Mexico presents a rather complex and contradictory situation: according to some economic and social indicators the country is close to the most developed states, the literacy rate has reached 90% and the average life expectancy is around 72 years; however, it continues to present serious imbalances in the distribution of income and social conditions, with inequalities evident above all in the context of immigration conditions of the suburban masses in the metropolitan suburbs and, in particular, with regard to access to services.
In 1998 the population of Mexico almost reached 96 million residents and the demographic weight continues to grow strongly as a consequence of a high birth rate (about 3 %). The urban population stood at 74 % of the total, a value that is incremented at a rate around the 2, 5 % per annum. The distribution of the population shows areas with a high population density that are increasing further, coinciding with the historical regions of the population, located in the central-southern plateau; these are counterpointed by low or very low density areas, coinciding with the Yucatán and the arid lands of the North.
The metropolitan region of Mexico City is one of the largest urban agglomerations on Earth. At the 1995 census, the capital, within the limits of the federal district, had 8,489,000 residents, and in the metropolitan area 16,674,160. In the capital region, population growth, fueled by large immigration flows, has been so strong that the population has more than fivefold since the early 20th century.Century. Mexico City is also the major political, economic and functional pole, the place where the most important financial, productive and decision-making institutions are concentrated, as well as the cultural capital of the country, where however the contrast between great wealth and pockets of poverty and marginalization, between ultra-modern and multifunctional complexes and poor and obsolete neighborhoods. An urban constellation of centers gravitating around the capital has developed around Mexico City, including Toluca de Lerdo, a pole of the textile industry, Morelia, a historic city and manufacturing center, Pachuca, the largest center of the country’s main mining district, ‘Hidalgo, and again Cuernavaca and Puebla itself.
The second city by demographic and functional weight remains Guadalajara, which has almost 3.5 million residents in its metropolitan area. (1995) and is today an important manufacturing center. Other industrial cities are Monterrey, the largest center of heavy industry after the capital, and León (with 3 million and 1 million residents in their respective metropolitan areas). Numerous double cities have grown along the border with the United States, such as Ciudad Juárez and Matamoros, which correspond, respectively, to El Paso in New Mexico and Brownsville in Texas; however, the major urban pole of north-central Mexico remains Chihuahua (627.662ab.). The southern part of the country appears much less urbanized, where Mérida, capital of the Yucatán and agricultural and tourist center, stands out. Also linked to the development of tourism are the centers of Tijuana (contiguous to San Diego in US California) and Mexicali, in the beautiful peninsula of Baja California. On the southern Pacific coast the only relevant city is the famous Acapulco de Juárez. Cities over 100. 000 residents there are about sixty, of which about twenty exceed or touch half a million, with recent growth, partly due to immigration from rural areas.
Since the end of the 1980s, Mexico has experienced a phase of rapid economic and social transformations which have produced significant effects on the territorial organization. There has been a growing liberalization of the economy and a strengthening of economic ties with Anglo-Saxon America, which have had beneficial effects on the disastrous economic situation: a process of diversification and liberalization has been initiated, with the dismantling of the traditional corporate apparatuses and the drastic containment of social assistance, privatization in the financial and productive fields and the opening of the country to foreign investors. Most of the sacrifices required by the new political-economic approach have been oriented towards1992 and entered into force in 1994 ; moreover, again between 1993 and 1994, Mexico joined the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) and the OECD. The combination of these choices gave new impetus to the Mexican economy, which in the early 1990s achieved good results on a macroeconomic scale, such as the drastic containment of inflation (from the average 70 % per year in the 1980s to 10 % in 1993), the reduction of unemployment, the expansion of domestic production and exports. However, the costs of the new liberal course and of the confrontation with the globalization of the economy have contributed to exacerbating dangerous social tensions and worrying signs of recession, as well as political-institutional instability. The climate of uncertainty was accompanied by heavy economic repercussions, which from 1994-95 generated strong financial repercussions (see below, Economic and financial policy) and a worsening of the living conditions of the weaker classes, already severely affected by the downsizing of the ‘state assistance and restructuring of the productive apparatus; in addition, there has been a rapid development of the shadow economy,% of the active population and produces 30 % of GDP. In the late 1990s, Mexicans living below the poverty line have almost doubled, as has the unemployment rate again increased as a result of the contraction of the labor market, in the face of a substantial increase in the population. An evident sign of the hardship and difficulties in which a considerable percentage of the population lives is represented by the massive phenomenon of emigration, largely clandestine, which has the neighboring United States as its main destination and which often causes tensions between the two governments.
Agriculture, damaged in 1996 by an extraordinary drought and the consequent disastrous decline in cereal production, occupies an increasingly reduced role as a sector penalized by the political choices of recent decades, which have privileged the development of industry; the most advanced and rational agricultural forms remain in the context of large private companies, mostly dedicated to export production (cotton, agave for the fiber of the henequén, oil plants, tropical and temperate fruits, first fruits, coffee, cocoa and sugar cane). Mexico now imports basic agricultural commodities, because internal production is no longer able to meet the needs. Subsistence crops are mainly those of cereals (corn, wheat, sorghum, barley, rice), those of legumes (beans) and vegetables: crops prevalent in the tierras templadas of the plateau, except that of rice, grown in the hot and lowlands. wet coastal areas. In the livestock sector, poultry farming (300 million birds) and cattle breeding (26.9) prevailmillion head), the latter practiced in large farms located in the northern part of the country. Another important sector is that of fish, mainly present in the Gulf of California and along the coasts of the Yucatán; shellfish and crustacean production is largely absorbed by the US market. For Mexico economics and business, please check businesscarriers.com.
The country exploits huge mineral resources, including liquid hydrocarbons and precious and metallic minerals, holds the world record of silver and stands out for the production of lead and zinc. Of great importance are the oil fields (including offshore) which are mainly located in the regions bordering the Gulf of Mexico; oil production (170.6 million t in 1997, the sixth largest producer in the world, second in Latin America after Venezuela) and of natural gas fuels the refining and petrochemical industries, but a large part of the crude oil is transported to the ports of embarkation through an articulated network of oil pipelines. The secondary sector has gradually modernized and diversified, thanks to the government support policy and foreign investments: the leading sectors remain the chemical, petrochemical, mechanical, electromechanical and steel industries, while the textile and food sectors remain significant. Tourism has presented a great expansion in recent years, thanks also to the development of communication routes and accommodation infrastructures. The annual flow is estimated at around 20 million visitors (19,million in 1997), which mostly pour into seaside resorts and regions rich in historical-monumental testimonies, in many cases with devastating effects on the territory. This environmental emergency is added to the others that afflict urbanized and industrialized areas: air pollution rates reach high levels, not only in Mexico City, but also in other urban sites of the plateau, because the effects of vehicle emissions and of industries combine with those of altitude. The UN surveys (1994) assess the national protected areas in 63, extending over 10 million ha, ie just over 5 % of the territorial surface. The forest areas covered in the1995 about 25 % of the land area.