After reading many of the interesting articles on the Significance website published from "Olympic Britain", I decided to read the book. I loved it. It was incredibly interesting to see Britain described and depicted in graphics and numbers, and seeing the changes during the course of a century.
There's nothing like that for Mexico, and that is a real shame. So, I thought I should use my envy in a positive way and write something about Mexico, our culture and our people, with stats, not quite “Olympic Mexico”, but a tiny effort. At first it sounded great but it turned out to be a lot more difficult than I had first imagined. I found many recent data but I had to somehow organize them into topics, and then drop some boring or inaccurate figures. After that I tried to link the other useful data, and this is the result.
The sun is rising in a nation, a place, which was born more than two thousand years ago. This is a place of legends, where the history is tangled with myths and memories, where the people not only live, but breathe both the present and past. This is Mexico, a country that is mystical, magical, but yet so real. If you don't know what Mexico looks and feels like, it is your lucky day. Today, I present to you Mexico with statistics.
The National Palace, symbolic seat of the President and the cabinet. Image by Reinhard Jahn/Wikimedia.
Mexico is located just south of the USA and also has borders Guatemala and Belize. By the way, the official name of the country is “Mexican United States”, but don't worry, not even the Mexicans call it that. Mexico is a big place, covering 1, 959, 248 km2 , making it the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the thirteenth largest independent nation in the world. And we use that space. The last census reported a population of 112,336,538 persons in the country, with about 57 million women outnumbering 55 million men.
Mexico is the largest Spanish speaking country in the world with approximately 92.17% Mexicans speaking it as their first language. The second most common language is English, but the country also has 62 indigenous Amerindian languages recognized as "national languages", and which are spoken by more than 6% of the population. Nahuatl is the most common indigenous language spoken by Mexicans and is understood by 1.7% of the population. Nahuatl is a beautiful language and includes many different local variations. Most likely you would understand a little bit of Nahuatl, since a lot of Mexican Spanish words were taken from the language and then exported to the rest of the world. Some English words that are of Nahuatl origin include "avocado", "chili", "chocolate", "coyote" and "tomato".
This is quiet an extreme country. Literally. It holds one of the world's most diverse weather systems: some elevated regions of Mexico usually reach below zero (°C) temperatures, yet in some parts of the country temperatures reach as high as 50 °C (122 °F) or more (and not only in the deserts, as Wikipedia seems to imply). With over 200,000 different species living within its boundaries, Mexico is home to more than 10% of the world's biodiversity. The country ranks first in biodiversity in reptiles with 707 known species, second in mammals with 438 species, fourth in amphibians with 290 species, and fourth in flora, with 26,000 different species. More than 400 species of animals living in Mexico face danger of extinction, along with 678 species of plants.
Mexico is also a developing country, with 46% of its habitants living in extreme or moderate poverty. Still, many international organizations are confident enough to say that there's a powerful growing economy: Mexico has the 13th largest nominal GDP worldwide, and according to Goldman Sachs, by 2050 Mexico will have the 5th largest economy in the world trailing only China, the US, India and Brazil. It is the largest North American auto-producing nation, recently surpassing Canada and the USA, and 17% of the Mexican economy is based in industrial manufacturing. Services represent one third of the economy. The real problem here is disparity. According to the OECD, Mexico is the country with the second highest degree of economic disparity between the extremely poor and extremely rich, beaten only by Chile. Just consider that the richest man in the planet lives here, while 10.5% of the population lives below the extreme poverty line. In numbers, the bottom 10% in the income hierarchy disposes of 1.36% of the country's resources, whereas the upper 10% dispose of almost 36%.
But enough about money. If there's something really characteristic about this country it is the people. A mixture of color, joy and parties, Mexicans are usually presented to the world as expressive, happy, sometimes drunk and lazy, yet funny and friendly (well, at least that's what I've heard, please let me know otherwise). But what are the Mexicans really like? According to a survey, 38.2% of Mexicans describe themselves as “short”, 35.8% as “not fat, nor thin” and 47.7% as “having brown skin”. 28.3% describe themselves as handsome or pretty. 51.4% of those interviewed are humble and describe themselves as “so-so”. 41.1% affirm they belong the middle class, which has seen some growth in the country since the 1990s.
It doesn’t matter what you've seen on TV, Mexico is mostly a conservative country. 82.7% of the population is Catholic, with 47% of them attending church services weekly. With 92,924,489 devotees, Mexico has the second highest number of Catholics. Just consider that no other religions were allowed in the country until 1857. That conservative thinking can be seen in our ideas and traditions: 63.4% of Mexican women say that a man with long hair does not look good and only 48.8% of citizens approve of abortion (which is illegal in most of the country). Assuming they had a homosexual son/daughter, only 37.5% of Mexicans would meet his/her partner. Only 18% approve the legalization of marijuana.
78% of the people in this country live in urban areas. The biggest cities are Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara, each with more than 4 million habitants. The Valley of Mexico, which covers a metropolitan area that includes Mexico City, has over 20 million people living in it. This recent urbanization has allowed Mexicans to reach a life expectancy at birth of 75.7 years. Mexican women are expected to live 77.8 years while men have to settle with only 73.1 years. Most of those lives will end by diabetes and heart disease, but before that, lives will be joyful in a country we are (mostly) proud of. 51% of the Mexicans declare themselves to be proud of their country. About what in particular? Music, food and their history mostly. A survey discovered that “Tequila” is the beverage most Mexicans feel proud about. “Mole” is the meal that we keep close to our hearts and the “rancheras” are the songs that fill us with pride. 17% of Mexicans would show off to the world a national singer named Vicente Fernández.
