The Facts (Thanks to the BBC for this profile):
Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world. Up to 45% of the population are children under the age of 18. Due to poverty, many children migrate with or without their families either from rural areas to urban areas and within urban areas to the US. This results in family instability and a large number of working children. Economic growth over the last decade has made Mexico an upper-middle income country but there remains tremendous disparities and social exclusion. Approximately 24 million Mexicans live in extreme poverty.
*Full name: United Mexican States
*Population: 107.8 million (UN, 2008)
*Capital: Mexico City
*Area: 1.96 million sq km (758,449 sq miles)
*Major language: Spanish
*Major religion: Christianity
*Life expectancy: 74 years (men), 79 years (women) (UN)
*Monetary unit: 1 peso = 100 centavos
*Main exports: Machinery and transport equipment, mineral fuels and lubricants, food and live animals
*GNI per capita: US $8,340 (World Bank, 2007)
Mexico in the news:
Prosperity remains a dream for most Mexicans. Rural areas are often neglected and huge shanty towns ring the cities. Many poor Mexicans try to cross the 3,000-km border with the US in search of a job, and more than a million are arrested every year. Hundreds die of heat exhaustion or thirst while making the attempt, and the exodus has led to some towns and villages in Mexico being virtually empty of able-bodied men.
The Mexican economy is heavily dependent on the money sent home by the millions of migrant workers in the US, and so it has been hit hard by the downturn in its neighbour’s economy.
Another persistent issue has been the pressure for greater rights for Mexico’s indigenous people. A law passed in 2001 fell short of giving Mexico’s Indians political autonomy. However, demands for indigenous rights have been largely peaceful since 1994, when at least 150 people died during an uprising in the southern state of Chiapas, led by the Zapatista rebel movement.
Violent crime is a major concern; turf wars between rival drug cartels are said to lie behind many gangland killings.
Writers such as Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes, the mural-painter Diego Rivera, and popular ranchero and mariachi music mean that Mexican culture is known throughout the Spanish-speaking world and beyond.
Possible mission trip activities:
Children and youth outreaches
Nursing home ministry
Ministry in cardboard villages
For more information, contact us!