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Mexico City

Mexico City
Ciudad de México
D. F.
Federal District
México, Distrito Federal
Mexico, D. F.
Flag of Mexico City
Coat of arms of Mexico City
Coat of arms
Motto: La Ciudad de los Palacios
(The City of the Palaces)
México City within Mexico
México City within Mexico
Country  Mexico
Entity Federal District
 • Head of Government
 • Senators[1]
 • Deputies[3]
 • Federal District 1,485 km2 (573 sq mi)
  Ranked 32nd
Elevation 2,250 m (7,380 ft)
Highest elevation[5] 3,930 m (12,890 ft)
Population (2010)
 • Federal District 8,851,080
 • Rank 2nd
 • Density 6,000/km2 (15,000/sq mi)
 • Density rank 1st
 • Urban 21.2 million [6][7]
  • Capitalino (a)
  • Defeño (a)
  • Mexiqueño (a)
Time zone CST (UTC−6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
Postal code 00–16
Area code 55
ISO 3166 code MX-DFE
HDI Increase 0.8307 Very High Ranked 1st of 32
GDP $411.4 billion dollars[8]
Website Official website
^ b. Area of the Federal District that includes non-urban areas at the south

Mexico City (; Spanish: Ciudad de México American Spanish: , officially known as México, D. F., or simply D. F.) is the federal district (distrito federal), capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the union.[9] It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole. Mexico City is the country's largest city as well as its most important political, cultural, educational and financial center.

As an "alpha" global city[10] Mexico City is one of the most important financial centers in North America.[11] It is located in the Valley of Mexico (Valle de México), a large valley in the high plateaus at the center of Mexico, at an altitude of 2,240 metres (7,350 ft). The city consists of sixteen boroughs.

The 2009 estimated population for the city proper was around 8.84 million people,[12] with a land area of 1,485 square kilometres (573 sq mi).[13] According to the most recent definition agreed upon by the federal and state governments, the Greater Mexico City population is 21.2 million people,[14] making it the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere, the tenth largest agglomeration, and the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world.[15]

The Greater Mexico City has a gross domestic product (GDP) of US$411 billion in 2011, making Mexico City urban agglomeration one of the richest metropolitan areas in the world.[16] The city was responsible for generating 15.8% of Mexico's Gross Domestic Product and the metropolitan area accounted for about 22% of total national GDP.[17] As a stand-alone country, in 2013, Mexico City would be the fifth-largest economy in Latin America—five times as large as Costa Rica's and about the same size as Peru's.[18]

Mexico’s capital is both the oldest capital city in the Americas and one of two founded by Amerindians (Native Americans), the other being Quito. The city was originally built on an island of Lake Texcoco by the Aztecs in 1325 as Tenochtitlan, which was almost completely destroyed in the 1521 siege of Tenochtitlan, and subsequently redesigned and rebuilt in accordance with the Spanish urban standards. In 1524, the municipality of Mexico City was established, known as México Tenochtitlán,[19] and as of 1585 it was officially known as Ciudad de México (Mexico City).[19] Mexico City served as the political, administrative and financial center of a major part of the Spanish colonial empire.[20] After independence from Spain was achieved, the Federal District was created in 1824.

After years of demanding greater political autonomy, residents were given the right to directly elect the Head of Government and the representatives of the unicameral Legislative Assembly by popular vote in 1997. Ever since, the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) has controlled both of them.[21] In recent years, the local government has passed a wave of liberal policies, such as abortion on request, a limited form of euthanasia, no-fault divorce and same-sex marriage.


  • History 1
    • Aztec period 1.1
    • Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán 1.2
    • The rebuilding of the city as Mexico City 1.3
    • Growth of Colonial Mexico City 1.4
    • The Battle of Mexico City 1.5
    • Revolution 1.6
    • 20th century to present 1.7
  • Geography 2
    • Climate 2.1
  • Environment 3
  • Politics 4
    • Federal District 4.1
    • Political structure 4.2
    • Elections and government 4.3
    • Boroughs and neighborhoods 4.4
    • Metropolitan Area 4.5
  • Health 5
  • Economy 6
  • Demographics 7
  • Landmarks 8
  • Transportation 9
    • Public transportation 9.1
      • Metro 9.1.1
      • Suburban rail 9.1.2
      • Peseros 9.1.3
      • Urban buses 9.1.4
      • Bus rapid transit 9.1.5
      • Trolleybus, light rail, streetcars 9.1.6
    • Roads and car transport 9.2
      • Parking 9.2.1
    • Cycling 9.3
    • Intercity buses 9.4
    • Airports 9.5
  • Culture 10
    • Art 10.1
    • Museums 10.2
    • Music, theater and entertainment 10.3
    • Cuisine 10.4
    • Sports 10.5
    • Education 10.6
    • Media 10.7
    • Shopping 10.8
      • Traditional markets 10.8.1
      • Tianguis 10.8.2
      • Street vendors 10.8.3
      • Downtown shopping 10.8.4
      • Supermarkets and neighborhood stores 10.8.5
      • Department stores and shopping malls 10.8.6
    • Parks and recreation 10.9
    • Nicknames 10.10
  • Law enforcement 11
  • International relations 12
    • Twin towns and sister cities 12.1
  • See also 13
  • References 14
  • External links 15


Aztec period

The city currently known as Mexico City was created by the Mexica people, later known as the Aztecs, in 1325. The old Mexica city that is now referred to as Tenochtitlan was built on an island in the center of the inland lake system of the Valley of Mexico, which it shared with a smaller city-state called Tlatelolco. It is sometimes seen in the scholarly literature written as "Tenochtitlan-Tlatelolco". [22] The great Aztec market that conqueror Bernal Díaz del Castillo describes in detailed wonderment in his chronicle The True History of the Conquest of Mexico is, in fact, describing the market located in Tlatelolco. The Mexica were one of the last of the Nahuatl-speaking peoples who migrated to this part of the Valley of Mexico after the fall of the Toltec Empire. Their presence was resisted by the peoples who were already in the valley, but the Mexica were able to establish a city on a small island on the western side of Lake Texcoco. The Mexica themselves had a story about how their city was founded, after being led to the island by their principal god, Huitzilopochtli. According to the story, the god indicated the site where they were to build their home with a sign - an eagle perched on a nopal cactus with a snake in its beak. Between 1325 and 1521, Tenochtitlan grew in size and strength, eventually dominating the other city-states around Lake Texcoco and in the Valley of Mexico. When the Spaniards arrived, the Aztec Empire reached much of Mesoamerica, touching both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. The population of Tenochtitlan in 1519 has been estimated as between 150,000 and 200,000; the population of London at that time was approximately 50,000; Paris was approximately 300,000.[23]

Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán

The storming of the Aztec Teocalli by Cortés and his troops, by Emanuel Leutze. Painting, 1848

After landing in Veracruz, Hernán Cortés heard about the great city and the long-standing rivalries and grievances against it. Although Cortés came to Mexico with a very small army, he was able to persuade many of the other native peoples to help him destroy Tenochtitlan.[24] Cortés first saw Tenochtitlán on November 8, 1519.[25] Upon viewing it for the first time, Cortés and his men were stunned by its beauty and size. The Spaniards marched along the causeway leading into the city from Iztapalapa. Although Montezuma came out from the center of Tenochtitlán to greet them and exchange gifts, the camaraderie did not last long.[26] Cortés put Montezuma under house arrest, hoping to rule through him.[27] Tensions increased until, on the night of June 30, 1520 – during a struggle commonly known as "La Noche Triste" – the Aztec revolted against the Spanish intrusion and managed to capture or drive out the Europeans and their Tlaxcalan allies.[28] Cortés regrouped at Tlaxcala. The Aztecs thought the Spaniards were permanently gone. They elected a new king, Cuitláhuac, but he died after a few months due to smallpox; the next king was Cuauhtémoc.[29] Cortés decided to lay siege to Tenochtitlán in May 1521. For three months, the city suffered from the lack of food and water as well as the spread of smallpox brought by the Europeans.[24] Cortés and his allies landed their forces in the south of the island and fought their way through the city, street by street, and house by house.[30] Finally, Cuauhtémoc had to surrender in August 1521.[24]

The rebuilding of the city as Mexico City

Mexico City painting of 1628

The Spaniards practically razed Tenochtitlán during the final siege of the conquest. Cortés first settled in Coyoacán, but decided to rebuild the Aztec site to erase all traces of the old order.[25] Cortés did not establish an independent, conquered territory under his own personal rule, but remained loyal to the Spanish crown. The first viceroy of the new domain arrived in Mexico City fourteen years later. By that time, the city had again become a city-state, having power that extended far beyond the city's established borders.[31] Although the Spanish preserved Tenochtitlán's basic layout, they built Catholic churches over the old Aztec temples and claimed the imperial palaces for themselves.[31] Tenochtitlán was renamed "Mexico", its alternative form name, only because the Spanish found this easier to say.[25]

Growth of Colonial Mexico City

The Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral was built by the Spaniards over the ruins of the main Aztec temple
Colonial style architecture in the historic center of Mexico City

The city had been the capital of the Aztec empire and in the colonial era, Mexico City became the capital of New Spain. The viceroy of Mexico or vice-king lived in the viceregal palace on the main square or Zócalo. The Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishopric of New Spain was constructed on another side of the Zócalo, as was the archbishop's palace, and across from it the building housing the City Council or ayuntamiento of the city. A famous late seventeenth-century painting of the Zócalo by Cristóbal de Villalpando depicts the main square, which had been the old Aztec ceremonial center. The existing central place of the Aztecs was effectively and permanently transformed to the ceremonial center and seat of power during the colonial period, and remains to this day in modern Mexico, the central place of the nation.

The rebuilding of the city after the siege of Tenochtitlan was accomplished by the abundant indigenous labor in the surrounding area. Franciscan friar Toribio de Benavente Motolinia, one of the Twelve Apostles of Mexico who arrived in New Spain in 1524, described the rebuilding of the city as one of the afflictions or plagues of the early period:

The seventh plague was the construction of the great City of Mexico, which, during the early years. used more people than in the construction of Jerusalem. The crowds of laborers were so numerous that one could hardly move in the streets and causeways, although they are very wide. Many died from bein crushed by beams, or falling from high places, or in tearing down old buildings for new ones.[32]
Preconquest Tenochtitlan was built in the center of the inland lake system, with the city reachable by canoe and by wide causeways to the mainland. The causeways were rebuilt under Spanish rule with indigenous labor.

