Mexico tourist information
Tourism in Mexico is a very large industry. Mexico is the number one destination for foreign tourists within the Latin America region and number two destination in the Americas, ranking worldwide in the tenth place in terms of the international tourist arrivals, with more than 22.6 million visitors in 2008 while US dollar travel spending by all visitors rose 3.4% to US$13.3 billion. More significantly, WTTC's research shows that the country's Travel & Tourism Economy increased its contribution to 13.2% of Mexico's GDP, growing by 3.8%.
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The most notable attractions are the Meso-American ruins, colonial cities, and especially the beach resorts. The nation's temperate climate and unique culture â a fusion of the European (particularly Spanish) and the Meso-American â also make Mexico an attractive destination. The peak tourism seasons in the country are during December and the mid-Summer, with brief surges during the week before Easter and the Spring break, when many of the beach resort sites become popular destinations for college students from the United States. The vast majority of tourists come to Mexico from the United States and Canada. Many other visitors come from Europe and Asia. A small number of tourists also come from other Latin American countries.
Guadalajara, Jalisco, the second-largest city by population in the Republic, is home of some of Mexico's best known traditions, such as tequila, mariachi music and charros, or Mexican cowboys. Its similitude with western European countries mixed with modern architecture and infrastructure makes Guadalajara very attractive to tourists. Along with Mexico City and beach destinations (CancĂșn, Acapulco, etc.), Guadalajara is one of the most visited cities in Mexico. Cultural tourism is the main attraction, the city being home to a large number of museums, art galleries and theatres.
Monterrey, was founded in the late 16th century. The downtown district is the oldest section in the city, surrounded by newer neighbourhoods. The Museo de Historia Mexicana (Museum of Mexican History), MARCO (Monterrey Museum of Contemporary Art), Metropolitan Museum of Monterrey and the Museum of the Palacio de Gobierno, or State House, are some of the better known museums in the city, as well as nationally. The Santa LucĂa Riverwalk is a popular tourist site, connecting the Fundidora Park with the Macroplaza, one of the largest plazas in the world.
There is also a burgeoning domestic tourism trade as a growing affluent middle class begins to go on holiday within their own country. While Mexico's middle/lower class usually promotes national tourism, the middle/higher class usually prefers to travel overseas.
In terms of the 2008 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), which is a measurement of the factors that make it attractive to developing business in the travel and tourism industry of individual countries, Mexico reached the 57th place in the world's ranking, the fifth among Latin American countries, and the ninth in the Americas. In considering simply the subindex measuring human, cultural, and natural resources, Mexico ranks in the 19th place on a worldwide level, and 25th for both the natural resources criteria and the cultural criteria. The TTCI report also notes Mexico's main weaknesses, information and communications technology infrastructure (ranked 64th), ground transport infrastructure (ranked 82nd), and safety and security (ranked 122nd).
The coastlines of Mexico harbor many stretches of beaches that are frequented by sun bathers and other visitors. On the YucatĂĄn peninsula, one of the most popular beach destinations is the resort town of CancĂșn, especially among university students during spring break. Just offshore is the beach island of Isla Mujeres, and to the east is the Isla Holbox. To the south of Cancun is the coastal strip called Riviera Maya which includes the beach town of Playa del Carmen and the ecological parks of Xcaret and Xel-HĂĄ. A day trip to the south of CancĂșn is the historic port of Tulum. In addition to its beaches, the town of Tulum is notable for its cliff-side Mayan ruins.
On the Pacific coast is the notable tourist destination of Acapulco. Once the destination for the rich and famous, the beaches have become crowded and the shores are now home to many multi-story hotels and vendors. Acapulco is home to renowned cliff divers: trained divers who leap from the side of a vertical cliff into the surf below.
