On these pages we will try to give you a broad perspective of living in or visiting Mexico. To get more detailed information, follow some of our links to other sites with Mexico information. For specific information on an area, check the four geographic area pages, sometimes outside links are provided on individual city pages as well.
Mexico is a large country containing almost 2 million square kilometers. The topography is very diverse, and the climate reflects this fact. At any time of the year you can find an area of Mexico with a perfect climate. Many parts of the central highlands and some coastal locations, have "perfect" weather all year round.
VIRTUAL MEXICO splits the country into 4 main geographical areas:
There are approximately four climate zones in Mexico. 1) The Baja has a climate that varies considerably from its west coast to its east coast and north to south. 2) The coastal areas get hot and humid weather in the summer and ideal weather in the winter. 3) The central highlands get ideal weather year-round. 4) The northern desert areas have very hot weather in the summer and cool nights in the winter with some snow on occasions. Details on climate can be obtained from the more specific pages in Virtual Mexico.
Mexico's economy is driven by tourism,
industrial production, oil and gas production, textiles and clothing, and agriculture. Americans visit Mexico more often than any other country in the world. Hundreds of North American factories have been built to take advantage of the lower labor costs. Mexico has 1/5 of the worlds oil reserves.
Mexico produces and exports a wide selection of agricultural goods. Just about every kind of fruit and vegetable is grown on giant modern irrigated farms and small family plots.
The population is approximately 100 million, and it is very diverse. More than 50 distinct Indian cultures exist together with the Spanish speaking 'Mestizos' (mixed Indian and European, who make up the main population). Although Spanish is the official language and is spoken by the majority, many different indigenous languages are spoken as well. There is also a growing population of Norte Americanos (applied to Americans, Canadians, and Europeans), as many people decide to retire to Mexico and benefit from the lower cost of living, and the wonderful climates.
Although the highway system is generally not up to American and Canadian standards, many excellent highways can be found in Mexico, and many other roads only require a little patience to take you to marvelous sights. Volcanoes, vast deserts, tropical jungles, miles of deserted beaches, ancient ruins, modern cities, quaint villages, and posh resorts, can all be found in Mexico.
Check Driving Distances.
Mexico has an excellent bus system. First class buses are a preferred way to travel for many Norte Americanos. Trains also are available, but the standards do vary. For many people, air travel is the way to go. There are many excellent airports in the country. All resort areas are served by airports, and many people cruise by boat to coastal destinations.
One thing that can cause you problems is driving a car in Mexico without MEXICAN insurance. Don't do it!! A car accident in Mexican law is a felony, and unless a party to an accident can prove financial responsibility, he/she can, and probably will, be jailed for up to three days, until a magistrate determines who is responsible for the accident. If you have Mexican insurance, that is proof enough, and you won't be held unless a death or serious injury occurred. You can purchase Mexican insurance easily over the Internet or at the borders.
We do not recommend that you drive the roads of Mexico at night. The secondary roads can be hazardous due to poor lighting, pot holes, obstructions, or livestock on the roads. Since automobile accidents can cause problems, don't put yourself in a situation where an accident is more likely to happen. Drive carefully, and obey the speed limits, even if the locals don't, and you should have no problems driving in Mexico.
Most of the main highways are 4 lane freeways now, although many of them are toll highways. These toll highways are generally safe to drive at night as they are patrolled, but cut your speed by 10-20 KPH. The automotive mechanics in Mexico are legendary for their ability to repair any vehicle, at reasonable prices.
Many larger centers offer first class hospitals, and a full range of health care. Many North Americans now travel to Mexico for dental work and minor surgery, as prices are considerably lower. Pharmaceuticals are widely available and at prices lower than the U.S. or Canada. Doctors are well trained and they even do house calls! Health insurance is available and it is inexpensive.
Violent crime in most parts of Mexico is less of a problem than in the United States. Mexican law is hard on violent criminals. You can feel safer walking the streets in most of Mexico than in most other cities in North America. The larger cities such as Mexico City have a crime problem like any large city, and the border areas have higher crime rates. Crime is increasing near the resort cities as well. Most crime in Mexico is property crime, or drug related, and most murders are among competing drug gangs.
Mexican people are generally friendly and helpful. Speak a little Spanish, and they will go out of their way to be helpful.
The best way to avoid crime in Mexico is to not get drunk and disorderly, and to use a little common sense about flashing money or valuables. These rules apply no matter what country you are visiting. In Mexico the vast majority of assaults occur outside of bars at night to people that have been drinking.
Corruption exists, but it is more local than in some countries. Mexican government workers and police are paid very low wages, and they sometimes try to supplement their incomes by collecting "fines". You can decide whether the "fine" is justified or not, but remember, it is a part of their way of life, and in spite of official condemnations, it is not considered a serious crime by many people. It also keeps taxes low, and Mexicans do not like taxes.
Mexico offers a wide variety of excellent dining opportunities. Any type of food is available, and in the better restaurants, the food preparation, presentation and service are among the best in the world. Prices vary from ridiculously low, to as much as you would pay in a nice restaurant anywhere.
Street vendors offer snacks at very low prices. Don't be afraid to try them, but use ones that the locals are using. The fish tacos available on the Baja Peninsula are an excellent snack or lunch.
Avoid drinking tap water. Most restaurants use purified water in their food preparation areas, but ask if you are not sure. If you are not sure that purified water is being used, avoid salads and other raw foods. You can drink the excellent beer and wines with complete confidence. Mexico produces very good beer, brandy and tequila.
You can find a great variety of tourist accommodations in Mexico. As with meals, if you speak a little Spanish, and check out the locally owned hotels, you can get incredible bargains. If you stay at resort hotels, you may pay prices comparable with the United States, but you can feel comfortable speaking English.
Mexican law allows foreigners to own real estate. There are special laws governing foreign ownership of land within 50 kilometers of the coast or 100 kilometers of the border. To 'buy' property in these areas, you may need to use a "Bank Trust" arrangement. Definitely consult a local lawyer and/or notary. Generally avoid lease arrangements.
Affordable US travel insurance for Canadians,
or US Citizens traveling elsewhere.
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