Long before the Spanish conquest, many advanced civilizations, such as the Olmecs (1400-400 BC), Mayas (250-900 AD), and Aztecs (1325-1521 AD), flourished in Mexico. They achieved great advancement in many fields, including architecture, mathematics and astronomy. During 1519 to 1521, the Spanish Hernán Cortés conquered and colonized Mexico. Mexico was under the Spanish rule for nearly 300 years. In 1810, taking advantage of Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic Father, proclaimed Mexico’s independence from Spain. His declaration, known as the "Grito de Dolores" in Mexico, started the struggle for independence which lasted eleven years. In 1821, the Treaty of Córdoba was signed at the conclusion of the Mexican War of Independence. A republic was proclaimed in 1822 and established in1824. After achieving independence, the political instability continued. In 1846, the Mexican- American War broke out. The war ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, forcing Mexico to cede almost half of its territory including Texas and California to the United States. During the four presidential term of Benito Juarez (from 1858 to 1872 including as interim president), the liberal reforms were promoted. And in 1861, France invaded Mexico and eventually defeated Mexican army. France installed the Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria as Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, who ruled as emperor from 1864 to 1867. President Benito Juárez kept the federal government functioning during the French intervention and restored the republic in 1867. Juárez returned to office and served as president until he died in 1872. Under the presidency of the authoritarian General Porfirio Diaz, the country achieved remarkable economic growth and political stability, however, at the same time, economic inequality and the political repression eventually led to the Mexican Revolution, which lasted from 1910 until 1920. During the Revolution, about 10 % of the country’s population was lost. In 1917, The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, which is the present constitution of Mexico, was drafted and approved. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), formed in 1929 under the name of the National Revolutionary Party (PNR), held power for 71 years, winning every presidential election until 2000, when Vicente Fox Quesada of the National Action Party (PAN) won the race. The country’s economy is strongly linked to the U.S. As to tourism, Mexico has one of the largest tourism industries in the world, according to the World Tourism Organization. It ranks fifth in the world and first in the Americas on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites with 31.
I joined a three-night tour in Mexico City. I had a little time until the tour started, so I walked around the neighborhood of the port of Manzanillo for a while. I found interesting things, a huge object of billfish, the statue of Columbus and a huge object of a bottle of tequila!
*DMC-ZS10/TZ20 records images in max.14-megapixel and DMC-ZS7/TZ10 in max.12-megapixel.
The first day of the tour was mostly spent for traveling. We arrived at Mexico City at around 4 p.m. Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, was a metropolitan city. There were high-rise buildings and traffic jams all around. I heard that the number of cars registered was about the same as the population in the city. According to the guide, the gap between rich and poor was wide and that each of the rich people owned an average of 10 cars.
I went to the National Museum of Anthropology. It was very large and seemed that it would take at least a half a day if I looked around all exhibits. So I narrowed down the exhibits to see to those related to Maya and Aztec civilizations. Among many excavated exhibits, I was strongly impressed with the scene reproduced to show how the people were buried when excavated, the stone structure which was said that the heart of a human sacrifice was placed on it and the Aztec Calendar. Replicas of the Aztec Calendar were sold at every souvenir shop. The Calendar is said to tell that the world would end in 2012. The fact that the Aztecs, though they had an advanced technology and civilization, practiced human sacrifice until they were conquered by the Spanish was beyond my common sense, which made the biggest impression to me.
The museum was designed by very famous architects. The exhibition halls surrounded a patio with a huge square concrete umbrella supported by a single slender pillar. I was amazed at how such a slender pillar could support the huge umbrella. Water cascaded around the pillar to produce a fountain.