Colonial Spanish cities were constructed on a grid pattern, if no geographical obstacle prevented it. In Mexico City, the Zócalo (main square) was the central place from which the grid was then built outward. The Spanish lived in the area closest to the main square in what was known as the traza, in orderly, well laid-out streets. Indian residences were outside that exclusive zone and houses were haphazardly located.[33] Spaniards sought to keep Indians separate from Spaniards but since the Zócalo was a center of commerce for Indians, they were a constant presence in the central area, so strict segregation was never enforced.[34] At intervals Zócalo was where major celebrations took place as well as executions. It was also the site of two major riots in the seventeenth century, one in 1624 the other in 1692.[35]

The city grew as the population did, coming up against the lake's waters. As the depth of the lake water fluctuated, Mexico City was subject to periodic flooding. A major labor draft, the desagüe compelled thousands of Indians over the colonial period to work on infrastructure to prevent flooding. Floods were not only an inconvenience but also a health hazard, since during flood periods human waste polluted the city's streets. By draining the area, the mosquito population dropped as did the frequency of the diseases they spread. However, draining the wetlands also changed the habitat for fish and birds and the areas accessible for Indian cultivation close to the capital.[36]

The 16th century saw a proliferation of churches, many of which can still be seen today in the historic center.[31] Economically, Mexico City prospered as a result of trade. Unlike Brazil or Peru, Mexico had easy contact with both the Atlantic and Pacific worlds. Although the Spanish crown tried to completely regulate all commerce in the city, it had only partial success.[37]

The concept of nobility flourished in New Spain in a way not seen in other parts of the Americas. Spaniards encountered a society in which the concept of nobility mirrored that of their own. Spaniards respected the indigenous order of nobility and added to it. In the ensuing centuries, a noble title in Mexico did not mean one exercised great political power as one's power was limited even if the accumulation of wealth was not.[38] The concept of nobility in Mexico was not political but rather a very conservative Spanish social one, based on proving the worthiness of the family. Most of these families proved their worth by making fortunes in New Spain outside of the city itself, then spending the revenues in the capital, building churches, supporting charities and building extravagant palatial homes. The craze to build the most opulent residence possible reached its height in the last half of the 18th century. Many of these palaces can still be seen today, leading to Mexico City's nickname of "The city of palaces" given by Alexander Von Humboldt.[25][31][38]

The Grito de Dolores ("Cry of Dolores") also known as El Grito de la Independencia ("Cry of Independence"), uttered from the small town of Dolores near Guanajuato on September 16, 1810, is the event that marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence and is the most important national holiday observed in Mexico. The "Grito" was the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest. Hidalgo and several criollos were involved in a planned revolt against the Spanish colonial government, and the plotters were betrayed. Fearing his arrest,[1] Hidalgo commanded his brother Mauricio as well as Ignacio Allende and Mariano Abasolo to go with a number of other armed men to make the sheriff release the pro-independence inmates there on the night of September 15. They managed to set eighty free.[2] Around 6:00 am September 16, 1810, Hidalgo ordered the church bells to be rung and gathered his congregation. Flanked by Allende and Juan Aldama, he addressed the people in front of his church, encouraging them to revolt. The Battle of Guanajuato, the first major engagement of the insurgency, occurred four days later. Mexico's independence from Spain was effectively declared in the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire on September 27, 1821, after a decade of war.[39] Unrest followed for the next several decades, as different factions fought for control of Mexico.[40]

The Mexican Federal District was established by the new government and by the signing of their new constitution, where the concept of a federal district was adapted from The U.S. constitution.[41] Before this designation, Mexico City had served as the seat of government for both the State of Mexico and the nation as a whole. Texcoco and then Toluca became the capital of the state of Mexico.[42]

The Battle of Mexico City

American occupation of Mexico City in 1847

The combat units deep into Mexico resulting in the capture of Mexico City and Veracruz by the U.S. Army's 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Divisions.[43] The invasion culminated with the storming of Chapultepec Castle in the city itself.[44] The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in what is now the far north of the city.[45] Events such as the Reform War left the city relatively untouched and it continued to grow, especially during the rule of President Porfirio Díaz. During this time, the city developed a modern infrastructure, such as roads, schools, transportation, and communication systems. However, the regime concentrated resources and wealth into the city while the rest languished in poverty.


Insurgents manning artillery during the Decena Trágica
Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata entering Mexico City (1914)

Under the rule of Porfirio Díaz—about 30 years formally as president; about 35 years in all, 1876-1911, in effective control—Mexico City experienced a massive transformation. Díaz's goal was to create a city which could rival the great European cities. He and his government came to the conclusion that they would use Paris as a model, while still containing remnants of Amerindian and Hispanic elements. This style of Mexican-French fusion architecture became colloquially known as Porfirian Architecture.

During this era of Porfirian rule, the city underwent an extensive modernization. Many Spanish Colonial style buildings were destroyed, replaced by new much larger Porfirian institutions and many outlying rural zones were transformed into urban or industrialized districts with most having electrical, gas and sewage utilities by 1908. While the initial focus was on developing modern hospitals, schools, factories and massive public works, perhaps the most long lasting effects of the Porfirian modernization were creation of the Colonia Roma area and the development of Reforma Avenue. Many of Mexico City's major attractions and landmarks were built during this era in this style.

Diaz's plans called for the entire city to eventually be modernized or rebuilt in the Porfirian/French style of the Colonia Roma but the Mexican Revolution began soon after and the plans never came to fruition with many projects being left half completed. One of the best examples of this is the Monument to the Mexican Revolution. Originally the monument was to be the main dome of Diaz's new senate hall, but when the revolution erupted only the dome of the senate hall and its supporting pillars were completed, this was subsequently seen as a symbol by many Mexicans that the Porfirian era was over once and for all and as such, it was turned into a monument to victory over Diaz.

Fast modern development eventually led to the Mexican Revolution.[40] The most significant episode of this period for the city was the La decena trágica ("The Ten Tragic Days"), a 1913 coup against President Francisco I. Madero and his vice president, José María Pino Suárez. Victoriano Huerta, chief general of the Federal Army saw a chance to take power, forcing Madero and Pino Suarez to sign resignations. The two were murdered later while on their way to prison.[46]

20th century to present

The Angel of Independence, completed in 1910 has become a modern icon of the city

The history of the rest of the 20th century to the present focuses on the phenomenal growth of the city and its environmental and political consequences. In 1900, the population of Mexico City was about 500,000.[47] The city began to grow rapidly westward in the early part of the 20th century[31] and then began to grow upwards in the 1950s, with the Torre Latinoamericana becoming the city's first skyscraper.[24] The 1968 Olympic Games brought about the construction of large sporting facilities.[31] In 1969, the Metro system was inaugurated.[24] Explosive growth in the population of the city started from the 1960s, with the population overflowing the boundaries of the Federal District into the neighboring state of Mexico, especially to the north, northwest and northeast. Between 1960 and 1980 the city's population more than doubled to nearly 9 million.[31] In 1980, half of all the industrial jobs in Mexico were located in Mexico City. Under relentless growth, the Mexico City government could barely keep up with services. Villagers from the countryside who continued to pour into the city to escape poverty only compounded the city's problems. With no housing available, they took over lands surrounding the city, creating huge shantytowns that extended for many miles.[40] This caused serious air pollution in Mexico City and water pollution problems, as well as a sinking city due to overextraction of groundwater, groundwater-related subsidence.[48] Air and water pollution has been contained and improved in several areas due to government programs, the renovation of vehicles and the modernization of public transportation.

The autocratic government that ruled Mexico City since the Revolution was tolerated, mostly because of the continued economic expansion since World War II. This was the case even though this government could not handle the population and pollution problems adequately. Nevertheless, discontent and protests began in the 1960s leading to the massacre of an unknown number of protesting students in Tlatelolco.[40]

Three years later, a demonstration in the Maestros avenue, organized by former members of the 1968 student movement, was violently repressed by a paramilitary group called "Los Halcones", composed of gang members and teenagers from many sports clubs who received training in the U.S.

On Thursday, September 19, 1985, at 7:19 am local time, Mexico City was struck by an earthquake of magnitude 8.1[49] on the Richter scale. Although this earthquake was not as deadly or destructive as many similar events in Asia and other parts of Latin America,[50] it proved to be a disaster politically for the one-party government. The government was paralyzed by its own bureaucracy and corruption, forcing ordinary citizens to create and direct their own rescue efforts and to reconstruct much of the housing that was lost as well.[51] However, the last straw may have been the controverted elections of 1988. That year, the presidency was set between the P.R.I.'s candidate, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, and a coalition of left-wing parties led by Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, son of the former president Lázaro Cárdenas. The counting system "fell" because coincidentally the light went out and suddenly, when it returned, the winning candidate was Salinas, even though Cárdenas had the upper hand. As a result of the fraudulent election, Cárdenas became a member of the Party of the Democratic Revolution. Discontent over the election eventually led Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas to become the first elected mayor of Mexico City in 1997. Cárdenas promised a more democratic government, and his party claimed some victories against crime, pollution, and other major problems. He resigned in 1999 to run for the presidency.


Satellite view of Mexico City

Mexico City is located in the Valley of Mexico, sometimes called the Basin of Mexico. This valley is located in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt in the high plateaus of south-central Mexico.[52][53] It has a minimum altitude of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) above sea level and is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes that reach elevations of over 5,000 meters.[54] This valley has no natural drainage outlet for the waters that flow from the mountainsides, making the city vulnerable to flooding. Drainage was engineered through the use of canals and tunnels starting in the 17th century.[52][54] The city primarily rests on what was Lake Texcoco.[52] Seismic activity is frequent here.[55] Lake Texcoco was drained starting from the 17th century. Although none of the lake waters remain, the city rests on the lake bed's heavily saturated clay. This soft base is collapsing due to the over-extraction of groundwater, called groundwater-related subsidence. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the city has sunk as much as nine meters in some areas. This sinking is causing problems with runoff and wastewater management, leading to flooding problems, especially during the rainy season.[54][55] The entire lake bed is now paved over and most of the city's remaining forested areas lie in the southern boroughs of Milpa Alta, Tlalpan and Xochimilco.[55]

Geophysical maps of the Federal District
Topography Hydrology Climate patterns


Mexico City has a subtropical highland climate (Köppen climate classification Cwb), due to its tropical location and high elevation. The lower region of the valley receives less rainfall than the upper regions of the south; the lower boroughs of Iztapalapa, Iztacalco, Venustiano Carranza and the west portion of Gustavo A. Madero are usually drier and warmer than the upper southern boroughs of Tlalpan and Milpa Alta, a mountainous region of pine and oak trees known as the range of Ajusco.

The average annual temperature varies from 12 to 16 °C (54 to 61 °F), depending on the altitude of the borough. The temperature is rarely below 3 °C (37 °F) or above 30 °C (86 °F).[56] The lowest temperature ever registered was −4.4 °C (24.1 °F), and the highest temperature on record is 33.9 °C (93.0 °F).[57] However, many municipalities in the metropolitan area and southern boroughs do get temperatures below 0 during winter.

Overall precipitation is heavily concentrated in the summer months, and includes dense hail. The central valley of Mexico rarely gets precipitation in the form of snow during winter; the two last recorded instances of such an event were on March 5, 1940 and January 12, 1967.

