Destination Mexico, officially the United States of Mexico (Estados Unidos Mexicanos), a federal republic between the Pacific Ocean in west and the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico in east. Mexico is bordering the United States in the north, and Belize and Guatemala in the south east. It also shares maritime borders with Cuba and Honduras.
The country covers an area of nearly 2 million km², compared it is almost 4 times the size of Spain or slightly less than three times the size of the U.S. state of Texas. Mexico is the third largest nation in Latin America (after Brazil and Argentina)
A population of 123.5 million people (in 2017) making Mexico the second-most populous country in Latin America after Brazil, and the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world. Capital and largest city is Mexico City. Mexico is a country with a variety of ethnic groups, where Mexican Mestizo are the largest group with about 62%, followed by predominantly Amerindians with 21%, Amerindians (the indigenous peoples of the Americas) 7%, and people with an European background 9%.
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- Travelers should avoid all travel to Mexico
- Because of the current situation in Mexico even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to Mexico.
- If you must travel to Mexico, get fully vaccinated before travel. All travelers should wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash their hands.
- See recommendations for fully vaccinated travelers.
- See recommendations for unvaccinated travelers.
A valid passport book is required to enter Mexico by air, and those attempting to enter at an airport with a U.S. passport card only may be denied admission. You will also need a valid visa for stays beyond 180 days.
If you enter Mexico by land and plan to travel beyond the immediate border area (approximately 12 miles into Mexico), you must stop at an National Migration Institute (INM) office to obtain an entry permit (Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM), even if not explicitly directed to do so by Mexican officials. You must present a valid passport to obtain an entry permit, and there is a fee for the permit for stays exceeding seven days. You might be asked to present your passport and valid entry permit at immigration checkpoints on your route of travel.
Make sure you are up-to-date on all routine vaccines before every trip. Some of these vaccines include Chickenpox (Varicella), Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, Flu (influenza), Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR), and Polio.
Everyone 16 years of age and older should get fully vaccinated for COVID-19 before travel. Other required vaccinations include Hepatitis A and B, Malaria, Measles, and Rabies.
The climate in Mexico is tropical with a rainy and dry season and little temperature fluctuation from season to season.
The temperature in all areas of Mexico typically ranges between 50°F and 90°F throughout the year. Average annual humidity is around 70%.
Mountainous regions and any area above sea level may experience cooler temperatures and lower humidity. Mexico receives the most annual rainfall during the rainy season, most regions receive about 40 inches of rain per year.
In Mexico, there are two main seasons. Although there is some variation in temperature over the year, the most obvious difference is between rainy and dry seasons. The rainy season through most of Mexico falls roughly from May through September or October. During the rest of the year, there is little or no rain. Don’t be discouraged from visiting during the rainy season, it typically only rains in the late afternoon or evening and you’ll see the lush, green landscape, as opposed to the dry season’s parched, brown landscape.
Mexico has a modern and extensive telecommunications infrastructure that includes land-lines, high speed internet, cell phones, and mobile data networks. The country code is +52.
Mexico’s telecommunications network is one of the most well developed and robust in all of Latin America. While telephone prices have been high for many years, laws passed in 2014 and enacted fully in January 2015 have dramatically reduced the cost of telephone calls from residential land-lines, and since 2016, prices of calls from Mexican cell phones have also fallen dramatically.
The electrical system in Mexico is 110 volts AC (60 cycles), as in the United States and Canada. In reality, however, it may cycle more slowly and overheat your appliances. To compensate, select a medium or low speed on hair dryers. Many older hotels still have electrical outlets for flat two-prong plugs; you’ll need an adapter for any plug with an enlarged end on one prong or with three prongs. Adapters are available in most Mexican electronics stores. Many better hotels have three-hole outlets (trifásicos in Spanish). Those that don’t may loan adapters, but to be sure, it’s always better to carry your own.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Mexico due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Mexico
If you decide to travel to Mexico:
- See the U.S. Embassy’s web page regarding COVID-19.
- Visit the CDC’s web page on Travel and COVID-19.<
- Keep your traveling companions and family back home informed of your travel plans. If separating from your travel group, send a friend your GPS location. If taking a taxi alone, take a photo of the taxi number and/or license plate and text to a friend.
- Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving alone or at night. In many states, police presence and emergency services are extremely limited outside the state capital or major cities.
- Exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos.
- Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
- Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
- Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
MXN is the currency abbreviation for the Mexican peso which is the official currency of Mexico. The Mexican peso is made up of 100 centavos and is often presented with the symbol $ or Mex$. It is strongly advised to carry cash, an ATM card, traveler’s check, or a credit card. Many hotels, lodges, and camps will accept credit cards, however it is advised to withdraw cash when visiting remote areas and villages.
Mexico’s population is composed of many ethnic groups, including indigenous American Indians (Amerindians), who account for less than one-tenth of the total. Generally speaking, the mixture of indigenous and European peoples has produced the largest portion of the population today—mestizos, who account for about three-fifths of the total—via a complex blending of ethnic traditions and perceived ancestry. Mexicans of European heritage (“whites”) are a significant component of other ethnic groups who constitute the remainder of the population. Although myths about “racial biology” have been discredited by social scientists, “racial identity” remains a powerful social construct in Mexico, as in the United States and elsewhere, and many Mexicans have referred to their heritage and raza (“race”) with a measure of pride—particularly on October 12, the Día de la Raza (“Race Day”)—whether they perceive themselves as indigenous, mestizo, or European. Their identities as members of ethnic groups may be additionally complicated, given that ethnicity is a function of cultural patterns and traditions as varied as a group’s sense of linguistic, religious, and socioeconomic history.
The portion of the population that speaks Spanish only is 92.7%. People who speak Spanish and indigenous languages account for 5.7%, while those who speak indigenous only make up 0.8%. Other unspecified languages account for 0.8%. Indigenous languages include various Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional languages.
Mexico does not have an official religion. However, Roman Catholicism is the dominant faith and deeply culturally pervasive. It is estimated over 80% of the population identifies as Catholic. Many Mexicans see Catholicism as part of their identity, passed on through the family and nation like cultural heritage. However, not all Mexicans attend church services regularly. Religiosity is most visible in festivities, events and also the placement of idols throughout people’s homes and public places. While approximately 5% of the population is thought to be unaffiliated with any religion, many non-religious Mexicans still engage in Catholic celebrations.
Mexico is a federal republic composed of 31 states and the Federal District. Governmental powers are divided constitutionally between executive, legislative, and judicial branches, but, when Mexico was under one-party rule in the 20th century, the president had strong control over the entire system. The constitution of 1917, which has been amended several times, guarantees personal freedoms and civil liberties and also establishes economic and political principles for the country.
The legislative branch is divided into an upper house, the Senate, and a lower house, the Chamber of Deputies. Senators serve six-year terms and deputies three-year terms; members of the legislature cannot be reelected for the immediately succeeding term. Three-fifths of the deputies are elected directly by popular vote, while the remainder are selected in proportion to the votes received by political parties in each of five large electoral regions.
Popularly elected and limited to one six-year term, the president is empowered to select a cabinet, the attorney general, diplomats, high-ranking military officers, and Supreme Court justices (who serve life terms). The president also has the right to issue reglamentos (executive decrees) that have the effect of law. Because there is no vice president, in the event of the death or incapacity of the president, the legislature designates a provisional successor. The executive branch has historically dominated the other two branches of government, although the Congress has gained a larger share of power since the late 20th century.
Mexico is an emerging market heavyweight. In 2019, its gross domestic product (GDP) was $2.6 trillion. Its output is much lower than its primary trading partner, the United States. It was also lower than its other North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA, now the USMCA) partner, Canada, whose GDP was $1.9 trillion. Mexico’s geographic size is equivalent to Saudi Arabia’s, but it supports nearly four times as many people while only exporting less than 17% of the oil.
Mexico’s 2019 GDP growth rate was -0.1%, less than both the U.S. rate of 2.2% and Canada’s rate of 1.7%. Mexico’s standard of living, as measured by GDP per capita, was $20,582. That compares to $65,297 for the United States and $51,347 for Canada.
Mexico is the 17th-largest exporter in the world. More than 90% of Mexico’s trade is under 12 free trade agreements. Mexico has agreements with 46 countries, more than any other nation. These trade agreements are a big reason for Mexico’s success. In 2018, the United States received about 80% of Mexico’s exports. Trade among the United States, Mexico, and Canada more than tripled in the 25 years after NAFTA’s signing in 1994.