc.. Retrieved on 2006-10-20.
  4. (August 3, 2005) Tenochtitlán (in English). Research Machines plc.. Retrieved on 2006-10-20.
  5. Pohl, John M. D.. "Aztecs: A new perspective", History Today, December 1, 2002, p. 10. Retrieved on 2006-10-20. (in English)
  6. Nichols, Deborah L.. "Chinampas", Calliope, December 1, 2005, p. 12. Retrieved on 2006-10-20. (in English)
  7. "La compañera ind¿gena de Hernán Cortés sigue haciendo soñar a los escritores", Agence France Presse Spanish, December 2, 2004. Retrieved on 2006-10-20. (in Spanish)
  8. (November 1, 2003) Hernán Cortés (in Spanish). Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.. Retrieved on 2006-10-20.
  9. (1949) History of the Conquest of Mexico (in English). Allen & Unwin. Retrieved on 2006-10-20.
  10. Adair, Marita (May 1, 1996). Mexico City: Exploring Mexico City (in English). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Retrieved on 2006-10-20.
  11. Van Young, Eric. "The Time of Liberty: Popular Political Culture in Oaxaca, 1750-1850", Journal of Social History, October 1, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-10-20. (in Spanish)
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