The region of the Valley of Mexico receives anti-cyclonic systems. The weak winds of these systems do not allow for the dispersion, outside the basin, of the air pollutants which are produced by the 50,000 industries and 4 million vehicles operating in and around the metropolitan area.[58]

The area receives about 820 millimetres (32.3 in) of annual rainfall, which is concentrated from June through September/October with little or no precipitation the remainder of the year.[54] The area has two main seasons. The rainy season runs from June to October when winds bring in tropical moisture from the sea. The dry season runs from November to May, when the air is relatively drier. This dry season subdivides into a cold period and a warm period. The cold period spans from November to February when polar air masses push down from the north and keep the air fairly dry. The warm period extends from March to May when tropical winds again dominate but do not yet carry enough moisture for rain.[59]


The city government has encouraged the preservation of green areas of the City such as Tezozomoc Park
Situated in a valley, and relying heavily on automobiles, the city suffers from poor air quality

Originally, much of the valley laid beneath the waters of Lake Texcoco, a system of interconnected saline and freshwater lakes. The Aztecs built dikes to separate the fresh water used to raise crops in chinampas and to prevent recurrent floods. These dikes were destroyed during the siege of Tenochtitlan, and during colonial times the Spanish regularly drained the lake to prevent floods. Only a small section of the original lake remains, located outside the Federal District, in the municipality of Atenco, State of Mexico. In recent years, architects Teodoro González de León and Alberto Kalach, along with a group of Mexican urbanists, engineers and biologists, have developed the project plan for Recovering the City of Lakes. The project, if approved by the government, will contribute to the supply of water from natural sources to the Valley of Mexico, the creation of new natural spaces, a great improvement in air quality, and greater population establishment planning.

The federal and local governments have implemented numerous plans to alleviate the problem of air pollution (such as carbon monoxide), including the constant monitoring and reporting of environmental conditions, such as ozone and nitrogen oxides.[63] If the levels of these two pollutants reach critical levels, contingency actions are implemented which may include closing factories, changing school hours, and extending the A day without a car program to two days of the week.[63] To control air pollution, the government has instituted industrial technology improvements, a strict biannual vehicle emission inspection and the reformulation of gasoline and diesel fuels.[63] Data from the city's 36 air-quality monitoring stations show lead levels down 95 percent since 1990, while sulfur dioxide has fallen 86 percent, carbon monoxide 74 percent, and peak ozone levels 57 percent since 1991.[63] In 1990, Patricia Saad Sotomayor reported in the Mexico City daily Excélsior that "100,000 children die every year as a result of pollution in the Mexico City metropolitan area, 250,000 people suffer from eye diseases...and life expectancy has been reduced by up to ten years, according to the National Environmentalist Groups." in a report to President Salinas. At the time, according to the United Nations pollution scale "which set 100 as the maximum level before grave health problems begin", Mexico City's level was 97.5, compared to 4.5 for New York City, and 2.5 for Milan, Turin, and Los Angeles.[64]

In 1986, the non-urban forest areas of the southern boroughs were declared National Ecological Reserves by president Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado. Other areas of the Federal District became protected over the following years.


Federal District

Apartment towers and gated residential communities make up most of the western areas such as Interlomas and Huixquilucan
French style row houses built the 1890s in Colonia Roma

The Acta Constitutiva de la Federación of January 31, 1824 and the Federal Constitution of October 4, 1824[65] fixed the political and administrative organization of the United Mexican States after the Mexican War of Independence. In addition, Section XXVIII of Article 50 gave the new Congress the right to choose where the federal government would be located. This location would then be appropriated as federal land, with the federal government acting as the local authority. The two main candidates to become the capital were Mexico City and Querétaro.[66] However, due in large part to the persuasion of representative Servando Teresa de Mier, Mexico City was chosen because it was the center of the country's population and history, even though Querétaro was closer to the center geographically. The choice was official on November 18, 1824, and Congress delineated a surface area of two leagues square (8,800 ac) centered on the Zocalo. This area was then separated from the State of Mexico, forcing that state's government to move from the Palace of the Inquisition (now Museum of Mexican Medicine) in the city to Texcoco. This area did not include the population centers of the towns of Coyoacán, Xochimilco, Mexicaltzingo and Tlalpan, all of which remained as part of the State of Mexico.[67]

In 1854, president Antonio López de Santa Anna, enlarged the area of the Federal District almost eightfold from the original 220 to 1,700 km2 (80 to 660 sq mi), annexing the rural and mountainous areas to secure the strategic mountain passes to the south and southwest to protect the city in event of a foreign invasion. (The Mexican–American War had just been fought). The last changes to the limits of the Federal District were made between 1898 and 1902, reducing the area to the current 1,479 km2 (571 sq mi) by adjusting the southern border with the state of Morelos. By that time, the total number of municipalities within the Federal District was twenty-two.

While the Federal District was ruled by the federal government through an appointed governor, the municipalities within it were autonomous, and this duality of powers created tension between the municipalities and the federal government for more than a century. In 1903, Porfirio Díaz largely reduced the powers of the municipalities within the Federal District. Eventually, in December 1928, the federal government decided to abolish all the municipalities of the Federal District. In place of the municipalities, the Federal District was divided into one "Central Department" and 13 delegaciones (boroughs) administered directly by the government of the Federal District. The Central Department was integrated by the former municipalities of Mexico City, Tacuba, Tacubaya and Mixcoac.

In 1941, the General Anaya borough was merged to the Central Department, which was then renamed "Mexico City" (thus reviving the name, but not the autonomous municipality). From 1941 to 1970, the Federal District was comprised by 12 delegaciones and Mexico City. In 1970 Mexico City was split into four different delegaciones: Cuauhtémoc, Miguel Hidalgo, Venustiano Carranza and Benito Juárez, increasing the number of delegaciones to sixteen. Since then, in a de facto manner, the whole Federal District, whose delegaciones had by then almost formed a single urban area, began to be considered a synonym of Mexico City. However, the lack of a de jure stipulation left a legal vacuum that led to a number of sterile discussions about whether one concept had engulfed the other or if the latter had ceased to exist altogether. In 1993 this situation was solved by an amendment to the 44th article of the Constitution whereby Mexico City and the Federal District were set to be the same entity. This amendment was later introduced into the second article of the Statute of Government of the Federal District.[68]

Political structure

Antiguo Palacio del Ayuntamiento (Mexico City City Hall)

Mexico City, being the seat of the powers of the Union, did not belong to any particular state but to all. Therefore, it was the president, representing the federation, who used to designate the head of government of the Federal District, a position which is sometimes presented outside Mexico as the "Mayor" of Mexico City. In the 1980s, given the dramatic increase in population of the previous decades, the inherent political inconsistencies of the system, as well as the dissatisfaction with the inadequate response of the federal government after the 1985 earthquake, residents began to request political and administrative autonomy to manage their local affairs. Some political groups even proposed that the Federal District be converted into the 32nd state of the federation.

In response to the demands, in 1987 the Federal District received a greater degree of autonomy, with the elaboration the first Statute of Government (Estatuto de Gobierno), and the creation of an Assembly of Representatives. In the 1990s, this autonomy was further expanded and, starting from 1997, residents can directly elect the head of government of the Federal District and the representatives of a unicameral Legislative Assembly (which succeeded the previous Assembly) by popular vote. The first elected head of government was Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. Cárdenas resigned in 1999 to run in the 2000 presidential elections and designated Rosario Robles to succeed him, who became the first woman (elected or otherwise) to govern Mexico City. In 2000 Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected, and resigned in 2005 to run in the 2006 presidential elections, Alejandro Encinas being designated by the Legislative Assembly to finish the term. In 2006, Marcelo Ebrard was elected for the 2006–2012 period.

The Federal District does not have a constitution, like the states of the Union, but rather a Statute of Government. As part of its recent changes in autonomy, the budget is administered locally; it is proposed by the head of government and approved by the Legislative Assembly. Nonetheless, it is the Congress of the Union that sets the ceiling to internal and external public debt issued by the Federal District.[69]

According to the 44th article of the Mexican Constitution, in case the powers of the Union move to another city, the Federal District will be transformed into a new state, which will be called "State of the Valley of Mexico", with the new limits set by the Congress of the Union.

Government offices in the Zócalo

Elections and government

In 2006, elections were held for the post of head of government and the representatives of the Legislative Assembly. Heads of government are elected for a 6-year period without the possibility of reelection. Traditionally, this position has been considered as the second most important executive office in the country.[70]

The Legislative Assembly of the Federal District is formed, as it is the case in all legislatures in Mexico, by both single-seat and proportional seats, making it a system of parallel voting. The Federal District is divided into 40 electoral constituencies of similar population which elect one representative by first-past-the-post plurality (FPP), locally called "uninominal deputies". The Federal District as a whole constitutes a single constituency for the parallel election of 26 representatives by proportionality (PR) with open-party lists, locally called "plurinominal deputies". Even though proportionality is only confined to the proportional seats, to prevent a part from being overrepresented, several restrictions apply in the assignation of the seats; namely, that no party can have more than 63% of all seats, both uninominal and plurinominal. In the 2006 elections leftist PRD got the absolute majority in the direct uninominal elections, securing 34 of the 40 FPP seats. As such, the PRD was not assigned any plurinominal seat to comply with the law that prevents over-representation. The overall composition of the Legislative Assembly is:

Political party FPP PR Total
Party of the Democratic Revolution 31 3 34
National Action Party 9 6 15
Institutional Revolutionary Party 8 8
Labour Party 5 5
Ecologist Green Party of Mexico 3 3
New Alliance Party 1 1
Total 40 26 66

The politics pursued by the administrations of heads of government in Mexico City since the second half of the 20th century have usually been more liberal than those of the rest of the country, whether with the support of the federal government—as was the case with the approval of several comprehensive environmental laws in the 1980s—or through laws recently approved by the Legislative Assembly. In April of the same year, the Legislative Assembly expanded provisions on abortions, becoming the first federal entity to expand abortion in Mexico beyond cases of rape and economic reasons, to permit it regardless of the reason should the mother request it before the twelfth week of pregnancy.[71] In December 2009, the Federal District became the first city in Latin America, and one of very few in the world, to legalize same-sex marriage.

