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Cultural Study on Mexican Americans

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Mexico is 1,972,550 sq km just south of the United States, this equates to roughly less than 3 times the size of Texas. Mexico is classed as a member of Latin American nations and part of the North American Continent; not South America as often thought. Mexico is located in Middle America and is bordered by the United States, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Belize, North Pacific Ocean, and Guatemala. The climate of Mexico varies from tropical to desert like conditions. The terrain of Mexico consists of high, rugged mountains; low costal plains; desert; and high plateaus.

According to the CIA website, Mexico has an estimated current population of 108,700,891 people (July 2007 census). Languages that are spoken in Mexico are Spanish, various Mayan, Nahuatl, and other religious indigenous languages. Sixty percent of the population is of Amerindian-Spanish decent, thirty percent is Amerindian, nine percent is white and the one percent is of other nationality. Roughly seventy-six of the population is of Roman Catholic religious origin; which corresponds with the history of the country. Approximately thirteen percent of the population is below the food based poverty line, with over forty percent of the population below the asset poverty line. An estimated twenty-five percent of the Mexican workforce is unemployed or working in the "informal" sector (Mexico the facts).


The Aztecs fought against Cortes and other Spanish explorers from 1519 until their surrender on August 13, 1521. The Spaniards had brought much disease such as smallpox, measles, plague, etc. to the area which nearly killed most of Mexico's population. At the time of the conquest about nine million indigenous people populated Mexico, by 1600 they numbered a scarce two and half million (Mexico History). Territorial expansion from 1521 to 1535 led to the exploitation of natural riches, particularly gold, silver and other mineral resources (Mexico history). The yield from Mexico's mines doubled the world supply of silver in less than two centuries (Mexico History). With this new wealth colonial cities sprang up far and wide. Talented Indian stonemasons, who had once crafted temples and pyramids, were put to work building chapels, cathedrals, monasteries and convents for their new Spanish masters.

The Spaniards were devoutly Roman Catholic and brought this religion over to Mexico during their explorations. The first Franciscan missionaries, sent by Carlos V at CortÐ"©s request, arrived in Mexico in 1523 and 1524 (Mexico History). Although the friar's chief goal was to perform the sacraments and introduce the Indians to the fundamentals of Christian doctrine, in many respects the missionary friars laid the groundwork for the fusion of the Spanish and Mexican cultures. Mexico's cry for independence began on September 16, 1810 when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a catholic priest, made a monumentous decision that revolutionized the course of Mexican history. Hidalgo ordered the arrest of Dolores' native Spaniards and gave the message to the Indians and Mestizos to retaliate against the hated Gachupines, or native Spaniards, who had exploited and oppressed Mexicans for ten generations (History of Mexican Independence). After living under the rule of Spain for approximately three decades Mexico finally won its fight for independence in 1821. Finally in 1824 Mexico becomes a republic with its own federal government.

In 1835 Mexico's new constitution centralized the government's power and outlawed slavery in all Mexican territories. The rebels fought and won against the Mexican army at the Alamo. American settlers from Texas declared their independence from Mexico in 1836. Then on March 1, 1845, President John Tyler signed the Congressional resolution to annex Texas. This annexation was the start of the Mexican American war. Mexico and the United States went to war over a vast amount of terrain, what would amount to half of Mexico when it was all over with. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the U.S.-Mexican War (PBS). Signed on February 2, 1848, it is the oldest treaty still in force between the United States and Mexico. As a result of the treaty, the United States acquired more than 500,000 square miles of valuable territory and emerged as a world power in the late nineteenth century (PBS).

The following years proved to be a struggle for Mexico with the Mexican civil war and the battle at Puebla. During these years Mexico had accumulated heavy debt with Spain, France, and England. France was eager to expand their territory and used this debt to try and gain leadership in Mexico. When Mexico stopped making loan payments to France; France took action to take over Mexico's current leadership (Mexican history directory). As the French were marching to Mexico City, on May 5, 1862, they ran into a strong resistance near Puebla where the French were defeated. This day is now celebrated in Mexico as well as in America, as a rallying cry for the Mexican people to become independent from all other countries.

The years after the fall of the dictator Porfirio Diaz (1877Ð'-1880 and 1884Ð'-1911) were marked by bloody political, military strife and trouble with the U.S., concluding in the punitive U.S. expedition into northern Mexico 1916Ð'-1917 (Mexico History, geography, gov.). Since a brief civil war in 1920, Mexico has enjoyed a period of gradual agricultural, political, and social reforms. In the late 1900's Mexico became a major petroleum producer and utilizied other natural resources such as silver, but in 1986 Mexico's oil prices collapsed due to the extensive borrowing against its petroleum revenue (Mexico). Mexico's relations with the United States has a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of Americans; whether it is through trade, economic reform, homeland security, drug control, migration, or the promotion of democracy strong partnership. A strong partnership with Mexico is critical to combating terrorism and controlling the flow of illicit drugs into the United States. Although we are currently having problems with immigration of illegal immigrants through the U.S. border, the United States needs to have a strong partnership with Mexico.

Values, Beliefs, and Attitudes

The importance of the family in Mexican-American culture is the role it plays as a support system, both financially and emotionally; and as an educator, wherein the young are taught cultural traditions. The Mexican American family is a close knit formation of nuclear families and extended families. In America you will see Mexican American families living



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