Along the coast to the south of Acapulco are the surfing beaches of Puerto Escondido, the snorkeling, harbor beach of Puerto Ăngel, and the naturist beaches of Zipolite. To the north of Acapulco is the resort town of Ixtapa and the neighboring fishing town of Zihuatanejo. Further to the north are the wild and rugged surfing beaches of the MichoacĂĄn coast.
Along the central and north Pacific coast, the biggest draws are beaches of MazatlĂĄn city and the resort town of Puerto Vallarta. Less frequented is the sheltered cove of BahĂa de Navidad, the beach towns of BahĂa Kino, and the black sands of CuyutlĂĄn. San Carlos, home of the Playa los Algodones (Cotton Beach), is a winter draw, especially for retirees.
At the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula is the resort town of Cabo San Lucas, a town noted for its beaches and marlin fishing. Further north along the Sea of CortĂ©s is the BahĂa de La ConcepciĂłn, another beach town known for its sports fishing. Closer to the United States border is the weekend draw of San Felipe, Baja California.
The central and southern parts of Mexico was host to several pre-Hispanic civilizations, the most prominent being the Aztec, Mayan, and the Olmec. There are numerous tourist destinations where these ruins can be viewed.
The YucatĂĄn peninsula was home to the Mayan people, and many of the indigenous people still speak the language. The area also contains many sites where ruins of the Maya civilization can be visited. The richest of these are located in the eastern half of the peninsula and are collectively known as La Ruta Puuc (or La Ruta Maya). The largest of the Ruta Puuc sites is Uxmal, which was abandoned in the 12th century.
A one hour drive to the northeast of Ruta Puuc are the surviving remains of the city of MayapĂĄn. This settlement was controlled by ChichĂ©n ItzĂĄ to the east, now a large archaeological site with many interesting ruins. Other ruins on the peninsula include the aforementioned Tulum on the east coast, CobĂĄ to the northwest of Tulum, PolĂ© (now Xcaret) just south of Playa del Carmen and Calakmul in the nature reserve along the Guatemala border. However this list by no means exhausts the number of archaeological sites to be found in this area.
To the west, the state of Chiapas includes the temples and ruins of Palenque, the glyphs of the city of YaxchilĂĄn, the painted walls of nearby Bonampak, and the remains of the fortress of ToninĂĄ. In the city of Villahermosa to the north is the Parque-Museo La Venta, with a collection of Olmec sculptures.
Along the gulf coast area in the state of Veracruz are more archaeological sites, with the Olmec ceremonial center of Tres Zapotes, the ruins of the large Totonac city of Zempoala, and the ruins of El TajĂn with the Pyramid of the Niches. The city of Xalapa contains the Museo de AntropologĂa, a notable museum featuring a collection of massive Olmec head sculptures.
In the state of Oaxaca along the Pacific coast are the ruins of Mitla, known as the "City of Death" and of Monte AlbĂĄn, the remains of the once extensive Zapotec capital and religious center.
Moving to the north, the central region around Mexico City contains several archaeological sites. To the southwest are the massive ruins of TeotihuacĂĄn, including the Pyramid of the Sun and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. To the southeast near the city of Cholula is the Great Pyramid, visible from the city center. Just to the north of Cholula are the well-preserved ruins of the city of Cacaxtla. Last but not least is the Toltec capital of Tula, to the north of Mexico City. In the capital itself is the largest museum in Mexico, the Museo Nacional de AntropologĂa.
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 YucatĂĄn Peninsula), have a yearly median temperature between 24 to 28 Â°C (75.2 to 82.4 Â°F). Temperatures here remain high throughout the year, with only a 5 Â°C (9 Â°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 Â°C or 68 to 75.2 Â°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 Â°C or 60.8 to 64.4 Â°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 Â°C (104 Â°F) or more in summer. In the Sonoran Desert temperatures reach 50 Â°C (122 Â°F) or more.
The paved-roadway network extended for 116,802 km (72,577 mi) in 2005; 10,474 km (6,508 mi) were multi-lane freeways or expressways, most of which were tollways. Nonetheless, it still cannot meet national needs adequately. Most of the domestic passenger transport needs are served by an extensive bus network.
