Mexico City

From Academic Kids

Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
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Latitude 19° 24′-19° 03′ N
Longitude 98° 57′-99° 22′ W
Head of Government Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Surface (km²) 1,547 km² (D.F.)
4,986 km² (Greater Mexico City)
Population 8,605,239 hab. (2000) (D.F.)
Density (hab/km²) 5,799/km² (2000)
Time zone (UTC) -6 UTC CST
Postal code DF
ISO 3166-2 code MX-DIF
Calling codes Country +52 / Area 55

Mexico City (Spanish: Ciudad de México) is the federal capital of, and largest city in, Mexico. It geographically spans the north portion of the Distrito Federal ("D.F."), although the metropolitan area extends to the state of México to the north of the Federal District, and to the state of Hidalgo. According to government statistics Mexico City is the largest most populous conurbation in North America, and second in the world, after Tokyo, with approximately 17 million people. Though its urban area is the third most populous in the world, what is officially known as Mexico City (under the limits of the Federal District) is the most populous city in the world; that is, the greatest number of people governed by one mayor.

Mexico City is centered at geographic coordinates Template:Coor dm in south central Mexico. Greater Mexico City forms a rough ellipse 40 km (24.9 mi.) east to west and 60 km (37.3 mi.) north to south and has a total area of approximately 5,000 km² (1,391 mi.²), making Mexico City the largest in the world.

The city's average elevation is 2,240 metres (7,349 feet) above sea level.



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The National Museum of Anthropology

See main article: History of Mexico City For the Pre-Columbian history of the city, see: Tenochtitlan.

Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés first arrived in the area, then the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, in 1519, but did not succeed in conquering the city until August 13, 1521, after long fierce fighting that destroyed most of the old Aztec city.

The city served as the capital of the viceroyalty of New Spain from c. 1525 to the outbreak of the War of Independence in 1810, and of the various Mexican states afterwards.

Most of Mexico City's growth in population occurred in the late 20th century. In 1950 the city had about 3 million inhabitants. By 2000 the estimated population for the city proper was around 18 million.

The city hosted the 1968 Summer Olympics.

At 07:17 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. USGS Earthquake Report (

Modern Mexico City


Famous landmarks in Mexico City include the Zócalo, the main central square with its time clashing Spanish-era Cathedral, modern-times Palacio Nacional, and ancient Aztec temple ruins. (The Templo Mayor was found in the early 1900s while digging to place underground electric wires.)
A view along Paseo de la Reforma, a 12-km-long avenue in Mexico City showing the , the tallest skyscraper in Latin America at 225m
A view along Paseo de la Reforma, a 12-km-long avenue in Mexico City showing the Torre Mayor, the tallest skyscraper in Latin America at 225m
The trademark golden Angel of Independence found on the wide, elegant avenue Paseo de la Reforma, modeled after the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The Avenida de los Insurgentes, locally said to be the longest street in the world, goes 28.8 km (18 miles) from end to end of the city.
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The Chapultepec Palace on top of a hill in the Chapultepec Park

Chapultepec park houses the Chapultepec Palace museum on a hill that overlooks the park and its numerous museums, monuments and the national zoo; the National Museum of Anthropology, the Bellas Artes – Fine Arts Palace which is a stunning white marble theater/museum whose weight is such that it has gradually been sinking into the soft ground below, the Plaza of the Three Cultures in the Tlatelolco neighborhood, and the shrine and Basilicas of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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


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 the 1960s. One of the busiest in the world, the metro transports more than 4 million people every day, surpassed only by Moscow's (7.5 million), Tokyo's (5.9 million) and Seoul's (4.4 million). It is heavily subsidized, and it is one of 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 was discovered during the metro's construction. However, the Metro reaches only a fraction of the total inhabited area of the city, 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 and superior service. Electric transport other than the metro also exists, in the form of trolleybuses and the Xochimilco Light Rail line. A new project is under construction to create the city's first bus rapid transit line, the Metrobs, on Avenida Insurgentes, in order to reduce pollution and decrease transit time for passangers.

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Taxis in Mexico City

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. The freeway system is so dense that there has been an ongoing project to make a second level to the main freeway that is to this day already partionally operational.

Mexico City is served by Benito Juárez International Airport (IATA Airport Code: MEX). It has four major bus stations (North, South, Observatorio, TAPO), with bus service to cities across the country, and one train station, used for commercial purposes (intercity passenger trains are now virtually non-existent in Mexico). There is also has several toll expressways which connect it with several other major cities. Unfortunately, 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.

