Mexico, officially known as the United Mexican States, is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2 million km2, Mexico is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 14th largest independent nation in the world. With an estimated population of 111 million, it is the 11th most populous country. Mexico is a federation comprising of thirty one states and a Federal District, the capital city.
In Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica many cultures matured into advanced civilizations such as the Olmec, the Toltec, the Teotihuacan, the Zapotec, the Maya and the Aztec before the first contact with Europeans. In 1521, Spain conquered and colonized the territory, which was administered as the vice royalty of New Spain which would eventually become Mexico as the colony gained independence in 1821. The post-independence period was characterized by economic instability, territorial secession and civil war, including foreign intervention, two empires and two long domestic dictatorships. The latter led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910, which culminated with the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution and the emergence of the country's current political system. Elections held in July 2000 marked the first time that an opposition party won the presidency from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
Mexico has a free market economy in the trillion dollar class. It contains a mixture of modern and outmoded industry and agriculture, increasingly dominated by the private sector. Recent administrations have expanded competition in seaports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity generation, natural gas distribution, and airports. Per capita income is roughly one-third that of the US; income distribution remains highly unequal. Trade with the US and Canada has nearly tripled since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994. Mexico has free trade agreements with 50 countries including Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, the European Free Trade Area, and Japan, putting more than 90% of trade under free trade agreements. Mexico boasts a long tradition in the arts, renowned cuisine, and culture.