Ah! Finally we’ve reached the Mexico episode! But, I cannot do this without a real Mexican. Say Hello to my friend Cesar from Puerto Vallarta! Hello everyone! Cesar, if you could say one thing about Mexico for this episode, what would it be? Well, Mexico is a mystical, colorful place filled with culture and tradition. It goes beyond mariachi and tequilla as you will soon find out. Oh, yeah, and he speaks English, too. Oh, yeah. I went to college in Texas. So a little bit. It’s time to learn Geography NOW!!! Everyone I’m your host Barb’s. And I am Cesar. As you know, I’m American, Cesar is Mexican. We’re neighbors. I’m excited. You excited? Yes. I’m very excited for this episode. You know, I’ve been following Geography Now! since like the B-C countries so this is something I’ve been waiting for it for a long time now. Oh, by the way, we stopped doing sponsored brands on country episodes. But this time, we’ll break that rule because Cesar can hook you up in Puerto Vallarta! Cesar, tell them what they need to know. Yes Well, visit DiscoverPVR.com , check it out. Tourist transportation, transfers, everything you need. and Geography Now! endorses them! Alright, let’s begin? Yes! Welcome to Mexico! POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY Named after the Mexica people from ancient Aztec times, Mexico is a powerhouse on the world stage. And it’s hard to imagine how the entire Latin world, let alone the Western Hemisphere, would operate without it. First of all Mexico is located on the southern part of the North American continent straddling the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico. Bordered by the US to the north and Guatemala and Belize to the southeast. The country is divided into 32 Federal entities, 31 States one of which is called Mexico and the capital city, Mexico City Oh and Mexico City is technically sinking about 10 to 20cm a year because it was built on a lake. With a greater metropolitan population over 21 million, Mexico City is the largest city and oldest capital city in the entire Western Hemisphere and in itself has about the same GDP and economy as the entire country of Peru. After Mexico City though The next largest cities are Guadalajara in Jalisco, and Monterrey in Nuevo León. And if you come here, you will most likely fly to one of the busiest airports: The Capitals; Mexico City International, then the second place is actually Cancun, then Guadalajara and Monterrey Internationals. Yeah, we Americans love Cancun and we love going there all the time and we do to. Just clean up your vomit next time, ok? No promises! Today, Mexico has no territorial disputes. They did once with France over Clipperton Island, but that got settled. Otherwise the border with the US… Yeah, we know we know what you’re thinking but hear me out. It actually does have some quirky anomalies. For example. On the border with Tijuana, there’s a Friendship Park where you can chat and shake hands with locals of both sides through a fence that goes all the way into the Pacific. Further east in California Two towns split by the border kind of trolled each other. One named itself “Mexicali” and the other side “Calexico”. And in Naco, Arizona, the local residents have a cross-border volleyball game every so often. No, we don’t want to sugarcoat everything. Yes There are certain sections that are more barricaded and strict on the crossings. But besides the complicated nature behind these issues, There’s a lot more to it than most media outlets portray. Speaking of territorial anomalies. In the southernmost state of Mexico, Chiapas have some interesting towns that operate under a system called “Usos y costumbres” Which means something like “Autonomous customary law”. The people, mostly of indigenous descent, govern their own internal affairs and the government just kind of lets them do their own thing without interference. It sounds kind of scary. But today it’s actually a kind of a dark fascination that has drawn in a ton of tourists. And finally, let’s just get it over with. Just like how we discussed in the Italy episode, Everybody knows about it. It’s nothing new. To a varying degree of power indisputable boundaries. Yes, certain areas of Mexico do still kind of fall under cartel influence. It’s a very strange system run by underground individuals that kind of meshes itself into normalcy with everyday citizens. There are syndicates like the cartel of Sinaloa in the northwest, The Zetas in the northeast, the Familia Michoacana in the center of the country and the Jalisco Nueva Generación in the West. Cesar, I’ll let you explain this. Today, it’s very hard to estimate how many people are still involved in how much money is coming out since numbers are always changing especially after the war was declared on the cartels by the government in 2006 by President Calderon. But for what it’s worth, the situation is still being dealt with today. Most Mexicans can agree that this