From the stone cities of the Maya to the might of the Aztecs, from its conquest by Spain to its rise as a modern nation of 31 states and the capital, Mexico City, which is a separate entity without being formally a state Mexico boasts a rich history and cultural heritage spanning more than 10,000 years.
Mexico is the third-largest country in Latin America; its society is characterized by extremes of wealth and poverty, with a growing middle class wedged between an elite cadre of landowners and investors, but despite the challenges it faces as a developing country, Mexico is one of the chief economic and political forces in Latin America. With its dynamic industrial base, vast mineral resources, a wide-ranging service sector, and the world’s largest population of Spanish speakers.
Its mythology reflects a blend of Native American, Spanish, and European influences tracing ancestry to American Indians or the Spanish who controlled the country for three centuries in a mixed-ethnic heritage called mestizo. Mexican religion, myths, and legends are a blend of American Indian traditions and European influences eventually adopting Catholicism with surviving forms of pre-Christian beliefs and mythologies. For example, they identified Roman Catholic saints, whose feast days are celebrated throughout the year, honoring the ancient gods, during agricultural and religious festivals of diverse and older beliefs creatively combined over the centuries. Perhaps the most widely recognized and honored figure of Mexican religious mythology is the Virgin of Guadalupe.
As the renowned Mexican poet and intellectual Octavio Paz observed,
“Past epochs never vanish completely, and blood still drips from all their wounds, even the most ancient. Sometimes the most remote or hostile beliefs and feelings are found together in one city or one soul or are superimposed like pyramids that almost always conceal others.”
It is this tremendous cultural and economic diversity distributed over an enormously complex and varied physical environment that gives Mexico its unique character
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