Mexico (ziyad's Wiki Page)
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Topic: MEXICO: A Land of Many Faces

Things I know about Mexico:

§ Many people choose to spend their summer holidays in Mexico because it has beautiful beaches and cheap hotels.
§ It is in the ring of fire
§ Mexicans speak Spanish
§ Canadians can travel to Mexico by car.
§ There is a big Mexican community in the United States
§ Some Mexican immigrants in the United States work in poorly-paid jobs
§ Mexican students in Canada find learning French easier because they speak Spanish
§ Mexican ancient civilisations are among the greatest in the world
§ Mexican movies are very romantic
§ Mexican borders with the United States are surrounded with a tall wall


Things I would like to know about Mexico:


§ What do the people that live there do for fun?
§ How many active volcanoes are there?
§ Do Mexicans work in farming or fishing?
§ Who were the first settlers in Mexico?
§ Where does the name ‘Mexico’ come from?
§ How many wars did Mexicans fight before they became independent?
§ What is the best Mexican food?
§ Do they depend on rain fall for agriculture?
§ What do they eat to get well if they are sick?
§ Do Mexicans speak other languages?

Introduction


I chose to write about Mexico because I wanted to know more about this very beautiful country. I saw many touristic ads on TV about this beautiful place. Before I started my project on Mexico, I have always taught that it is a small island somewhere in America or near the islands of Hawaii. I knew that it is a beautiful place to spend summer vacation and that its people are like Canada’s First Nations. They have special music and traditional clothes. In addition, they speak Spanish.

1. Location


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Mexico is the third largest country in Latin America, after Brazil and Argentina.
Mexico is located in North America and is bordered by the United States to the north, Belize and Guatemala to its south, the Gulf of Mexico to its east and the North Pacific Ocean to its west. Look at the map below.



2. Physical Environment




a) Land and Climate
Mexico is a big country. There are many different kinds of land in Mexico. There are mountains and jungles. There are also plains and deserts. There are even beaches. Much of Mexico is a huge, flat area called a plateau. A plateau is a piece of land that is higher than the areas of land around it. Mexico’s plateau is bordered by two chains of mountains. One chain is in the west and the other is in the east. These mountains are called the Sierra Madre (‘mother range’ in Spanish). Much of the north of Mexico is desert. There is little rainfall throughout the year and has cool winters and hot summers. This area is famous for cacti. In Mexico, winter is cold in some of the northern states, like Chihuahua, where it sometimes snows. Most Mexicans live in the middle of plateau because the temperature is cooler there than in the north. This area also has good rainfall and it has well pleases for farming. In the South of Mexico, the climate is tropical. It has high temperatures and heavy rainfall throughout the year. Tropical forest grows in this region. This area is where there are tourist resorts and golden sandy beaches. While most of the country has too little rain, the Gulf of Mexico gets much of the rain in a year. Violent storms and hurricanes also occur there between August and September. The coldest place in Mexico is the peak of Pico de Orizaba. This mountain is covered with now. But in most of the country, winter is a very funny thing, it only shows up early in the morning, when children are going to school, and then again for a while at night. Look at the following table about Mexico’s climate:

Mexico’s Climate
Average Temperatures
Average Rainfall
City
January
July
January
July
Tijuana
55 Fº
70 Fº
2 in.
0 in.
Mexico City
53 Fº
64 Fº
.7 in.
5 in.
Villahermosa
73 Fº
84 Fº
5.5 in.
8 in.
Source: Mexico: city and village life by Edward Parker, RSVP, © 1998 (pp. 11)


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b)Plants and Animals

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Agave plant growing in Baja California, Mexico


Many types of plants live in Mexico. Cactus and mesquite plants grow in the dry north. Thick jungles cover the land in other parts f Mexico. The giant cardon cactus grows in the deserts of Baja California. Oak and pine trees grow high in the mountains. Mexico has big deserts and tropical rainforests, where animals, reptiles and mammals live. Just like plants, the animals that live in Mexico are different in each part of the country. Wolves and coyotes are found in the north. Jaguars, bears, and pumas roam in the mountain forests. Colourful birds, snakes, monkeys, and lizards live in Mexico’s jungles. Many types of insects and fish can also be found in Mexico. However, today many Mexican forests are threatened by the cutting dawn of trees. Mexico’s rainforests continue to get worst because of farming, logging, ranching, and mining. Satellite images have found high loss of forest in Chiapas from the 1970s to the early 21st century. There are many evergreen forests in the Sierra Madre Occidental. (selvas) in Gulf Coastal Plain, where the rainfall is high, in eastern mountain slopes, in the Chiapas Highlands, and in the southern part of the Yucatán Peninsula. Tropical hardwoods, ferns, epiphytes, and a variety of palms are commonly found there. Mexico's diverse array of fauna is especially notable in its southern selvas. The rainforests of the Gulf Coast and Chiapas Highlands and the semi-deciduous forests of the Pacific coast provide habitat for monkeys, parrots, jaguars, tapirs, anteaters, and other tropical species.

