Size: 1,972,550 square kilometers--third largest nation in Latin America (after Brazil and Argentina).
Topography: Various massive mountain ranges including Sierra Madre Occidental in west, Sierra Madre Oriental in east, Cordillera Neovolcánica in center, and Sierra Madre del Sur in south; lowlands largely along coasts and in Yucatan Peninsula. Interior of country high plateau. Frequent seismic activity.
Drainage: Few navigable rivers. Most rivers short and run from mountain ranges to coast.
Climate: Great variations owing to considerable north-south extension and variations in altitude. Most of country has two seasons: wet (June-September) and dry (October-April). Generally low rainfall in interior and north. Abundant rainfall along east coast, in south, and in Yucatan Peninsula.
Population: Estimated population of 94.8 million persons in mid-1996. Annual rate of growth 1.96 percent.
Language: Spanish official language, spoken by nearly all. About 8 percent of population speaks an indigenous language; most of these people speak Spanish as second language. Knowledge of English increasing rapidly, especially among business people, the middle class, returned emigrants, and the young.
Ethnic Groups: Predominantly mestizo society (60 percent); 30 percent indigenous; 9 percent European; 1 percent other.
Education and Literacy: Secretariat of Public Education has overall responsibility for all levels of education system. Compulsory education to age sixteen; public education free. Government distributes free textbooks and workbooks to all primary schools. Official literacy rate in 1990 was 88 percent.
Health and Welfare: Health care personnel and facilities generally concentrated in urban areas; care in rural areas confined to understaffed clinics operated mostly by medical graduate students. Life expectancy in 1996 estimated at seventy-three years. Infant mortality twenty-six per 1,000 live births. Leading causes of death infections, parasitic diseases, and respiratory and circulatory system failures.
Religion: About 90 percent of population Roman Catholic, according to 1990 census. Protestants (about 6 percent) ranked second. Number of Protestants has increased dramatically since 1960s, especially in southern states.
Data as of June 1996