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Title: Mexicans  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Jahir Ocampo, Coat of arms of Mexico, Diego Estrada (athlete), Gustavo Couttolenc, History of Mexican Americans in Texas
Collection: Mexican People
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


George Rosenkranz
Total population


(Mexican citizens: c. 120 million; Mexican ancestry: c. 34 million)
Regions with significant populations
 Mexico 120,286,655 [1]
 United States 34,586,088 (2013)a[2]
 Canada 96,005 b[3]
 Spain 21,107 c[4]
 Guatemala 14,481 d[5]
 Germany 13,969 e[6]
 Italy 6,798[7]
 Brazil 6,625[8]
 United Kingdom 5,297 f[9]
 Paraguay 4,187[10]
 Costa Rica 4,000 g[11]
 Netherlands 3,758[12]
 Australia 3,500[13]
Spanish, English and 62 indigenous linguistic groups of Amerindian languages.
Roman Catholicism 82.7% · Protestantism 9.7%
Non-religious 4.7% · other faith 2.9% (incl.
Judaism · Islam · Buddhism · Hinduism · Folk religions)
Related ethnic groups
other Latin Americans

a Mexican American b Mexican Canadian
c Mexican immigration to Spain
d Mexicans in Guatemala
e Mexican immigration to Germany
f Mexicans in the United Kingdom

g Mexican immigration to Costa Rica

Mexicans (Spanish: Mexicanos) are the people of Mexico, a multiethnic country in North America, and those who identify with the Mexican cultural and/or national identity.

The Mexica founded Mexico-Tenochtitlan in 1325 as an altepetl (city-state) located on an island in Lake Texcoco, in the Valley of Mexico. It became the capital of the expanding Mexica Empire in the 15th century,[14] until captured by the Spanish in 1521. At its peak, it was the largest city in the Pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today the ruins of Tenochtitlan are located in the central part of Mexico City.

The modern nation of Mexico achieved independence from the [15]

The most spoken language by Mexicans is Mexican Spanish, but some may also speak languages from 62 different indigenous linguistic groups and other languages brought to Mexico by recent immigration or learned by Mexican immigrants residing in other nations. There are about 12 million Mexican nationals residing outside of Mexico, with about 11.7 million[16] living in the United States. The larger Mexican diaspora can also include individuals that trace ancestry to Mexico and self-identify as Mexican.


  • History 1
  • Definitions 2
  • Ethnic groups 3
    • Indigenous Mexicans 3.1
    • Mestizo Mexicans 3.2
    • European Mexicans 3.3
    • Afro-Mexicans 3.4
    • Asian Mexicans 3.5
    • Arab Mexicans 3.6
    • 1921 Census 3.7
    • Today 3.8
  • Population genetics 4
  • Languages 5
  • Culture 6
    • Literature 6.1
    • Science 6.2
    • Music 6.3
    • Cinema 6.4
    • Visual arts 6.5
  • Religion 7
  • See also 8
  • Works cited 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11


The Mexican people have varied origins and an identity that has evolved with the succession of conquests among Amerindian groups and later by Europeans. The area that is now modern-day Mexico has cradled many predecessor civilizations, going back as far as the Olmec which influenced the latter civilizations of Teotihuacan (200 B.C. to 700 A.D.) and the much debated Toltec people who flourished around the 10th and 12th centuries A.D., and ending with the last great indigenous civilization before the Spanish Conquest, the Aztecs (March 13, 1325 to August 13, 1521). The Nahuatl language was a common tongue in the region of modern Central Mexico during the Aztec Empire, but after the arrival of Europeans the common language of the region became Spanish.

After the conquest of the Aztec empire, the Spanish re-administered the land and expanded their own empire beyond the former boundaries of the Aztec, adding more territory to the Mexican sphere of influence which remained under the Spanish Crown for 300 years. Cultural diffusion and intermixing among the Amerindian populations with the European created the modern Mexican identity which is a mixture of regional indigenous and European cultures that evolved into a national culture during the Spanish period. This new identity was defined as "Mexican" shortly after the Mexican War of Independence and was more invigorated and developed after the Mexican Revolution when the Constitution of 1917 officially established Mexico as an indivisible pluricultural nation founded on its indigenous roots.


Music and dance during a One Flower ceremony, from the Florentine Codex.

Mexicano (Mexican) is derived from the word Mexico itself. In the principal model to create demonyms in Spanish, the suffix -ano is added to the name of the place of origin.

It has been suggested that the name of the country is derived from Mextli or Mēxihtli, a secret name for the god of war and patron of the Mexicas, Huitzilopochtli, in which case Mēxihco means "Place where Huitzilopochtli lives".[17] Another hypothesis[18] suggests that Mēxihco derives from a portmanteau of the Nahuatl words for "Moon" (Mētztli) and navel (xīctli). This meaning ("Place at the Center of the Moon") might then refer to Tenochtitlan's position in the middle of Lake Texcoco. The system of interconnected lakes, of which Texcoco formed the center, had the form of a rabbit, which the Mesoamericans pareidolically associated with the Moon. Still another hypothesis suggests that it is derived from Mēctli, the goddess of maguey.[18]

The term Mexicano as a word to describe the different peoples of the region of Mexico as a single group emerged in the 16th century. In that time the term did not apply to a nationality nor to the geographical limits of the modern Mexican Republic. The term was used for the first time in the first document printed in Barcelona in 1566 which documented the expedition which launched from the port in Acapulco to find the best route which would favor a return journey from the Spanish East Indies to New Spain. The document stated: "el venturoso descubrimiento que los Mexicanos han hecho" (the venturous discovery that the Mexicans have made). That discovery led to the Manila galleon trade route and those "Mexicans" referred to Criollos, Mestizos and Amerindians alluding to a plurality of persons who participated for a common end: the conquest of the Philippines in 1565. (Gómez M., et al. 56)