The boojum tree is an unusual plant found only in the deserts of Baja California and Sonora, Mexico.









animals


Kids in Mexico helped boost turtle numbers when they took part in a mass release of the rare species.
The 1,500 baby Golfina turtles had been guarded day and night by police and volunteers since they hatched from eggs buried in the sand.
The children watched over the 45-day-old creatures as they took their first steps into the sea.
The release is part of a programme to protect the turtles, which are in danger of becoming extinct.
The Mexican government has also brought in fines for turtle-egg snatchers and is running special workshops to teach fishermen more about different species of turtles.
Anyone harming a turtle in Mexico can get up to nine years in prison.
There are seven different species of turtle in the world, six of which nest in Mexico.

======Scaly Squamates======



Squamata means scale and is the scientific name for the group that accounts for 95% of all living reptile species, the lizards and snakes. Although snakes and lizards have their differences, they are actually very closely related. This program uses live animals to explore the evolutionary relationship between snakes and lizards and examine a variety of adaptations including tails that fall off, tongues used for smell, and teeth that inject venom. The magic of video technology enhances this program with live close-up views of the leftover leg bones in the Boa Constrictor, video clips of the Skink’s tail falling off, and pictures of the Chameleon’s radical color changes. More information about the program is listed in the box to the right.


======Creepy, Crawly, Scaly, and Slimy======



Real live animals illustrate the incredible diversity of the animal kingdom in this awesome presentation that can be tailored to fit any age group. The program features live arthropods, amphibians and reptiles to compare some of the amazing adaptations and life cycles found in animals and to show how scientists group animals based on their similarities and differences. For example, amphibians lose water through their moist slimy skin while the dry scaly skin of reptiles is a waterproof . This is an adaptation to protect reptiles from drying out. The video technology enhances this program with live close-up views, videos clips and pictures. An ordinary tarantula can be transformed into a monster that fills a six-foot screen right before your very eyes! More information about the program is listed in the box to the right.


======Exotic, Aquatic and Back Yard Creatures======



Travel from your own back yard to exotic ecosystems around the world with the live animals featured in this exciting presentation . The hour-long program compares different ecosystems and the animals that live in them, focusing on adaptations that help animals survive in their environment. It also examines human impact on the environment and extinction. Video technology enhances this program with close up views of the adaptations along with video and pictures that illustrate the different ecosystems and habitats the animals live in.



======Cold Blooded Killers and Scaly Survivors======



Energy is an essential element of survival and wild animals are locked together in a constant struggle to find food and to avoid being eaten. This program focuses on the amazing adaptations that that enable predators to capture prey and those that protect prey from predators. Live animals are used to bring these adaptations to life, to illustrate the food chain, to explain natural selection, and to demonstrate interdependence. The video technology which enhances this program includes some awesome video clips of the animals eating and a live view of pond plankton through a video microscope.







3. How Mexico is part of the Ring of Fire.

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Look at the following illustration. It shows how volcanoes are formed. >>>>>>>>






The Ring of Fire is a zone along the edge of the Pacific Ocean that has many volcanoes and earthquakes. This belt stretches about 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) from New Zealand northwest to the Philippines, northeast to Japan, east to Alaska, and south to Oregon, California, Mexico, and the Andes Mountains of South America. Most of the world's volcanoes are found in the Ring of Fire. Scientists believe that the motion of tectonic plates (pieces that make up the strong shell of Earth) cause the Ring of Fire's earthquakes and volcanoes erupting. Tectonic plates move slowly on a layer of weak rock that is so hot it flows, even though it remains solid. The edge of one plate sinks under the edge of a claws plate that is called subduction. The movements of subduction generate many earthquakes and usually a line of volcanoes along the upper plate's boundary. Geologists have found copper, gold, molybdenum, silver, tin, and tungsten where ancient volcanic activity occurred within the Ring of Fire. Below is the Ring of Fire map:


