Where do the world’s largest Spanish speaking population reside? It’s here, in México or as it is officially called Estados Unidos Mexicanos (United Mexican States). The country is formed by 31 states and its capital, Mexico City. The third largest country in the Latin America stands as one of its chief economic and political forces. But what makes this country so distinctive and extravagant? Is it the tremendous cultural and economic diversity? Is it the country’s enormously complex and varied physical environment? Or, is it all of this and more? Let’s find out together.
The Native American heritage, Spain’s 300-year colonial rule over the country and sharing borders with the United States has culminated into México as we see today. At present, most of the Mexican population is mestiza, which means they have a mix of Native American and Spanish blood. The ethnical and regional diversity that the country boasts of, is also the result of the strong affiliation to the roots, and the pride in the indigenous heritage as an essential consolidating factor of the country’s assortment. Apart from the cultural diversity there are sharp socioeconomic divisions within the population as well.
Different forms of Mexican Art have received worldwide recognition and appreciation. One of the most recognized Mexican art forms is the Mural. The murals created by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, in the second half of the twentieth century, are considered legendary today. They depicted the various aspects of the Mexican Independence, the Revolution, the country’s modernization and class struggles. Few other notable artists of the country include José María Velasco, Rufino Tamayo, Juan Soriano, and Frida Kahlo.
Jarabe Tapatío, often called the national dance of México is internationally well known as the Mexican Hat Dance. This dance represents the cultural identity of México’s Mestizo population. Apart from this, there are many other folk dances in the country, born from its rich folk culture. Most of this traditional dances are conducted in the iconic dresses and costumes of each region with an specific design and features, both for men and women.
Be it traditional Mariachi songs and Ranchero songs or Mexican cumbia, hip-hop and salsa, all of them form integral parts of the music culture of the country. It might also interest you to know that México has the largest media industry in Latin America, producing Mexican artists who are quite famous in Central and South America and Spain.
Although México has a prominent film industry of its own, the mass is largely influenced by Hollywood produced movies dubbed in Spanish. This does not take away from the fact that the country has produced some world’s renowned actors and filmmakers. The list includes Guillermo del Toro – El laberinto del fauno (2006; Pan’s Labyrinth) and Pacific Rim, 2013, Alfonso Cuarón – Y tu mamá también, 2001 and Children of Men, 2006 and a few more. Some of the makers have also won the prestigious Academy award; Cuarón became the first Mexican director to win this award in the best director category for Gravity, 2013 followed by González Iñárritu for Birdman, 2014 and The Revenant, 2015 and del Toro for The Shape of Water, 2017.
México has given some extremely respected and famous writers whose work hold great prestige in the literary world. Bernal Díaz del Castillo’s True History of the Conquest of Mexico is widely read till date. Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz’s work El Laberinto de la Soledad adds another feather to this hat. Carlos Fuentes’s book Aura, and Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo are a few among the long list of notable works.
México has held the position of world’s leading producer of Spanish language television programming, videos and other electronic media content. The capital of the country, The México City further works as one of the leading publishing centres for Spanish language books, magazines and a large number of daily newspapers.
Sport is a serious matter for Mexicans. Like most of the Latin American countries, Football (soccer) is a great deal in México. Be it big cities or small towns, virtually everything comes to a halt when the Mexican national team competes in a World Cup match. This passion is not limited to just this one game but flows way beyond to other Sports as well, like baseball, boxing and others. It might come as a shock but in ancient times, losers of the ritual ball game (Juego de Pelota in Spanish) were put to death. In some wild sports, like bullfighting and rodeo, competitors still put their lives at risk.
Territorially, México is the 3rd largest Latin American country, situated in southern North America. To the North it is bordered by the United States. South and West sides are surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. The East is lined by the Gulf of México and the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea. Also, México is a part of the region with active volcanism and frequent seismic activities called the circum-Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ and has 12 active volcanos. The highest point in the country is Citlaltépetl (also called Pico de Orizaba) a volcanic peak standing at 18,406 feet.
México has a varied range of extremes to offer: deserts in the north along with great mountains and canyons, dense rain forests and jungle in the south-east region and lastly, some template valleys in the centre.