Ethnic groups

Indigenous Mexicans

Benito Juárez was the first President of Indigenous descent in Mexico

The Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Languages recognizes 62 indigenous languages as "national languages" which have the same validity as Spanish in all territories in which they are spoken.[19] According to the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Data Processing (INEGI), approximately 5.4% of the population speaks an indigenous language – that is, approximately half of those identified as indigenous.[20] The recognition of indigenous languages and the protection of indigenous cultures is granted not only to the ethnic groups indigenous to modern-day Mexican territory, but also to other North American indigenous groups that migrated to Mexico from the United States[21] in the nineteenth century and those who immigrated from Guatemala in the 1980s.[22]

According to the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas, or CDI in Spanish) and the INEGI (official census institute), there are 15.7 million indigenous people in Mexico,[23] of many different ethnic groups,[24] which constitute 14.9% of the population in the country. The number of indigenous Mexicans is judged using the political criteria found in the 2nd article of the Mexican constitution. The Mexican census does not report racial-ethnicity but only the cultural-ethnicity of indigenous communities that preserve their indigenous languages, traditions, beliefs, and cultures.[25]

In 2011 a large scale mitochondrial sequencing in Mexican Americans revealed 85 to 90% of mtDNA lineages of Native American origin, with the remainder having European (5-7%) or African ancestry (3-5%). Thus the observed frequency of Native American mtDNA in Mexican/Mexican Americans is higher than was expected on the basis of autosomal estimates of Native American admixture for these populations i.e. ~ 30-46%[26]

The absolute indigenous population is growing, but at a slower rate than the rest of the population so that the percentage of indigenous peoples is nonetheless falling.[20][27][28] The majority of the indigenous population is concentrated in the central and southern states, that are generally the least developed, and the majority of the indigenous population live in rural areas.

Some indigenous communities have a degree of autonomy under the legislation of "usos y costumbres", which allows them to regulate some internal issues under customary law.

According to the CDI, the [30]

The majority of the indigenous population is concentrated in the central and southern states. According to the CDI, the states with the greatest percentage of indigenous population are:[31]

The category of "indigena" (indigenous) can be defined narrowly according to linguistic criteria including only persons that speak one of Mexico's 62 indigenous languages, this is the categorization used by the National Mexican Institute of Statistics. It can also be defined broadly to include all persons who selfidentify as having an indigenous cultural background, whether or not they speak the language of the indigenous group they identify with. This means that the percentage of the Mexican population defined as "indigenous" varies according to the definition applied, cultural activists have referred to the usage of the narrow definition of the term for census purposes as "statistical genocide".[32][33]

Mestizo Mexicans

President Porfirio Diaz was of Mestizo descent

A large majority of Mexicans have been classified as "Mestizos", meaning in modern Mexican usage that they identify fully neither with any indigenous culture nor with a particular non-Mexican heritage, but rather identify as having cultural traits and heritage incorporating elements from indigenous and European traditions. By the deliberate efforts of post-revolutionary governments the "Mestizo identity" was constructed as the base of the modern Mexican national identity, through a process of cultural synthesis referred to as mestizaje . Mexican politicians and reformers such as José Vasconcelos and Manuel Gamio were instrumental in building a Mexican national identity on the concept of mestizaje.[34][35]

Cultural policies in early post-revolutionary Mexico were paternalistic towards the indigenous people, with efforts designed to "help" indigenous peoples achieve the same level of progress as the rest of society, eventually assimilating indigenous peoples completely to Mestizo Mexican culture, working toward the goal of eventually solving the "Indian problem" by transforming indigenous communities into mestizo communities.[36]

Since the mestizo identity promoted by the government is more of a cultural identity than a biological one it has achieved a strong influence in the country, with a good number of biologically white people identifying with it, leading to being considered mestizos in Mexico's demographic investigations and censuses due the ethnic criteria having its base on cultural traits rather than biological ones.[37] A similar situation occurs regarding the distinctions between indigenous peoples and mestizos: while the term mestizo is sometimes used in English with the meaning of a person with mixed indigenous and European blood, this usage does not conform to the Mexican social reality where a person of pure indigenous genetic heritage would be considered Mestizo either by rejecting his indigenous culture or by not speaking an indigenous language,[38] and a person with a very low percentage of indigenous genetic heritage would be considered fully indigenous either by speaking an indigenous language or by identifying with a particular indigenous cultural heritage.[39][40][41]

The term "Mestizo" is not in wide use in Mexican society today and has been dropped as a category in population censuses; it is, however, still used in social and cultural studies when referring to the non-indigenous part of the Mexican population. The word has somewhat pejorative connotations and most of the Mexican citizens who would be defined as mestizos in the sociological literature would probably self-identify primarily as Mexicans. In the Yucatán peninsula the word Mestizo is even used about Maya-speaking populations living in traditional communities, because during the caste war of the late 19th century those Maya who did not join the rebellion were classified as mestizos.[42] In Chiapas the word "Ladino" is used instead of mestizo.[43]

European Mexicans

Mexican girls of European ancestry in Zapopan, Jalisco.