Boroughs and neighborhoods

The 16 boroughs of Mexico City

For administrative purposes, the Federal District is divided into 16 "delegaciones" or boroughs. While not fully equivalent to a municipality, the 16 boroughs have gained significant autonomy, and since 2000 their heads of government are elected directly by constituent states these services would be provided by the municipalities. The 16 boroughs of the Federal District with their 2010 populations are:[72]

1. Álvaro Obregón (pop. 727,034)
2. Azcapotzalco (pop. 414,711)
3. Benito Juárez (pop. 385,439)
4. Coyoacán (pop. 620,416)
5. Cuajimalpa (pop. 186,391)
6. Cuauhtémoc (pop. 531,831)
7. Gustavo A. Madero (pop. 1,185,772)
8. Iztacalco (pop. 384,326)

9. Iztapalapa (pop. 1,815,786)
10. Magdalena Contreras (pop. 239,086)
11. Miguel Hidalgo (pop. 372,889)
12. Milpa Alta (pop. 130,582)
13. Tláhuac (pop. 360,265)
14. Tlalpan (pop. 650,567)
15. Venustiano Carranza (pop. 430,978)
16. Xochimilco (pop. 415,007)

Insurgentes Avenue crosses from north to south the boroughs of Gustavo A. Madero, Cuauhtémoc, Benito Juárez, Coyoacán and Tlalpan
Santa Catarina hill seen from Xochimilco Ecological Park and Plant Market in Xochimilco
Iztapalapa is the most populated borough as well as the poorest in the city

The boroughs are composed by hundreds of colonias or neighborhoods, which have no jurisdictional autonomy or representation. It is plausible that the name, which literally means colony, arose in the late 19th, early 20th centuries, when one of the first urban developments outside the city's core was inhabited by a French colony in the city.

The Historic Center is the oldest part of the city (along with some other, formerly separate colonial towns such as Coyoacán and San Ángel), some of the buildings dating back to the 16th century. Other well-known central neighborhoods include Condesa is known for its Art Deco architecture and its restaurant scene; Colonia Roma, a beaux arts neighborhood and artistic and culinary hot-spot, the Zona Rosa, formerly the center of nightlife and restaurants, now reborn as the center of the LGBT and Korean-Mexican communities; and Tepito and La Lagunilla, known for their local working-class foklore and large flea markets. Santa María la Ribera and San Rafael are the latest neighborhoods of magnificent Porfiriato architecture seeing the first signs of gentrification.

West of the Historic Center (Centro Histórico) along Paseo de la Reforma are many of the city's wealthiest neighborhoods such as Polanco, Lomas de Chapultepec, Bosques de las Lomas, Santa Fe, and (in the State of Mexico) Interlomas, which are also the city's most important areas of class A office space, corporate headquarters, skyscrapers and shopping malls. Nevertheless, areas of lower income colonias exist in some cases cheek-by-jowl with rich neighborhoods, particularly in the case of Santa Fe.

The south of the city is home to some other high-income neighborhoods such as Colonia del Valle, Sán Jerónimo, Jardines del Pedregal, and the formerly separate colonial towns of Coyoacán and San Ángel. Along Avenida Insurgentes from Paseo de la Reforma, near the center, south past the World Trade Center and UNAM university towards the Periférico ring road, is another important corridor of corporate office space. The far southern boroughs of Xochimilco and Tláhuac have a significant rural population with Milpa Alta being entirely rural.

East of the center are mostly lower income areas with some middle-class neighborhoods such as Jardín Balbuena. Urban sprawl continues further east for many miles into the State of Mexico, including Ciudad Nezahuacoyotl, now increasingly middle-class, but once full of informal settlements. These kind of slums are now found on the eastern edges of the metropolitan area in the Chalco area.

North of the Historic Center, Azcapotzalco and Gustavo A. Madero have important industrial centers and neighborhoods that range from established middle-class colonias such as Claveria and Lindavista to huge low-income housing areas that share hillsides with adjacent municipalities in the State of Mexico. In recent years much of northern Mexico City's industry has moved to nearby municipalities in the State of Mexico. Northwest of Mexico City itself is Ciudad Satélite, a vast middle to upper-middle-class residential and business area.

The Human Development Index report of 2005 [73] shows that there were three boroughs with a very high Human Development Index, 12 with a high HDI value (9 above .85) and one with a medium HDI value (almost high). Benito Juárez borough had the highest HDI of the country (.9510) similar to those in Germany and New Zealand followed by Miguel Hidalgo which came up 4th nationally with a HDI of (.9189) and Coyoacán (5th nationally) with a HDI value of (.9169). Cuajimalpa, Cuauhtémoc and Azcapotzalco had very high values; respectively .8994 (15th nationally),.8922 (23rd) and .8915 (25th). In contrast, the boroughs of Xochimilco (172th), Tláhuac (177th) and Iztapalapa (183th) presented the lowest HDI values of the Federal District with values of .8481, .8473 and .8464 respectively—values still in the global high-HDI range, near those of Costa Rica and Croatia and Mexico´s mean. The only borough that did not present a high HDI was that of rural Milpa Alta which presented a "medium" HDI of .7984, similar to that of Dominica and Iran, far below all other boroughs (627 nationally while the rest stood in the top 200). Mexico City's HDI for the 2005 report was of .9012 (very high), similar to South Korea's 2005 rating, and its 2010 value of .9225 (very high) or (by newer methodology) .8307, was similar to those of Qatar and Malta, and Mexico's highest.

Metropolitan Area

Greater Mexico City is formed by the Federal District, 60 municipalities from the State of Mexico and one from the state of Hidalgo. Greater Mexico City is the largest metropolitan area in Mexico and the area with the highest population density. As of 2009, 21,163,226 persons live in this urban agglomeration, of which 8,841,916 live in Mexico City proper.[12] In terms of population, the biggest municipalities that are part of Greater Mexico City (excluding Mexico City proper) are:[74]

19th Century Porfirian architecture in the Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc

The above municipalities are located in the state of Mexico but are part of the Greater Mexico City area. Approximately 75% (10 million) of the state of México's population live in municipalities that are part of Greater Mexico City's conurbation.

Greater Mexico City was the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country until the late 1980s. Since then, and through a policy of decentralization in order to reduce the environmental pollutants of the growing conurbation, the annual rate of growth of the agglomeration has decreased, and it is lower than that of the other four largest metropolitan areas (namely Greater Guadalajara, Greater Monterrey, Greater Puebla and Greater Toluca) even though it is still positive.[75] The net migration rate of Mexico City proper from 1995 to 2000, however, was negative,[76] which implies that residents are moving to the suburbs of the metropolitan area, or to other states of Mexico. In addition, some inner city suburbs are losing population to outer city suburbs, indicating continual expansion of Greater Mexico City.

According to the Human Development Report of 2005 [77] most metropolitan municipalities had a high human development index. Coacalco de Berriozábal had the highest value in the State of Mexico metropolitan area (.9045), the second highest in the whole state after Metepec (Greater Toluca) and the fourth in Greater Mexico City after the boroughs of Benito Juarez, Miguel Hidalgo and Coyoacán making it the 10th nationally. Coacalco was followed by Cuautitlán Izcalli (.9023) which had a very high HDI as well, Cuautitlán (.8919), Atizapán de Zaragoza (.8858) Tlalnepantla de Baz (.8854), Huixquilucan de Degollado (.8843), Jaltenco (.8772), Naucalpan de Juárez (.8754), Tultitlán de Mariano Escobedo (.8700) and Tecámac (.8669). Even though some of these municipalities have some of the wealthier neighborhoods of the city, they often contrast with peripheric low income suburbs known as zonas marginales or ciudades perdidas. This is the case of the wealthy suburb of Tecamachalco contrasting with El Molinito shanty town, both in Naucalpan, Chamapa in Naucalpan next to Bosque Real Country Club in Huixquilucan and Zona Esmeralda residential area in Atizapán with Atizapán de Zaragoza seat and Ciudad Nicolás Romero which also contrasts with the residential area of Bosques del Lago in Cuautitlán Izcalli. Marginal municipalities in the east such as Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl (.8621), Ecatepec de Morelos (.8597), Valle de Chalco (52nd in the state and 452nd nationally) with .8128 and Chimalhuacán with .8086 (56th in the state and 508 nationally) also presented high HDI values, nevertheless the last two fell among the lowest of Greater Mexico City. Municipalities with a Medium HDI were Ozumba (.7983 61st), Temascalapa (.7982 62nd), Otumba (.7932 66th), Jilotzingo (.7908 68th), Juchitepec (.7874 72nd), Isidro Fabela (.7791 78th), Axapusco (.7768 80th), Hueypoxtla(.7666 82nd), Nopaltepec (.7661 83rd), Atlautla (.7624 86th), Ecatzingo (.7291 99th) and Villa del Carbón (.7172 104th). However, all of these municipalities are still out of Mexico City's main urban area and are considered rural.


Visible smog on a sunrise at 7 am, May 28, 2005

Mexico City is home to some of the best private hospitals in the country; Hospital Ángeles, Hospital ABC and Médica Sur to name a few. The national public healthcare institution for private-sector employees IMSS, has its largest facilities in Mexico City, including the National Medical Center and the La Raza Medical Center, and has an annual budget of over 6 billion pesos. The IMSS and other public health institutions, including the ISSSTE (Public Sector Employees' Social Security Institute) and the National Health Ministry (SSA) maintain large specialty facilities in the city. These include the National Institutes of Cardiology, Nutrition, Psychiatry, Oncology, Pediatrics, Rehabilitation, among others.

The World Bank has sponsored a project to curb air pollution through public transport improvements and the Mexican government has started shutting down polluting factories. They have phased out diesel buses and mandated new emission controls on new cars; since 1993 all new cars must be fitted with a catalytic converter, which reduces the emissions released. Trucks must use only liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Also construction of an underground rail system was begun in 1968 order to help curb air pollution problems and alleviate traffic congestion. Today it has over 201 km (125 mi) of track and carries over 5 million people every day. Fees are kept low to encourage use of the system and during rush hours the crush is so great, that authorities have reserved a special carriage specifically for women. Due to these initiatives and others, the air quality in Mexico City has begun to improve, with the air becoming cleaner since 1991, when the air quality was declared to be a public health risk for 355 days of the year.


Expensive homes and apartments surrounding a poor dilapidated neighborhood, an example of the stark difference in incomes amongst Mexico City inhabitants

Mexico City is one of the most important economic hubs in Latin America. The city proper (Federal District) produces 15.8% of the country's gross domestic product.[78] According to a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mexico City had a GDP of $390 billion, ranking as the eighth richest city in the world after the greater areas of Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, London and Osaka/Kobe, and the richest in the whole of Latin America, as measured by the GDP of the entire Metropolitan area.[79] making Mexico City alone the 30th largest economy in the world.[80] Mexico City is the greatest contributor to the country's industrial GDP (15.8%) and also the greatest contributor to the country's GDP in the service sector (25.3%). Due to the limited non-urbanized space at the south—most of which is protected through environmental laws—the contribution of the Federal District in agriculture is the smallest of all federal entities in the country.[78] Mexico City has one of the world's fastest-growing economies and its GDP is set to double by 2020.[81]

In 2002, Mexico City had an HDI index of 0.915[82] identical to that of the Republic of Korea.

The top twelve percent of GDP per capita holders in the city had a mean disposable income of US $98,517 in 2007. The high spending power of Mexico City inhabitants makes the city attractive for companies offering prestige and luxury goods.