This diverse topography gives the country, the one of the most diverse weather systems worldwide.
The Tropic of Cancer divides the country into temperate and tropical zones. More than half of the country lies below this line experiencing a yearly median temperature between 24 to 28 °C. On the other hand, north of the tropics, experiences cooler temperatures during the winter months.
Mexicans celebrate Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos). Even though the theme is death, it is actually a two-day celebration to demonstrate love and respect for the deceased family members. Participants commonly wear makeup and costumes, hold parades and parties, sing and dance, and make offerings to lost loved ones.
Did you known that some of the product the we eat daily have their origins in Mexico? Chocolate originated in Southern México. In the ancient times, the Aztecs believed that Cacao beans were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the God of Wisdom. The seeds possessed so much value that they were used as a form of currency. Also, tomato the first ingredient of the Italian cuisine has its origins in Mexican lands.
The Great Pyramid of Cholula located in Cholula, Puebla, México is the largest pyramid on the planet, with a base four times larger than the Great Pyramid at Giza and nearly twice the volume.
Mexican population is mostly Catholic and the country’s patron saint is Our Lady of Guadalupe. Every year, on December 12, millions of people join in front of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in México City, dancing, praying and giving offers to the Virgin.
México’s first complex society emerged in the south-eastern part of the country around 1200 B.C. This population came to be known as the Olmec people, who were followed by the Maya, the Toltec, and the Aztec peoples in the later years. The Spanish arrived in Mexico in the early 1500s. Eventually, the Aztec people got sick from smallpox and other diseases that the Spanish brought with them. The pandemic weakened the population and in 1521, the Spaniards seized and destroyed the Aztec capital, called Tenochtitlán and conquered México. They ruled the country until 1821 when the Mexican Independence was declared.
Today México is a Federal Republic consisting of 32 Federal Entities. Governmental powers are divided constitutionally among the three branches – executive, legislative, and judicial. It functions as per the Constitution of the United Mexican States enacted in 1917. The Constitution which has passed several amendments, guarantees personal freedom, civil liberties and drives the economic and political principles for the country.
The Mexican economy, which has grown rapidly since the 1970s, is one of the dominant economies in the Latin America. With the U.S as its neighbour country, this developing market economy, shares strong ties with the aforementioned. There is no doubt that two-third of the Mexican GDP accounts from the automotive industry, finance and the services industries. However, its economy also boasts of rich varieties of crops, extremely productive oil fields and a growing manufacturing base.
The strong trading relationship among the U.S, Canada and México was redefined in 2018 after the signing of USMCA (United States–México–Canada Agreement). It not only preserved NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement which created a free trade zone among the U.S, Canada and Mexico) but also created space for significant changes in the accord. The agreement came into effect on July 1 2020.
The striking similarities between these two nations are hard to deny. Be it for the rich cultural heritage, biodiversity, geo-climatic conditions and few other aspects, the two countries draw a great amount of parallelism. It will interest you to know that México was the first Latin American country to recognize India after Independence. Subsequently, it established diplomatic relations with India in 1950 and the Mexican Nobel Prize, Octavio Paz was ambassador of Mexico in India in 1962.
Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to México in 2016, the relations between the two countries have consistently seen an upward trajectory. During this visit both countries agreed to upgrade the bilateral relations to the level of ‘Strategic Partnership.’ Today, México stands as the largest Latin American trade partner of India after crossing the 10 billion mark in 2018.
Apart from this, both the nations have signed numerous bilateral agreements over the past few decades making this alliance even stronger.
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India-Mexico: Celebrating 70 Years of Friendship
Interview with the Ambassador:
The relationship between Mexico and India has been a close one. Since the recognition of India as an independent country, both the nations have tried to strengthen their union, not only within the framework of a vast political and economic agenda, but also from an immanent social, cultural, and even spiritual bond that has crossed borders. We had the honor to talk about it with His Excellency Mr. Federico Salas, Ambassador of Mexico to India, who exposes the diplomatic convergences that enriches and gives meaning to his profession, contributing to the construction of identity of those who live in these countries.