operation largely failed. A large portion of the violence in Mexico is still caused by disputes between Cartels for territory. Thank You Cesar. Well, I’m glad we got that out of the way because now we can lighten up a bit and talk about the almost infinite number of beautiful notable spots Mexico has to offer. Some cool man-made and landmarks might include places like: Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City UNAM, the oldest university in North America The castle of Chapultepec Catacombs at Templo Expiatorio Biblioteca Vasconcelos Tunnels of Puebla The Plaza de Toros Mexico The bronze sculptures of Puerto Vallarta And if you’re in for some creepy stuff: the Casa de los Lamentos in Guanajuato Torture museum of Hacienda del Cochero The Mummy Museum in Guanajuato That creepy doll island of las Muñecas And every so often you might come across a Malverde altar. He’s the patron saint of drug cartels. They have a patron saint for drug cartels But best for last, there are hundreds of Mesoamerican pyramids and sites. Some are possibly yet to be discovered hidden in the jungles, but the most famous ones probably being: Cholula, which is the largest monument ever constructed according to the Guinness World Records Monte Albán the Teotihuacan, the Pyramid of the Sun and the moon and one of the new seven wonders of the world: the Mayan pyramid of Chichen Itza. Keep in mind, we said “man-made”. I know a lot of you might be wondering “Why didn’t they talk about all the cool natural sites?” like the cenotes or The volcanoes and canyons. Well, that’s because that stuff will be long in the next section, PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY Mexico’s land is kind of like… A PINATA! Colorful and full of surprises. Dude, a pinata? You really rush this part of the script. Didn’t you? Yes, I did. First of all The country is located on the west edge where the North American plate meets the Pacific plate making them part of the larger Ring of Fire. The country is made up of three main mountain chains: The Sierra Madre Occidental, which has the largest lake, the lake of Chapala in Jalisco. the Sierra Madre Oriental, which has the highest mountain peak, Pico de Orizaba. And Sierra Madre del Sur. Which effectively surrounds the large Mexican plateau in the middle. A narrow flat valley lies between the Chiapas Mountains which then swings up to the flat humid Yucatan to the southeast Oh, yeah and don’t forget the arid Baja Peninsula to the west. At the bottom of the plateau lies the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt where most of the seismic and volcanic activity lies. The country has about 45 volcanoes The most violent one is considered to be the Popocatepetl, which is less than 70 kilometers away from Ciudad de Mexico. There’s also the world’s smallest volcano, Cuexcomate in Puebla, at only 13 meters tall. Awww, what a cute little force of destruction. Oh That’s nothing. A volcano once randomly erupted out of a dude’s farm in 1943 in Michoacan. It grew over a thousand feet tall. WOAH! The Rio Grande River which makes part of the borders shared with Texas is the country’s longest river. However, the longest non-shared river completely in Mexico would be the Nazas Aguanaval. Along the coasts are flatter green plains. Basically The north part is rockier and dryer with landmarks like the Barrancas del Cobra Canyon and the Sonoran desert with the massive crater pocketed Tecolote lava fields. Whereas the south part is humid and lush with biosphere reserves and rain forests harboring thousands of animal species. Speaking of which, Mexico ranks as the fourth most bio diverse country in the planet, 10 to 12% of the world’s biodiversity Oh and bugs! There’s a monarch butterfly sanctuary at Patzcuaro and the Firefly forest in Tlaxcala as well as the national animal, the golden eagle and the most iconic dog breed: The Chihuahua, the smallest dog in the world and the nearly hairless Xoloitzcuincle or “Xolo dog”. Remember we saw those dogs when I visited you? Cesar and then were like “Yeah That was like my second favorite part of the whole trip” And what was your first favorite part? The part where you introduced Esclava to me? And then remember I got a little tipsy and then we played poker and then I won and then I almost fell down and… It’s funny though because Mexico also has a ton of like secret hidden natural land formations. There’s that strange 153km long underground river in the Yucatan. The Sotanolas de las Golondrina in San Luis Potosi, which is the largest cave-shaft in the world The giant crystals in the case of Naica There’s even the Islas Mariettas, which has a hidden beach inside a hole in the island. You almost brought me there, but we couldn’t go in. Yeah, and unfortunately the weather conditions didn’t permit it, but still visit discoverPVR.com . Yeah. Yeah, I’ll come back and visit someday. Wait, can I come? Yeah sure, catch. What are these, goggles? Yeah, you