Some interesting facts about our largely misunderstood neighbor.
Mexico was the first foreign country I ever visited and I’ve been fortunate to return many times in the 15 or so years since my first trip to Reynosa to build a small home. Growing up, and continuing today, I often heard negative comments about Mexico and a condescending or hostile tone toward the country and its citizens. I love Mexico and wish that Americans knew more about and explored more of this wonderful country. Below are a number of figures about Mexico that you might not know, and will hopefully present the country in a different perspective that you have considered previously.
- Mexico is the 14th largest country in the world, covering 758,449 square miles. For comparison, the largest country in Europe is France which is less than one-third the size. (Arguably Denmark is larger than both France and Mexico with the inclusion of Greenland but because of Greenland’s semi-autonomy I find it more correct to treat them separately.)
- The total coastline of Mexico is about 5,800 miles, 13th longest in the world. Although Cancun and Puerta Vallarta may be the most familiar coastal cities to those in the U.S. there are many others like Zihuatanejo and Todos los Santos that are equally beautiful.
- Mexico is the 11th most populous nation in the world, with nearly 115 million people. Again, this is larger than any nation in Europe and puts Mexico just behind Japan in total number of residents.
- GDP per head is lower than in many countries, with a ranking of 85th, $14,800 per person in 2011. Hopefully this will change in the future as reforms are instituted and the economy grows. Mexico, as with many Latin American countries, has a serious issue with wealth disparity that needs to be addressed.
- For unemployment, Mexico had an enviable rate of 5.2% in 2011, nearly half the rate of the United States at 9% and far better than European countries in crisis like Greece (17.3%) and Spain (21.7%).
- Mexico has many natural resources and today is the 7th largest producer of oil and 16th largest producer of natural gas worldwide.
- Other natural resources, like the silver of Taxco, have played prominently in the history of Mexico.
- The richest man in Mexico is also the richest man in the world, according to Forbes magazine. Telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim is worth an estimated 69 billion dollars. Coincidentally, or causally, Mexico is a well connected country with the 12th highest number of mobile phones as well as the 12th highest number of internet users.
Given the size of Mexico geographically, economically, and demographically I believe that it warrants a more prominent position in the eyes of Americans and doesn’t deserve the ‘little brother’ mentality that is often directed towards it. Outside of statistics, Mexico has an amazingly vibrant and diverse culture, cuisine, and history that are worth exploring.
Here’s to better understanding and stronger connections between our countries in the future, and to many more adventures in Baja, D.F., and further afield. ¡Salud!
John P. Anderson
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