Mexico was one of the first Latin American countries to promote railway development, and the network covers 30,952 km (19,233 mi). The Secretary of Communications and Transport of Mexico is currently[when?] building a high-speed rail link that will transport its passengers from Mexico City to Guadalajara, Jalisco. The train, which travels at 300 kilometers per hour, allows passengers to travel from Mexico City to Guadalajara in just 2 hours. The whole project was projected to cost 240 billion pesos, or about 25 billion dollars and is being paid for jointly by the Mexican government and the local private sector including the wealthiest man in the world, Mexico's billionaire business tycoon Carlos Slim. The government of the state of YucatĂĄn is also funding the construction of a high speed line connecting the cities of Cozumel to MĂ©rida and Chichen Itza and CancĂșn.
In 1999, Mexico had 1,806 airports, of which 233 had paved runways; of these, 35 carry 97% of the passenger traffic. The Mexico City International Airport remains the largest in Latin America and the 44th largest in the world transporting 21 million passengers a year.
Mexican culture reflects the complexity of the country's history through the blending of indigenous cultures and the culture of Spain, imparted during Spain's 300-year colonization of Mexico. Exogenous cultural elements mainly from the United States have been incorporated into Mexican culture.
The Porfirian era (el Porfiriato), in the last quarter of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, was marked by economic progress and peace. After four decades of civil unrest and war, Mexico saw the development of philosophy and the arts, promoted by President DĂaz himself. Since that time, as accentuated during the Mexican Revolution, cultural identity has had its foundation in the mestizaje, of which the indigenous (i.e. Amerindian) element is the core. In light of the various ethnicities that formed the Mexican people, JosĂ© Vasconcelos in his publication La Raza CĂłsmica (The Cosmic Race) (1925) defined Mexico to be the melting pot of all races (thus extending the definition of the mestizo) not only biologically but culturally as well. This exalting of mestizaje was a revolutionary idea that sharply contrasted with the idea of a superior pure race prevalent in Europe at the time.
Mexican cuisine is known for its intense and varied flavors, colorful decoration, and variety of spices. Most of today's Mexican food is based on pre-Columbian traditions, including the Aztecs and Maya, combined with culinary trends introduced by Spanish colonists.
The conquistadores eventually combined their imported diet of rice, beef, pork, chicken, wine, garlic and onions with the native pre-Columbian food, including maize, tomato, vanilla, avocado, papaya, pineapple, chili pepper, beans, squash, sweet potato, peanut and turkey.
Mexican food varies by region, because of local climate and geography and ethnic differences among the indigenous inhabitants and because these different populations were influenced by the Spaniards in varying degrees. The north of Mexico is known for its beef, goat and ostrich production and meat dishes, in particular the well-known Arrachera cut.
Central Mexico's cuisine is largely made up of influences from the rest of the country, but also has its authentics, such as barbacoa, pozole, menudo, tamales, and carnitas.
Southeastern Mexico, on the other hand, is known for its spicy vegetable and chicken-based dishes. The cuisine of Southeastern Mexico also has quite a bit of Caribbean influence, given its geographical location. Seafood is commonly prepared in the states that border the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, the latter having a famous reputation for its fish dishes, Ă la veracruzana.
In modern times, other cuisines of the world have become very popular in Mexico, thus adopting a Mexican fusion. For example, sushi in Mexico is often made with a variety of sauces based on mango or tamarind, and very often served with serrano-chili-blended soy sauce, or complemented with vinegar, habanero and chipotle peppers.
The most internationally recognized dishes include chocolate, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos, tamales and mole among others. Regional dishes include mole poblano, chiles en nogada and chalupas from Puebla; cabrito and machaca from Monterrey, cochinita pibil from YucatĂĄn, Tlayudas from Oaxaca, as well as barbacoa, chilaquiles, milanesas, and many others.