History of Mexico

Submitted 8 years 6 months ago by CultureWhiz.

The history of Mexico, a country in the southern portion of North America, covers a period of more than three millennia. First populated more than 13,000 years ago, a tapestry of civilizations spread across the area now called Mexico, including notably the "Mexica" (Aztec) and the Maya. When the Spaniards came by sea, two vastly different civilizations encountered each other. Disease killed many of the Mexican people, and the Europeans defeated the pre-Colombian populations militarily, establishing the colony of New Spain. Mexico rebelled in the early twentieth century, declaring independence and fighting victoriously. A series of wars yielded today's borders. Mexico and America now trade heavily, with many joint cities along the border.

Early settlers domesticated important food crops including corn and beans, sparking the birth of agricultural villages seven thousand years ago. Crafts flourished, as chiefs vied for power. Large monuments to political and religious power grew.

The southern Olmec culture was the first major group. Later, Zapotec and Maya civilizations arose, developing systems of writing. The pyramids of Teotihuacan remain an impressive monument to a community that reached a population of 150,000.

After the mysterious collapse of the Maya, other civilizations including the Toltec and Mixtec paved the way for the Mexica. The Mexica (or Aztec) empire stretched expansively. Famous for human sacrifice, they demanded tribute from neighboring peoples, ruling until the arrival of the Spanish.

Conquistadors killed the Emperor, while European diseases ravaged the native populations. The area became New Spain, and for three hundred years the mixed Mexican culture developed. Spaniards converted natives to Catholicism, incorporating local flavors. From regional feudal organization of labor, the economy converted to colonial feudal organization of labor. The Spanish settlers, primarily men, reproduced with native women, yielding today's Mestizos.

In the early 1800s, a priest led a revolution against the presiding rulers. Most of the revolutionary leaders were executed, although eventually Mexico declared independence from Spain. After a self-declared emperor was executed, the republic was born.

The northern borderlands became more separate from Mexico and closer to the United States of America. War broke out, resulting in the independence of Texas from Mexico, and the transfer of large parts of the West to the United States. In the south, occasional native uprisings have occurred.

Mexican liberals and conservatives struggled against each other, with liberals coming out ahead. France briefly instituted a new colonial emperor, under an Austrian who was soon executed. A controversial Mexican president, a series of assassinations, and guerilla forces led to a deadly revolution and the modern period of Mexican history.

The twentieth century has been relatively peaceful. After decades of unchallenged rule, the revolutionary political party finally lost power recently, as Mexico integrates further with North American and global societies.