can swim there. From Long Beach Resource-wise, Mexico is the world’s largest producer of avocados, silver. They introduced tons of new foods would make their way across the globe namely “The Big Four”: Corn, chilies, chocolate and tomatoes We would not have pizza if it wasn’t for Mexico. Let that sink in. Oh and dear Mexico, Thank you for inventing Tajin and Chamoy. My life was empty before this discovery. Food-wise, There’s too much to cover. But generally speaking, there are seven regions of cuisine: In the Yucatan Peninsula, they love the annatto seeds. They have Mayan dishes like Poc Chuc. In the South, the Tlayudas are very popular, and the Chapulines. Remember, Ken we try those and they were good, right? I’m sorry, what? You’re fired. Anyway In the Baja California, there are plenty of fish dishes and other seafood. The Bajio is very popular for their Guacamayas. In the north They love cabrito, very popular in Monterey, and they also have a big Tex-Mex influence. In the West, we eat pozole, birria and we also invented tequila. In the center of Mexico, there’s a lot of tortas, mole and chile poblano. Economy-wise, Mexico is the 15th largest in the world in nominal terms and 11th by purchasing power and they are busy. The World Trade Organization in OECD has ranked Mexico as the hardest-working country in the world on average On average, they work over 43 hours a week. That’s it? Dude, that actually seems pretty low to be honest. Main exports of the country include things like automobiles, electronics. They are the largest flat-screen television exporter in the world as of 2017. We covered a lot. Okay, I think that’s most of it. Landscape, animals, resources, food, economy. Okay. Should we talk about Mexican people now? Yeah, why not? Next section. Go! DEMOGRAPHICS You know, it’s kind of complicated because there’s three different kinds of titles for Mexican: First of all, you have the Mexicano, which means it’s “person from Mexico” The Mexiquense is “a person from the state of Mexico” and the Mexiqueño or as we call them “Chilangos” is a person from the capital Mexico City. So yeah take note on that. First of all The country is made up of about 124 million people and is the largest Spanish-speaking country and (2nd) largest economy in the Latin world (after Brazil). It’s a little difficult to get exact numbers because there are a lot of opinions on race in Mexico and the official census does not technically collect data on ethnicity. But overall, it is said that somewhere around two-thirds of the country identifies as Mexican Mestizo. About 21% identify as predominantly Amerindian whereas 7% identify as “straight-up Amerindian”. The remainder is made up of other groups Mostly white European Mexicans, while a small group of Asians like Lebanese Chinese, Japanese and Koreans exist alongside afro-Mexicans, which make up about 1.2% of the population We use the Mexican peso as our currency, and we use type A and B American style plug outlets and we drive on the right side of the road. All of the country speaks Spanish, however technically it isn’t an official language. The country recognizes 68 other indigenous languages. These tribes each have their own unique story and history that goes back thousands of years before colonialism as depicted by petroglyphs, codexs and Mesoamerican carvings. They had unique traits and traditions. The Aztecs were known for having a thriving economy yet had brutal human sacrifice rituals. The Mayans were really good at math and had a unique system of seeing time in an endless cycle pattern rather than linear. And today, tribes still go on carrying ancient traditions. Everything from the Rarámuri or Tarahumara known as the running tribe who can go over 200 miles in two days with sandals. The voladores de papantla upside down hanging spinning musicians of various central tribes like the Otomi. There’s even indigenous festivals held every year in Oaxaca called Guelaguetza. Other than that though, regionally, Mexico even has different accents. Cesar, you’re the expert, I’ll let you take this one: [Different Mexican accents]
12:17 – 12:40 At around 82% the majority of the country identifies as belonging to the Catholic faith and Catholicism plays a huge and slightly interesting Fusion role in Mexican society. Catholicism in Mexico is unique because it has kind of its own story. Every Mexican knows about the Nuestra señora de Guadalupe church. It all started by a vision of the Virgin Mary from this guy. Today, native tradition in Catholicism kind of go hand in hand in Mexico. The biggest example probably being the day of the dead or the “Dia de los Muertos”. No other Catholic community does this besides Mexicans. Many scholars claim to trace the ofrenda and dead ancestor honoring tradition to the Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess of the underworld, Mictecacihuatl. And stuff like that. You see a lot of holy water and crosses but