The people of Mexico have a rich cultural and social heritage. Kindness and courage are the hallmark of a true Mexican. It is these attributes that have made the country what it is today. A courageous spirit pushed Mexicans to fight for their independence and a kind heart has allowed the natives to incorporate other communities into the country’s meshwork.
Despite having fought many wars in their past, Mexicans have continued to hold on to their festive spirit. In fact, every holiday in Mexico, whether national, religious or specific to a region, has a festival of its own. Religion is also at the core of the Mexican.
Whether it’s practicing Catholicism in its true form or a form of Christianity embellished with traditional practices, Mexicans are known the world over for their strong religious systems. This love for religion has made Mexico a moral society. Below are a few facts about Mexico that you should know about.
Mexico’s population is about 119 million people, making it the largest Spanish speaking country in the world. Slightly over 70% resides in urban centers, with the rest living in rural districts.
The country’s population is relatively young. 64% of Mexicans are between the ages of 15 and 65 years. A further 30% of the population is below 15. Only 6% are above the age of 65, this despite the country’s high life expectancy of 76 years.
© Pngbot - Mexico Population Growth 1961-2003
The most populous region is the State of Mexico, which has about 14.4 million people. It is closely followed by the Federal State with about nine million, Veracruz with seven million, Jalisco with just over six million and Puebla with about five million.
© Addicted04 - Mexican States Population Density
Border towns have also seen consistent growth over the years, perhaps from the implementation of the duty free agreement between the US and Mexico, which improved business prospects in such towns.
The country's population could be affected in the future due to the increasing numbers of Mexicans moving to the US.
A rich history has made Mexico very ethnically diverse. The following are ethnic groups that make up Mexico:
The native Mexicans draw their roots from the rich Maya heritage. Other subsections are descendants of the Miztecs, Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Otomi and Nahua. There are sixty two native languages spoken in Mexico. About fifteen percent of the country identifies themselves as indigenous Mexicans.
© Gabriel Saldana - Indigenous Mexicans
The descendants of European Mexicans came with the Spanish conquest. Others came from North America as well as other parts of Europe.
Most of the European populations reside in the North of the country, while some others can be found in the central regions. Their descendants were involved in huge investments in Mexico and thus they mostly work in business establishments and not on farms.
A vast majority of Mexicans identify with this ethnicity. Mestizo refers to a group of people who can trace their roots from both indigenous ethnicity and European ancestry.
Mestizo resulted from the intermarriage of native Mexicans and European settlers during the Spanish consequents and subsequent years. In an effort to unite Mexico and give the country a national identity, the government has continuously promoted this term to incorporate Mexicans' diversity.
The term is no longer widely used because in some indigenous circles, it is used to describe an individual who alienates themselves from their culture.
Predominantly found in the North, Afro-Mexicans are few and not always easy to identify. Due to intermarriages with Europeans and Indigenous Mexicans, they are often of mixed race and identify themselves as Mestizos. Truly indigenous Afro-Mexicans are recent immigrants from Africa or Caribbean countries.
A few Mexicans identify with Asian and Arab ancestry. They are, however, very few, because a vast majority has been assimilated into the Mestizo heritage. Thus, it is uncommon to find a wholly Arab or Asian population in Mexico. Immigrants from Lebanon and the Philippines are few and far between.
Depiction of the Comanche by George Catlin
Spanish is the country’s national language. It is the most widely spoken language in the country and virtually all Mexicans can speak it fluently.
There are 62 indigenous languages spoken by the native groups of Mexico. These can be divided into four families according to history and how the dialects relate to each other.
The main subsection is the Mayan group, which varies according to the region. Mayan group languages include Chol, Wastek and many more. Another subsection is the Mixe-Zoquean language group, which encompasses languages spoken by the Mixe and Zoquean tribes. Other subsections are the Totonacan and Oto–Manguean groups.
© Yavidaxiu - Map of the Indigenous Mexican Languages
A few minority groups are found in Mexico and speak a variety of languages. The most common minority languages spoken are Catalan and the Venetian dialects.
The most common language spoken by immigrants and expatriates is English, followed by Portuguese, then others like German, Greek, Italian, Chinese and Japanese.
89% of Mexicans are Catholic, thus the church is closely interwoven into an individual’s social support system. Many of the small towns are named after saints and on particular days the locals hold festivities in their honor. Some indigenous groups still practice their traditional religions. They create traditional healing remedies and read palms to foretell the future.
© Jiuguang Wang - Cathedral of Campeche
Mexico is a very social society, which can be seen from the sheer number festivals the people celebrate. Traditional costumes are worn in these celebrations and traditional Mexican music is also played. This society places a major emphasis on religious ceremonies.
© Bogdan Migulski - Day of the Dead Celebration
On a girl's 15th birthday, a rite of passage ceremony is performed to mark her transition into womanhood. This ceremony is called ‘quinceanera’. Typically, the girl dances with her father. The father then presents her with a pair of pumps, which she exchanges with her flat shoes to denote the transition.
Another rite of passage occurs on a lady’s matrimonial day. Here, the groom presents her with 15 golden coins as a sign of his trust. Accepting the gold coins proves her love for him.
Mexico’s family life puts a strong emphasis on unity and love for each other.
Is the family system in Mexico matriarchal? The answer is no. The family system here is largely patriarchal. Roles are clear cut for mothers, fathers as well as children. Mothers are generally nurturers and they are expected to cook, clean and take care of all domestic aspects of the house. Fathers, on the other hand, are key decision makers tasked with providing for the family and having overall authority in the household.
© Kyle M Lease - Mexican Family
The Mexican society appears to have a strong focus on masculinity and men are expected to be strong and aggressive. True to that, the term machismo has its roots in Mexico.
On a kinder note, the country's culture places family needs above individual desires. This emphasis is responsible for the creation of close knit family systems in Mexico. Typically, families live in the same locality and sometimes even in the same house.
Although family values are changing with modern times, many of these traditional values continue to be the norm in Mexico.