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Mexico is a country of contrasts, friendly people and endless travel options.
If you are looking to find the real Mexico...good luck! It has been said, over and over, that there are many Mexico's, so the search for the real Mexico ends in many different places. Mexico is much more than beaches, sunsets and margaritas. Mexico is a country where modern manufacturing plants can be seen from ancient cities, where the next desert dune gives way to a beautiful beach, where rituals and craft making skills have been passed down for centuries. The capital city, one of the largest cities in the world, is built directly over an entire ancient city. Telephone repairmen and construction workers are constantly discovering artifacts from Aztec times under the streets of Mexico City. Contrasts such as this are the norm in Mexico, not the exception.

For the tourist, nothing could be better. The choices available to travelers are as varied as any one country could possibly offer. Mexico welcomes over twenty million visitors every year, for good reason. This is a country where you can be snorkeling on a tropical beach in the morning, exploring ancient ruins in the afternoon, sipping coffee in a quaint colonial city in the evening and receiving a massage at a chic spa the same night. Colonial cities that were being built in the 14th century and glitzy beach resorts, snow-capped volcanoes, incredible sunrises over the islands in the Sea of Cortez, or a rambling train ride through the indescribably beautiful Copper Canyon...take you choice.

The ageless cave paintings of the arid Baja desert and the tranquil shores of the Sea of Cortez are but hours away from the border at San Diego, by way of car. The white sand beaches of the Caribbean and the incredible Mayan cities of the Yucatan peninsula are just a few hours away from anywhere in the U.S., via air. All of Mexico is easily accessible to travelers and the many variations of culture, local customs, different climates, arts and crafts and the many varied cuisines are not so far apart from one another in Mexico.

Mexico's cherished archaeological sites are fairly well spread out across the country, which makes them accessible from a number of tourist destinations. Centuries of mysteries are held within the pyramids, temples, ceremonial palaces and ancient cities. The huge pyramids of Teotihuacan near Mexico City, the Mayan city of Tulum, near Cancun and Monte Alban which is just a few miles from Oaxaca are all easily accessible from major tourist areas. Chichen Itza near Merida is the most famous, and the best restored Mayan city, and should be included in any vacation itinerary that includes Merida or Cancun, if at all possible.

Wherever you go in Mexico you will surely see into a lot of contrasts, get a few surprises, probably a few delays and you are sure to find friendly, colorful people that are eager to show off their beautiful country. Remember, the real Mexico is not that well defined and the further you get into this amazing country the more you will.

Mexico’s 32 states are truly diverse, as each one has countless tourist destinations offering a wide array of activities.discover that the real Mexico is found in many different places.

Mexican culture is rich and varied, with a warm heart and a friendly smile for everyone who ventures forth to meet the citizens. One weekend spent exploring all that this amazing, richly historic country has to offer and you'll be shouting "Viva, Mexico!"

CULTURE
Mexico is one country of many peoples. Just as in the United States, the society is made up of people from many different backgrounds, often speaking different languages and with different customs and beliefs. At last count, there are more than 50 indigenous languages (other than Spanish) spoken in Mexico. However, Spanish is also understood almost everywhere.

Religion is of great importance in Mexico, with about 90 percent of the people practicing Roman Catholicism. The many spectacular churches, chapels and tabernacles all across the country are tremendous tourist attractions, and you can even find tours that specialize just in churches!

What we refer to as the "social niceties" in the U.S. are of great importance in Mexico. Friends and acquaintances greet each other warmly and with great sincerity. If you are not well-versed in Spanish or the Mexican ways, a warm smile and an offered handshake will take you far. It is the sincerity, not necessarily the letter-perfection, that is important. As important as manners are, leisure time is even more vital! The tradition of the afternoon siesta is observed widely, even in business, and overall there is less emphasis on the rat race than you may be accustomed to. It's refreshing!

The education system in Mexico is excellent, with school attendance mandatory just as it is in the U.S. The national universities offer top-notch training both for advanced degree study and technical training. If you like going on vacation to explore a college town or two, you'll have plenty to choose from!

HISTORY
Mexican history hardly begins with the arrival of the conquistadors. In fact, Mexico has been settled since at least 20,000 B.C., when migratory hunters from Asia and Africa made it here. The full picture of Mexican history cannot, of course, be told on a Web page, but keep in mind three major influences and you will understand quite a bit.

First, the native cultures: The Maya, Inca, Aztec, Toltec and many other societies and cultures are ancient, and their language and peoples have survived the best efforts of European conquerors to eradicate them.

Second, the Spanish: After conquering Mexico, the Spanish understood a complete transformation of the culture, architecture, society and language. The Spanish spoken in Mexico today is the most obvious example.

Third, the Northern Border: Mexico's frequent skirmishes and wars with the young United States shaped both countries and enriched the cultures of both immeasurably.

Of course that's just the barest outline. Explore Mexico for yourself and taste the adventure!

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