Cruising in Mexico


The site of advanced Amerindian civilizations, Mexico came under Spanish rule for three centuries before achieving independence early in the 19th century. A devaluation of the peso in late 1994 threw Mexico into economic turmoil, triggering the worst recession in over half a century. The nation continues to make an impressive recovery. Ongoing economic and social concerns include low real wages, underemployment for a large segment of the population, inequitable income distribution, and few advancement opportunities for the largely Amerindian population in the impoverished southern states.

Elections held in July 2000 marked the first time since the 1910 Mexican Revolution that the opposition defeated the party in government, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Vicente FOX of the National Action Party (PAN) was sworn in on 1 December 2000 as the first chief executive elected in free and fair elections.


Location: Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, between Belize and the US and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and the US
Geographic coordinates: 23 00 N, 102 00 W
Map references: North America
Area: total: 1,972,550 sq km
Land: 1,923,040 sq km
Water: 49,510 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 4,353 km
Border countries: Belize 250 km, Guatemala 962 km, US 3,141 km


9,330 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


Varies from tropical to desert


High, rugged mountains; low coastal plains; high plateaus; desert

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Laguna Salada -10 m
Highest point: Volcan Pico de Orizaba 5,700 m


Mexico has a free market economy that recently entered the trillion dollar class. It contains a mixture of modern and outmoded industry and agriculture, increasingly dominated by the private sector. Recent administrations have expanded competition in seaports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity generation, natural gas distribution, and airports. Per capita income is one-fourth that of the US; income distribution remains highly unequal. Trade with the US and Canada has tripled since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994.

Mexico has 12 free trade agreements with over 40 countries including, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, the European Free Trade Area, and Japan, putting more than 90% of trade under free trade agreements. The FOX administration is cognizant of the need to upgrade infrastructure, modernize the tax system and labor laws, and allow private investment in the energy sector, but has been unable to win the support of the opposition-led Congress. The next government that takes office in December 2006 will confront the same challenges of boosting economic growth, improving Mexico's international competitiveness, and reducing poverty.


Airports: 1,832 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 227
over 3,047 m: 12
2,438 to 3,047 m: 28
1,524 to 2,437 m: 81
914 to 1,523 m: 77
under 914 m: 29 (2005)
Pipelines: crude oil 28,200 km; petroleum products 10,150 km; natural gas 13,254 km; petrochemical 1,400 km (2003)
Railways: total: 17,634 km
standard gauge: 17,634 km 1.435-m gauge (2004)
Roadways: total: 349,038 km


2,900 km (navigable rivers and coastal canals) (2005)

Merchant marine

Total: 58 ships (1000 GRT or over) 767,807 GRT/1,151,898 DWT
By type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 6, chemical tanker 7, liquefied gas 4, passenger/cargo 9, petroleum tanker 26, roll on/roll off 4
Foreign-owned: 5 (Denmark 2, France 1, Norway 1, UAE 1)
Registered in other countries: 12 (Belize 1, Honduras 1, Panama 5, Portugal 1, Spain 3, Venezuela 1) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Altamira, Manzanillo, Morro Redondo, Salina Cruz, Tampico, Topolobampo, Veracruz

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Canada - Mexico - United States

Further Reading

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