Themes: Environment

Environment and Landscape in Mexico

Geography

Mexico makes up the southern part of North America and the northern part of Central America. Across the middle runs the Tropic of Cancer. The Sierra Madre Mountains in the west are a continuation of the Rocky Mountains of North America.  The capital, Mexico City, lies high up in the trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt on the site of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan. It is surrounded by volcanic peaks like Popacatepetl (5,462m). So, away from the coastal strips along the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, most of the country is at high altitudes.

Climate

The country as a whole has one of the world’s most varied weather systems. There is desert in the north-west and tropical rainforest in the south. Rainfall can average more than 200 cm a year. The Yucatan Peninsula and southern coastal plains have high temperatures all year round with only a 5ºC difference between summer and winter. Mexico City has a temperate climate, 16-18ºC on average, because it is 2,200 m above sea level. 

Environmental issues

Mexico is estimated to hold 10-12% of the world’s biodiversity. With 707 known species of reptiles it has the most in the world. It comes second with 438 different mammals and fourth in amphibians and flora. Some of our favourite foods were brought from Mexico after the Spanish arrived there, including chocolate, maize and tomatoes. The Mexican government is trying to protect 2,500 species of plants and animals but it has a serious problem with deforestation, which is proceeding at a rate of more than a million hectares a year. Only Brazil has a worse record.  While the Mexicans are making the most of their vast mineral resources, including oil, natural gas, fluorite and graphite, they are also trying hard to preserve the richness and variety of their land and its habitats.