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Mexico

Mexican

Geography & Topography

Capital: Mexico City

Population: 115,296,767

Area: 1,972,550 km2

Language: Spanish, various Mayan, Nahuatl, and other indigenous languages

Religion: Roman Catholic, Protestant

Currency: Mexican Peso

History

Mexico sprawls across the southern part of North America, with coastal plains along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts rising to a central plateau.Mexicans make several cultural subdivisions within the nation. The most common one identifies northern, central, and south or south-eastern Mexico. The extensive and desertlike north was only sparsely populated until the middle of the twentieth century, except for some important cities such as Monterrey.

Mexico is known for its folk art traditions, mostly derived from the indigenous and Spanish crafts. Certain artistic characteristics such as a preference for angular, linear patterns and three-dimensional ceramics, marks the identity of the country. Notable handicrafts include clay pottery from the valley of Oaxaca and the village of Tonala. Colourfully embroidered garments, cotton or wool shawls, outer garments and colourful baskets are also some of the handicrafts that are well-known in Mexico.

Performing Arts

Music

The foundation of Mexican music comes from its indigenous sounds and heritage. The original inhabitants of the land, used drums, flutes, maracas, sea shells and voices to make music and dances. This ancient music is still played in certain parts of Mexico. Mexican society enjoys a vast array of music genres, showing the diversity of Mexican culture. Traditional music includes Mariachi, Banda, Norteño, Ranchera and Corridos.

The most recognisable instruments in traditional Mexican music are:

Arpa Jarocha

Arpa Jarocha

 

Arpa Jarocha: A harp from Veracruz, Mexico, used in conjunto jarocho music. It is a wooden harp with 32-36 strings tuned diatonically over five octaves. The performer plays a bass line on the low strings with one hand and with the other supplies arpeggiated melodies on the higher strings.

 

Guitarron Mexicano

A Mexican guitarrón player in a traditional mariachi band.

 

 

Guitarrón mexicano: a very large, deep-bodied Mexican 6-string acoustic bass played traditionally in mariachi groups. Although obviously similar to the guitar, it is not a derivative of that instrument, but was independently developed from the sixteenth-century Spanish bajo de uña. It achieves audibility by its great size, and does not require electric amplification for performances in small venues. The guitarrón is fretless with heavy gauge strings, most commonly nylon for the high three and metal for the low three. The guitarrón is used in Mexican Mariachi groups, which usually consist of at least two violins, two trumpets, one Spanish guitar, and a vihuela (a high-pitched, five-string guitar-type instrument), and the guitarrón. A strap is usually used to keep the instrument up and playable.

Dance

Examples of traditional Mexican dances are:

El Jarabe Tapatio

El Jarabe Tapatio

 

El Jarabe Tapatio:The Jarabe Tapatío dance in its standardized form was first choreographed by the Mexican, in the early twentieth century. The dance is characteristic and representative of Mexico and symbolizes the man’s courtship of the woman, who in the beginning rejects him, but then accepts him. It is distinguished by strong tapping and stamping of the feet. Previously the men’s and women’s steps were different. The woman’s steps were feminine, and the man’s were vigorous; but today the couple perform the same steps. It can be performed either by a couple or a group of couples.

 

 

Some interesting facts:

  • The word “Mexico” is derived from Mexica (pronounced “Me-shee-ka”), the name for an indigenous group that settled in central Mexico in the early fourteenth century and is best known as the Aztecs.
  • Mexico introduced chocolate, corn, and chilies to the world.
  • Even though over 50 native tongues are still spoken in rural locations, Spanish is the national language of Mexico. In fact, Mexico is the most populated Spanish-speaking country in the world.

Mexican Community in Australia:

More information on the Mexican community: