Mexico, located on the southwestern border of the U.S., has a population of approximately 122.3 million people. For almost two thousand years indigenous cultures including the Olmecs, Mayans and Aztecs populated Mexico. The Spanish conquest of Mexico in the 16th Century launched the mixing of European and Native American cultures.
Mexico and U.S. relations have endured times of tension and even war, but for most of the 20th Century the two nations remained closely linked politically and economically. Today Mexico is a highly developed nation with an economy based on agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has increased trade with the U.S. and investment in Mexican industry. Poverty, both rural and urban, and population growth continues to drive Mexicans to search for economic opportunity in the U.S. Millions of Mexicans migrated to the United States during the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
Mexicans are predominantly mestizos — a mix of European and Indian descendants. Indigenous populations remain primarily in southern Mexico and comprise about 30 percent of the population. Europeans decedents live largely in urban areas and makeup about 10 percent of the population.
Spanish is the official national language spoken by 95% of the population. In addition, there are some 50 indigenous languages in Mexico that are each spoken by more than 100,000 people.
Mexicans are predominantly Roman Catholic. The Virgin of Guadalupe is the nation’s patron saint. Protestant and evangelical Christians are also active.
Arrival in U.S.
Latino Americans, including persons of Mexican descent, are the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. Mexicans and Mexican-Americans are largely concentrated in California and the U.S. southwest, but increasingly they are living throughout the country in both urban and rural areas.
More than half of Minnesota’s 125,000 immigrants from Latin America are Mexican. Hennepin and Ramsey counties have the largest populations of Mexicans as well as Mexican-Americans. South and Northeast Minneapolis, West St. Paul, St. Paul, Richfield, and Bloomington all have growing populations of Mexicans from both rural and urban areas in Mexico. Over 90 percent of Mexican immigrants are employed, frequently with two jobs, and a strong emphasis is placed on family, church and community. Employment opportunities and family connections are increasingly drawing newcomers to Minnesota.