Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Courtesy: Wikipedia 

A picture of Mexico as seen from outer space.

A winding river in the valley of Michoacán.
Mexico is located at about 23° N and 102° W[65] in the southern portion of North America.[66][67] Almost all of Mexico lies in the North American Plate, with small parts of the Baja California peninsula on the Pacific and Cocos Plates. Geophysically, some geographers include the territory east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (around 12% of the total) within Central America.[68] Geopolitically, however, Mexico is entirely considered part of North America, along with Canada and the United States.[69][70]
Mexico's total area is 1,972,550 km2 (761,606 sq mi), making it the world's 14th largest country by total area, and includes approximately 6,000 km2 (2,317 sq mi) of islands in the Pacific Ocean (including the remote Guadalupe Island and the Revillagigedo Islands), Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and Gulf of California. On its north, Mexico shares a 3,141 km (1,952 mi) border with the United States. The meandering Río Bravo del Norte (known as the Rio Grande in the United States) defines the border from Ciudad Juárez east to the Gulf of Mexico. A series of natural and artificial markers delineate the United States-Mexican border west from Ciudad Juárez to the Pacific Ocean. On its south, Mexico shares an 871 km (541 mi) border with Guatemala and a 251 km (156 mi) border with Belize.


A view of the Popocatépetl volcano from the Atlixco valley. Popocatépetl is an active volcano and is the second highest peak in Mexico.

Topographic map of Mexico
Mexico is crossed from north to south by two mountain ranges known as Sierra Madre Oriental and Sierra Madre Occidental, which are the extension of the Rocky Mountains from northern North America. From east to west at the center, the country is crossed by the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt also known as the Sierra Nevada. A fourth mountain range, the Sierra Madre del Sur, runs from Michoacán to Oaxaca.[71]
As such, the majority of the Mexican central and northern territories are located at high altitudes, and the highest elevations are found at the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt: Pico de Orizaba (5,700 m, 18,701 ft), Popocatépetl (5,462 m, 17,920 ft) and Iztaccíhuatl (5,286 m, 17,343 ft) and the Nevado de Toluca (4,577 m, 15,016 ft). Three major urban agglomerations are located in the valleys between these four elevations: Toluca, Greater Mexico City and Puebla.[71]


Chamela bay

Snowfall is common in the mountainous area of the Sierra Madre del Sur.

The Sonoran Desert.
The Tropic of Cancer effectively divides the country into temperate and tropical zones. Land north of the twenty-fourth parallel experiences cooler temperatures during the winter months. South of the twenty-fourth parallel, temperatures are fairly constant year round and vary solely as a function of elevation. This gives Mexico one of the world's most diverse weather systems.
Areas south of the twenty-fourth parallel with elevations up to 1,000 m (3,281 ft) (the southern parts of both coastal plains as well as the Yucatán Peninsula), have a yearly median temperature between 24 to 28 °C (75.2 to 82.4 °F). Temperatures here remain high throughout the year, with only a 5 °C (9 °F) difference between winter and summer median temperatures. Both Mexican coasts, except for the south coast of the Bay of Campeche and northern Baja, are also vulnerable to serious hurricanes during the summer and fall. Although low-lying areas north of the twentieth-fourth parallel are hot and humid during the summer, they generally have lower yearly temperature averages (from 20 to 24 °C or 68 to 75.2 °F) because of more moderate conditions during the winter.
Many large cities in Mexico are located in the Valley of Mexico or in adjacent valleys with altitudes generally above 2,000 m (6,562 ft). This gives them a year-round temperate climate with yearly temperature averages (from 16 to 18 °C or 60.8 to 64.4 °F) and cool nighttime temperatures throughout the year.
Many parts of Mexico, particularly the north, have a dry climate with sporadic rainfall while parts of the tropical lowlands in the south average more than 2,000 mm (78.7 in) of annual precipitation. For example, many cities in the north like Monterrey, Hermosillo, and Mexicali experience temperatures of 40 °C (104 °F) or more in summer. In the Sonoran desert temperatures reach 50 °C (122 °F) or more. Northern Mexico is characterized by desert because it is located in a latitude where all deserts around the globe are formed.[72]


The Golden Eagle, the national symbol of Mexico is a protected species by national law and is used in many government functions. It can be found throughout the north and central areas of the country.

The jaguar, a native mammal of Mexico.
Mexico is one of the 18 megadiverse countries of the world. With over 200,000 different species, Mexico is home of 10–12% of the world's biodiversity.[73] Mexico 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.[74] Mexico is also considered the second country in the world in ecosystems and fourth in overall species.[75] Approximately 2,500 species are protected by Mexican legislations.[75]
The Mexican government created the National System of Information about Biodiversity, in order to study and promote the sustainable use of ecosystems. Deforestation is one of the most serious environmental issues in Mexico, with more than one million hectares of forest being lost each year. As of 2002, Mexico had the second fastest rate of deforestation in the world, second only to Brazil.[76] The government has taken another initiative in the late 1990s to expand the people's knowledge, interest and use of the country's esteemed biodiversity, through the Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad.
In Mexico, 170,000 square kilometres (65,637 sq mi) are considered "Protected Natural Areas." These include 34 reserve biospheres (unaltered ecosystems), 64 national parks, 4 natural monuments (protected in perpetuity for their aesthetic, scientific or historical value), 26 areas of protected flora and fauna, 4 areas for natural resource protection (conservation of soil, hydrological basins and forests) and 17 sanctuaries (zones rich in diverse species).[73]
The discovery of the Americas brought to the rest of the world many widely used food crops and edible plants. Some of Mexico's native culinary ingredients include: chocolate, avocado, tomato, maize, vanilla, guava, chayote, epazote, camote, jícama, nopal, zucchini, tejocote, huitlacoche, sapote, mamey sapote, many varieties of beans, and an even greater variety of chiles, such as the Habanero and the Xalapeño. Most of these names come from indigenous languages like Nahuatl.