White Mexicans are

  • Oster, Patrick, The Mexicans: a personal portrait of a people, New York : HarperCollins, 2002. ISBN 0-06-097310-2

Further reading

Navarrete Linares, Federico (2008). Los pueblos indígenas de México (PDF online facsimile). Pueblos Indígenas del México Contemporáneo series (in Español). México, D.F.:  
Satish Kumar*, Claire Bellis, Mark Zlojutro, Phillip E Melton, John Blangero and Joanne E Curran (2011). Large scale mitochondrial sequencing in Mexican Americans suggests a reappraisal of Native American origins (PDF). 
  1. ^
  2. ^ US Census Bureau 2013 American Community Survey B03001 1-Year Estimates HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN retrieved September 27, 2014
  3. ^ [6], National Household Survey (NHS) Profile, 2011
  4. ^ "Mexicanos en España INE 2007". 2001-05-28. Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  5. ^ Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior 2010
  6. ^ "Anzahl der Ausländer in Deutschland nach Herkunftsland (Stand: 31. Dezember 2014)". 
  7. ^ Bolivia - Censo de Población y Vivienda 2001
  8. ^ "Statische Bundesamt Deutschland". Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  9. ^ "Argentina - Población extrenjera residente en Argentina de 2000–2008". Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  10. ^ "; Mexicanos en Reino Unido". Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  11. ^ "INED France- INED". Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  13. ^ "Mexicans seek sanctuary in Australia".  
  14. ^ "Tenochtitlán, la capital azteca". Retrieved 8 April 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Wimmer, Andreas, 2002. Nationalist exclusion and ethnic conflict: shadows of modernity, Cambridge University Press page 115
  16. ^ "Los mexicanos en Estados Unidos: La importancia de sus contribuciones" (PDF). Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  17. ^ Aguilar-Moreno, Manuel (2006). Handbook to Life in the Aztec World. Facts of Life. p. 19.  
  18. ^ a b "Nombre del Estado de México" (in Spanish). Government of the State of Mexico. Archived from the original on April 27, 2007. Retrieved October 3, 2007. 
  19. ^ Ley General de Derechos Lingüísticos de los Pueblos Indígenas
  20. ^ a b "Indicadores seleccionados sobre la población hablante de lengua indígena, 1950 a 2005". Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  21. ^ Kikapú
  22. ^ Aguacatecos, cakchiqueles, ixiles, kekchíes, tecos, quichés. (Chiapas)
  23. ^ Defined as persons who live in a household where an indigenous language is spoken by one of the adult family members, and or people who self identified as indigenous ("Criteria del hogar: De esta manera, se establece, que los hogares indígenas son aquellos en donde el jefe y/o el cónyuge y/o padre o madre del jefe y/o suegro o suegra del jefe hablan una lengua indígena y también aquellos que declararon pertenecer a un grupo indígena."[7])AND persons who speak an indigenous language but who do not live in such a household (Por lo antes mencionado, la Comisión Nacional Para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas de México (CDI) considera población indígena (PI) a todas las personas que forman parte de un hogar indígena, donde el jefe(a) del hogar, su cónyuge y/o alguno de los ascendientes (madre o padre, madrastra o padrastro, abuelo(a), bisabuelo(a), tatarabuelo(a), suegro(a)) declaro ser hablante de lengua indígena. Además, también incluye a personas que declararon hablar alguna lengua indígena y que no forman parte de estos hogares [8])
  24. ^ "Síntesis de Resultados" (PDF). Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas. 2006. Retrieved 2010-12-22. 
  25. ^ National Commission for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples
  26. ^ "For mtDNA variation, some studies have measured Native American, European and African contributions to Mexican and Mexican American populations, revealing 85 to 90% of mtDNA lineages are of Native American origin, with the remainder having European (5-7%) or African ancestry (3-5%). Thus the observed frequency of Native American mtDNA in Mexican/Mexican Americans is higher than was expected on the basis of autosomal estimates of Native American admixture for these populations i.e. ~ 30-46%. The difference is indicative of directional mating involving preferentially immigrant men and Native American women. This type of genetic asymmetry has been observed in other populations, including Brazilian individuals of African ancestry, as the analysis of sex specific and autosomal markers has revealed evidence for substantial European admixture that was mediated mostly through men. In our 384 completely sequenced Mexican American mitochondrial genomes, 12 (3.1%) are of African ancestry belonging to haplogroups L0a1a’3’, L2a1, L3b, L3d and U6a7; 52 (13.6%) belong to European haplogroups HV, JT, U1, U4, U5; and K and the majority (320, 83.3%) are of Native American ancestry." [9]
  27. ^ "INEGI: Cada vez más mexicanos hablan una lengua indígena - Nacional - CNNMé". 2011-03-30. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  28. ^ National Commission for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples
  29. ^ "Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas. México". Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas. México". Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  32. ^ Knight (1990:73-74)
  33. ^ Bartolomé (1996:3-4)
  34. ^ Wade (1981:32)
  35. ^ Knight (1990:78–85)
  36. ^ Bartolomé (1996:5)
