Mexico Encyclopedia for Kids


Great volcanoes and rich silver mines

A huge and potentially rich country, Mexico is winning the bet to get out of the poverty and vicious circle of underdevelopment that all the former European colonies have known. Extraordinarily varied in climate and forms, rich in historical and artistic memories, very lively for the particular culture of its people, it is a country that fascinates anyone who approaches it.

A tropical country

The vast Mexican territory is formed by an elongated north-south plateau and bordered by mountain ranges (Sierra Madre Occidental, Eastern and Southern) which often exceed 5,000 m in altitude and host numerous volcanoes. Plains open up between the mountains and oceans that bathe the country: the one on the Gulf of Mexico is wide, the one on the Pacific narrower and more arid.

Two peninsulas extend into the sea, to the north-west (Peninsula of California, mountainous and arid) and to the south-east (Yucatán, flat and covered by forest). For Mexico 2009, please check

The country knows all aspects of the tropical climate, differentiated according to altitude, distance from the sea and the circulation of winds. The various areas are divided into warm lands, below 1,000 m, where the temperature is very strong, temperate and cold, over 2,000 m. The temperate lands are only on the central plateau which, however, in the northern part, receives very little rainfall and is therefore arid, with scarce vegetation of succulents (cacti). On the contrary, in the South, sea winds bring humidity to the interior, and the vegetation is more abundant and varied. The wildlife is also typical of the deserts and savannahs to the north (snakes, coyotes, pumas) and the forests to the south (jaguars, monkeys, alligators).

Since the plateau is closed between high mountains, the rivers that flow there are short and do not flow into the sea, but form lakes (very numerous), often brackish; the rivers that flow from the mountains to the sea are also short and impetuous. The only important river is the Rio Bravo (or Rio Grande), which originates in the United States and forms the border between the two countries for a very long stretch.

Towards well-being

Most of the Mexican population lives on the plateau, where the main cities are: the capital Mexico City – one of the largest and most populous in the world – and Guadalajara, Puebla and Monterrey. On the coasts the cities are few, due to the less favorable climate. Many Mexican cities are lively and full of monuments, museums, cultural centers, important universities.

The population has more than doubled in the last thirty years and this growth has created various problems: Mexico is a country that has many resources, but its wealth has always been enjoyed by very few people; population growth has exacerbated inequalities. In recent decades, however, Mexico has also made great progress in this area.

The country’s wealth was for centuries provided by minerals (especially silver, many other metals, oil), sold abroad; agriculture (maize and beans for local consumption, vegetables and tropical products for export) has advanced and is very varied thanks to the climate, but many farmers are very poor. Cattle breeding is important. However, the greatest development was recorded by industry (textiles, electronics, metallurgy, chemicals) and tourism, which support a large part of the Mexican economy, which is increasingly open to trade with foreign countries.

Mexican territory