Thanks to the fine people at Wikipedia (“The Free Encyclopedia”), I can provide you some information about our destination for the next few days:
Mexico City (Spanish: Ciudad de México) is the name of a megacity located in the Valley of Mexico (Valle de México), a large valley in the high plateaus (altiplano) at the center of Mexico, about 2,240 metres (7,349 feet) above sea-level, surrounded on most sides by volcanoes towering at 4,000 to 5,500 metres (13,000 to 18,000 feet) above sea-level.
Mexico City was originally a municipality founded in 1521 by Cortés on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, in the middle of the now drained Lake Texcoco. The municipality was abolished in 1928, and the name “Mexico City” can now refer to two things.
Officially, the name Ciudad de México is used by the Distrito Federal (D.F.). The D.F. is a federal district serving as the capital of Mexico and which is administered by the Mexican Federal Government. The D.F. encompasses the historical center of Mexico City, but is much larger than the historical municipality of Mexico City abolished in 1928. The urbanized area of Mexico City covers only the north of the D.F., while the south of the D.F. is made up of rural areas and mountains. Although the D.F. is not a municipality, the name Ciudad de México is used by Mexican authorities as a synonym for Distrito Federal (such as in Article 44 of the Mexican Constitution).
In a broader meaning, “Mexico City” refers to the whole metropolitan area of Greater Mexico City. The metropolitan area extends beyond the limits of the D.F. and encompasses tens of independent municipalities located in the State of México (Estado de México), to the north, east, and west of the D.F., extending as far north as the State of Hidalgo. The population of the entire metropolitan area in 2005 is estimated between 18 and 22 million inhabitants (depending where the limits of the metropolitan area are set). This means Mexico City is the third or fourth most populated metropolitan area in the world (behind Tokyo, New York, and possibly Seoul, depending which data is compared).
Mexico City, with its distinct mestizo culture, blending native Indian (Nahuatl) and Spanish heritages, is the largest metropolitan area in Latin America, and the second-largest in the Americas behind New York. By the end of the 20th century it became one of the largest financial, economic, educational, cultural, and tourist centers of the world.
Ingrid, Talea, and I plan to provide Pepino Suave fans with our own Mexico City information later this week. Stay tuned.