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General Overview of the Indigenous Populations of Mexico1. The discovery of the Americas in the sixteenth century revealed to the European invaders two great civilizations: the Inca in the Southern Hemisphere, and the Mesoamerican in the Northern Hemisphere. The latter was characterized, until colonization began, by all the elements commonly associated with "advanced civilizations." These included a great concentration of sedentary populations; sophisticated political organization of hierarchical states; intensive agriculture; monumental constructions including temples, and civil structures; a great tradition of sculpture and pictorial art; hieroglyphic writing; the use of sophisticated calendars, and; mathematical computation. It also included a variety of social classes, centralized religious systems with priestly castes.
2. To the north of this Mesoamerican civilization, was the zone of hunters and gatherers, known as arid-America. In this zone, with desert ecology, its inhabitants successfully adapted to the limited resource base and harsh environment through a primarily nomadic economy, with a low demographic density and limited sedentarized settlements. In contrast to the Mesoamerican civilizations, they had a relatively simple social and political structure; a low level of technological development and simple knowledge of architecture as well as relatively unsophisticated artistic, religious and intellectual expressions.
3. Mesoamerica is comprised of a series of areas or regions which illustrate the specific characteristics of its unique cultures which still persist today, such as a Mayan area, Huasteca area, Zapotec, Mixtec areas, etc. All of them form a part of a single unique Mesoamerican cultural area, and all have contributed, over the long span of the formation of this culture over five thousand years, to the ancient history of contemporary Mexico.
4. The heterogeneity of peoples and cultural diversity of Mexico are testimony of the resilience and continuity of the Mesoamerican civilization. It is expressed through its 56 ethnic groups spread over 2 million square kilometers of the national territory and constitute at least 10 percent of the nation’s nearly 95 million inhabitants.
5. The sites and ceremonial areas, remnants of the original cultures, are still significant to the contemporary indigenous groups and constitute important settlements wherein the inhabitants gather to carry out their economic, cultural, social, religious and political activities. Some examples of these settlements are contemporary Tenochtitlan in what is today Mexico City, Cholula in the state of Puebla, Palenque in Chiapas, and Monte Alban in Oaxaca.
It includes the modifications introduced to the Mexican Constitution of 1917 through 1982 concerning territorial limits. Total continental surface of the Mexican Republic is 1,963,890 km2.
EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE
Carta Básica: "ESTADOS UNIDOS MEXICANOS CARTA GEOGRÁFICA." 1980. Dirección General de Geografía del Territorio Nacional, Secretaría de Programación y Presupuesto. Atlas Nacional del Medio Físico.
Instituto de Ecología, UNAM