Around 62% of Mexicans are mestizos (German mestizos), around 28% indigenous and 9% white (predominantly of Spanish descent). The indigenous population belongs to over 56 tribes and peoples. The largest groups are the Maya on the Yucatán Peninsula, the Nahua (Aztecs) in the central highlands, and the Otomi and the Zapotecs. The most important of the 50 or so native languages is Nahuatl. Since 1972 the government has implemented a special program to integrate the non-Spanish speaking Indians.
The social structure of Mexico is characterized by a small upper class consisting almost exclusively of whites, a middle class that has grown as a result of industrialization and the expansion of the administrative apparatus, and a broad lower class. 46.2% of the population are considered poor. There is also a considerable development gap between the individual parts of the country. In the northern states and in the federal district, the average income is three to four times higher than in the still heavily indigenous states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. Malnutrition and malnutrition are still widespread here.
With an average population density of (2017) 66 residents per km 2, more than half of all Mexicans live in the central region (federal district and ten surrounding states) on around 14% of the area. The north of the country, on the other hand, is hardly inhabited. The proportion of the urban population is 80% (2017) (1950: 42.7%); Almost 20% of the total population live in the capital Mexico City and its surroundings alone. The cities of Guadalajara and Monterrey form further urban centers. Since there is neither enough work nor housing in the cities, the informal sector (around a third of all employees) plays an important role, and extensive slums have emerged primarily on the outskirts of the city. Some of the unemployed and underemployed have tried for decades – especially to the USA – to emigrate or to hire themselves out there as farm workers. The number of Mexican migrants living in the USA is now over 12 million (of which around 7 million are illegal). Remittances from migrants to their families in Mexico exceeded revenues from oil exports for the first time in 2005, at US $ 21 billion (2016: US $ 26.97 billion).
Social: Mexico’s population has more than tripled since 1960. But the rapid population growth of 3.3% in the years between 1960 and 1980 fell to 1.1% (2018), partly due to state family programs. The birth rate fell from 4.6% (1960) to 1.8% over the same period.
Mexico has had social legislation since the 1940s that has long served as a model for almost all of Latin America. Employees and civil servants are required to have social security with the Mexican Institute for Social Security (IMSS; founded 1942) or the Institute for Social Security and Social Benefits (ISSSTE; founded 1959). The health system consists of the statutory health insurance and private health insurance. Medical care is good, with the exception of remote rural areas. In 2015, 1.5 hospital beds and (2016) 2.3 doctors were available per 1,000 residents.
The biggest cities in Mexico
|Biggest Cities (Inh. 2019)|
|Mexico City||8 421 000 *)|
|*) Metropolitan area 22.8 million|
The constitution guarantees freedom of religion. State and church have been separated by law since 1855. But regardless of the secular understanding of the state, the Catholic Church, to which 83% of the population belong according to the latest available estimates, still has a great social influence. The religious minorities include followers of (post-) Reformation faith communities (especially Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Methodists, Baptists; over 350 denominations in total), Anglicans, Orthodox Christians, other religious communities with references to the Bible (Adventists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses), Muslims, Jews and Baha’is. Followers of European Spiritism (Kardecism) are found mainly among the urban population. Traditional religions have been preserved among parts of the indigenous population or have been incorporated in various forms into popular Catholicism, which is particularly practiced in rural areas. According to transporthint, almost 5% of the population cannot be assigned to any religion.
The Virgin of Guadalupe – Patroness of Latin America
On December 9, 1531, the Indian Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, baptized only a few years earlier, had a vision on the hill Tepeyac – today in the northwestern part of the capital Mexico -: The Virgin Mary appeared to him in the form of an Indian girl and told him to be her Name the Bishop of New Spain to ask for a chapel to be built on the hill. The Indian did as he was told, but Bishop Juan de Zumárraga (* 1468, † 1548) didn’t believe the story. So three days later Mary made a bouquet of roses bloom on the hill that Juan Diego was to bring to the bishop. In the coat that Juan Diego was in carrying roses, the image of Mary appeared miraculously. Now the bishop also believed and had the chapel built to worship the Virgin Mary. Only a few weeks later, a steady stream of pilgrims to the image of the Blessed Virgin began.
The legend about the miraculous image of Guadalupe is not called into question in Mexico. The picture shows a brown-skinned young girl in a star-studded coat – the stars are an image of the sky from December 9, 1531. Mexico loves La Morena (“the brown woman”) or La Indita (“the little Indian woman”), like the picture in Popularly called. December 12th is one of the highest holidays. The number of pilgrims on this day is particularly high.
However, the Guadalupe miracle has long been controversial. Some theologians claimed that the Indians only wanted to cultivate their old cults on the Tepeyac hill under the guise of worshiping saints. Others saw the picture as confirmation that God is on the side of the poor. For a third direction, the building of the chapel on the Tepeyac hill symbolized the church’s victory over unbelief, because originally an Aztec sanctuary stood on the hill. However, it was also criticized that the Church wanted to use the miracle as an instrument for missionary purposes. For the common people, on the other hand, the picture signaled that God had accepted them, because Mary appeared to an Indian in the form of an Indian girl. Just a few years after Hernán Cortés conquered Mexicothe population received a new idol with the Virgin of Guadalupe. In their name, the village priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla began the struggle for Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1810.
The chapel was replaced by a basilica in the 17th century, which had to be closed a few years ago due to severe structural damage. Opposite it, a new basilica was built, one of the largest in Mexico. The popularity and veneration of the miraculous image of Guadalupe are still unbroken today. During his pastoral visit to Mexico in 1999, Pope John Paul II made the Madonna of Guadalupe the patroness of the American continent, three years later – at the end of July 2002 – he canonized the Indian Juan Diego in the basilica of Guadalupe.