SpanishBOLO: What do Indians need to know about Mexico?
Federico Salas: Mexico has an extraordinary natural and cultural wealth with deep historical roots and a geography as vast as it is diverse. Like Indians, we are not only proud of our country, but we also love to share its flavors, colors and stories with our friends.
For example, did you know that Mexico is the fourth country with the most biological diversity? We have 9 of the 11 ecosystems that exist in the world and we have 12% of all the species on the planet. We are the country with the largest number of Spanish speakers, approximately 120 million, of which about 8 million also speak one of the 68 indigenous languages of the country.
As if that was not enough, Mexico -like India- is the cradle of an ancient civilization and, simultaneously, one of the countries most open to the world. Mexico has an important world presence in the technological, manufacturing and innovation sectors, as well as offering tourist destinations for people of all tastes.
SpanishBOLO: How is the current relationship between India and Mexico?
Federico Salas: Our friendship is deep, sustained by shared values such as democracy and social welfare. Although our ties go back a long time, Mexico was the first Latin American country to recognize the independence of India and, in 1950, formal diplomatic relations were established. We share international forums such as the UN or the G20, in which we often agree on our visions of the future and of the world.
Trade between Mexico and India has grown a lot in recent years and more and more companies from both the countries are doing business. On the other hand, more and more Indians visit Mexico for different reasons -employment, tourism, business, studies, among others- and the same thing happens in reverse. We have several agreements and cooperation programs in education, scientific research, the environment, tourism promotion, economic cooperation and cultural exchange. The relationship is defined by closeness and constant exchanges, but it has immense potential to grow and strengthen itself in the coming years.
SpanishBOLO: What cultural similarities are there?
Federico Salas: India and Mexico are an amalgam of different influences. Although Mexico’s independence occurred in 1821, we both faced colonial experiences and shared similar developmental challenges throughout the 20th century and so far in the 21st. Like India, each of the 32 states in Mexico and its regions have their own roots and identities. Also, the family occupies a very important place in our lives.
There are also gastronomic similarities: cooking and eating is an act that unites us as a society and an important part of our celebrations. Even some key ingredients in Indian cuisine have origins in Mesoamerica, such as chile or tomato, and many homemade dishes have similarities such as mole and curry or tortilla and chapati.
SpanishBOLO: What are the advantages of learning Spanish?
Federico Salas: Currently more than 480 million people speak Spanish as their mother tongue and more than 21 million people are studying Spanish as a foreign language. In recent years, it has become one of the most widely used languages in the fields of tourism, commerce, culture and science. To continue strengthening the relationship between Mexico and India, we will need allies capable not only of communicating, but also of understanding the many similarities and shared opportunities.
SpanishBOLO: What message would you give to Spanish students?
Federico Salas: To those who have already started learning the language, I would like to thank them for their effort, trust and invite them to enrich their process with an immersion in the culture of Mexico, and its arts and customs. Spanish not only opens up a range of job opportunities, but also allows you to immerse yourself in a culture rich in creativity and depth. To those who have not yet made up their minds, I would suggest that they take the risk of setting out on a path whose advantages far outweigh the difficulties. They will not regret it.
SpanishBOLO: What message would you give to young people studying international trade?
Federico Salas: Mexico has become the first commercial partner of India in Latin America and the second most important in the Americas, after the United States. Investment in the two countries has grown dramatically and there are currently 17 Mexican companies in India and around 180 Indian companies in Mexico. This data reflects the promising future for both the countries in international trade and economic cooperation.
Interview with H. E. Mr. Federico Salas Lotfe, Ambassador of México to India, by Spanish Bolo, Spanish School, Hyderabad, on 8 May, 2020.
Did you know:
Mexico posses one of the New 7 wonders of Humanity: Chichen Itza, located in the South East side of the country
Chocolate and Tomato are originally Mexican products.
Tequila is an alcoholic drink distilled product from a cactus called Maguey
Candy skulls are a traditional product eaten in the Day of Dead.
The Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is one of the most recognized Latin American painters of the twentieth century and a symbol of feminism worldwide.