Mexico is a nation where affluence, poverty, natural splendour and urban blight rub shoulders.
It has the second-largest economy in Latin America and is a major oil exporter.
But prosperity remains a dream for many Mexicans, and the socio-economic gap remains wide. Rural areas are often neglected and huge shanty towns ring the cities.
Many poor Mexicans have sought to cross the 3,000-km border with the US in search of a job but in recent years more Mexicans immigrants have returned to Mexico than migrated to the US.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in drugs-related gang violence in the past decade. Powerful cartels control the trafficking of drugs from South America to the US. Security forces ordered to crack down on them have been accused of abusing their power and acting with impunity.
- United Mexican States
- Capital: Mexico City
- Population 116 million
- Area 1.96 million sq km (758,449 sq miles)
- Major language Spanish
- Major religion Christianity
- Life expectancy 75 years (men), 80 years (women)
- Currency peso