there’s always like a touch of that like, you know pre-colonial Mexican magic added in there, right Cesar? It is. It’s exactly right Sport wise, soccer or “football” is of course widely popular. However, not in every region. And many sports are uniquely iconic to Mexico such as: The charrería, which is a kind of like a rodeo and of course we have the Lucha Libre. In fact, Mexico has 150 pre-hispanic games, some still played today each with the risk of dying from Such as the pelota purépecha which is like a fire hockey played at night. Or Poc Ta poc, the four kilogram heavy rubber ball thing that you have to hit with your hips and you know, put it through a stone hoop. Can you imagine hitting anything on your body with a four kilogram solid rubber ball? Is like “Whoa I can’t believe you guys do that.” Mexican history extends millennia prior to any colony and it would take forever to cover it all but in the quickest way we can condense it: Olmecs Teotihuacan, Toltecas and Mexicas The Mayans in the Yucatan Peninsula The Spanish arrived You can kind of guess where that went Colonization having the Spanish in Mexico for 300 years The people all start mixing Mestizos are born Independence in 1810 led by this guy Empire led by this Austrian Prince guy He gets killed French tried to invade.Yeah, that didn’t work out Benito Juarez, good president. Porfirio Diaz, president at the beginning but eventually became a dictator Civil war. Although Mexicans usually call it the “Mexican revolution” Lazaro Cardenas The PRI lost for the first time in over 70 years Then Mexico’s first left-wing president was elected in And despite geopolitical turmoil, the economy actually still stays relatively steady and doesn’t spike or dip So that’s good. And here we are today. Some notable people of Mexico or of Mexican descent may include: Historical figures like Moctezuma and Cuauhtémoc Athletes Like: Rafael Marquez Alvarez, Hugo Sanchez soccer players Singers like: Oh, and if you ask any like American Mexican, they all love Selena. Actors like: And even though she’s not Mexican, Lupita Nyong’o was born in Mexico and they, you guys love her right? With you Yeah. Of course everybody knows Nobel Prize winners Some other notable people may include and Carlos Slim Helu whose entire net worth was about 7% of Mexico’s GDP at one point. Yeah, he had a lot of business in other countries in Latin America in the world. And speaking of relations with other countries… FRIENDZONE So Mexico is quite the social butterfly. The monarch social butterfly from Michoacan! First of all. In Asia, the Philippines are another former Spanish colony and they’re kind of like the interesting random Asian cousin that shows up that you didn’t realize you had. They generally get along, just not in boxing. Japan was the first Asian country to come in contact with Latin America and today they can travel visa-free. Japan has opened up factories in Mexico and was the first country to respond after the recent earthquake. And Mexico was the first to send aid after the recent tsunami. In Latin America, most Mexicans might say the countries of the Pacific Alliance, Colombia, Chile and Peru. These countries have not only had a tide history under Spanish rule, and do great business with each other. But they also piggyback off of each other’s cultures and they love watching Mexican TV shows and movies. Mexicans love visiting these places. It’s almost like they’re just visiting extended family. In regards to Spain, all the colonial animosity has died down fortunately. We’re cool now with Spanish people and they love visiting Mexico. Like we mentioned in the Canada episode, Mexicans have been flocking to Canada in recent years after the visa requirements were lifted and the Canadian government actually encourages immigration to help assist of workforce. Now, we reach the US. I know. I know. You’ve heard the headlines. It seems kind of complicated but if we look at the overall scope of diplomacy, Despite any political hindrances, the US and Mexico always seem to have an unbreakable bond that still survives. The US has somewhere around 11 million Mexicans living in it today which makes up the largest migrant group out of all immigrants. About 80% of Mexico’s exports go to the US and the US makes up about half of Mexico’s imports. They cooperate very closely in international affairs. Usually backing up similar Western values that the US stands by. And overall, no matter how crazy things get, they can’t help but be there for each other in the end. In conclusion: Cesar, what do you think you would say about Mexico? Well, it’s almost as if the people of Mexico kind of laugh at the face of destruction. We have volcanoes, earthquakes, drama, but we colorfully play and dance with death. It doesn’t bother us. If anything, ironically, it fuels us with even more life. Very well said. Stay tuned, Micronesia The Federated States of Micronesia is coming up next. ¡Viva Mexico!