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Vacation Mexico

Updated on November 12, 2008

About Mexico

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Mexico is a country in North America and the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. It also has the largest number of American Indian language speakers on the continent (the majority speaking Nahuatl, Mayan, Mixtec and Zapotec). Human presence in Mexico has been shown to date back 40,000 years based upon ancient human footprints discovered in the Valley of Mexico (previous evidence substantiated indigenous inhabitants at 12,500 years ago). For thousands of years, what is now known as Mexico was a land of hunter-gatherers. Around 9,000 years ago, ancient Amerindians domesticated corn and initiated an agricultural revolution, leading to the formation of many complex civilizations. These civilizations revolved around cities with writing, monumental architecture, astronomical studies, mathematics, and militaries. After 4,000 years, these civilizations were destroyed with the arrival of the Spaniards in 1519. For three centuries, Mexico was colonized by Spain, during which time the majority of its indigenous population died off. Formal independence from Spain was recognized in 1821. A war with the United States ended with Mexico losing almost half of its territory in 1848. France then invaded Mexico in 1861 and ruled briefly until 1867. The Mexican Revolution would later result in the death of 10% of the nation's population. Since then, Mexico as a nation-state has struggled with reconciling its deeply-entrenched indigenous heritage with the demands of the modern Western cultural model imposed in 1519. The nation's name is derived from the Aztec's capital called Mexico-Tenochtitlan.

Chichén Itzá
Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá is the largest of the ruined Mayan cities on the Yucatan Peninsula and one of Mexico's most-visited tourist destinations. Construction began in the 7th century and the city reached its peak after the arrival of the Toltecs in the 10th century.

Coba, Yucatán
Coba, Yucatán

Coba, Yucatán

Coba is a Mayan site located in the wild eastern half of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, just an hour's drive or bus ride from Tulum.

Coba is in a poor state of preservation and much of it is still unexcavated, but it is notable for its extensive system of ceremonial roads, remote jungle landscape and several interesting pyramids - including the tallest pyramid on the Yucatán Peninsula .

Great Pyramid of Cholula
Great Pyramid of Cholula

Great Pyramid of Cholula

The Great Pyramid of Cholula is a huge temple-pyramid complex located in the small town of Cholula, ten minutes outside of Puebla on the old highway to Mexico City.

Mummy Museum, Guanajuato
Mummy Museum, Guanajuato

Mummy Museum, Guanajuato

The Museo de las Momias in the little province of Guanajuato in Mexico is full of the exhumed, mummified bodies of unfortunate locals who could no longer pay their graveyard rent.

Kabah
Kabah

Kabah

Kabah is a Mayan site on the Yucatán Peninsula connected to nearby Uxmal by a ceremonial causeway. Its buildings date from about the 9th century and are in the Puuc style of architecture. Kabah is best known for its extraordinary palace that is completely covered in masks of the hook-nosed rain god Chac.

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