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Mexico

As slogans go, it could not be more apt; Mexico is bursting with life. While many nations live to work, Mexico does the opposite. The people are vivacious lovers of free time and socialising, and work will never have the importance that friends and family do. The mother, giver of life, is honoured and respected, and all children, whether belonging to locals or visitors, are doted upon. The country’s past seems to live at one with its present. In Mexico City, the Plaza de las Tres Culturas celebrates the three major cultures that have shaped Mexico: there are Aztec ruins, the 17th-century colonial church of San Diego and several late 20th-century buildings.

Practical Information

Area: 1 959 248 km² (758 449 miles²)

Capital: Mexico City. Population: 21 million

Population: 106.4 million

Currency: Mexican Peso (MXN symbol M$) = 100 centavos

Government: Republic since 1917. Gained independence from Spain in 1821.

Tipping: Service charges are rarely added to hotel, restaurant or bar bills and many of the staff depend on tips for their livelihood. 15% is expected and 20% if the service has been very good.

Legal drinking age: 18

Time zone: Central Standard Time: GMT - 6 (GMT - 5 from first Sunday in April to last Sunday in October) Mountain Standard Time: GMT - 7 (GMT - 6 from first Sunday in April to last Sunday in October)Pacific Standard Time: GMT - 8 (GMT - 7 from first Sunday in April to last Sunday in October)

Languages: Spanish

Additional descriptions

Mexico: Social customs

Handshaking is the most common form of greeting. Casualwear is acceptable for daytime dress throughout Mexico. At beach resorts, dress is very informal for men and women and nowhere are men expected toRead more wear ties. In Mexico City, however, dress tends to be smart in elegant restaurants and hotel dining rooms. Smoking is unrestricted except where notified. Mexicans regard relationships and friendships as the most important thing in life next to religion and they are not afraid to show their emotions. A large Mexican family always seems to find room for one more and a visitor who becomes friends with a Mexican will invariably be made part of the family. Visitors should always remember that local customs and traditions are important.

Mexico: Food and local specialties

Corn, beans and potatoes are the main staples of Mexican cuisine, with fish and chicken on most menus. International cuisine is available at large hotels and many restaurants. US and Mexican fast food chains are easy to find. Imported spirits are expensive, and cheap local spirits can be an acquired taste, but rum and tequila are relatively safe bets. Corona and Sol are the most popular beers - light and refreshing, and often drunk with a wedge of lime. The national specialties are: Mole refers to several very different sauces, based around garlic and chilli. Mole poblano is a chocolate sauce poured over turkey. Green mole verde is made from fresh herbs. Guacamole is an avocado mole with red peppers, onions and tomatoes. Tortillas are corn pancakes often eaten like bread. Enchiladas (soft tortillas) and tacos (crispy tortillas) are filled with pork, chicken, vegetables or cheese and chilli. Look out for exotic fruits like zapote (brown fruit resembling an avocado), and tuna (juicy prickly pear, fruit of the cactus). Tequila is a double or triple-distilled spirit made from the blue variety of agave, which is not a cactus, but a plant related to the lily. Young blanco tequilas can have a rough ‘cowboy edge’ to them. Older añejo varieties are woody and sometimes as smooth as a fine brandy. Mezcal is similar to tequila, but is distilled only once and can be made from different varieties of agave. It is not generally used in cocktails like tequila, but consumed in shots. Sip slowly to savour the taste. Mexico’s coffee liqueur, kahlúa, is world famous. Read more chains are easy to find. Imported spirits are expensive, and cheap local spirits can be an acquired taste, but rum and tequila are relatively safe bets. Corona and Sol are the most popular beers - light and refreshing, and often drunk with a wedge of lime. The national specialties are: Mole refers to several very different sauces, based around garlic and chilli. Mole poblano is a chocolate sauce poured over turkey. Green mole verde is made from fresh herbs. Guacamole is an avocado mole with red peppers, onions and tomatoes. Tortillas are corn pancakes often eaten like bread. Enchiladas (soft tortillas) and tacos (crispy tortillas) are filled with pork, chicken, vegetables or cheese and chilli. Look out for exotic fruits like zapote (brown fruit resembling an avocado), and tuna (juicy prickly pear, fruit of the cactus). Tequila is a double or triple-distilled spirit made from the blue variety of agave, which is not a cactus, but a plant related to the lily. Young blanco tequilas can have a rough ‘cowboy edge’ to them. Older añejo varieties are woody and sometimes as smooth as a fine brandy. Mezcal is similar to tequila, but is distilled only once and can be made from different varieties of agave. It is not generally used in cocktails like tequila, but consumed in shots. Sip slowly to savour the taste. Mexico’s coffee liqueur, kahlúa, is world famous.

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