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4. Interacting with the Environment


a)family

Mountains Fire ring map: Source: http://informationcentral0.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/ring_of_fire.jpg 4. Interacting with
In Mexico, family ties are very strong. It is usual for grandparents to live in the same house with their grandchildren or at least near each other. The mother is a very interesting person in the family. It is women that normally do the cooking and cleaning in Mexican homes. Mexican families are usually large. The average of people in the house is between six and ten. However, old parents are never sent to houses for seniors; they live with their sons, who continue to take care of them. Grown-up, unmarried young members of the family, especially girls, usually live at their parents’ house. Girls continue to live with her parents even if they have a job. When they marry some may move to another house. Actually, Mexicans enjoy seeing their relatives regularly, and uncles, aunts, and cousins often drop by for a chat over a cup of coffee. However, in recent years, things start changing. Young men and women leave home and look for better jobs in big cities or in the United States. Even if their houses are small, Mexicans always have a proper dining room. Bedrooms are nearly always shared. After eating they listen to the radio or watch TV. Mexicans love music and dancing, too. Mexicans live and enjoy life with their families. However, they usually invite their friends to restaurants or clubs for lunch or dinner. Lunch is traditionally the main meal of the day. Working days are long and hard, so when the father comes back home, he feels very tired and goes to bed early. Bedtime is usually early in villages, where life is so quiet. Rich Mexicans prefer to own houses in big cities. Poor people rent in apartments. In small towns and villages, telephones are rare, and firewood is the main fuel for heating and cooking. Most Mexican houses are not heated. On cold days, people have to use extra warm blankets. In the hottest parts of Mexico, people often sleep in hammocks (hanging beds) instead of beds. A popular pastime on weekends is to visit thermal (hot) springs to bathe with the whole family.

b) The Market
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Most of Mexicans eat tortillas, a type of pancake made from corn flour, with every meal. Evening meal tend to be light (tortillas filled with cheese). Many Mexican homes have tiny refrigerators. Others have no refrigerators at all. So Mexicans have to shop regularly at outdoor markets called mercados. Shoppers can buy food, clothing, household items, jewellery and other things there. Vendors (sellers) greet friends and familiar customers and exchange news. So, the merchado is a good place for the community to meet and have fun. Mexicans living in the countryside can buy their fruit and vegetables from local farmers.



c) Farming
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Only about half of Mexico is good for agriculture because of Mexico’s dry climate and mountainous geography. Therefore, artificial irrigation is used in ome pars of the country. Until the 19th sentry almost all of Mexico was in the hands of a few powerful landowners. Since then there have been laws and reforms to redistribute the land, some of it is farmed under the ejido system. Under this system the government owns the land, but give certain areas to people who work it and then keep the profits. Farmers grow both food crops (used to feed themselves), and cash crops which are sold in the market and are also exported. The most areas for faming are the irrigated ones in the north. The main products are wheat and cotton. Vegetables (tomatoes) and fruit (melons, apples, bananas, citrus) are grown in fertile river valleys. Mexico is the world’s sixth largest meat producer. Cattle are reared in semi-desert areas in the north, and sheep are grazed on the Central Plateau. On the plains in the south, sugar cane, coffee, and fruit are important crops.

d) Transportation

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There are fast highways and slow ways to travel in Mexico. Cars share the roads with trucks, buses, and sometimes even horses and burros (donkeys). Trains chug across the plains and through the valleys. Mexicans also use trains to travel across the country. Many Mexicans living in big cities do not own cars. Therefore, they walk to work, to shops or to churches. If it’s too far they take public buses, taxis or ride their scooters or bikes. In Mexico City, heavy traffic jams the roads. So travellers can also take the subway, an underground train. Or they can flag down a colectivo, a van that takes passengers on a fixed route through Mexico City. In the countryside, people walk on the sides of the roads when going to work in the fields. Farmers usually use their carts to get around and carry their goods to a marketplace to sell.




e) Food

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In some ways Mexican food has not changed in thousands of years. The ancient Indians raised corn and beans, which are still common in Mexico. The early Mexicans also ate papayas, bananas, potatoes, and avocadoes. Before the conquest, no European had ever tasted these foods. Many dishes in Mexico are made with tortillas. Tortillas are thin, round breads made of cornmeal or wheat flour. They are used in dishes such as tacos and enchiladas. Many Mexican dishes are made with beans, corn, tomatoes, and peppers. In Mexico eating slowly and enjoying you food is most important. Meals are a time to relax and talk with friends and family. The biggest meal in the day is lunch. It is eaten around two o’clock in the afternoon. A light supper is served gust before bedtime.


