Native American civilizations, Tenochtitlan, Native American ancestry, New Spain, Spanish conquest
At the time of the Spanish conquest in the early 1500s, numerous advanced Native American civilizations existed in Mexico. Among the most important were the Maya, who resided in the southern and southeastern part of what is now Mexico, including the present states of Chiapas, Quintana Roo, and Yucatan. Central Mexico was dominated by the Aztecs, who had developed an extensive capital surrounded by a lake at Tenochtitlan, Mexico City’s present site.
The Spanish ultimately conquered the Native American civilizations and extended their control over the entire region, calling it New Spain. Unlike British settlers in North America, the Spaniards quickly intermarried with the indigenous people, producing a growing population of mestizos, or people of mixed European and Native American ancestry. By the end of the 19th century, mestizos had become the largest ethnic group in the population.
After World War II (1939-1945), which saw the beginning of a period of sustained industrial growth, Mexicans migrated rapidly from rural communities (under 2,500 population) to large urban centers. Many of these people moved to the Federal District, which includes the capital of Mexico City and was home to approximately one-fifth of Mexico’s citizens in 1997. During this postwar period the relatively unpopulated northern states also attracted numerous immigrants, as the economic base of frontier cities such as Ciudad Juarez and Monterrey grew rapidly.
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