The economic reforms of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari had a tremendous effect on the city, as a number of businesses, including banks and airlines, were privatized. He also signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This led to the decentralization[81] and a shift in Mexico City's economic base, from manufacturing to services, as most factories moved away to either the State of Mexico, or more commonly to the northern border. By contrast, corporate office buildings set their base in the city.


A German-style home, now a restaurant, in the San Angel neighborhood
Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
Monument to the indigenous peoples of Mexico City. The Nahua peoples form the largest group of indigenous peoples in the city

Historically, and since pre-Hispanic times, the Valley of Anahuac has been one of the most densely populated areas in Mexico. When the Federal District was created in 1824, the urban area of Mexico City extended approximately to the area of today's Cuauhtémoc borough. At the beginning of the 20th century, the elites began migrating to the south and west and soon the small towns of Mixcoac and San Ángel were incorporated by the growing conurbation. According to the 1921 census, 54.78% of the city's population was considered Mestizo (Indigenous mixed with European), 22.79% considered European, and 18.74% considered Indigenous.[83] 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 focussed 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.[84] In 1921, Mexico City had less than one million inhabitants.

Up to the 1990s, the Federal District was the most populous federal entity in Mexico, but since then its population has remained stable at around 8.7 million. The growth of the city has extended beyond the limits of the Federal District to 59 municipalities of the state of Mexico and 1 in the state of Hidalgo.[85] With a population of approximately 19.8 million inhabitants (2008),[86] it is one of the most populous conurbations in the world. Nonetheless, the annual rate of growth of the Metropolitan Area of Mexico City is much lower than that of other large urban agglomerations in Mexico,[75] a phenomenon most likely attributable to the environmental policy of decentralization. The net migration rate of the Federal District from 1995 to 2000 was negative.[87]

While they represented around 18.74% of the city's population, indigenous peoples from different regions of Mexico have migrated to the capital in search of better economic opportunities. Nahuatl, Otomi, Mixtec, Zapotec, and Mazahua are the indigenous languages with the greatest number of speakers in Mexico City.[88]

On the other hand, Mexico City is home to large communities of expatriates and immigrants, most notably from the rest of North America (U.S. and Canada), from South America (mainly from Argentina and Colombia, but also from Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela), from Central America and the Caribbean (mainly from Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras); from Europe (mainly from Spain, Germany and Switzerland, but also from Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania),[89][90] from the Middle East (mainly from Egypt, Lebanon and Syria);[91] and recently from Asia-Pacific (mainly from China and South Korea).[92] Historically since the era of New Spain, many Filipinos settled in the city and have become integrated in Mexican society. While no official figures have been reported, population estimates of each of these communities are quite significant. Mexico City is home to the largest population of U.S. Americans living outside the United States. Current estimates are as high as 700,000 U.S. Americans living in Mexico City, while in 1999 the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs estimated over 440,000 Americans lived in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area.[93][94]

The majority (82%) of the residents in Mexico City are Roman Catholic, higher than the national percentage, though it has been decreasing over the last decades.[95] Many other religions and philosophies are also practiced in the city: many different types of Protestant groups, different types of Jewish communities, Buddhist, Islamic and other spiritual and philosophical groups. There are also growing numbers of irreligious people, whether agnostic or atheist.


Monument to the Mexican Revolution

The Historic center of Mexico City (Centro Histórico) and the "floating gardens" of Xochimilco in the southern borough have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Famous landmarks in the Historic Center include the Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo), the main central square with its epoch-contrasting Spanish-era Metropolitan Cathedral and National Palace, ancient Aztec temple ruins Templo Mayor ("Major Temple") and modern structures, all within a few steps of one another. (The Templo Mayor was discovered in 1978 while workers were digging to place underground electric cables).

The most recognizable icon of Mexico City is the golden Angel of Independence, found on the wide, elegant avenue Paseo de la Reforma, modeled by the order of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico after the Champs-Élysées in Paris. This avenue was designed over the Americas' oldest known major roadway in the 19th century to connect the National Palace (seat of government) with the Castle of Chapultepec, the imperial residence. Today, this avenue is an important financial district in which the Mexican Stock Exchange and several corporate headquarters are located. Another important avenue is the Avenida de los Insurgentes, which extends 28.8 km (17.9 mi) and is one of the longest single avenues in the world.

Chapultepec Park houses the Chapultepec Castle, now a museum on a hill that overlooks the park and its numerous museums, monuments and the national zoo and the National Museum of Anthropology (which houses the Aztec Calendar Stone). Another piece of architecture is the Fine Arts Palace, a white marble theatre/museum whose weight is such that it has gradually been sinking into the soft ground below. Its construction began during the presidency of Porfirio Díaz and ended in 1934, after being interrupted by the Mexican Revolution in the 1920s. The Plaza of the Three Cultures in the Tlatelolco neighbourhood, and the shrine and Basilicas of Our Lady of Guadalupe are also important sites. There is a double-decker bus, known as the "Turibus", that circles most of these sites, and has timed audio describing the sites in multiple languages as they are passed.

In addition, the city has about 160 museums—the world's greatest single metropolitan concentration [96]—over 100 art galleries, and some 30 concert halls, all of which maintain a constant cultural activity during the whole year. It has either the third or fourth-highest number of theatres in the world after New York, London and perhaps Toronto. In many locales (e.g. Palacio Nacional and the Instituto Nacional de Cardiología are murals painted by Diego Rivera. He and his wife Frida Kahlo lived in Coyoacán, where several of their homes, studios, and art collections are open to the public. The house where Leon Trotsky was initially granted asylum and finally murdered in 1940 is also in Coyoacán.

In addition, there are several restored haciendas that are now restaurants, such as the San Ángel Inn, the Hacienda de Tlalpan and the Hacienda de los Morales, all of which embody Mexican history and boast some of the world's best food.


Public transportation


Mexico City is served by the Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, a 225.9 km (140 mi) metro system, which is the largest in Latin America. The first portions were opened in 1969 and it has expanded to 12 lines with 195 stations. The metro is one of the busiest in the world transporting approximately 4.5 million people every day, surpassed only by subway lines in Moscow (7.5 million), Tokyo (5.9 million), and New York City (5.1 million).[97] It is heavily subsidized, and has some of the lowest fares in the world, each trip costing 5.00 pesos from 05:00 am to midnight. Several stations display pre-Columbian artifacts and architecture that were discovered during the metro's construction. However, the metro covers less than half of the total urban area.

Suburban rail

A suburban rail system, the Tren Suburbano serves the metropolitan area, beyond the city limits of the metro, to municipalities such as Tlalnepantla and Cuautitlán Izcalli, with future extensions to Chalco and La Paz.

A pesero a.k.a microbús


Peseros are typically half-length passenger buses (known as microbús) that sit 22 passengers and stand up to 28. As of 2007, the approximately 28,000 peseros carried up to 60% of the city's passengers.[98][99]

Urban buses

City agency Red de Transporte de Pasajeros operates a network of large buses. Suburban buses also leave from the city's main intercity bus stations.

Metrobús rapid transit bus at Insurgentes station

Bus rapid transit

The city's first bus rapid transit line, the Metrobús, began operation in June 2005, along Avenida Insurgentes. Line 2 opened in December 2008, serving Eje 4 Sur,[100] line 3 opened in February 2011, serving Eje 1 Poniente,[101] and line 4 opened in April 2012 connecting the airport with San Lázaro and Buenavista Station at Insurgentes.[102] As the microbuses were removed from its route, it was hoped that the Metrobús could reduce pollution and decrease transit time for passengers. In June 2013, Mexico City's mayor announced two more lines to come: Line 5 serving Eje 3 Oriente and Line 6 serving Eje 5 Norte.[103] As of June 2013, 367 Metrobús buses transported 850,000 passengers daily.[103]

Mexibús bus rapid transit lines serve suburban areas in the State of Mexico and connect to the Mexico City metro.

Light rail, Estadio Azteca station

Trolleybus, light rail, streetcars

Electric transport other than the metro also exists, in the form of several Mexico City trolleybus routes and the Xochimilco Light Rail line, both of which are operated by Servicio de Transportes Eléctricos. The central area's last streetcar line (tramway, or tranvía) closed in 1979.

Roads and car transport

In the late 1970s many arterial roads were redesigned as ejes viales; high-volume one-way roads that cross, in theory, Mexico City proper from side to side. The eje vial network is based on a quasi-Cartesian grid, with the ejes themselves being called Eje 1 Poniente, Eje Central, and Eje 1 Oriente, for example, for the north-south roads, and Eje 2 Sur and Eje 3 Norte, for example, for east-west roads. Ring roads are the Circuito Interior (inner ring), Anillo Periférico; the Circuito Exterior Mexiquense ("State of Mexico outer loop") toll road skirting the northeastern and eastern edges of the metropolitan area,[104] the Chamapa-La Venta toll road skirting the northwestern edge, and the Arco Norte completely bypassing the metropolitan area in an arc from northwest (Atlacomulco) to north (Tula, Hidalgo) to east (Puebla). A second level (where tolls are charged) of the Periférico, colloquially called the segundo piso ("second floor"), was officially opened in 2012, with sections still being completed.[105] The Viaducto Miguel Alemán crosses the city east-west from Observatorio to the airport. In 2013 the Supervía Poniente opened, a toll road linking the new Santa Fe business district with southwestern Mexico City.

There is an environmental program, called Hoy No Circula ("Today Does Not Run", or "One Day without a Car"), whereby vehicles that have not passed emissions testing are restricted from circulating on certain days according to the ending digit of their license plates; this in an attempt to cut down on pollution and traffic congestion. While in 2003, the program still restricted 40% of vehicles in the metropolitan area,[106] with the adoption of stricter emissions standards in 2001 and 2006,[107] in practice, these days most vehicles are exempt from the circulation restrictions as long as they pass regular emissions tests.[108]


Street parking in urban neighborhoods is mostly controlled by the franeleros a.k.a. "viene vienes" (lit. "come on, come on"), who ask drivers for a fee to park, in theory to guard the car, but with the implicit threat that the franelero will damage the car if the fee is not paid. Double parking is common (with franeleros moving the cars as required), impeding on the available lanes for traffic to pass. In order to mitigate that and other problems and to raise revenue,[109] 721 parking meters (as of October 2013), have been installed in the west-central neighborhoods Lomas de Chapultepec, Condesa, Roma, Polanco and Anzures, in operation from 8 AM to 8 PM on weekdays and charging a rate of 2 pesos per 15 minutes, with offenders' cars booted, costing about 500 pesos to remove. 30 percent of the monthly 16 million-peso (as of October 2013) income from the parking-meter system (named "ecoParq") is earmarked for neighborhood improvements. The granting of the license for all zones exclusively to a new company without experience in operating parking meters, Operadora de Estacionamientos Bicentenario, has generated controversy.[110]


Map showing locations of bicycle-rental stands. The current location is circled in red
Bicycles available for rental in Mexico City, March 2010

The local government continuously strives for a reduction of massive traffic congestion, and has increased incentives for making a bicycle-friendly city. This includes North America's second-largest bicycle sharing system, EcoBici, launched in 2010, in which registered residents can get bicycles for 45 minutes with a pre-paid subscription of 300 pesos a year. There are, as of September 2013, 276 stations with 4,000 bicycles across an area stretching from the Historic center to Polanco.[111] within 300 meters of one another and are fully automatic using a transponder based card. Bicycle-service users have access to several permanent Ciclovías (dedicated bike paths/lanes/streets), including ones along Paseo de la Reforma and Avenida Chapultepec as well as one running 59 kilometers from Polanco to Fierro del Toro, which is located south of Cumbres del Ajusco National Park, near the Morelos state line.[112][113] The city's initiative is inspired by forward thinking examples, such as Denmark's Copenhagenization.

