Mexico City

Mexico City, Mexico, North America

Founded: 1521; Incorporated: 1522
Location: North America, Mexico, in a basin known as the Valley of Mexico, built on the dried bed of Lake Texcoco. Mountains surround the city, with the 17,877-foot active Popocatépetl Volcano (the smoking mountain) nearby.
Time Zone: 6 AM = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Elevation: 7,340 ft (2,237 m)
Latitude and Longitude: 19°26'N, 99°7'W
Climate: Because of its altitude, Mexico City's weather is cool, with small seasonal changes. While snow is rare, night frosts are common during the colder months of December and January.
Annual Median Temperature: 18°C (64°F). During the colder months, temperatures average 12.4°C (54.3°F). During the rainy season (May through September) remperatures average 17.3°C (63.1°F)
Average Annual Precipitation: 180 cm (70.5 in) per year.
Weights and Measures: Metric
Monetary Units: The peso; 9.4 pesos = $ 1 (January 2000)
Telephone Area Codes: Country code: (52); Mexico City: (5)

2. Getting There


Five main national highways connect Mexico City to the rest of the nation. By March 1999, nearly 240,000 vehicles per day used the highways to enter and leave the city.

Bus and Railroad Service

More than 24,000 passenger buses arrive in the Federal District each week, bringing passengers from throughout the country. Overland travelers from the United States can take their own vehicles or travel by bus or train to Mexico City.


Most international visitors to Mexico City arrive at the Benito Juárez International Airport, located on the eastern border of the city. The airport is used by nearly 19 million travelers each year.

Mexico City Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 8,500,000
Area: 1,499 sq km (579 sq mi)
Nicknames: Mexico, "El D.F." (The Federal District); informally, the residents of Mexico City are called chilangos.

Metropolitan Area

Population: 18,131,000
Description: Mexico City and 27 neighboring municipalities (second largest metropolitan area in the world)
Area: More than 2,330 sq km (900 sq mi)
World population rank1: 2
Percentage of national population2: 18.3%
Average yearly growth rate: 1.8%


  1. The Mexico City metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of Mexico's total population living in the Mexico City metropolitan area.

3. Getting Around

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

With more than 3 million registered vehicles, Mexico City is difficult to navigate. Major roads are nearly always congested by every possible mode of transport. Most common are taxis, VW "bugs" painted green or yellow, and small buses known as "peseros" because they originally charged one Mexican peso for a ride. Buses that burn cleaner fuels are replacing the highly polluting peseros. The city also is adding more electric buses to its fleet.

The efficient underground metro system, which opened in 1969, carried about four-and-a-half million passengers per day in 1999. By 2010, the metro system is expected to grow to 15 lines, stretch over 315 kilometers (196 miles), and carry more than 12 million passengers per day. Mexico City opened a new underground metro line in November 1999. When fully completed, Line B will stretch for nearly 24 kilometers (15 miles), from the heart of the city to the fast growing northeast suburbs. More than 600,000 passengers per day were estimated to board along the line's 21 stations in 2000.

In January 2000, the government set the fare for the metro and buses at 1.50 pesos (about 25 cents). Senior citizens and the indigent travel for free.

4. People

About one-fifth of Mexico's people live in the metropolitan area. Most of its inhabitants are people of mixed European and Indian descent (mestizos) and Mexicans of European descent (criollos). But steady immigration from rural areas has brought more indigenous people to the city. Most Mexicans are Roman Catholic, but other religions have shown significant growth in recent years.

22. For Further Study


Official government of Mexico City. [Online] Available (accessed June 28, 2000).

Mexican Ministry of Tourism. [Online] Available (accessed January 20, 2000).

Government Offices

Mexican consulates in the United States:

540 North LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL, 60611

8 East 41st Street
New York, NY. 10017

125 Paseo de la Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Mexican Government Tourism Office(s):

405 Park Avenue, Suite 1401
New York, New York 10022

10100 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 224
Los Angeles, CA 90067


Arrom, Silvia Marina. Women of Mexico City. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1985.

Bernal, Ignacio. Tenochtitlan. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1975.

Broda, Johanna. The Great Temple of Tenochtitlan: Center and Periphery in the Aztec World. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

Carrasco, David. Daily Life of the Aztecs: People of the Sun and Earth. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Cassaro, Michael A. and Enrique Martinez, eds. The Mexico City Earthquake, 1985. New York: American Society of Civil Engineers, 1990.

Cope, R. Douglas. The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City: 1660–1720. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994.

Cory, Steve and Ray Webb (illustrator). Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Mexico City. Chicago: Lerner Publishing Group, 1999.

Cross, John C. Informal Politics: Street Vendors and the State in Mexico City. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999.

Davis, Diane. Urban Leviathan: Mexico City in the 20th Century. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994.

Gutmann, Matthew C. The Meanings of Macho: Being a Man in Mexico City. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Johns, Michael. The City of Mexico in the Age of Diaz. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997.

Levitt, Helen. Mexico City. New York: Center for Documentary Studies, W.W. Norton, 1997.

Poniatowska, Elena, Arthur Schmidt, & Aurora de Camacho Schmidt. Nothing, Nobody: The Voices of the Mexico City Earthquake. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995.

Poniatowska, Elena and Kent Klich (photographer). El Niño: Children of the Streets, Mexico City. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1999.

Sabloff, Jeremy A. The Cities of Ancient Mexico: Reconstructing a Lost World. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997.