Adults in Mexico attend school for an average of 8.6 years but 6.9% of the population is illiterate. The profession with the highest number of occupied people is accounting. Over 659,000 Mexicans studied it and are now working in this sector. The second career with the highest occupation is management with about 650,000 people. Lawyers come in third place. Sadly, there are no official figures for how many statisticians there are in the country, though I can tell you that there are 31,736 workers who are mathematicians, actuaries or statisticians. Most of these will have studied maths, and that number also includes professional maths teachers. By the way, the average income per month for these maths-related professionals is $5,615 pesos, which is about $430 US Dollars. The national average income for professionals in the country per month is $11,034 pesos, about $850 US Dollars.
Mexicans are usually romantic and tend to develop long-lasting relationships before marriage. If you wish to get a share of the latin beauty from the women in our country, there are some tips that will help you. You already know that long hair is not very appealing to Mexican women. The good news is that baldness won't be quite an issue since only 4 out of 10 Mexican women consider it unattractive. They
also tend to prefer tall men with black hair. Also, get a tan, since they prefer brown colored skin. Looking for a Mexican man? Don't worry, just be skinny, with long, black hair and that should be enough, according to one survey. But be quick if you want to get married here. Men say “I do”, in average, at the age of 28 and women at the age of 25. Only 14 out of every 100 marriages in Mexico will end in divorce. Once you are married, considering continuing the trend that 57.6% of houses in Mexico have a pet - 83% of those are dogs, so keep it in mind.
We live in a great museum. It is estimated that Mexico has around 200,000 archaeological sites. 38,142 of those are registered but only 174 are open to the public. 7,944,898 persons visit those museums every year with 620,694 of those being foreigners. According to surveys, the average Mexican goes to a museum 0.8 times a year. That's right, we don't go: 74.8% of the citizens don't go to museums, not even once a year. Those who do visit museums average 3.3 visits per year.
View of the Avenue of the Dead and the Pyramid of the Sun, from Pyramid of the Moon (Pyramide de la Luna). Image by Jackhynes/Wikimedia.
Well, you can see Mexicans are not used to enjoying their spare time visiting museums, and certainly not reading either. According to another survey, half of the population in the country wishes to write a book. Yet not many people read them, since Mexicans read on average only 2.9 books a year. Young people tend to read more, with those between 18 and 22 years reading 4.2 books per year. Apparently, we prefer to attend to one of the 4,605,568 presentations that are held annually in the 460 cinematographical establishments in the country (mostly Hollywood movies, if you ask). Some would rather go to one of the 31,553 functions presented in one of the 366 places where theatrical shows are displayed. Let's be honest, besides culture, we have some other occupations. Sports! Like most of the world, Mexico loves football (soccer). Over 60% of all adults in the country like it, and over 45% of women and 75% of the men declare to like, practice or watch soccer games. That's why the recent gold medal, when the Mexico Olympic football team beat rivals and favorites Brazil, won in London was universally celebrated in the country. We haven't been lucky in World Cups though. Boxing is the second most popular sport in the country, with around 44% of adults following it. Just before London, boxing was the sport that had produced the highest number of medals for Mexico in Olympic Games. That privilege now belongs to diving.
When we are not watching sports or movies, you may find Mexicans online. In 2012, 40.6 million internet users were estimated in the country. There are 38,797,900 Facebook users in Mexico, so we are fifth in the world with the highest number of Facebook addicts. We are not so fond on twitter, but there are still 11.7 million active Twitter users in Mexico. Google Mexico is the most visited website in our country, followed by Facebook, Youtube, Google and Windows Live. And Mexicans are not immune to the now infamous attachment to our smartphones. 15% of the internet users in our country check their social networks as soon as they wake up, 4 out of 10 listen to music or send text messages while being with their family and 13% suffer some form of anxiety when they are not online. But there's always a bright side: 81% of internet users in Mexico claim that the web has strengthened their relationship with their family.
Mexico is also a place of traditions, where European, indigenous and national cultures blend in a colourful and unique recipe. Some of those traditions are ancient, like “Día de Muertos” (Day of the Dead), which some scholars trace back hundreds of years to the time of the Aztecs and some even before that. This national holiday is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. A tradition connected with this holiday is to build a private altar honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and favorite foods and beverages of the departed. Many other Mexican traditions are linked with the Catholic beliefs of the country, such as “Día de Reyes” (The celebration of the Christian Epiphany) and, of course, “Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe” (Our Lady of Guadalupe), which is celebrated on December 12th. This one is HUGE. The shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage destination in the world. Over the Friday and Saturday of December 11 to 12, 2009, a record number of 6.1 million pilgrims visited the shrine, named “Basilica de Guadalupe” to commemorate this anniversary. Mexicans' belief in the Virgin is one of the most important devotions in the world. A recent survey showed that one out of every four Mexicans say they have received a favor or miracle through the intercession of the Virgin. And let me tell you that besides the pilgrimage to the capital, there are hundreds of smaller pilgrimages that gather at different churches or temples in other parts of the country. The official mass of this day is broadcast in national television, without commercials. And now that we are discussing Mexican celebrations, I just wanted to point out that our independence day is commemorated in September and it is not related with the “Cinco de Mayo” at all.
As you can see Mexico is a contradictory place, with both rich and poor, and new and old ideas mixing. It is a place that changes every day but that keeps its old flavors and influences. Mexico is much more complex than what numbers can describe in a few pages, and it has a powerful and ancient identity, but in the end we are all people with dreams, ideals and struggles, something we share with every human being. And that – being human – is the only thing we need to be certain that this country will overcome its problems and walk through to a brighter future.
Actually, maybe not ‘walk through’ - 42.8% of the Mexican population claims it is just too hard to exercise 30 minutes every day, so we’ll probably have to find another way!