Mexico State

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Mexico State

Mexico State, state in central Mexico that surrounds the nation's capital, the Federal District, on three sides, with a population of 14,077,495 in 2005. At independence, Mexico State included most of the former Intendancy of Mexico. Gradually, new political entities were formed from this expanse: the Federal District and Querétaro, Guerrero, Hidalgo, and Morelos states. The modern boundaries were set in 1869. The state capital, Toluca, is located to the west. Many of the state's inhabitants have strong links to neighboring Mexico City.

In the colonial period, the regions that came to comprise Mexico State typified central Mexico. A dense pre-Hispanic population of Nahuas, Otomís, and Mazahuas (many of whom were subject to the Aztecs) quickly came under Spanish control. By the mid-sixteenth century, Spanish estates shared fertile valleys with Nahua and Otomí villages. Indigenous population and cultural influence remained strong well into the nineteenth century. The large Mexico City market long shaped production by haciendas (wheat, livestock) and pueblos (crafts, charcoal, produce). Silver mines at Zacualpan, Sultepec, and Temascaltepec drew labor and resources in the colonial period, as did gold at El Oro in the nineteenth century.

The city of Toluca exerted little influence beyond its immediate environs in the colonial period. The city's modest size (1,000 families in 1746) can be explained by the fact that it had neither mines nor the patrimonial functions associated with cities that served as diocesan seats. Named the state capital in 1830, Toluca experienced steady growth from then on. The construction of the city's portales (1832–1836) anticipated Toluca's transformation into a bustling commercial and administrative center by the late nineteenth century. In recent decades, Toluca has become a major industrial city, home to numerous national and foreign-owned factories, and to a population of 487,630 (1990).

Mexico State today shows the modern face of its colonial past. With highways, buses, and even ametro line, mexiquenses are more linked than ever to Mexico City. From outlying areas, white-collar workers and landless laborers commute daily to jobs in the capital. Like Toluca, one-time indigenous villages such as Naucalpan and Cuautitlan have become important industrial cities in their own right. Elsewhere, Mexico City sprawls beyond its borders into Chalco, Texcoco, and other municipalities, spawning huge ciudades perdidas. These "lost cities" are inhabited largely by the working poor, many of whom migrated from elsewhere in Mexico. Throughout the state more traditional villages have managed to survive; in some, indigenous languages are still spoken.

See alsoGuerrero; Hidalgo; Mexico: 1810–1910; Mexico: Since 1910; Mexico, Federal District; Mexico City; Morelos; Querétaro (State).


James Lockhart, "Capital and Province, Spaniard and Indian: The Example of Late Sixteenth-Century Toluca," in Provinces of Early Mexico: Variants of Spanish American Regional Evolution, edited by Ida Altman and James Lockhart (1976) pp. 99-123.

John Tutino, From Insurrection to Revolution in Mexico: Social Bases of Agrarian Violence, 1750–1940 (1986).

Fernando Rosenzweig, "La formación y el desarrollo del estado de México," in Breve historia del estado de México (1987) pp. 191-252.

Deborah E. Kanter, "Hijos del Pueblo: Family, Community, and Gender in Rural Mexico, the Toluca Region, 1730–1830" (Ph.D. diss., University of Virginia, 1993).

Additional Bibliography

Chowning, Margaret. Rebellious Nuns: The Troubled History of a Mexican Convent, 1752–1863. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Gonzales, Michael J. The Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2002.

Knight, Alan. Racismo, revolución e indigenismo, México, 1910–1940. Puebla, Mexico: Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades-BUAP, 2004.

Van Young, Eric. The Other Rebellion: Popular Violence, Ideology, and the Mexican Struggle for Independence, 1810–1821. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001.

                                      Deborah Kanter

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