  37. ^ "Composición Étnica de las Tres Áreas Culturales del Continente Americano al Comienzo del Siglo XXI" (PDF). Academic investigation (in Spanish). university of the State of Mexico. 2005. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  38. ^ Bartolomé, Miguel Alberto (1996). "Pluralismo cultural y redefinicion del estado en México". in Coloquio sobre derechos indígenas" (PDF). Oaxaca: IOC. p. 2. En primer lugar cabe destacar que en México la pertenencia racial no es un indicador relevante ni suficiente para denotar una adscripción étnica específica. [...] Por lo tanto es relativamente factible realizar el llamado tránsito étnico, es decir que un indígena puede llegar a incorporarse al sector mestizo a través de la renuncia a su cultura tradicional y si sus condiciones materiales se lo permiten. 
  39. ^ Knight, Alan (2010-09-01). "The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870–1940". In Richard Graham. The Idea of Race in Latin America: 1870-1940. University of Texas Press. p. 73.  
  40. ^ Schaefer, Richard T. (ed.) (2008). Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity and Society. Sage. p. 900.  
  41. ^ Wade, Peter (1997-05-20). Race And Ethnicity In Latin America. Pluto Press.  
  42. ^ Bartolomé (1996:2)
  43. ^ Wade (1997:44–47)
  44. ^ a b en el año de 1808 aproximadamente el 60% de la población de lo que sería México pertenecía a la categoría étnica de indígena, el 18% eran europeos o de origen europeo (de los cuales la inmensa mayoría eran criollos nacidos en México).
  45. ^ a b "Encyclopedia Britannica: Mexico Ethnic groups". 
  46. ^ Large differences in the variation of individual admixture estimates were seen across populations, with the variance in Native American ancestry between individuals ranging from 0.005 in Quetalmahue to 0.07 in Mexico City.
  47. ^ "[Gene geography of Chile: regional distribution of American, European and African genetic contributions].". Rev Med Chil 142 (3): 281–9. Mar 2014.  
  48. ^ "Gene admixture in the Costa Rican population.". Ann. Hum. Genet. 67 (Pt 1): 71–80. 2013-03-25.  
  49. ^ a b c "Geographic Patterns of Genome Admixture in Latin American Mestizos". Plos genetics. 2008-03-21.  
  50. ^ "Genetic admixture in three Mexican Mestizo populations based on D1S80 and HLA-DQA1 loci.". Am J Hum Biol 14 (2): 257–63.  
  51. ^ a b In the total population sample, paternal ancestry was predominately European (64.9%), followed by Native American (30.8%) and African (4.2%). However, the European ancestry was prevalent in the north and west (66.7–95%) and, conversely, Native American ancestry increased in the center and southeast (37–50%), whereas the African ancestry was low and relatively homogeneous (0–8.8%), Journal of Human Genetics.
  52. ^ Genetic structure of the populations migrating from San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas to Nuevo León in Mexico.
  53. ^ Knight, Alan. 1990. "Racism, Revolution and indigenismo: Mexico 1910–1940". Chapter 4 in The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870–1940. Richard Graham (ed.) pp. 78–85)
  54. ^ Navarrete, Federico. "El mestizaje y las culturas" [Mixed race and cultures]. México Multicultural (in Spanish). Mexico:  
  55. ^ Los-indios-barbaros-de.html
  56. ^ a b "Negro? Prieto? Moreno? A Question of Identity for Black Mexicans". New York Times. Retrieved November 1, 2014. 
  57. ^ Tatiana Seijas (2014). Asian Slaves in Colonial Mexico: From Chinos to Indian. Cambridge University Press. p. 21.  
  58. ^ Leslie Bethell (1984). Leslie Bethell, ed. The Cambridge History of Latin America. Volume 2 of The Cambridge History of Latin America: Colonial Latin America. I-II (illustrated, reprint ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 21.  
  59. ^ Ignacio López-Calvo (2013). The Affinity of the Eye: Writing Nikkei in Peru. Fernando Iwasaki. University of Arizona Press. p. 134.  
  60. ^ Dirk Hoerder (2002). Cultures in Contact: World Migrations in the Second Millennium. Andrew Gordon, Alexander Keyssar, Daniel James. Duke University Press. p. 200.  
  61. ^ Buchenau, Jürgen (Spring 2001). "Small Numbers, Great Impact: Mexico and Its Immigrants, 1821-1973" (PDF). Journal of American Ethnic History 20 (3): 35. 
  62. ^
  63. ^ Marin-Guzman, Roberto and Zidane Zeraoui. Arab Immigration in Mexico in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Assimilation and Arab Heritage. (Book Review) Industry & Business Article - Research, News, Information, Contacts, Divisions, Subsidiaries, Business Associations
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  65. ^ Discovery Mexico: Travel Guide and Booking - Discovery Mexico
  67. ^ "Composición Étnica de las Tres Áreas Culturales del Continente Americano al Comienzo del Siglo XXI" (PDF). Academic investigation (in Spanish). university of the State of Mexico. 2005. p. 196. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  68. ^ [10], pages 40-43.
  69. ^ Frudakis, Tony Nick (2008). Molecular photofitting: predicting ancestry and phenotype using DNA. Elsevier. p. 348.  
  70. ^ Bartolomé (1996:2)" fundadores de una "nación mexicana"."
  71. ^ Knight (1990:74)
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  73. ^ "Large scale mitochondrial sequencing in Mexican Americans suggests a reappraisal of Native American origins" (PDF). 7 October 2011. 
  74. ^ Results of the study per state
  75. ^ List of chromosomes found in Mexico
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  • Gómez M., et al. Historia de México: Texto de Consulta Para Educación Media Superior. Mexico: Limusa, 2006.
  • Moot Rodriguez, Modern History of Mexico, Universidad de Chan, Mexico, 2002.
  • Knight, Alan. 1990. "Racism, Revolution and indigenismo: Mexico 1910–1940". Chapter 4 in The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870–1940. Richard Graham (ed.) pp. 71–113.
  • Wade, Peter. 1997. Race and Ethnicity in Latin America. Pluto Press.
  • Bartolomé, Miguel Alberto. (1996) "Pluralismo cultural y redefinicion del estado en México". in Coloquio sobre derechos indígenas, Oaxaca, IOC.[105]
  • Friedlander, Judith. 1975. Being Indian in Hueyapan: A Study of Forced Identity in Contemporary Mexico. New York: Saint Martin's Press.