Intercity buses

Retail center in the waiting area of the TAPO bus terminal

The city has four major bus stations (North, South, Observatorio, TAPO), which comprise one of the world's largest transportation agglomerations, with bus service to many cities across the country and international connections.


Departures waiting area in Terminal 2 of the Mexico City airport

Mexico City is served by Mexico City International Airport (IATA Airport Code: MEX). This airport is Latin America's busiest and largest in traffic, with daily flights to United States and Canada, mainland Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Asia. Aeroméxico (Skyteam) is based at this airport, and provide codeshare agreements with non-Mexican airlines that span the entire globe. It is used by over 26 million passengers per year.[114] This traffic exceeds the current capacity of the airport, which has historically centralized the majority of air traffic in the country. An alternate option is Lic. Adolfo López Mateos International Airport (IATA Airport Code: TLC) in nearby Toluca, State of Mexico, with about 4.5 million passengers transported last year. The government engaged in an extensive restructuring program that includes the new second adjacent terminal, which began operations in 2007, and the enlargement of four other airports (at the nearby cities of Toluca, Querétaro, Puebla and Cuernavaca) that, along with Mexico City's airport, comprise the Grupo Aeroportuario del Valle de México, distributing traffic to different regions in Mexico. The city of Pachuca will also provide additional expansion to central Mexico's airport network. Mexico City's airport is the main hub for 11 of the 21 national airline companies.

During his annual state-of-the-nation address on September 2, 2014, President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto unveiled plans for a new international airport to ease the city's notorious air traffic congestion, tentatively slated for a 2018 opening. The new airport, which would have six runways, will cost $9.15 billion and would be built on vacant federal land east of Mexico City International Airport. Goals are to eventually handle 120 million passengers a year, which would make it the busiest airport in the world.[115][116]



Mural in the Palacio de Bellas Artes by David Alfaro Siqueiros
Receptions hall at the Museo Nacional de Arte
Jade mask of the Aztec god Chalchiuhtlicue recovered from the main temple at Tenochtitlan

Mexico City is an important cultural center. Having been capital of a vast pre-Hispanic empire, and also the capital of richest viceroyalty within the Spanish Empire (ruling over a vast territory in the Americas and Spanish West Indies), and, finally, the capital of the United Mexican States, Mexico City has a rich history of artistic expression. Since the mesoamerican pre-Classical period the inhabitants of the settlements around Lake Texcoco produced many works of art and complex craftsmanship, some of which are today displayed at the world-renowned National Museum of Anthropology and the Templo Mayor museum. While many pieces of pottery and stone-engraving have survived, the great majority of the Amerindian iconography was destroyed during the Conquest of Mexico.

Much of early colonial art stemmed from the codices (Aztec illustrated books), aiming to recover and preserve some Aztec and other Amerindian iconography and history. From then, artistic expressions in Mexico were mostly religious in theme. The Metropolitan Cathedral still displays works by Juan de Rojas, Juan Correa and an oil painting whose authorship has been attributed to Murillo. Secular works of art of this period include the equestrian sculpture of Charles IV of Spain, locally known as El Caballito ("The little horse"). This piece, in bronze, was the work of Manuel Tolsá and it has been placed at the Plaza Tolsá, in front of the Palacio de Minería (Mining Palace). Directly in front of this building is the beautiful Museo Nacional de Arte (Munal) (the National Museum of Art).

During the 19th century, an important producer of art was the Academia de San Carlos (San Carlos Art Academy), founded during colonial times, and which later became the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas (the National School of Arts) including painting, sculpture and graphic design, one of UNAM's art schools. Many of the works produced by the students and faculty of that time are now displayed in the Museo Nacional de San Carlos (National Museum of San Carlos). One of the students, José María Velasco, is considered one of the greatest Mexican landscape painters of the 19th century. Porfirio Díaz's regime sponsored arts, especially those that followed the French school. Popular arts in the form of cartoons and illustrations flourished, e.g. those of José Guadalupe Posada and Manuel Manilla. The permanent collection of the San Carlos Museum also includes paintings by European masters such as Rembrandt, Velázquez, Murillo, and Rubens.

After the Mexican Revolution, an avant-garde artistic movement originated in Mexico City: muralism. Many of the works of muralists José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera are displayed in numerous buildings in the city, most notably at the National Palace and the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Frida Kahlo, wife of Rivera, with a strong nationalist expression, was also one of the most renowned of Mexican painters. Her house has become a museum that displays many of her works.

The former home of Rivera muse Dolores Olmedo houses the namesake museum. The facility is in Xochimilco borough in southern Mexico City and includes several buildings surrounded by sprawling manicured lawns. It houses a large collection of Rivera and Kahlo paintings and drawings, as well as living Xoloizcuintles (Mexican Hairless Dog). It also regularly hosts small but important temporary exhibits of classical and modern art (e.g. Venetian Masters and Contemporary New York artists).

During the 20th century, many artists immigrated to Mexico City from different regions of Mexico, such as Leopoldo Méndez, an engraver from Veracruz, who supported the creation of the socialist Taller de la Gráfica Popular (Popular Graphics Workshop), designed to help blue-collar workers find a venue to express their art. Other painters came from abroad, such as Catalan painter Remedios Varo and other Spanish and Jewish exiles. It was in the second half of the 20th century that the artistic movement began to drift apart from the Revolutionary theme. José Luis Cuevas opted for a modernist style in contrast to the muralist movement associated with social politics.


Reconstruction of the entrance to the Hochob temple in the National Museum of Anthropology
Museo Soumaya in the Nuevo Polanco district

Mexico City has numerous museums dedicated to art, including Mexican colonial, modern and contemporary art, and international art. The Museo Tamayo was opened in the mid-1980s to house the collection of international contemporary art donated by famed Mexican (born in the state of Oaxaca) painter Rufino Tamayo. The collection includes pieces by Picasso, Klee, Kandinsky, Warhol and many others, though most of the collection is stored while visiting exhibits are shown. The Museo de Arte Moderno (Museum of Modern Art) is a repository of Mexican artists from the 20th century, including Rivera, Orozco, Siqueiros, Kahlo, Gerzso, Carrington, Tamayo, among others, and also regularly hosts temporary exhibits of international modern art. In southern Mexico City, the Museo Carrillo Gil (Carrillo Gil Museum) showcases avant-garde artists, as does the University Museum/Contemporary Art (Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo – or MUAC), designed by famed Mexican architect Teodoro González de León, inaugurated in late 2008. The Museo Soumaya, named after the wife of Mexican magnate Carlos Slim, has the largest private collection of original Rodin sculptures outside Paris. It also has a large collection of Dalí sculptures, and recently began showing pieces in its masters collection including El Greco, Velázquez, Picasso and Canaletto. The museum inaugurated a new futuristic-design facility in 2011 just north of Polanco, while maintaining a smaller facility in Plaza Loreto in southern Mexico City. The Colección Júmex is a contemporary art museum located on the sprawling grounds of the Jumex juice company in the northern industrial suburb of Ecatepec. It is said to have the largest private contemporary art collection in Latin America and hosts pieces from its permanent collection as well as traveling exhibits by leading contemporary artists. The new Museo Júmex in Nuevo Polanco was slated to open in November 2013. The Museo de San Ildefonso, housed in the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso in Mexico City's historic downtown district is a 17th-century colonnaded palace housing an art museum that regularly hosts world-class exhibits of Mexican and international art. Recent exhibits have included those on David LaChapelle, Antony Gormley and Ron Mueck.The National Museum of Art (Museo Nacional de Arte) is also located in a former palace in the historic center. It houses a large collection of pieces by all major Mexican artists of the last 400 years and also hosts visiting exhibits.

Jack Kerouac, the noted American author, spent extended periods of time in the city, and wrote his masterpiece volume of poetry Mexico City Blues here. Another American author, William S. Burroughs, also lived in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of the city for some time. It was here that he accidentally shot his wife.

Most of Mexico City's more than 150 museums can be visited from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm, although some of them have extended schedules, such as the Museum of Anthropology and History, which is open to 7 pm. In addition to this, entrance to most museums is free on Sunday. In some cases a modest fee may be charged.[117]

Another major addition to the city's museum scene is the Museum of Remembrance and Tolerance (Museo de la Memoria y Tolerancia), inaugurated in early 2011. The brainchild of two young Mexican women as a Holocaust museum, the idea morphed into a unique museum dedicated to showcasing all major historical events of discrimination and genocide. Permanent exhibits include those on the Holocaust and other large-scale atrocities. It also houses temporary exhibits; one on Tibet was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in September 2011.

Music, theater and entertainment

The City Theatre

Mexico City is home to a number of orchestras offering season programs. These include the Mexico City Philharmonic,[118] which performs at the Sala Ollin Yoliztli; the National Symphony Orchestra, whose home base is the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of the Fine Arts), a masterpiece of art nouveau and art decó styles; the Philharmonic Orchestra of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (OFUNAM),[119] and the Minería Symphony Orchestra,[120] both of which perform at the Sala Nezahualcóyotl, which was the first wrap-around concert hall in the Western Hemisphere when inaugurated in 1976. There are also many smaller ensembles that enrich the city's musical scene, including the Carlos Chávez Youth Symphony, the New World Orchestra (Orquesta del Nuevo Mundo), the National Polytechnical Symphony and the Bellas Artes Chamber Orchestra (Orquesta de Cámara de Bellas Artes).

The city is also a leading center of popular culture and music. There are a multitude of venues hosting Spanish and foreign-language performers. These include the 10,000-seat National Auditorium that regularly schedules the Spanish and English-language pop and rock artists, as well as many of the world's leading performing arts ensembles, the auditorium also broadcasts Grand Opera performances from New York's Metropolitan Opera on giant, high definition screens. In 2007 National Auditorium was selected world's best venue by multiple genre media.

