Having grown up in Mexico and spending time in other countries like the United States, among others, invariably the joke about Mexico would always center on the notion that we are nothing more than campesinos taking siestas under the nopal every day.

Mexico is much more than that and to help dispel some misconceptions about my country here are some facts to ponder. I’ve categorized them based on economy, technological innovation and global participation.

According to the 2010 census, Mexico has a population of 112.3 million. It also has a GDP of $1.5 trillion USD. Mexico’s per capita GDP world rank is 85 out of 228 countries. The chart below illustrates a comparison between the first and last place country as well as other countries of interest.

1. Qatar at $145,300 USD
10. The United States at $47,400 USD
22. Canada at $39,600 USD
71. Russia at $15,900 USD
85. Mexico at $13,800 USD
99. World average at $11,200 USD
125. China at $7,400 USD
228. Burundi at $300 USD (last place of those ranked)
Source: CIA data set 2010

CEMEX, a Mexican company, is the third largest cement conglomerate in the world.

Foreign military participation:

Combat operations:
Mexico participated in World War II with the deployment of Escuadrón 201 in the Philippines under General McArthur. The squadron was attached to the 58th Fighter Group.
96 combat missions were flown
957: 1,000 lb. bombs were dropped
500: 500 lb. bombs were dropped
1 plane lost in combat

Disaster relief:
Hurricane Katrina (2005): For the first-time since 1942, when Mexican airmen trained for World War II combat, Mexican flagged troops deploy to American territory and the first time the Mexican military had deployed under its flag on American territory since 1840.

In September 1, 2005, 196 Mexican troops were deployed to Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio. Fourteen truckloads of water, a mobile surgical unit and more than 200 tons of food and medical supplies were brought in for relief efforts. The Mexican government and citizens of Mexico contributed $2 million USD to the effort. The Mexican Airforce, via five aircraft delivered supplies to aid recovery efforts. The Mexican Navy deployed another 389 naval troops along with two naval ships, eight all-terrain vehicles, seven amphibious vehicles, two helicopters and other equipment. The Mexican military deployment concluded its disaster relief operations 20 days later returning to Mexico.

The Mexican economy is a significant participant on the world stage.

Economic Freedom:
According to the Heritage Foundation, Mexico ranks as the 48th freest economy in the world in 2011, the United States ranks 9th. This ranks Mexico, third among Canada (80.8) and the United States (77.8) but well above the world average of 59.7.

The Heritage Foundation, a research and educational institute whose mission is to “promote conservative public policies”, according to its mission statement, ranks countries by the ability to start, operate and close a business. The score the foundation gives each country is based on factors that include: business freedom to start, operate and close a business, a composite measure of tariffs, and other factors that limit free-market ideals.

Based on these factors, the Heritage Foundation ranks Mexico as follows:
Corruption (out of 180 countries): 89th  (US: 19th)
Income taxes:
Corporate: 30%  (US: 35%)
Individual: 30%  (US: 35%)*
Inflation 2007-2009: 5.1% (US:  1.4%)
Trade Freedom:  81.2  (US: 86.4)

*If the US Congress does not extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts the rate would increase to 39.6% in 2011.

In terms of purchasing power, the Mexican economy is the 11th largest according to the World Bank.

Mexico has 43 free trade agreements, the most in the world.

Mexico is the most populous Spanish speaking nation in the world with almost twice as many speakers than the second place holder, Spain.

International Relations:

G8+5: Mexico, along with Brazil, China, India and South Africa is a member of the extended G8 (Group of Eight) forum formed by the world’s largest economies. (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US)

G20 (Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors): Mexico is a member of the G20, a group comprised from the 20 major world economies.

United Nations: Mexico is a founding member of the UN, signing the charter in 1945. Mexico is the 10th largest budget contributor to the UN, according to the UN’s Assessment of Member States’ Budget for 2011. Mexico is one of four leaders of the Uniting for Consensus (Coffee Club), a movement against expanding the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent seats.

As of 2007, Mexico is the largest manufacturer of television sets.
As of 2008, Mexico is the largest manufacturer of smart phones.
As of 2008, one out of four consumer appliances sold in the US are of Mexican origin.
In 2009, Mexico was the 10th largest automobile producer in the world.
In 2010, Mexico was the 9th largest automobile producer in the world.
In 2010, Mexico was the second largest oil exporter to the United States, after Canada.

Science & technology:
Astronaut: Mexico’s Rodolfo Neri Vela is Mexico’s first astronaut. (STS-61-B, 1985)
Automatic Rifle: General Manuel Mondragón invented the first automatic rifle; the Mondragón rifle.
Nobel Prize: Chemist Mario J. Molina shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work in the formation and decomposition of ozone.
Robotics: MEXONE, is considered one of Latin America’s most advanced humanoid robots under development especially its artificial intelligence software with its stated ability to “learn”.
Tablets: (iPad competitors) Mexican Guadalajara manufacturer “Meebox” introduced an 11.6” tablet in 2011. Mexican manufacturer “Space” introduced a seven inch tablet, called the Space Livepad 7 Multitouch in 2011.
Space research: The “Large Millimeter Telescope”, a 70% Mexican, 30% American joint project is the world’s largest and most sensitive single-aperture telescope in its frequency range. (2006)

Although misconception continues to perpetuate that Mexico is a third-world country incapable of contributing its share to the world experience the reality is that Mexico is much more than that. More importantly, a recently released report by the prestigious Brookings Institute, states that Mexico now boasts a middle class comprising of 60.1% of its population. There is much to be proud of but at the same time there is much work that still needs to be accomplished by the government, the citizens and organizations.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

One reply on “It’s more than siestas, a few facts about Mexico”

  1. And if Mexico didn’t border the U.S. they would be number 228.

    Give it up, Mexico sucks!

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