- With 110 million people, Mexico’s population is one-third that of the US. Mexico has the second largest economy in Latin America, behind only Brazil.
- The UN categorizes the Mexican economy as upper middle income. It is the only Latin American member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group comprised of the most advanced industrial societies in the world. Yet wealth is very unevenly distributed; over 40% of Mexicans are poor, of whom nearly 14% live in extreme poverty. Mexico is also home to one of the world’s three richest individuals, telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim, whose net worth has been estimated to be the equivalent of around 5% of Mexico’s total GDP.
- Mexico shares a 2000-mile land border with the United States. There are an estimated 1 million legal crossings of the US-Mexico border each day and numerous illegal crossings. Up to 250,000 private vehicles and 12,000 trucks cross daily. Mexico sends 82% of its exports to US markets, and up to 50% of foreign investment in Mexico comes from the US. Mexican nationals working in the US sent home $23 billion in remittances in 2007. Remittances, oil, and tourism are Mexico’s three largest sources of income; all are highly US-dependent.
- Mexico is the second largest foreign supplier of oil to the US (behind only Canada) and the sixth largest oil-exporting nation in the world, but is not a member of OPEC. Revenues of the national oil company Pemex account for 40% of government revenue. The majority of Mexico’s oil is pumped by over 3000 drilling stations located in the Gulf of Mexico, along the typical trajectory for hurricanes each year.
- Mexico City is the nation’s capital and epicenter. With over 20 million people in the greater metropolitan area, it is the second largest city in the world, after Tokyo.
- One of Mexico’s greatest liabilities is its education system. Mexican workers are considered less educated and skilled than their Chinese or Indian counterparts, yet they are paid more and are thus less competitive in the global marketplace.
- Mexico is active in international institutions. It is a founding member of the UN and has served as a rotating, non-permanent member of the UN Security Council several times, including currently. It is a signatory to major international treaties and conventions, including the Kyoto Protocol, the International Criminal Court, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (none of which have been ratified by the US).
- Mexico has three main political parties – the PRI, the PAN, and the PRD. Current President Felipe Calderon hails from the PAN party, and is only the second President elected from a party other than the PRI in 80 years. PRI dominance ended with the 2000 election of Vicente Fox, also from the PAN party. The 2006 election of Calderon was extremely close with PRD candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador losing by only one half of one percent of the vote.
- Mid-term elections in July 2009 produced a resurgence in PRI strength as the party made significant gains in both the lower house of the Mexican Congress and in state and local offices, delivering a blow to President Calderon and the PAN party’s influence. Voters were thought to be expressing dissatisfaction with the economy and mounting drug violence. Despite ongoing efforts to curb the violence, June 2009 saw record numbers of deaths related to the drug wars, with 800 people killed in one month.
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