SALSA

Salsa (fresh tomatoes sauce) is a tasty addition to almost any Mexican dish. Ask a grownup to help you make your very own. This recipe yields about three cups.

You will need
6 medium-size tomatoes, chopped
½ cup chopped canned green chillies
¼ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon of salt
Combine the finely chopped vegetables listed above in a bawl. Add as much salt to
Intel it
tastes good to you.


f) Rules and laws
After 300 years as a Spanish colony, Mexico got its independent in1821. Thirty years after the war with the United States of America (1846-48), Mexico lost half of it territory to America. Today, Mexicans have their own government. Modern Mexico is divided into 31 states and 1 Federal District. Each state has its own government and local laws for education, police and taxes. Each state is ruled by a governor who is elected every 6 years. The national government is located in the capital, Mexico City, which is in the Federal District. This is where all the national political and legal institutions are located. Congress makes and passes laws. But the president is the supreme authority. He appoints his successor from his party, after a single six-year term. Congress is made up of the Senate (with 128 members) and the Chamber of Deputies (with 500 members, elected by the Mexican voters). The president appoints the cabinet (made of ministers). Since 1929, Mexico has been ruled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (IRP). The Mexican people try to get along with each other, but not all people are treated fairly. Many Indians are forced to live in poor areas where they cannot get good jobs. To help, the government has given Indians some of the land their relatives once owned. But these areas are still very poor. Many people who live there work in coffee or vegetable fields to earn their living. See the Mexican system of government in the following chart:


g) Sports


Soccer is one of the most popular sports in Mexico. In Spanish it is called futbol. Adults and children play football. They choose sides and set up goals in the streets and on playgrounds and soccer fields. Football (soccer) is the most popular participatory and spectator sport in the city. Mexico City has hosted the championship match of the World Cup finals twice (1970 and 1986). Mexicans also enjoy baseball which they call biesbol. Some baseball players play in professional teams in the U.S.. Fernando Valenzuela is a very famous baseball player from Mexico. Players in the U.S. had also heeded south to plat some games in Mexico. The Spanish brought bullfighting to Mexico.

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Azul Stadium (left), where football (soccer) matches are held, and the Plaza México bullring, Mexico City.

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The Spanish brought bullfighting to Mexico. Many Mexican towns have a bullring. Bullfights take place on Sunday afternoons. Mexico City has the largest bullring in the world. It is called the Plaza de Mexico. There are seats for 50,000 spectators. You can buy a seat in the shades or a seat in the sun. Seats in the sun cost less. There are three different kinds of bullfighters-- banderilleros, picadors, and matadors. A banderillo begins by using a cape to entice the bull about the ring, so that the matador can study its charge. Next, the picados rides a horse in the ring and uses a lance to weaken the bull's neck muscles. The banderillo then pokes the bull with three pair of darts. The picadors and banderillero are supposed to make the matador’s job easier. The matador’s job is to kill the bull with a sword. He must work quickly but carefully because the bull has long and sharp horns. The bull is also very strong and a matador might be killed in the fight. Bullfighting takes bravery and skill. If the matador makes a wrong move, the bull can hurt him. Some people do not like this type of sport. I also think it is very cruel because the bull usually dies at the end of a fight. It is a violent sport.

Conclusion:

Mexico is a very interesting country in Latin America. Its people have good family ties and work very hard to take care of each other. They live in extended families. They also move to the big cities to better their lives. Some young Mexicans even cross to the United States to look for better jobs. Mexico is also a country of many climates. It has different regions with different types of economy and temperatures. Mexico is a democratic country, with federal and local government types. Mexico is an industrialised country, but a few people (20%) work in farming and raising their livestock (sheep, goats). It is a beautiful country to spend summer vacation. It has good traditions, welcoming people and golden beaches.

References:


1) Britannica Encyclopaedia Online, Academic Edition.
2) John Howards (1976) Mexico: the land and its people. Macdonalds Educational
3) Carmen Irizarry (1987) Passport to Mexico. Franklin Watts Limited
4) Edward Parker (1998) Mexico: City and Village Life. RSVP.
5) Edward Parker (1996) Country Facts Files: Mexico. Raintree Steck-Vaughn Publishers
6) Mary Brendes (2008) Welcome to Mexico.The Child's World
7) Tom Streissguth (1997) Mexico. Carolrhoda Books, Inc.