Other popular sites for pop-artist performances include the 3,000-seat Teatro Metropolitan, the 15,000-seat Palacio de los Deportes, and the larger 50,000-seat Foro Sol Stadium, where popular international artists perform on a regular basis. The Cirque du Soleil has held several seasons at the Carpa Santa Fe, in the Santa Fe district in the western part of the city. There are numerous venues for smaller musical ensembles and solo performers. These include the Hard Rock Live, Bataclán, Foro Scotiabank, Lunario, Circo Volador and Voilá Acoustique. Recent additions include the 20,000-seat Arena Ciudad de México, the 3,000-seat Pepsi Center World Trade Center, and the 2,500-seat Auditorio Blackberry.

The Centro Nacional de las Artes (National Center for the Arts has several venues for music, theatre, dance. UNAM's main campus, also in the southern part of the city, is home to the Centro Cultural Universitario (the University Culture Center) (CCU). The CCU also houses the National Library, the interactive Universum, Museo de las Ciencias,[121] the Sala Nezahualcóyotl concert hall, several theatres and cinemas, and the new University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC).[122] A branch of the National University's CCU cultural center was inaugurated in 2007 in the facilities of the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs, known as Tlatelolco, in north-central Mexico City.

The José Vasconcelos Library, a national library, is located on the grounds of the former Buenavista railroad station in the northern part of the city.

The Papalote children's museum, which houses the world's largest dome screen, is located in the wooded park of Chapultepec, near the Museo Tecnológico, and La Feria amusement park. The theme park Six Flags México (the largest amusement park in Latin America) is located in the Ajusco neighborhood, in Tlalpan borough, southern Mexico City. During the winter, the main square of the Zócalo is transformed into a gigantic ice skating rink, which is said to be the largest in the world behind that of Moscow's Red Square.

The Cineteca Nacional (the Mexican Film Library), near the Coyoacán suburb, shows a variety of films, and stages many film festivals, including the annual International Showcase, and many smaller ones ranging from Scandinavian and Uruguayan cinema, to Jewish and LGBT-themed films. Cinépolis and Cinemex, the two biggest film business chains, also have several film festivals throughout the year, with both national and international movies. Mexico City tops the world in number of IMAX theatres, providing residents and visitors access to films ranging from documentaries to popular blockbusters on these especially large, dramatic screens.


The now globally popular taco originated in pre-Hispanic Mexico City. It was first eaten by indigenous Nahua people living near the lakes of the Mexico City region who ate tacos filled with seafood and avocado

Mexico City offers a variety of cuisines. Restaurants specializing in the regional cuisines of Mexico's 31 states are available in the city. Also available are restaurants representing a spectrum of international cuisines, including French, Italian, Croatian, Spanish (including many regional variations), Jewish, Lebanese, Chinese (again with regional variations), Indian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese; and of course fellow Latin American cuisines such as Argentine, Brazilian, and Peruvian. Haute, fusion, kosher, vegetarian and vegan cuisines are also available, as are restaurants solely based on the concepts of local food and slow Food.

Mexico City is known for having some of the freshest fish and seafood in Mexico's interior. La Nueva Viga Market is the second largest seafood market in the world after the Tsukiji fish market in Japan.

The city also has several branches of renowned international restaurants and chefs. These include Paris' Au Pied de Cochon and Brasserie Lipp, Philippe (by Philippe Chow); Nobu, Morimoto; Pámpano, owned by Mexican-raised opera legend Plácido Domingo. There are branches of the exclusive Japanese restaurant Suntory, Rome's famed Alfredo, as well as New York steakhouses Morton's and The Palm, and Monte Carlo's BeefBar. Three of the most famous Lima-based Haute Peruvian restaurants, La Mar, Segundo Muelle and Astrid y Gastón have locations in Mexico City.

For the 2014 list of World's 50 Best Restaurants as named by the British magazine Restaurant, Mexico City ranked with the Mexican avant-garde restaurant Pujol (owned by Mexican chef Enrique Olvera) at 20th best. Also notable is the Basque-Mexican fusion restaurant Biko (run and co-owned by Bruno Oteiza and Mikel Alonso), which placed outside the list at 59th, but in previous years has ranked within the top 50.[123]

Mexico's award-winning wines are offered at many restaurants, and the city offers unique experiences for tasting the regional spirits, with broad selections of tequila and mezcal.

At the other end of the scale are working class pulque bars known as pulquerías, a challenge for tourists to locate and experience.


Team Stadium League
América Azteca Stadium Liga MX
Universidad Nacional University Olympic Stadium Liga MX
Cruz Azul Azul Stadium Liga MX
Diablos Rojos del México Foro Sol Mexican League
Azteca Stadium, the sixth largest stadium in the world

Association football is the country's most popular and most televised franchised sport. Its important venues in Mexico City include the Azteca Stadium, home to the Mexico national football team and giants América, which can seat 105,000 fans, making it the biggest stadium in Latin America. The Olympic Stadium in Ciudad Universitaria is home to the football club giants Universidad Nacional, with a seating capacity of over 63,000. The Estadio Azul, which seats 35,000 fans, is near the World Trade Center Mexico City in the Nochebuena neighborhood, and is home to the giants Cruz Azul. The three teams are based in Mexico City and play in the First Division; they are also part, with Guadalajara-based giants Club Deportivo Guadalajara, of Mexico's traditional "Big Four" (though recent years have tended to erode the teams' leading status at least in standings). The country hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1970 and 1986, and Azteca Stadium is the first stadium in World Cup history to host the final twice.

Mexico City remains the only Latin American city to host the Olympic Games, having held the Summer Olympics in 1968, winning bids against Buenos Aires, Lyon and Detroit. (This too will change thanks to Rio, 2016 Summer Games host). The city hosted the 1955 and 1975 Pan American Games, the last after Santiago and São Paulo withdrew. The ICF Flatwater Racing World Championships were hosted here in 1974 and 1994. Lucha libre is a Mexican style of wrestling, and is one of the more popular sports throughout the country. The main venues in the city are Arena México and Arena Coliseo.

From 1962 to 1970 and again from 1986 to 1992, the track hosted the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix. From 1980–1981 and again from 2002 to 2007, it hosted the Champ Car World Series Gran Premio de México. Beginning in 2005, the NASCAR Nationwide Series ran the Telcel-Motorola México 200. 2005 also marked the first running of the Mexico City 250 by the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Both races were removed from their series' schedules for 2009. Baseball is another sport played professionally in the city. Mexico City is currently home to Mexican League baseball's Mexico Red Devils, considered Triple-A by U.S/Canadian Major League Baseball. The Devils play their home games at the Foro Sol sports and concert venue, adjacent to Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Mexico City has some 10 Little Leagues for young baseball players.

In 2005, Mexico City became the first city to host an NFL regular season game outside of the United States, at the Azteca Stadium. To date, the crowd of 103,467 people attending this game is the largest ever for a regular season game in NFL history. The city has also hosted several NBA pre-season games and has hosted international basketball's FIBA Americas Championship, along with north-of-the-border Major League Baseball exhibition games at Foro Sol.

Other sports facilities in Mexico City are the Palacio de los Deportes indoor arena, Francisco Márquez Olympic Swimming Pool, the Hipódromo de Las Américas, the Agustin Melgar Olympic Velodrome, and venues for equestrianism and horse racing, ice hockey, rugby, American-style football, baseball, and basketball.

Bullfighting takes place every Sunday during bullfighting season at the 50,000-seat Plaza México, the world's largest bullring.

Mexico City's golf courses have hosted Women's LPGA action, and two Men's Golf World Cups. Courses throughout the city are available as private as well as public venues.


Headquarters of the Mexican Secretary of Education

The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), located in Mexico City, is the largest university on the continent, with more than 300,000 students from all backgrounds. Three Nobel laureates, several Mexican entrepreneurs and most of Mexico's modern-day presidents are among its former students. UNAM conducts 50% of Mexico's scientific research and has presence all across the country with satellite campuses, observatories and research centres. UNAM ranked 74th in the Top 200 World University Ranking published by Times Higher Education (then called Times Higher Education Supplement) in 2006,[124] making it the highest ranked Spanish-speaking university in the world. The sprawling main campus of the university, known as Ciudad Universitaria, was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007.

The second largest higher-education institution is the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), which includes among many other relevant centers the Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados (Cinvestav), where varied high-level scientific and technological research is done. Other major higher-education institutions in the city include the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM), the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH), the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (3 campuses), the Universidad Panamericana (UP), the Universidad La Salle, the Universidad del Valle de Mexico (UVM), the Universidad Anáhuac, the Alliant International University, the Universidad Iberoamericana, El Colegio de México (Colmex), Escuela Libre de Derecho and the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica, (CIDE). In addition, the prestigious University of California maintains a campus known as "Casa de California" in the city.[125] The Universidad Tecnológica de México is also in Mexico City.

Unlike those of Mexican states' schools, curricula of Mexico City's public schools is managed by the federal Secretary of Public Education. The whole funding is allocated by the government of Mexico City (in some specific cases, such as El Colegio de México, funding comes from both the city's government and other public and private national and international entities). The city's public high school system is the Instituto de Educación Media Superior del Distrito Federal (IEMS-DF).

A special case is that of El Colegio Nacional, created during the district's governmental period of Miguel Alemán Valdés to have, in Mexico, an institution similar to the College of France. The select and privileged group of Mexican scientists and artists belonging to this institution—membership is for life—include, among many, Mario Lavista, Ruy Pérez Tamayo, José Emilio Pacheco, Marcos Moshinsky (d.2009), Guillermo Soberón Acevedo. Members are obligated to publicly disclose their works through conferences and public events such as concerts and recitals.

Among its many public and private schools (K-13), the city offers multi-cultural, multi-lingual and international schools attended by Mexican and foreign students. Best known are the Colegio Alemán (German school with 3 main campuses), the Liceo Mexicano Japonés (Japanese), the Centro Cultural Coreano en México (Korean), the Lycée Franco-Mexicain (French), the American School, The Westhill Institute (American School), the Edron Academy and the Greengates School (British).


Mexico City is Latin America's leading center for the television, music and film industries. It is also Mexico's most important for the printed media and book publishing industries. Dozens of daily newspapers are published, including El Universal, Excélsior, Reforma and La Jornada. Other major papers include Milenio, Crónica, El Economista and El Financiero. Leading magazines include Expansión, Proceso, Poder, as well as dozens of entertainment publications such as Vanidades, Quién, Chilango, TV Notas, and local editions of Vogue, GQ, and Architectural Digest.

It is also a leading center of the advertising industry. Most international ad firms have offices in the city, including Grey, JWT, Leo Burnett, Euro RSCG, BBDO, Ogilvy, Saatchi & Saatchi, and McCann Erickson. Many local firms also compete in the sector, including Alazraki, Olabuenaga/Chemistri, Terán, Augusto Elías, and Clemente Cámara, among others. There are 60 radio stations operating in the city and many local community radio transmission networks.

