Known for its natural features and blazing temperature, Baja California Sur is Mexico’s melding of desert and ocean. Located at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, Los Cabos is easily accessible by plane, which is why it’s a favorite destination for many American travelers, especially those from the west coast of the USA. Its location, with the Sea of Cortes on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, gives one a sense of being on an “island-like” sanctuary. The area has several high-end resorts and spas, beautiful beaches, and near-impeccable year-round weather. La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur, is more of a commercial and cultural center than a vacation destination, although it does attract eco-tourists looking to enjoy La Paz’s marine wonders and aquatic activities. It is home to the Museo de Antropología e Historia and La Ruta de las Misiones.
With its reputation for art, culture, shopping, recreation and cuisine, Mexico City attracts more than 12 million visitors every year. The city enjoys a lively and diverse cultural lifestyle, with much to discover in its many historic buildings, museums, food and craft markets and art galleries. It is home to world-class hotels, convention and meeting facilities, restaurants, and performance venues, including the Zócalo square, Chapultepec Park, more than 100 museums. Popular attractions include the colonial neighborhoods of San Ángel and Coyoacán, and the nearby archaeological zone of Teotihuacan, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site in addition to the city’s historical centre, as well as the lakeside area of Xochimilco. Mexico’s capital city boasts a year-round calendar of performing arts, music, dance, film festivals, art exhibitions, and business fairs and expositions.
If you’re looking for sun and beach, look no further – Cancun is consistently ranked number one time and again by Orbitz and Travelocity as America’s choice in international vacation destinations. Cancun and the neighboring treasures of Holbox, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, Isla Contoy, and the small, fisherman village of Puerto Morelos each year welcome over 3 million visitors. In the state of Quintana Roo almost everything focuses on water activities, including jet skiing, snorkeling and scuba diving, the latter along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second longest in the world. While the beach and hotel pools are the major draws to the Cancun and Riviera Maya regions, travelers also lured by attractions such as the Under Water Museum; the area’s culinary, nightlife and shopping experiences; and the popular archeological sites of Tulum, Chichen Itza and Cobá.
The culture of Mexico has undergone a tremendous transformation over the past few decades and it varies widely throughout the country. Many Mexicans live in cities, but smaller rural communities still play a strong role in defining the country’s collective vibrant community.
Mexico is the 12th most populous country in the world, with over 123 million people in a July 2016 estimate, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook. According to the CIA, Mexico consists of several ethnic groups. The mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish) group accounts for 62 percent of the population. Amerindian people or predominantly Amerindian people account for 21 percent, while 10 percent of the population is white. These groups create a culture that is unique to Mexico.
Here is a brief overview of Mexican culture.
Languages of Mexico
The overwhelming majority of Mexicans today speak Spanish. According to the CIA, Spanish is spoken by 92.7 percent of the Mexican population. About 6 percent of the population speaks Spanish as well as indigenous languages, such as Mayan, Nahuatl and other regional languages. Indigenous Mexican words have even become common in other languages, including English. For example, chocolate, coyote, tomato and avocado all originated in Nahuatl.
Religions of Mexico
« Much of Mexican culture revolves around religious values and the church, as well as the concept of family and inclusiveness, » said Talia Wagner, a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles. Around 82 percent of Mexicans identify themselves as Catholic, according to the CIA, although many have incorporated pre-Hispanic Mayan elements as part of their faith. Christian denominations represented include Presbyterians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists and Anglicans. There are also small communities of Muslims, Jews and Buddhists.
Values of the Mexican People
Family is one of the most important elements in Mexican society, according to History.com. Especially outside of cities, families are typically large and Mexicans are very conscious of their responsibilities to immediate family members and extended family such as cousins and even close friends.
Hosting parties at their homes plays a large part of Mexican life and making visitors feel comfortable is a large part of the values and customs of the country.
« Family units are usually large, with traditional gender roles and extensive family involvement from the external members who assist one another in day to day life, » Wagner told Live Science. There is a strong connection among family members. « Parents are treated with a high degree of respect, as is the family in general and there may be constant struggle, especially for the growing children between individual wants and needs and those wants and needs of the family, » added Wagner.
On large event in a Mexican family is the quinceañera. This is a celebration of a young lady’s 15th birthday. It signifies the girl’s journey from childhood to womanhood. The party includes an elaborate dress for the girl of honor, food, dancing, friends and families. Before the party there is often a mass at the girl’s church. The girl is accompanied throughout the festivities by her damas (maids of honor) and chambelánes (chamberlains), according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
Palm-fringed beaches, chili-spiced cuisine, steamy jungles, teeming cities, fiesta fireworks, Frida’s angst: Mexico conjures up diverse, vivid dreams. And the reality lives up to them.
An Outdoor Life
With steaming jungles, snowcapped volcanoes, cactus-strewn deserts and 10,000km of coast strung with sandy beaches and wildlife-rich lagoons, Mexico is an endless adventure for the senses and a place where life is lived largely in the open air. Harness the pounding waves of the Pacific on a surfboard, strap on a snorkel to explore the beauty beneath the surface of the Caribbean Sea and ride the whitewater of Mexico’s rivers. Or stay on dry land and hike Oaxaca’s mountain cloud forests, scale the peaks of dormant volcanoes or marvel at millions of migrating Monarch butterflies.
Art & Soul of a Nation
Mexico’s pre-Hispanic civilizations built some of the world’s great archaeological monuments, including Teotihuacán’s towering pyramids and the exquisite Maya temples of Palenque. The Spanish colonial era left beautiful towns full of tree-shaded plazas and richly sculpted stone churches and mansions, while modern Mexico has seen a surge of great art from the likes of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Top-class museums and galleries document the country’s fascinating history and its endless creative verve. Popular culture is just as vibrant, from the underground dance clubs and street art of Mexico City to the wonderful handicrafts of the indigenous population.
A Varied Palate
Mexico’s gastronomic repertoire is as diverse as the country’s people and topography. Dining out is an endless adventure, whether you’re sampling regional dishes, such as Yucatán’s cochinita pibil (slow-cooked pork) or a vast array of moles (complex sauces, their recipes jealously guarded) in Oaxaca and Puebla, or trying the complex, artsy concoctions of world-class chefs in Mexico City. Some of Mexico’s best eating is had at simple seafront palapa (thatched-roof shack) restaurants, serving achingly fresh fish and seafood, and the humble taquerías, ubiquitous all over Mexico, where tortillas are stuffed with a variety of fillings and slathered with homemade salsas.
At the heart of your Mexican experience will be the Mexican people. A super-diverse crew, from Mexico City hipsters to the shy indigenous villagers of Chiapas, they’re renowned for their love of color and frequent fiestas, but they’re also philosophical folk, to whom timetables are less important than simpatía (empathy). You’ll rarely find Mexicans less than courteous. They’re more often positively charming, and know how to please guests. They might despair of ever being well governed, but they’re fiercely proud of Mexico, their one-of-a-kind homeland with all its variety, tight-knit family networks, beautiful-ugly cities, deep-rooted traditions and agave-based liquors.