Mexico is the United States’ third-largest trading partner and a majority middle-class country, but one held back by corruption, poverty, red tape and monopolies.
Felipe Calderón was elected president of Mexico in 2006 in a hotly disputed election.
Mexico has the second-largest economy in Latin America and is a major oil producer and exporter. Though production has fallen in the last few years, about one-third of government revenue still comes from the industry. Much of the crude is bought by the US.
But prosperity remains a dream for many Mexicans, and the socio-economic gap remains wide.
With 9,330 km (5,797 miles) of coastline and a 3,141 km (1,952 mile) border with the United States, Mexico has become the gateway for illicit goods and migrants into the world’s largest economy. The country’s mountainous terrain, largely unguarded border with its Central American neighbors, and vast coastlines offer criminal networks numerous smuggling routes for illegal drugs, natural resources, arms and humans.
Mexican officials were assessing damage Wednesday, a day after a strong earthquake left homes in ruins and rattled residents hundreds of miles away from the epicenter.
At least 11 people were injured and hundreds of houses were damaged in the 7.4-magnitude quake, which struck midday Tuesday in southern Mexico near Ometepec, Guerrero.
At least 30,000 children in Mexico are involved in some sort of organized crime, according to a nationwide alliance of civic and social organizations.
The Child Rights Network in Mexico says many of these children are taking part because of death threats or because of economic and social necessity. It is urging the government to start recognizing them as victims of child abuse.
Mexico’s record on economic freedom, as charted over the life of the Index, is one of considerable ups and downs. Registering one of the 10 largest score declines this year, the economy’s ranking indicates that serious challenges remain. The rule of law has been severely undercut by ongoing violence and social instability related to drug trafficking. Other grave institutional weaknesses include rampant corruption and weak protection of private property rights.
Tulum, Mexico was recently voted one of the most beautiful places to enjoy a sunset in the world along with Svalbard, Norway and Angkor Wat Siem Reap, Cambodia. Tulum is located on the Caribbean coast of Mexico and is known for its rich archaeological and cultural history. Tourists can visit many Mayan temples and shrines that have been preserved from ancient times.
And then there's immigration. In recent debates, it has been considered more of a domestic issue, with proposals from the major candidates for a single fence, a double fence, an electrified fence and other fence variants along the border with Mexico.
Herman Cain, who had been surging in polls but is starting to slip, said that he supported a fence along the Mexican border.
It is essentially a battle, cynical commentators joke, between the Pretty Boy, the Quinceanera Doll and the Tired Has-Been.
Mexico's presidential campaign has begun, and the disdain seeping from these common descriptions of the three main candidates reflects what experts say are low expectations. Mexican voters, polls show, have been losing faith in democracy as their nation teeters between modern success and violent failure.
This is a country of conflicting messages, of economic growth and decapitated heads.
Mexico is overwhelmingly Catholic -- only Brazil has more members of the faith -- and Guanajuato has been the Catholic heart of Mexico for centuries.
The arid mining area, which once produced nearly a third of the world's silver, was where the Mexican War of Independence started in 1810, and where, in the 1920s, a Catholic rebellion led to widespread martyrdom as the faithful took up arms against laws that stripped the church of power, land and even the priests' right to wear clerical collars.