The two largest media companies in the Spanish-speaking world, Televisa and Azteca, are headquartered in Mexico City. Other local television channels include: XEW-TV 2 XHTV-TV 4 XHGC-TV 5 XHIMT-TV 7 XEQ-TV 9 XEIPN-TV 11 XHDF-TV 13 XHUNAM-TV 20 XEIMT-TV 22 XHRAE-TV 28 XHTVM-TV 40 XHCDM-DT 21


Mexico City offers an immense and varied consumer retail market, with thousands of options for everything from the very basic foods to ultra high-end luxury goods. Consumers may buy in fixed indoor markets, mobile markets (tianguis), from street vendors, from downtown shops in a street dedicated to a certain type of good, in convenience stores and traditional neighborhood stores, in modern supermarkets, in warehouse and membership stores and the shopping centers that they anchor, in department stores, big-box stores and in modern shopping malls.

Traditional markets

Informal markets are found in public spaces throughout the city
Multi-storey Sanborns department store with the façade of a 19th-century home being used as an entrance area
Decorated façade of the Portal de Mercaderes market building

The city's main source of fresh produce is the Central de Abasto. This in itself is a self-contained mini-city in Iztapalapa borough covering an area equivalent to several dozen city blocks. The wholesale market supplies most of the city's "mercados", supermarkets and restaurants, as well as people who come to buy the freshest produce for themselves. Tons of fresh produce are trucked in from all over Mexico every day.

The principal fish market is known as La Nueva Viga, in the same complex as the Central de Abastos. Fresh fish from all around the country is available, mainly from the central Pacific coast and Veracruz. The world-renowned market of Tepito occupies 25 blocks, and is known to sell everything and anything except dignity.

A staple for consumers in the city is the omnipresent "mercado". Every major neighborhood in the city has its own borough-regulated market, often more than one. These are large well-established facilities offering most basic products, such as fresh produce and meat/poultry, dry goods, tortillerías, and many other services such as locksmiths, herbal medicine, hardware goods, sewing implements; and a multitude of stands offering freshly made, home-style cooking and drinks in the tradition of aguas frescas and atole.


In addition, "tianguis" or mobile markets set up shop on streets in many neighborhoods, depending on day of week. Sundays see the largest number of these markets. The stalls generally use awnings of a single color or shade (pink and red, for example), making them easily identifiable from several blocks away.

Street vendors

Street vendors play their trade from stalls in the tianguis as well as at non-officially controlled concentrations around metro stations and hospitals; at plazas comerciales, where vendors of a certain "theme" (e.g. stationery) are housed; originally these were organized to accommodate vendors formerly selling on the street; or simply from improvised stalls on a city sidewalk.[126] In addition, food and goods are sold from people walking with baskets, pushing carts, from bicycles or the backs of trucks, or simply from a tarp or cloth laid on the ground.[127]

Downtown shopping

Sears store in Downtown Mexico City

The Historic Center of Mexico City is widely known for specialized, often low-cost retailers. Certain blocks or streets are dedicated to shops selling a certain type of merchandise, with areas dedicated to over 40 categories such as home appliances, lamps and electricals, closets and bathrooms, housewares, wedding dresses, jukeboxes, printing, office furniture and safes, books, photography, jewelry, and opticians.[128] The main department stores are also represented downtown.

Traditional markets downtown include the La Merced Market; the Mercado de Jamaica specializes in fresh flowers, the Mercado de Sonora in the occult, and La Lagunilla in furniture.

Ethnic shopping areas are located in Chinatown, downtown along Calle Dolores, but Mexico City's Koreatown, or Pequeño Seúl, is located in the Zona Rosa.

Supermarkets and neighborhood stores

Large, modern chain supermarkets, hypermarkets and warehouse clubs including Soriana, Comercial Mexicana, Chedraui, Bodega Aurrerá, Walmart and Costco, are located across the city. Many anchor shopping centers that contain smaller shops, services, a food court and sometimes cinemas.

Small "mom-and-pop" corner stores ("abarroterías" or more colloquially as "changarros") abound in all neighborhoods, rich and poor. These are small shops offering basics such as soft drinks, packaged snacks, canned goods and dairy products. Thousands of C-stores or corner stores, such as Oxxo, 7-Eleven and Extra are located throughout the city.

Department stores and shopping malls

Major department stores include El Palacio de Hierro, Liverpool, Sanborn's, Sears, Suburbia, Viana, and Fábricas de Francia. Most anchor large modern shopping malls.

Centro Santa Fe during 2012 expansion

Luxury goods retailers are concentrated on Avenida Presidente Masaryk in Polanco; the Centro Santa Fe mall with its Saks Fifth Avenue branch and numerous luxury boutiques; Paseo Interlomas in Interlomas; Arcos Bosques, a speciality center in Bosques de las Lomas; Antara Polanco, a high-end mall in Polanco; Avenida Altavista in the southern neighborhood of San Ángel, including a small shopping center on the street; Altavista 147 in the Colonia del Valle district with its malls Galerías Insurgentes and Centro Coyoacán. Branches of department store El Palacio de Hierro and to a lesser extent Liverpool contain luxury boutiques. Punta Norte Outlet Mall in the city's north has luxury-good outlets.

For a more bohemian ambiance, the neighborhoods of Condesa, Roma, Coyoacán and San Ángel emphasize outdoor shopping and dining.

Parks and recreation

Office buildings in Polanco seen from Chapultepec Lake
Infinitum roller coaster at La Feria Chapultepec Mágico

Chapultepec Park, the city's most iconic public park, has history back to the Aztec emperors who used the area as a retreat. It is south of Polanco district, and houses the city's zoo, several ponds, seven museums including the National Museum of Anthropology, and the oldest and most traditional amusement park, La Feria de Chapultepec Mágico, with its vintage Montaña Rusa rollercoaster.

Other iconic city parks include the Alameda Central, Mexico City historic center, a city park since colonial times and renovated in 2013; Parque México and Parque España in the hip Condesa district; Parque de los Venados in Colonia del Valle, and Parque Lincoln in Polanco.[129] There are many smaller parks throughout the city. Most are small "squares" occupying two or three square blocks amid residential or commercial districts.

Several other larger parks such as the Bosque de Tlalpan and Viveros de Coyoacán, and in the east Alameda Oriente, offer many recreational activities. Northwest of the city is a large ecological reserve, the Bosque de Aragón, which is also an amusement park with a fine lake, aquarium, watering place, zoo, theater and other attractions. In the southeast is the Xochimilco Ecological Park and Plant Market, a World Heritage site. West of Santa Fe district are the pine forests of the Desierto de los Leones National Park.

Besides La Fería Chapultepec Mágico, other amusement parks include Six Flags México (the largest in Latin America), in Ajusco neighborhood, known across Latin America for its thrilling roller coasters. There are numerous seasonal fairs; the main one is held in winter on the main square of the Zócalo, which is transformed into an arctic getaway with ice igloos, slides and a gigantic ice skating rink said to be the world's largest of its kind. This event is free to the public and includes special events such as stage performances and concerts. Additionally there are many temporary fairs with rides throughout the city's neighborhoods.


Mexico City was traditionally known as La Ciudad de los Palacios ("the City of the Palaces"), a nickname attributed to Baron Alexander von Humboldt when visiting the city in the 19th century, who, sending a letter back to Europe, said Mexico City could rival any major city in Europe.

During Andrés López Obrador's administration a political slogan was introduced: la Ciudad de la Esperanza ("The City of Hope"). This motto was quickly adopted as a city nickname, but has faded since the new motto Capital en Movimiento ("Capital in Movement") was adopted by the administration headed by Marcelo Ebrard, though the latter is not treated as often as a nickname in media. Since 2013, to refer to the City particularly in relation to government campaigns, the abbreviation CDMX has been used (from Ciudad de México).

The city is colloquially known as Chilangolandia after the locals' nickname chilangos.[130] Chilango is used pejoratively by people living outside Mexico City to "connote a loud, arrogant, ill-mannered, loutish person".[131] For their part those living in Mexico City designate insultingly those who live elsewhere as living in la provincia ("the provinces", the periphery) and many proudly embrace the term chilango.[132] Residents of Mexico City are more recently called defeños (deriving from the postal abbreviation of the Federal District in Spanish: D.F., which is read "De-Efe"). They are formally called capitalinos (in reference to the city being the capital of the country), but "[p]erhaps because capitalino is the more polite, specific, and correct word, it is almost never utilized".[133]

Law enforcement

Officers of the SSP
Headquarters of the Mexican Federal Police

The Secretariat of Public Security of the Federal District (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública del Distrito Federal – SSP) manages a combined force of over 90,000 officers in the Federal District (DF). The SSP is charged with maintaining public order and safety in the heart of Mexico City. The historic district is also roamed by tourist police, aiming to orient and serve tourists. These horse-mounted agents dress in traditional uniforms.

The investigative Judicial Police of the Federal District (Policía Judicial del Distrito Federal – PJDF) is organized under the Office of the Attorney General of the DF (the Procuraduría General de Justicia del Distrito Federal). The PGJDF maintains 16 precincts (delegaciones) with an estimated 3,500 judicial police, 1,100 investigating agents for prosecuting attorneys (agentes del ministerio público), and nearly 1,000 criminology experts or specialists (peritos).

Between 2000 and 2004 an average of 478 crimes were reported each day in Mexico City; however, the actual crime rate is thought to be much higher "since most people are reluctant to report crime".[134] Under policies enacted by Mayor Marcelo Ebrard between 2009 and 2011, Mexico City underwent a major security upgrade with violent and petty crime rates both falling significantly despite the rise in violent crime in other parts of the country. Some of the policies enacted included the installation of 11,000 security cameras around the city and a very large expansion of the police force. Mexico City currently has one of the world's highest police officer-to-resident ratios, with one uniformed officer per 100 citizens.[135]

International relations

Twin towns and sister cities

Mexico City is part of the Union of Ibero-American Capital Cities[136] and twinned with:

See also


  1. ^ Senate of Mexico website: LXII & LXIII legislatures, Distrito Federal. Retrieved November 26, 2013
  2. ^ Senate of Mexico website: LXII & LXIII legislatures, Distrito Federal. Retrieved November 26, 2013
  3. ^ "Listado de Diputados por Grupo Parlamentario del Distrito Federal". Camara de Diputados. Retrieved October 20, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Listado de Diputados por Grupo Parlamentario del Distrito Federal". Camara de Diputados. Retrieved October 20, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Relieve". Cuentame INEGI. Retrieved October 20, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Top 10 largest cities in the world 2,012 – Metropolitan Populations". 
  7. ^ World Population Review. "Mexico City Population 2,013". 
  8. ^ "Global city GDP 2011". Brookings Institution. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Artículo 44". Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos. Retrieved May 14, 2010. 
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External links

  • Federal District Government (Spanish)
  • Mexico City Tourism Ministry (Spanish)
  • Mexico City Experience – An English-language website operated on behalf of the Mexico City government
  • Mexico City at DMOZ

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