Works cited

See also

The Catholic Church is the dominant religion in Mexico, with about 82.7% of the population as of 2010. In recent decades the number of Catholics has been declining, due to the growth of other Christian denominations (especially various Protestant churches and Mormonism), which now constitute 9.7% of the population, and non-Christian religions. Despite this, conversion to non-Catholic denominations has been considerably slower than in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. An estimated 2 to 5 million Mexicans (~2% to ~4.5%) adhere to the Santa Muerte Religion, though most of them continue to declare themselves as members of the Catholic Church.[102] Movements of return and revival of the indigenous Mesoamerican religions (Mexicayotl, Toltecayotl) have also appeared in recent decades.[103][104] Islam and Buddhism have both made limited inroads, through immigration and conversion.

In 1992, Mexico lifted almost all restrictions on the religions, including granting all religious groups legal status, conceding them limited property, and lifting restrictions on the number of priests in the country.[101] Until recently, priests did not have the right to vote, and even now they cannot be elected to public office.

Mexico has no official religion, and the Constitution of 1917 imposed limitations on the church and sometimes codified state intrusion into church matters. The government does not provide financial contributions to the church, nor does the church participate in public education. However, Christmas is a national holiday and every year during Easter and Christmas all schools in Mexico, public and private, send their students on vacation.

Religion in Mexico (2010)[100]

  Catholic Church (82.7%)
  Other Christians (9.7%)
  Other religions (2.9%)
  Non-religious (4.7%)
Huitzilopochtli, patron god of the Mexica.


Post-revolutionary art in Mexico had its expression in the works of renowned artists such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo, Federico Cantú Garza, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Juan O'Gorman. Diego Rivera, the most well-known figure of Mexican muralism, painted the Man at the Crossroads at the Rockefeller Center in New York City, a huge mural that was destroyed the next year because of the inclusion of a portrait of Russian communist leader Lenin.[99] Some of Rivera's murals are displayed at the Mexican National Palace and the Palace of Fine Arts.

Visual arts

More recently, films such as Como agua para chocolate (1992), Cronos (1993), Y tu mamá también (2001), and Pan's Labyrinth (2006) have been successful in creating universal stories about contemporary subjects, and were internationally recognised, as in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Mexican directors Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores perros, Babel), Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Guillermo del Toro, Carlos Carrera (The Crime of Father Amaro), and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga are some of the most known present-day film makers.



Some well-known Mexican singers are Thalía, Luis Miguel, Alejandro Fernández, Julieta Venegas and Paulina Rubio. Mexican singers of traditional music are: Lila Downs, Susana Harp, Jaramar, GEO Meneses and Alejandra Robles. Popular groups are Café Tacuba, Molotov and Maná, among others. Since the early years of the 2000s (decade), Mexican rock has seen widespread growth both domestically and internationally.

Mexican society enjoys a vast array of music genres, showing the diversity of Mexican culture. Traditional music includes Mariachi, Banda, Norteño, Ranchera and Corridos; on an everyday basis most Mexicans listen to contemporary music such as pop, rock, etc. in both English and Spanish. Mexico has the largest media industry in Hispanic America, producing Mexican artists who are famous in Central and South America and parts of Europe, especially Spain.


The electronics industry of Mexico has grown enormously within the last decade. In 2007 Mexico surpassed South Korea as the second largest manufacturer of televisions, and in 2008 Mexico surpassed China, South Korea and Taiwan to become the largest producer of smartphones in the world. There are almost half a million (451,000) students enrolled in electronics engineering programs.[98]

In recent years, the largest scientific project being developed in Mexico was the construction of the Large Millimeter Telescope (Gran Telescopio Milimétrico, GMT), the world's largest and most sensitive single-aperture telescope in its frequency range.[97] It was designed to observe regions of space obscured by stellar dust.

In 1995 the Mexican chemist Mario J. Molina shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Paul J. Crutzen and F. Sherwood Rowland for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone.[95] Molina, an alumnus of UNAM, became the first Mexican citizen to win the Nobel Prize in science.[96]

The National Autonomous University of Mexico was officially established in 1910,[90] and the university become one of the most important institutes of higher learning in Mexico.[91] UNAM provides world class education in science, medicine, and engineering.[92] Many scientific institutes and new institutes of higher learning, such as National Polytechnic Institute (founded in 1936),[93] were established during the first half of the 20th century. Most of the new research institutes were created within UNAM. Twelve institutes were integrated into UNAM from 1929 to 1973.[94] In 1959, the Mexican Academy of Sciences was created to coordinate scientific efforts between academics.

Andrés Manuel del Río discovered the element vanadium.[89]


Other writers include Alfonso Reyes, José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi, Ignacio Manuel Altamirano, Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz (Nobel Laureate), Renato Leduc, Carlos Monsiváis, Elena Poniatowska, Mariano Azuela ("Los de abajo") and Juan Rulfo ("Pedro Páramo"). Bruno Traven wrote "Canasta de cuentos mexicanos", "El tesoro de la Sierra Madre."

In light of the various ethnicities that formed the Mexican people, José Vasconcelos in his publication La Raza Cósmica (The Cosmic Race) (1925) defined Mexico to be the melting pot of all races, biologically as well as culturally.[88]

The literature of Mexico has its antecedents in the literatures of the indigenous settlements of Mesoamerica. The most well known prehispanic poet is Nezahualcoyotl. Modern Mexican literature was influenced by the concepts of the Spanish colonialization of Mesoamerica. Outstanding writers and poets from the Spanish period include Juan Ruiz de Alarcón and Juana Inés de la Cruz.

Juana Inés de la Cruz, 17th century poet and writer.


The Porfirian era (el Porfiriato), in the last quarter of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, was marked by economic progress and peace. After four decades of civil unrest and war, Mexico saw the development of philosophy and the arts, promoted by President Díaz himself. Since that time, as accentuated during the Mexican Revolution, cultural identity has had its foundation in the mestizaje, of which the indigenous (i.e. Amerindian) element is the core. In light of the various ethnicities that formed the Mexican people, José Vasconcelos in his publication La Raza Cósmica (The Cosmic Race) (1925) defined Mexico to be the melting pot of all races (thus extending the definition of the mestizo) not only biologically but culturally as well.[88] This exalting of mestizaje was a revolutionary idea that sharply contrasted with the idea of a superior pure race prevalent in Europe at the time.

Mexican culture reflects the complexity of the country's history through the blending of indigenous cultures and the culture of Spain, imparted during Spain's 300-year colonization of Mexico. Exogenous cultural elements mainly from the United States have been incorporated into Mexican culture.

Detail of a lithograph showing fandango dancers, the women are wearing the China Poblana dress and the men are in chinaco (chinaco) attire.


