Geography - Mexico

A Land of Mountains

*two large ranges are on each coast1) Sierra Madre Occidental2) Sierra Madre Oriental*Mexico's largest region, the Central Plateau, is between the ranges*Baja California is on the western side*Yucatan Peninsula is on the eastern side

The Central Plateau

*Mexico's most important region*contains about 80% of the population*region is very unstable geologically-four tectonic plates meet under the plateau--this causes frequent earthquakes*climate conditions make this a popular region to live in*higher elevations help keep the climate stable

Coastal Regions

1) Northern Pacific Coast2) Southern Pacific Coast3) Sierra Madre del Sur4) Gulf Coastal Plain5) Yucatan Peninsula

Northern Pacific Coast

*very dry and hot*population is limited by climate and terrain

Southern Pacific Coast

*very narrow (14 miles wide)

Sierra Madre del Sur

*towers above the coast*very popular region for tourism

Gulf Coastal Plain

*vital to Mexico's economy*petroleum and natural gas are found here

Yucatan Peninsula

*generally flat*many sinkholes develop under the limestone*ancient Mayan ruins attract many visitors

From Empire to Colony

*Mayans built large cities in Mexico and Central America between 250 and 900 AD-known for studying the stars and creating a detailed calendar*their civilization suddenly collapsed sometime after 900 AD*Aztecs built a powerful empire*their capital, Tenochtitlan, is on the present site of Mexico City*Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernan Cortes, destroyed the Aztec empire (in 1521)*four social classes settled into New Spain*Indians worked on haciendas-these were large, Spanish-owned states-almost was like slavery*the catholic priest, Miguel Hidalgo, led the Criollos rebellion against the Spanish*Mexico gained its independence in 1821*Mexican revolution began in 1910-this led to the current democratic republic

Mexico Today

*official language is Spanish*most people are catholic*the government uses land redistribution to break up haciendas*most of the land became ejidos-farmland owned collectively-most ejido farmers are subsistence farmers (farm for themselves)*commercial farms are called latifundios-cash crops are popular on commercial farm*many landless, jobless peasants became migrant workers*major industries are petroleum and tourism