The history of Mexico

Pancho Villa

Pancho Villa ©Recuerdos de Pandora/Flick

Mexico is a beautiful country with a rich history.

We could say many things about it, but today we would like to make only a brief presentation of the history of Mexico.

The wealthy Aztec empire conquered in 1519-1521 by the Spaniards led by Hernando Cortez was preceded by at least three great civilizations: the Mayans, the Olmecs and the Toltecs.

Spain led Mexico as part of the Vice royalty of New Spain for 300 years until the Mexicans revolted for the first time in 1810.


After the Spanish domination

Between 1821 and 1877 there were two emperors, several dictators, and enough presidents and provisional leaders to create a new government at every nine months. Mexico lost Texas in 1836 and after the war with the U.S. also lost California, Nevada, Utah, most of Arizona and New Mexico, parts of Wyoming and Colorado according to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

In 1855 the Indian patriot Benito Juárez began a series of reforms, including the separation of the church from the state.

Statue of Benito Juárez in the city of Comalcalco

Statue of Benito Juárez in the city of Comalcalco ©Ariaski/Flick

The civil war that followed was interrupted by the French invasion of Mexico  in 1861 and the coronation of Maximilian of Austria as emperor in 1864. He was removed and decapitated by forces led by Juarez, who has become the president in 1867.

The history of Mexico in the 20th century

The years after the fall of the dictator Porfirio Diaz (1877-1880 and 1884-1911) were marked by bloody battles and political issues with the U.S. military, culminating with the American expedition in northern Mexico, with the aim of chasing the revolutionary Pancho Villa (1916 – 1917).

Pancho Villa

Pancho Villa ©Recuerdos de Pandora/Flick

After the brief war of 1920 Mexico has enjoyed a period of reforms in agriculture, politics and society. In 1929 was founded the National Revolutionary Party, dominated by revolutionary politicians and reformist from north. The party continued to control Mexico in the 20th century, being renamed  in 1946 as the Institutional Revolutionary Party.

After the Second World War the government focused on economic growth. In the mid 1970s, during the presidency of Jose Lopez Portillo, Mexico has become a major oil producer. At the end of Portillo’s term, however, Mexico had accumulated large external debts. The decreased oil prices in 1986 reduced the earnings of Mexico.

Mexico as an oil producer

Mexico as an oil producer ©Kris Krug/Flick

In 1995, Mexico joined Canada and the U.S. in NAFTA and in 1996 became a founding member of the World Trade Organization. In 1995 the U.S. prevented the collapse of the private banks of Mexico and in exchange received veto power in a great part of the economic policy of Mexico. The elections in 1997 were called “the freest election in the history of Mexico and the Institutional Revolutionary Party was replaced from the legislative power and the management of the capital. In 2000 the PRI also lost the presidency after 71 years of leading position. The elected president Vicente Fox Quesada of the National Action Party reduced the power of the central government.

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