Although the city of Puebla has grown so far as to almost absorb it, the town of Chipilo remained isolated for much of the 20th century. Thus, the Cipiłàn/chipileños, unlike other European immigrants that came to Mexico, did not blend into the Mexican culture and retained most of their traditions and their language. To this day, most of the people in Chipilo speak the Venetan or Venetian of their great-grandparents. The variant of the Venetan language spoken by the Cipiłàni/chipileñi is the northern Traixàn-Fheltrìn-Bełumàt. Surprisingly, it has been barely altered by Spanish, as compared to how the dialect of the northern Veneto has been altered by Italian. Given the number of speakers of Venetan, and even though the state government has not done so, the Venetan language has to be considered a minority language in the State of Puebla.

Chipilo Venetian or Chipileño is a diaspora language currently spoken by the descendants of some five hundred 19th century Venetian immigrants to Mexico. The Venetians settled in the State of Puebla, founding the city of Chipilo. This Venetian variety is also spoken in other communities in Veracruz and Querétaro, places where the chipileños settled as well.

Mexico has no official de jure language,[82] but as of 2003 it recognizes 62 indigenous Amerindian languages as "national languages" along with Spanish which are protected under Mexican National law giving indigenous peoples the entitlement to request public services and documents in their native languages.[83] The law also includes other Amerindian languages regardless of origin, that is, it includes the Amerindian languages of other ethnic groups that are non-native to the Mexican national territory. As such, Mexico's National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples recognizes the language of the Kickapoo who immigrated from the United States,[84] and recognizes the languages of Guatemalan Amerindian refugees.[85] The most numerous indigenous language spoken by Mexicans is Nahuatl which is spoken by 1.7% of the population in Mexico over the age of 5. Approximately 6,044,547 Mexicans (5.4%) speak an indigenous language according to the 2000 Census in Mexico.[86] There are also Mexicans living abroad which speak indigenous languages mostly in the United States but their number is unknown.[87]

Mexican Spanish is distinct in dialect, tone and syntax to the Peninsular Spanish spoken in Spain. It contains a large amount of loan words from indigenous languages, mostly from the Nahuatl language such as: "chocolate", "tomate", "mezquite", "chile", and "coyote".[81]

Mexicans are linguistically diverse, with many speaking European languages as well as various Indigenous Mexican Languages. Spanish is spoken by approximately 92.17% of Mexicans as their first language making them the largest Spanish speaking group in the world[79] followed by Colombia (45,273,925), Spain (41,063,259)[80] and Argentina (40,134,425). Although the great majority speak Spanish de facto the second most populous language among Mexicans is English due to the regional proximity of the United States which calls for a bilingual relationship in order to conduct business and trade as well as the migration of Mexicans into that country who adopt it as a second language.

Grammar of Mexican language by Carochi
Mexico is home to some of the worlds oldest writing systems such as Mayan Script. Maya writing uses logograms complemented by a set of alphabetical or syllabic glyphs and characters, similar in function to modern Japanese writing.


Additional studies suggests a tendency relating a higher European admixture with a higher socioeconomic status and a higher Amerindian ancestry with a lower socioeconomic status: a study made exclusively on low income Mestizos residing in Mexico City found the mean admixture to be 0.590, 0.348, and 0.062 for Amerindian, European and African respectively whereas the European admixture increased to an average of around 70% on mestizos belonging to a higher socioeconomical level.[78]

The same study found that the Mexico's haplogroup was most similar to the European one, with the percentage of Haplotypes shared being 81%, followed by the Asian haplogroup with 74% and finally the African haplogroup, with a share rate of 64%. It was also noted by the investigators that the African admixture in general didn't come directly from the African slaves brought by the Europeans, but was already part of the genetic admixture of the colonizers themselves.[77] Another study which took place in Mexico city found the Mexican mestizo population to be the one who present the largest variation out of all the mestizo groups of Hispanic America (with its mestizos being either largely European or Amerindian rather than having a uniform admixture) The results of this study are similar to the ones made by the INMEGEN with the European admixture being 56.8% followed by the Asian ancestry with 39.8% and a small African contribution of 3.4%.[49]

A study conducted by Mexico's National Institute of Genomic Medicine (INMEGEN) reported that mestizo Mexicans are 58.96% European, 35.05% "Asian" (Amerindian mostly), and 5.03% African. Sonora shows the highest European contribution (70.63%) and Guerrero the lowest (51.98%) which also has the highest Asian contribution (37.17%). African contribution ranges from 2.8% in Sonora to 11.13% in Veracruz. 80% of the Mexican population was classed as mestizo (defined as "being racially mixed in some degree"). The study was realized with volunteers from 6 states and an indigenous group known as Zapotecs, with these being Sonora, Zacatecas, Veracruz, Guanajuato, Oaxaca and Yucatán (Mexico is composed of 31 states and one federal district)[76]

A study published in 2011 on Mexican Mitochondrial DNA found that maternal ancestry was predominately Native American (85-90%), with a minority having European (5-7%) or African (3-5%) mtDNA.[72][73] A study published by the Journal of Human Genetics found the Y chromosomes of the Mexican mestizo population to be predominately European (64.9%), followed by Native American (30.8%) and African (4.2%). The European Y chromosome was more prevalent in the north and west (66.7-95%) and Native American ancestry increased in the center and southeast (37-50%), the African ancestry was low and relatively homogeneous (0-8.8%).[51] The states that participated in this study where Aguascalientes, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Durango, Guerrero, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Veracruz and Yucatán.[74] The largest amount of chromosomes found were identified as belonging to the haplogroups from Western Europe, East Europe and Euroasia, Siberia and the Americas and Northern Europe with relatively smaller traces of haplogroups from Central Asia, South-east Asia, South-central Asia, Western Asia, The Caucasus, North Africa, Near East, East Asia, North-east Asia, South-west Asia and the Middle East.[75]

The Mexican mestizo population is the most diverse of all the mestizo groups of Hispanic America, with its mestizos being either largely European or Amerindian rather than having a uniform admixture.[49]
An 18th-century casta painting show an indigenous woman with her Spanish husband and their Mestizo child.

