Most outsiders do not know the country of Mexico's formal name; Estados Unidos Mexicanos (United Mexican States). The country has 31 estados (states), each with its own gobernador (governor) and single-house legislatura (legislature) with elected deputados (deputies). Here is a brief overview.
Combining Spanish Vocabulary with a Geography Lesson
Our neighbor to the south, Mexico, has 31 separate states and a national capital. This article is a vocabulary and geographical resource for Spanish instructors who wish to give a quick lesson on Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos y sus estados individuales (the United Mexican States and its individual states).
A List of Mexican States by Geographical Region
National Capital: Ciudad de México, D.F. (Distrito Federal )
North West Mexico
State: Baja California
Factoid: Just south of California, USA. Famous for resort city of Tijuana. Lowest populated state.
State: Baja California Sur (South Baja California)
Capital: La Paz
Factoid: Home of resort Cabo San Lucas
Factoid: Long Pacific coast state with scenic coastal plains, rivers and inland mountains.
Factoid: Land-locked state with second lowest population density.
Factoid: Huge coastline of over 1200 miles touches the Sea of Cortes.
Factoid: Largest state in Mexico by area. Home of the scenic Copper Canyon.
Capital: Tuxtla Gutiérrez
Factoid: Southermost state of Mexico.
Factoid: Historic home of the Zapotec and Mixtec people. Home of Mexican Presidents Benito Juarez and Porfirio Diaz.
Factoid: Home of resort city of Acapulco.
North Central Mexico
Factoid: Founded in 1575 as a postal rest stop. Known for its aguas calientes (hot springs).
Factoid: State's name is thought to come from the Otomi "place of the great city."
Factoid: In the central highlands of Mexico. Home of famous muralist Diego Rivera and former President Vincente Fox.
Factoid: Located in the great central plateau of Mexico (average elevation 7,700 feet), this landlocked state has no large rivers. Its chief industry is mining. Over $800 million in silver has been extracted from the hills of this state.
State: San Luis Potosí
Capital: San Luis Potosí
Factoid: Mean elevation is 6,000 feet. Great climate.
Factoid: One of the smallest states in Mexico.
Factoid: Has hundreds of miles of mountainous rain forest along with varied wildlife, including jaguars and mountain lions.
Factoid: Fourth most populated state in Mexico and most culturally developed, with a very high standard of living.
Factoid: High population of native Amerindians (95%).
North East Mexico
State: Nuevo León
Factoid: Borders Texas. Has an extreme climate with very little rainfall.
Factoid: Shares 318-mile border with Texas.
Capital: Ciudad Victoria
Factoid: Bordering southeast Texas, this area is known to have been inhabited for 8,000 years.
Factoid: In central Mexico. Home of the ancient Toltec ruins at Tula. Named after Mexican independence leader Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.
Factoid: Formal name is Heroica Puebla de Zaragoza (Heroic Puebla of Zaragoza). Named after Ignacio Zaragoza, who led the Mexican army in its defeat of the French on May 5, 1862 (battle commemorated during the Cinco de Mayo celebration).
Factoid: In 1521 over 6,000 warriors from Tlaxcala joined Cortés to help defeat the Aztecs.
Factoid: Formal name is Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave (True cross of Ignacious of the Key). Vera Cruz has been the traditional entry point for conquerors of Mexico from Cortés to American General Winfield Scott in the Mexican-American War of 1849.
South Central Mexico
Factoid: State in the center of Mexico. Home of pre-Columbian city of Teotihuacan.
Factoid: Second smallest state. Named after José María Morelos, a leader of the Mexican War of Independence.
State: Quintana Roo
Factoid: Home of the famous resort city of Cancún.
Factoid: This gulf coast state was the first to be subjugated under Spanish rule.
Factoid: One of the least populous states of Mexico.
Factoid: Home of ancient Mayan archaeological site at Chichen Itza.
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