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North America >> Mexico >> Mexico People and Society

People and Society of Mexico

The 95 million strong population is a blend of Indian and Spanish descent, a vestige of Mexico’s colonial past. Native Indians of Maya, Zapotec, Nahua, Totonacas, Tarascos and Purepechas tribes were the original inhabitants of Mexico. At least 50 indigenous peoples live in Mexico today. While the indigenous Indian population struggled under the new colonial order in the 1500s, a third group of people developed in Mexico. These were the Mestizos, with both Indian and European ancestors.

Today, about 75% of the population are Mestizos, 15% are native Indian and 10% are European Caucasian. There is a marginal sprinkling of blacks and Asians here and there.

Most Mexicans take pride in being Mestizos and some still consider the Spaniards as intruders. But being an Indian in Mexico depends more on a way of life than on ancestry. Mexicans who subscribe to Indian doctrines and customs, speak an Indian language, dress in Indian clothes and live in Indian villages are considered Indians even if they are Mestizos or whites. In Oaxacan and the Yucatan, the lifestyle of the Mestizo population is greatly influenced by Indian culture.

There is a sharp contrast between rural and urban life in Mexico, with village folk following the older way of life. The cities and towns are modern and progressive. About three-fourths of Mexicans live in urban areas. Mexico City, the capital, is the largest city in the world and has a population of 10 million. Guadalajara, Netzahualcoyotl and Monterrey are other huge cities with an equally staggering population density.

Many of the present day towns and cities began as Indian communities. The Spaniards built them into cities with a central plaza, around which a church and buildings are centred. The plaza is still the centre of city life where you can soak in Mexican culture, music and life.

Rural Mexico is very poor and lacks basic health care and education services. The glitz and lure of city life drives many young Mexicans to seek employment in towns. The migration causes imbalances in city services such as housing, sanitation, electricity and running water.

Spanish is the official language of the country and nearly all Mexicans speak it. Mexican Indians usually speak Spanish and their own ancient language. Over 5 million Mexican Indians still use an Indian language primarily.


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