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About Mexico

The United Mexican States, or simply Mexico is a country located in North America. It has borders with the United States of America to the north; the Pacific Ocean to the south and west, the Gulf of México to the east, and Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea the southeast. México is a federal constitutional republic comprising 31 states and a Federal District (DF) which is home to the national capital, Mexico City, one of the largest cities in the world.

Covering almost 2 million square kilometers, Mexico is the 5th largest country in the continent and the 15th largest in the world. With an estimated population of around 110 million, it is the 11th most populous country and the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world.

 

Health and Saftey

Mexico City is relatively untouched by the drug-related problems in other parts of the country. However, it is a big city and it has some areas that are unadvisable to go walking through, especially at night. For your safety, it is best to take taxis from registered taxi ranks, avoid walking anywhere at night, and try to stay in areas recommended by a guide book or helpful person. Don't have any valuables (camera, mp3 player, etc.) on display, especially if you are in crowded places like the metro or the city centre.

Mexico City is located in a valley surrounded by mountains, at around 3000m above sea level. In November the weather in Mexico City is dry, with monthly average temperatures ranging from 5 to 22 °C (47 to 72 °F). The sun is not too hot but may be stronger than you are used to, and the altitude can make any form of exercise more difficult and take some adjusting to.

 

Climate

Mexico City is located in a valley surrounded by mountains, at around 3000m above sea level. In November the weather in Mexico City is dry, with monthly average temperatures ranging from 5 to 22 °C (47 to 72 °F). The sun is not too hot but may be stronger than you are used to, and the altitude can make any form of exercise more difficult and take some adjusting to.

 

Language and culture

Most of the taxi drivers and shop attendants at the airport and major hotels will speak a little english, but in the rest of the city it is unlikely that you will be able to get by without speaking at least a bit of spanish.

Mexico is a fascinating place with a mixture of Spanish colonial and diverse indigenous histories and cultures. The food is so good that it was declared world heritage by UNESCO, and is extremely varied from state to state. We thoroughly recommend you try to see a bit of the culture while you are here!

 

Places to see:

Here is a short list in no particular order.

Museo Nacional de Antropologia
Visiting this museum is mandatory for every schoolchild in Mexico, and it should be the same for tourists. Here you will find artifacts and information on the most important civilizations that flourished before the conquest by the Spanish, as well as temporary exhibitions and even Egyptian sarcophagi (see huge fountain on the left).
Castillo de Chapultepec (and Museo de Historia)
This castle on the top of a hill in Chapultepec Park was the residence of Maximiliano de Habsburgo, the Austrian prince instated as Emperor of Mexico by the conservative forces in Mexico in the mid 1800's, with the help of the French army. Defended by young army cadets (Los Ninos Heroes) in 1847 against the US invasion, today it houses the History Museum (Museo de Historia).

Zocalo (or Plaza de la Constitucion)
One of the largest plazas in the world, it is flanked by the National Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral. A relatively recent finding, the ruins of the Aztec "Templo Mayor" have been unearthed at one of the corners of the Zocalo.

Palacio de Bellas Artes
A beautiful builiding made in part of italian marble; take a look at the murals painted by mexican maestros like Rivera and Siqueiros and enjoy the architecture in general. You can stop at the coffee shop and the store. Click for image. Across the street visit "Correos", a beautiful building housing the post office.

Also great but outside the zones described here:

Piramides de Teotihuacan
The Pyramid of the Sun is the third largest in the world. Climb to the top and admire the "Calzada de los Muertos", a mile long corridor at the end of which you will find the Pyramid of the Moon. After visiting the site try the restaurant "La Gruta", located in an actual cave. Hotels can sometimes provide information about tours going to the pyramids (about 45 min north of the city).
Canales de Xochimilco
Enjoy mariachi music and a beer touring abord a "trajinera", picturesque boats for hire that roam the canals. I would go to Xochimilco in groups, but it is a lot of fun. The Trajineras
Universidad Nacional (UNAM), Ciudad Universitaria
Among the largest universities in the world, UNAM is the top academic research center in Latinamerica; it is home to the "Estadio Olimpico" used for the 1968 Olympic Games. At UNAM, look for the Library Building and the "Museo Universitario".

Basilica de Guadalupe
At the bottom of the hill where the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to the indian Juan Diego almost 500 years ago, the new Basilica is home to the miraculous image left by the Virgin, together with a message of unity and faith. Next to it is the old Basilica (now leaning on its side, see the photograph) and a museum. If you are Catholic go to the Basilica, don't miss it.

(original source of information)

 

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Instituto de Ingeniería, UNAM (2011-2012). Apartado Postal 70-472, Ciudad Universitaria, 04510, México, D.F.
Tel: + (52) 55 5623-3600 ext. 8682 Fax: +(52) 55 5616-2164
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