Mexico

Why book a Spanish course in Mexico?

Mexico is the country with the largest Spanish speaking population in the world. There are 110 million people living in Mexico and 12 million Mexicans living outside of Mexico, most of them in the USA, a far smaller number in Canada, Spain, Germany and other countries. The capital of Mexico is Mexico City, one of the largest cities in the world with approximately 23 million inhabitants. The Spanish accent of Mexico is neutral, many Hollywood films have been synchronized in Mexico.  Mexico has a size of 2 million square kilometers (1,25 square miles) and consists of many different climatic zones. You will find 11.120 kilometers (6.950 miles) of coastline in Mexico, the Pacific Ocean to the West and the Atlantic Ocean (Golf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea) to the East. In the center of Mexico and at the Golf of Mexico there are many  volcanos. The highest mountain of Mexico is the volcano Citlaltépetl, in Mexico also called Pico de Orizaba, with close to 5.700 meters. The large, arid deserts with the huge cactus have made Mexico famous in many TV movies.

Apart from Spanish, 65 indigenous languages are actively spoken in Mexico. The population of Mexico is mixed, from manifold indigenous peoples up to descendants of the Spanish and of immigrants from many countries in the world. The largest indigenous groups in Mexico are the Nahuas (Aztecs) with more than 2,5 million people and the Mayans with 1,5 million people actively speaking the Mayan language. In total there are approximately 10,5 million indigenous people living in Mexico. Apart from their native languages most of the indigenous people speak Spanish, some of them another indigenous language which means that most of them are bilingual or even trilingual. Most of the indigenous languages are linguistically totally different from each other.

The largest groups of immigrants to Mexico are from the United States, Spain, and Guatemala. Many Mexicans have German, Italian or French parents or grnad-parents who have come to Mexico in earlier years. However, you will find people from all parts of the world living in Mexico. Mexico has a tradition of generously granting asylum to  people persecuted for political or religious reasons. This is why there are many foreign intellectuals, scientists, and artists living in Mexico.

The culture of Mexico is as varied as its population. Mexico is known for its colorful fiestas with traditional dances such as the jarabe and traditional music played by mariachis (rancheros), trios, bandas, and other folkloric groups that have become famous inside and outside of Mexico. Some musical elements, such as the polka and the mazurka from Poland and the former Czechoslovakia as well the Austrian waltz have conquered Mexico and formed an important element in the country´s musical tradition ever since. The Blue Danube Waltz is the traditional dance at every Quinceñera –  a grand fiesta in celebration of the 15th birthday of Mexican girls.

You will find a large variation of food in Mexico, each region of Mexico boasting its typical dish. The Mexican cuisine has even been taken up into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010. Traditionally, the food in Mexico is spicy with a variation from mild to very hot peppers, especially in the southeast of Mexico where you will find the very hot pepper chile habanero. The most important food plant in Mexico is the corn of which the traditional Mexican tortilla is formed – very important in Mexico as the tortilla is the daily “bread” of each Mexican. The chocolate as well as the tomato have their origin in Mexico.

In the last few years Mexico has appeared quite a lot in the negative news, from the swine flu to the war of drugs. As often is the case, negative news, although sometimes exaggerated, tend to keep in one´s mind longer than positive news. The truth is that most regions in Mexico, especially the touristy places, are perfectly safe and quiet.

Mexico boasts a very healthy economic growth.  There are many international companies doing investments in Mexico and many private investors as well as many retired people from the USA, Canada, and Europe have been living in Mexico quietly and nicely for many years. Many tourists appreciate the natural attractions of Mexico. 23,4 million tourists visit Mexico every year making Mexico the most visited country in Latin America.  In general, Mexico is a country of easy travel. There are many cheap national flights within Mexico and many bus connections in very comfortable buses all over Mexico. Also travelling by rental car is easy in Mexico.

The people in Mexico are generally very friendly and helpful. Beware only that they do not charge you more than necessary, with a smile on their faces – this is probably the only problem you may encounter on your travel through Mexico. Speaking Spanish is the best asset against this kind of mischief, as you can always double-check prices and negotiate prices in Mexico, especially if you are buying in a market. Even if your Spanish is basic, people in Mexico are friendly and patient listeners eager to understand you and to help where they can. English, of course, is spoken in all major touristy places in Mexico, but, as anywhere in the world, it is always more pleasant to get in touch with the native population and know the people and the culture you are visiting by speaking their language.

