Mexico - History
Mexico's historical attractions are a major tourist attraction - from the ancient ruins of the Olmecs, Maya, and Aztec, to the train routes used by the brash and legendary Pancho Villa. About 1000 BC, the first of Mexico's ancient civilizations, the Olmecs, established themselves in what are now the states of Veracruz and Tabasco. The Olmecs left behind relatively few artifacts, their influence on future cultures was not to be underestimated. Following the Olmecs came the Teotihuacan, the Zapotecs and Mixtecs of Monte Alban, the Maya of Yucatan, the Toltecs, Aztecs and others. Many of these civilizations practiced human sacrifice, a fact that often overshadows their great achievements in the realms of mathematics, astronomy, architecture, textile weaving, art, and pottery.
None of Mexico's pre-Columbian civilizations is more storied, however, than the Aztecs. Prior to the 15th century, the Aztecs were a marginal tribe living on the edge of Lake Texcoco, the site of present day Mexico City. By 1473 they ruled the largest empire Mexico had ever seen. Their capital of Tenochtitlan. When the Spanish adventurer Hernan Cortez arrived in 1519, the rich city was a vision perfectly meshed to his thirst for conquest.
The tragedy of New Spain begans in April of 1519 the arrival of Cortez who had a singular objective: defeat the Aztecs and take their gold. That he was able to defeat an empire with just a few hundred men seems nothing short of miraculous, but some of el conquistador's success, however, can be attributed to plain and simple luck.
Mexico, was heavily taxed, ruled directly from Spain, and permitted no autonomy. When Napoleon conquered Spain in 1808, Mexico's elite began to talk of self-rule. The man who was a Catholic priest named Father Miguel de Hidalgo Costilla led an armed rebellion in 1810. Hidalgo's leadership began a war of independence that culminated on September 27, 1821, when the rebel leader Vicente Guerrero and the royalist Agustin de Iturbide signed the Treaty of Cordoba.
For almost a century, the new country would be wracked by marked by almost incessant fighting. One of the first Mexican presidents, the former rebel general Santa Ana, is sourly credited with losing half his country to the United States after a two-year war that ended in 1848
Post-revolution history is marked by a single political party, the Partido Revolucionario Institutional, or PRI. In 1997, for the first time in history, Mexico City elected a mayor who was not a PRI candidate. Traditionally, the mayoral seat of Mexico City is the second most powerful office in the nation, and the citizens of the Districto Federal could not have elected a more ironic man: he is Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, the son of the PRI's beloved Lazaro Cardenas. He ran against his father's party, and won.
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