Population genetics

Very generally speaking ethnic relations can be arranged on an axis between the two extremes of European and Amerindian cultural heritage, this is a remnant of the Spanish caste system which categorized individuals according to their perceived level of biological mixture between the two groups. Additionally the presence of considerable portions of the population with partly African and Asian heritage further complicates the situation.[69] Even though it still arranges persons along the line between indigenous and European, in practice the classificatory system is no longer biologically based, but rather mixes socio-cultural traits with phenotypical traits, and classification is largely fluid, allowing individuals to move between categories and define their ethnic and racial identities situationally.[70][71]

Ethnic relations in modern Mexico have grown out of the historical context of the arrival of Europeans, the subsequent Spanish period of cultural and genetic miscegenation within the frame work of the castas system, the revolutionary periods focus on incorporating all ethnic and racial group into a common Mexican national identity and the indigenous revival of the late 20th century. The resulting picture has been called "a peculiar form of multi-ethnic nationalism".[15]

Nowadays people of different ethnicities coexist under the same Mexican national identity, although discrimination due to skin color still exists.[68]
Racial and ethnic composition in Mexico - (Encyclopædia Britannica) [45]
Race Percent of population
Other: Afro-Mexican, Asian Mexican


This was the last Mexican Census which asked people to self-identify themselves with an heritage other than Amerindian. However, the census had the particularity that, unlike racial/ethnic census in other countries, it was focused in the perception of cultural heritage rather than in a racial perception, leading to a good number of white people to identify with "Mixed heritage" due cultural influence.[67]

Federative Units Mestizo Population (%) Amerindian Population (%) White Population (%)
Mexico 60% 29% 10%
Aguascalientes 66% 16% 17%
Baja California 64% 7% 28%
Campeche 41% 43% 15%
Coahuila 79% 10% 11%
Colima 68% 26% 6%
Chiapas 36% 47% 16%
Chihuahua 50% 12% 37%
Federal District 55% 18% 26%
Durango 79% 10% 11%
Guanajuato 66% 3% 30%
Guerrero 54% 44% 2%
Hidalgo 51% 39% 9%
Jalisco 56% 16% 27%
State of Mexico 47% 42% 10%
Michoacan 70% 20% 9%
Morelos 61% 35% 4%
Nayarit 66% 18% 15%
Nuevo Leon 65% 5% 29%
Oaxaca 28% 69% 2%
Puebla 39% 54% 6%
Querétaro 70% 19% 11%
Quintana Roo 77% 13% 10%
San Luis Potosí 62% 30% 7%
Sinaloa 88% 1% 10%
Sonora 40% 13% 46%
Tabasco 70% 15% 15%
Tamaulipas 69% 13% 17%
Tlaxcala 42% 54% 3%
Veracruz 47% 35% 17%
Yucatán 44% 43% 13%
Zacatecas 86% 8% 5%
  1. "Indígena pura" (of pure indigenous heritage)
  2. "Indígena mezclada con blanca" (of mixed indigenous and white heritage, the term mestizo itself wasn't used by the government in this census)
  3. "Blanca" (of White or Spanish heritage)
  4. "Extranjeros sin distinción de razas" (Foreigners without racial distinction)
  5. "Cualquiera otra o que se ignora la raza" (Either other or chose to ignore the race)

The Mexican Government asked Mexicans about their perception of their own racial heritage. In the 1921 census, residents of the Mexican Republic were asked if they fell into one of the following categories:[66]

1921 Census

The majority of Arab-Mexicans are Christians who belong to the Maronite Church, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. A scant number are Muslims and Jews of Middle Eastern origins.

Another concentration of Arab-Mexicans is in Baja California facing the U.S.-Mexican border, esp. in cities of Mexicali in the Imperial Valley U.S./Mexico, and Tijuana across from San Diego with a large Arab American community (about 280,000), some of whose families have relatives in Mexico. 45% of Arab Mexicans are of Lebanese descent.

Immigration of Arabs in Mexico has influenced Mexican culture, in particular food, where they have introduced Kibbeh, Tabbouleh and even created recipes such as Tacos Árabes. By 1765, Dates, which originated from the Middle East, were introduced into Mexico by the Spaniards. The fusion between Arab and Mexican food has highly influenced the Yucatecan cuisine.[65]

During the Israel-Lebanon war in 1948 and during the Six-Day War, thousands of Lebanese left Lebanon and went to Mexico. They first arrived in Veracruz. Although Arabs made up less than 5% of the total immigrant population in Mexico during the 1930s, they constituted half of the immigrant economic activity.[64]

Arab immigration to Mexico started in the 19th and early 20th centuries.[63] Roughly 100,000 Arabic-speakers settled in Mexico during this time period. They came mostly from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Iraq and settled in significant numbers in Nayarit, Puebla, Mexico City and the Northern part of the country (mainly in the states of Baja California, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango, as well as the city of Tampico and Guadalajara . The term "Arab Mexican" may include ethnic groups that do not in fact identify as Arab.

The interethnic marriage in the Arab community, regardless of religious affiliation, is very high; most community members have only one parent who has Arab ethnicity. As a result of this, the Arab community in Mexico shows marked language shift away from Arabic. Only a few speak any Arabic, and such knowledge is often limited to a few basic words. Instead the majority, especially those of younger generations, speak Spanish as a first language. Today, the most common Arabic surnames in Mexico include Nader, Hayek, Ali, Haddad, Nasser, Malik, Abed, Mansoor, Harb and Elias.