People in Mexico are open-minded, helpful and as interested to know other people as you are. Not to speak of the wonderful climate in Mexico!  Mexico has sun all year round, with some variations depending on the region. Sun, friendly people, world-famous beaches, wonderful landscapes, delicious food – reason enough to book a Spanish course in Mexico!

More about Mexico in short:

Mexico is a democratic republic with 31 federal states and 1 federal district (Mexico City). The official name of Mexico is United States of Mexico. Mexico´s Independence Day is duly celebrated in the whole country in the night from Sept. 15 to 16.

The currency of Mexico is the Mexican peso (MXN, $), not to be mixed up with the US-dollar-sign!

The border between Mexico and the USA is 3.152 km (1.970 miles), the southern border is 956 km (598 miles) with Guatemala and 193 km (120 miles) with Belize. The northern border between Mexico and the USA is almost totally marked by Mexico´s largest river, the Rio Bravo, with a length of 3.034 km (1.885 miles). The southern border between Mexico and Guatemala is marked by the Rio Usumacinta, the river with the strongest current in Mexico.

Geographically, Mexico belongs to North America, together with the USA and Canada with whom Mexico also entertains tight economic relations through the North Atlantic Free Trade Association (NAFTA). Archeological findings of the first settlement of Mexico date back to more than 30.000 years.

Mexico is the country most visited by tourists in Latin America. Apart from abundant sun and beautiful beaches Mexico´s main tourist attractions are its numerous ruins of the ancient Mesoamerican cultures as well as its many colonial cities. 32 of Mexico´s cultural sites and of Mexico´s nature reserves have been adopted as UNESCO World Hertitage Sites. Ecotourism is playing a more and more important role in Mexico. Furthermore, Mexico claims to be a gay-friendly vacational place.

Mexico is one of the countries with the most biodiversity in the world. More than 200.000 different fauna and flora can be found in Mexico. 2.500 species in Mexico are protected by the law. 170.000 km2 (106.250 miles) of the surface of Mexico are nature reserves, among them 34 biosphere reservations (virgin eco systems) und 64 national parks.

Mexico has 400.000 km (250.000 miles) of streets, 47 national und 14 international airports and 108 ports. The largest and most important international airports in Mexico are the airports of  Mexico City and Cancun.

About 80% of Mexico´s exports go to the USA, 50% of goods imported into Mexico come from the USA. After Mexico´s golden economic years in the fifties and the Mexican financial crisis in 1994 and 1995 Mexico´s economy is currently growing fastly and soundly. Mexico is one of the most promising upward striving economic powers. More than 30% of Mexico´s population is younger than 35 years. Since the mid-eighties Mexico has followed a neoliberal economic path. Mexico has signed free trade associations with 62 countries, among them the USA and Canada (NAFTA), the European Union, and Japan.

Mexico´s oil industry is controlled by the state-owned company PEMEX which is one of the largest oil-exporting companies in the world. Most of Mexico´s exports of  oil go to the USA. Mexico has gigantic stocks of oil that are not yet being exploited.

Mexico is a laicistic country. Nevertheless, Mexico is the country with the largest number of catholics after Brazil. At least officially. Mexico admits many religious groups that are not officially recognized in Europe and the number of their followers is growing steadily. The highest religious symbol for Mexico´s catholics is the Virgin of Guadalupe. Its importance is partly due to the fact that it helped unite Mexico´s catholics and the indigenous population of Mexico in the years of the colonization. Many of Mexico´s indigenous people practise a syncretism between traditional shamanism and the catholic religion. Some rural aereas of Mexico are populated by mennonites who speak plattdeutsch, an old variant of the German language.

The main ingredients of the Mexican cuisine are based on indigenous tradition: corn, hot peppers, beans, pumpkin, avocado, sweet potato, tomato, cacao, turkey and numerous local fruits and condiments. Some beverages from the newer era of Mexico are well-known all over the world: the Corona beer, the tequila, the mezcal (tequila with worm) and the popular cocktail Margarita.

Mexico has more than 500 TV channels, most of them belonging to the private companies Televisa and TV Azteca , as well as approx. 1.600 radio stations.

Mexico is the country with prove of the longest tradition of an obligatory school system, dating from the Aztec era.