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[edit] Introduction

Mexico is a land of extraordinary diversity. Great cultures and empires flourished here centuries ago, and their descendants -over 50 distinct Indian peoples, each with it's own language -maintain vestiges of traditional lifestyles even in the midst of rampant modernisation. Traditional sources of wealth such as mining, fishing and agriculture coexist with modern manufacturing indistries and services. Tourism is very important.

The Republic of Mexico is vast, comprising nearly two million square miles of coastline, desert, rain forest and fertile plains. The country's diversity stems partly from topography: mountains and more mountains. The two main mountain ranges, the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Sierra Madre Oriental, hug the west and east, finally merging into the volcanically active central highlands and the capital, Mexico City - the most populous city in the world. Further south, the country norrows to only 100 miles, then broadens again before reaching the Guatemalan border. There are two major peninsulas in Mexico that are almost countries themselves. In the west is the Baja Peninsula, wich seals in the biological riches of the Sea of Cortes; to the east, portruding into the Caribbean, is the Yucatan Peninsula, bursting with rain forests, Mayan ruins, and white powder beaches.

The population is about 106 million. Only in this century have modern roads, aeroplanes, radio and television knitted the various regions together into a national consciousness. Even so, being Mexican still means very dfferent things to people in the nation's many disctinct regions.

Mexico has been graced with an unsually temperate climate year-round. The most important thing to remember is that the Mexican summer is also the rainy season, although the rain rarely last more than a few hours, and typically arrives in the late afternoon. Extremes are present only in the North and in Baja, both which have deserts where the temperature leaps above 100F. Mexico City has a year-round temperature in the high 80s, while the coasts usually stay in the mid-90s. Night time temperatures fall somewhat, but rarely break down below a comfortable 60F.

For the traveller, Mexico holds inexhaustible fascination in its cultures, cuisines, handcrafts, art and history. To explore Mexico is to travel through vast deserts, past snow-capped volcanoes, along tropical jungle-clad beaches, amidst ancient ruins, in teeming modern cities, timeless villages and posh resorts. The adventure is endless. Mexico has it all. What you make of it is up to you.

[edit] General Facts About Mexico

Oficial name: Estados Unidos Mexicanos

Location: Located in North America, sharing borders with USA at North (3000 km aprox.), The Pacific Ocean at the West, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea at East and with Guatemala and Belize to the South.

Size: 1' 964,375 km² or 758,445.9 miles

Population: 106,202,903 (July 2005 est.), with the largest populations concentrated in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey (and their surrounding areas).

Official Language: Spanish, although still spoken some 66 indigenous languages. (in spanish).

Goverment: Federal Republic, divided into three branches: The Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial.

President: Vicente Fox Quesada

Capital: Mexico City (20 million inhabitant aprox.).

Flag. With the coat of arms (an eagle perched on a cactus with a snake in its beak) centered in the white band.

Timezone: Most of Mexico uses UTC-6 for the winter and UTC-5 for the summer. (Time zone map) The change over to summer time (Horario de verano) is on the first sunday of April (April 2nd, this year) at 2:00 AM.

The use of summer time in Mexico is relatively recent. People is still confused about it, so please re-check things such as flight arrival times after that day. Also, there is still a little oposition to its use, so take that into account when asking for the time, specially to older people.

Current time: [1], Hora Exacta.asp.

Climate: Cuernavaca, Mexico City Airport

Weights and measures system: Metric (for distances), Celsius (for temperatures)

Electricity: 120-volt system, 60 Hz, but very common to find a ~10volts variation (110-130) so is advisable to use a surge suppressor (portable), or the multi socket, the dominant socket is the un-grounded (un-earthed), an unpolarised plug , a grounded (earthed) socket less common and a grounded (earthed) plug, is really common to find the unpolarise, unearthed socket so you need an adapter also if you had European plug you need another adapter and in some cases a transformer.

For an extensive list of worldwide voltages, sockets and plugs please consult this site.

Currency: Peso Billetes Monedas/Monedas Curso Legal/images/Monedas Tipo C.GIF Coins: 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents; 1, 2, 5 and 10 pesos, Billetes Monedas/Billetes Curso Legal/images/Bill Tip D1.GIF Bills denominations: 20, 50, Billetes Monedas/Billetes Curso Legal/images/Bill Tip D2.GIF 100, 200 y 500 pesos

Religion: No official religion. 90% Roman Catholic, 6% Protestant, 4% other

Area Codes:

Mexico's country code (for dialing to Mexico): 52.

Dialing long distance within Mexico: 01 + (area code) + local telephone. (12 digits total).

Area code for Mexico city is 55, Guadalajara is 33, Monterrey is 81. All other area codes are 3 digits long. Area code for Oaxtetpec (Actually, all of Yautepec, Cuautla and nearby places) is 735. Cuernavaca is 777. Area codes for the whole country can be looked up in the following sites (all in spanish):

  • Cofetel By state, with maps, or by town name. When searching by town name omit accents and don't hit enter, click on the little magnifier icon on the right.
  • Avantel Scroll to the bottom. Accents don't matter.

Dialing to US and Canada: 001 + (area code) + local telephone. (13 digits total).

Dialing to other contries: 00 + (country code) + (city/area code) + local number. You can look up country codes at Cves Lada.asp?Tipo Consulta=LIN&Edo Pais=&Pob Reg= Sección amarilla (spanish).

Public Telephones: In Mexico, you'll find pay telephones in most cities; some are coin-operated phones and others require prepaid cards that cost 30, 50 or 100 pesos and can be purchased everywhere, newsstands, mini-supermarkets, regular supermarkets, department stores, pharmacies, etc. (rates).

Mobile Phone companies: Telcel, Iusacell (in spanish), Unefon (in spanish), Movistar (in spanish). Telcel and movistar appear to have GSM networks (1900mhz) while Iusacell and Unefon are cdma2000. You can use roaming (Check your own operator for pricing and roaming parteners in Mexico) or buy a prepaid SIM card that in conjunction with the correct unlocked GSM cell phone, allows you to have a Mexican cell phone number and to take advantage of the local rates without a cellular contract. The cost of a SIM card is aprox 100 pesos, rechard cards are in denominations of 100, 200, 300 and 500 pesos.

At the airport you will find a Telcel VIP office, there you can buy a SIM card (ask for OAXTEPEC area, area code 735), the cost is MX$150.00 ($75 pesos of calls included). This office is located in the first floor, in the hall C, behind the 'Exhibition Center' (Centro de exposiciones), marked in the map as -Telcel(mobil)-, it opens from 7:00 am to 22:00 everyday. Tel. 5786 9295 National coverage includes Oaxtepec. Services availables: TDMA, GSM, GPRS.

airport map

questions: do all operators have coverage in Oaxtepec, and is is possible to use GPRS (internet access) with prepaid SIM cards?

Transportation: Mexico has a good highway system, airports in many major cities, and bus terminals in nearly every municipality. For local transport, most cities offer taxi and bus services. Mexico City and Leon use a so-called metrobus, an express bus line, and Mexico City and Monterrey have underground metro services.

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