Mexico is located between the USA to the north and Guatemala and Belize to the south. Many expats considering a move to Mexico picture it as a Pacific paradise. People who have visited its beaches and seen its palm trees in Cancún or Cabo San Lucas know this to be true.
Outdoor enthusiasts moving to Mexico will get to enjoy a rugged country with volcanoes and rain forests waiting to be explored on hikes and bike tours. Despite Mexico’s beautiful countryside, close to 80% of its 120 million residents live in the cities. Similarly, most expats who have made the move to Mexico find their new home in a metropolis like Mexico City or Guadalajara.
Mexico’s economy is in the trillion dollar class. A mix of modern and older industries accounts for a per-capita income about one-third that of the United States. Foreigners moving to Mexico for business reasons will face privatization efforts and a high level of competition within certain industries.
Foreign companies and investors in Mexico benefit from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) along with other free trade treaties. About 90% of Mexico’s international trade falls under these agreements.
The main industries and services within the national economy include tobacco, chemicals, food and beverages, iron and steel, mining, textiles, and tourism.
There is no denying that Mexico is a country facing socio-economic challenges. One of the greatest is the issue of inequality. According to a 2015 report by Oxfam, Mexico is within the 25% of countries with the highest levels of inequality in the world. This signifies that approximately 23 million people in Mexico cannot afford basic goods, while it also hosts some of the richest men in the world. This inequality has both social and political implications. The first reflects in a weak national market, a huge gap between private and public education, and violence caused by marginalization. The latter translates into a political system in the hand of the elite.
Before moving to Mexico, you may want to get a general idea of the political system and the level of political risk here. Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, and today it’s a federal republic with 31 states and a legal system based on constitutional and civil law principles. Enrique Pena Nieto is the current President of Mexico, working both as chief of state and head of government.
Despite the fact that Mexico is a democracy, there are different social issues in the country which have led to a certain degree of social instability. The previously mentioned inequality has led to demonstrations, social unrest and migration north towards countries such as the US. Mexico also sees its fair share of corruption: According to Transparency International, Mexico was ranked 103rd among 175 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index in 2014.
For over 79 years, a one-party-rule existed in the country. Even though it came to an end in 2000 and there is now a wider range of political parties and candidates, politics are by many considered discordant and the available options not trustworthy. As a response to this, movements and demonstrations have sprung up across the country in the last years, demanding more transparency and honesty from political representatives.
Furthermore, Mexico is not untouched by security problems related to the drug cartels. Even if the severity of this problem seems to have diminished recently, some link this merely to the fact that the government has chosen to adopt a policy of silence relating this issue.
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