An Arab Mexican is a Mexican citizen of Arabic-speaking origin who can be of various ancestral origins. The vast majority of Mexico's 1.1 million Arabs are from either Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi, or Palestinian background.[62]

Arab Mexicans

Asians, predominantly Chinese, became Mexico’s fastest-growing immigrant group from the 1880s to the 1920s, exploding from about 1,500 in 1895 to more than 20,000 in 1910.[61]

These early individuals are not very apparent in modern Mexico for two main reasons: the widespread mestizaje of Mexico during the Spanish period and the common practice of Chino slaves to "pass" as Indios (the indigenous people of Mexico) in order to attain freedom. As had occurred with a large portion of Mexico's black population, over generations the Asian populace was absorbed into the general Mestizo population. Facilitating this miscegenation was the assimilation of Asians into the indigenous population. The indigenous people were legally protected from chattel slavery, and by being recognized as part of this group, Asian slaves could claim they were wrongly enslaved.

Asian immigration began with the arrival of Filipinos to Mexico during the Spanish period. For two and a half centuries, between 1565 and 1815, many Filipinos and Mexicans sailed to and from Mexico and the Philippines as sailors, crews, slaves, prisoners, adventurers and soldiers in the Manila-Acapulco Galleon assisting Spain in its trade between Asia and the Americas. Also on these voyages, thousands of Asian individuals (mostly males) were brought to Mexico as slaves and were called "Chino",[57] which meant Chinese. Although in reality they were of diverse origins, including Japanese, Koreans, Malays, Filipinos, Javanese, Cambodians, Timorese, and people from Bengal, India, Ceylon, Makassar, Tidore, Terenate, and China.[58][59][60] A notable example is the story of Catarina de San Juan (Mirra), an Indian girl captured by the Portuguese and sold into slavery in Manila. She arrived in New Spain and eventually she gave rise to the "China Poblana".

Asian Mexicans make up less than 1% of the total population of modern Mexico, nonetheless they are a notable minority. Due to the historical and contemporary perception in Mexican society of what constitutes Asian culture (associated with the Far East rather than the Near East), Asian Mexicans are of East, South and Southeast Asian descent and Mexicans of West Asian descent are not considered to be part of the group.

Asian Mexicans

The majority of Mexico's native Afro-descendants are Afromestizos, i.e. "mixed-race". Individuals with significantly high amounts of African ancestry make up a very low percentage of the total Mexican population, the majority being recent black immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere in the Americas. As Mexico does not ask for race in its census, there is no exact number of Afro-descendants, with the most widely accepted number being 450,000 individuals of significant African descent. There has been a push by advocate groups for the government to include the question of whether an individual considers themselves to be black. This is seen as a stepping stone for the eventual goal of attaining constitutional recognition for the ethnic group. In 2015, as part of a national housing and population survey of 6.1 million households, a broad snapshot of the country in between the main censuses, the question will be asked.[56] The sample will allow for an official estimate of the total black population in Mexico and the results will be used to formulate the 2020 census (including what Afro-descendants prefer to be called, be it afromexicanos, negros, afrodescendientes etc.).[56]

Afro-Mexicans are an ethnic group that predominate in certain areas of Mexico. Such as the Costa Chica of Oaxaca and the Costa Chica of Guerrero, Veracruz (e.g. Yanga) and in some towns in northern Mexico. The existence of blacks in Mexico is unknown, denied or diminished in both Mexico and abroad for a number of reasons: their small numbers, heavy intermarriage with other ethnic groups and Mexico’s tradition of defining itself as a “mestizaje” or mixing of European and indigenous. Mexico did have an active slave trade since the early Spanish period but from the beginning, intermarriage and mixed race offspring created an elaborate caste system. This system broke down in the very late Spanish period and after Independence the legal notion of race was eliminated. The creation of a national Mexican identity, especially after the Mexican Revolution, emphasized Mexico’s indigenous and European past actively or passively eliminating its African one from popular consciousness.

Afromestiza girls in Punta Maldonado, Cuajinicuilapa, Guerrero.


The White population of central Mexico, despite not being as numerous as in the north due to higher mixing, is ethnically more diverse, as there are large numbers of other European and Middle Eastern ethnic groups, aside from Spaniards. This also results in non-Iberian surnames (mostly French, German, Italian and Arab) being more common in central Mexico, especially in the country's capital and in the state of Jalisco.

Mexico's northern regions have the greatest European population and admixture. In the northwest, the majority of the relatively small indigenous communities remain isolated from the rest of the population, and as for the northeast, the indigenous population was eliminated by early European settlers, becoming the region with the highest proportion of whites during the Spanish period. However, recent immigrants from southern Mexico have been changing, to some degree, its demographic trends.[55]

While most of European or Caucasian migration into Mexico was Spanish during the Spanish period, in the 19th and 20th centuries European and European derived populations from North and South America did immigrate to the country. However, at its height, the total immigrant population in Mexico never exceeded twenty percent of the total.[54] Many of these immigrants came with money to invest and/or ties to allow them to become prominent in business and other aspects of Mexican society. However, due to government restrictions many of them left the country in the early 20th century.

Europeans began arriving to Mexico with the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, with the descendents of the conquistadors, along with new arrivals from Spain formed an elite but never a majority of the population. Intermixing would produce a mestizo group which would become the majority by the time of Independence, but power remained firmly in the hands of the elite, called “criollo.”

Despite that extra-official sources estimate the modern white population of Mexico to be only 9-16%, in genetic studies Mexico consistently shows a European admixture comparable to countries that report white populations of 52% - 77% (in the case of Chile and Costa Rica, who average 51%[47] & 60%[48] European admixture respectively, while studies in the general Mexican population have found European ancestry ranging from 56%[49] going to 60%,[50] 64%[51] and up to 78%[52]). The differences between genetic ancestry and reported numbers could be attributed to the influence of the concept known as "mestizaje", which was promoted by the post-revolutionary government in an effort to create a united Mexican cultural identity with no racial distinctions.[53]

[44] Because of this, the line between whites and mestizos has become rather blur, and the Mexican government decided to abandon racial classifications.[46]", also include people with varying amounts of European ancestry, with some having a European admixture superior to 90%.mestizos Another group in Mexico, the "[45]

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