Urban Problems

As one of the largest urban areas in the world, Mexico City suffers from no shortage of the problems common of many large cities, including traffic, poverty, and pollution. This is perhaps exacerbated by Mexico's developing country status. This city has a high number of street children. The mountains and volcanoes surrounding the city trap polluted air in the city and contribute to the city's serious problem with poor air quality, although major strides have been made to improve the pollution situation in the past 20 years or so.

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. Visitors are advised to avoid attracting attention to themselves while strolling through streets around the Zcalo and other downtown areas, as people (particularly tourists) are targeted by the many pickpocketers, robbers and kidnappers that roam the area. Avoiding the metro at night, using taxis from established locales (hotels and such) and carrying neither large amounts of money nor jewelry in the downtown area also help.

These problems are especially prevalent within the public transportation system. 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.

The astonishing kidnapping figures are mostly accounted for by cases of middle-class individuals who, driving around in new cars or wearing expensive outfits, give the impression of possessing large amounts of money, and are abducted (some times for several days) in order to empty their bank acounts.

This being said, the information concerning the crime rates of Mexico City is widely accepted to be exaggerated, mostly for political reasons. While still a very insecure place, one can visit and live a perfectly normal life without ever being a victim of crime.

It is a generalized theory among Mexican political analysts, that insecurity, not only in Mexico City, is rooted in great class-differences that continue to grow. While some middle-class individuals eventually rise to a wealthy situation, most people's income is continually decreasing, giving the average Mexican the feeling that money is taken away from them so that a few individuals can buy expensive automobiles. This, based partially on reality, is a problem not only deriving from the economic system, but also from the social values which encourage wealthy individuals to display their status through posessions, rather than invest their money in job-creating business.

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 Tlhuac allowed themselves to be whipped up into a frenzy by the local criminal elements and burned two undercover police officers alive [1] ( and seriously injured another, on rumors that they were child kidnappers.


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The Angel of Independence monument in the heart of Mexico City

Due to its special situation as the home of the federal government of Mexico, the local government of Mexico City has gone through several incarnations. Since Mexico's independence, the city has sometimes had an independent local government and other times (the greater part of the 20th century) has been administered directly by the President of the Republic, who delegated his authority to a "Head of the Federal District Department", known more tersely as the Regente ("Regent" in English).

This kind of political organization caused much resentment among the inhabitants of the city because for many years they were deprived of a government that properly represented them. The most serious situation arose in 1988 when people from Mexico City clearly voted for opposition candidates, despite which they were ruled for six years by the party that won the federal presidency.

Under these circumstances, political reform became inevitable. First a local legislative assembly was established, and people were able to elect their mayor (jefe de gobierno or "Head of Government") for the first time (both institutions still had limited powers dependent on the federal congress and president).

The first elected head of government was Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, a former presidential candidate (who was, according to many, cheated out of victory in the closely fought 1988 presidential election). Cárdenas resigned later to compete in the 2000 presidential campaign and left in his place Rosario Robles, who became the first woman to govern Mexico City.

A measure of the democratic development in Mexico is that the current (2000-06) chief of government in the Federal District is Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the PRD, which has an left-leaning ideology (and even has some former members of the Communist Party among its numbers), while at the same time, the federal government has a conservative president, Vicente Fox Quesada.

López Obrador was removed from duty as Head of Government in the Federal District on April 7, 2005. With 360 votes (489 total) from the Chamber of Deputies, he was removed because he failed to obey a judge's order to stop a road from being built. It is called populary as "desafuero". This issue created a political crisis, which was resolved by the judiciary's ultimate decision to refrain from prosecuting Lpez Obrador.


Mexico City was traditionally known as la Ciudad de los Palacios ("the City of Palaces"). Since first winning power in 1997, however, the democratically elected local administrations of the PRD have 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.

Mexico City is also widely known as Chilangolandia ("Chilangoland"), derived from chilango, an informal demonym for the city's inhabitants. In the northwest of Mexico, where chilangos are known as guachos, the variant Guchington, D.F. is also heard.


Mexico City is divided into 16 boroughs called delegaciones, which are further divided into colonias or neighborhoods. The delegaciones are:

List of Boroughs of the Mexican Federal District

External links

ca:Ciutat de Mxic da:Mexico City de:Mexiko-Stadt et:Mxico es:Ciudad de Mxico eo:Meksikurbo fr:Mexico ko:멕시코 시 io:Mexiko it:Citt del Messico he:מקסיקו סיטי la:Mexicopolis nl:Mexico-stad ja:メキシコシティ no:Mexico by pl:Meksyk (miasto) pt:Cidade do Mxico ro:Mexico sk:Mexiko (mesto) fi:Mxico sv:Mexico City zh:墨西哥城 ru:Мехико


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