Mexico. It is not the richest country in the world in terms of GDP and average per
capita income statistics. It is neither the most populous country in the world, nor the
largest in terms of territorial land mass. While it boasts a fairly diverse natural environ-
ment, it does not contain as much environmental, topographical, and climatic variation
as one might find in many other countries. It is also not the most powerful country in
the world in terms of political, military, and geostrategic capabilities and influence. In
fact, when one compares Mexico on just about any individual social, economic, or po-
litical measure against the rest of the world, one finds that Mexico is never at the top of
any one category, although one can usually find Mexico ranked somewhere among the
top quartile of all major categories.
So, on first glance, the initial impression one might have is that Mexico may be an
interesting and fascinating country to learn about, but not a country that one needs to
know about in order to keep one’s finger on the pulse of the world’s movements. Let’s
face it: Mexico does not exercise a veto on the United Nations Security Council. Mexico
does not have a chokehold over critical energy resources that the modern, industrial
world simply cannot do without. Mexico is not home to expansive rainforests that are
critical to the world’s oxygen supply. Mexico is not the world’s nutritional breadbasket.
Mexico does not have nuclear weapons, nor is it capable of posing any kind of military
threat to global peace and security. . . . And the list could go on and on.
Therefore, the question then becomes: What makes the study of Mexico important?
Beyond simply knowing more about another region of the world and its peoples for the
sake of satiating intellectual curiosity, why should we include Mexico as a special coun-
try case study in reference series such as this one? My answer to those questions is that
Mexico merits anyone’s attention because, when the country is taken as a whole, its
relevance and impact on the world is much greater than the sum of its parts. If we really
want to know about other countries and peoples of the world, particularly in the West-
ern civilizational orbit, knowing about Mexico offers a foundation of understanding
that illuminates all of the others in ways that no other country can.
We should first start with the country’s history and posit that Mexico’s particular
history is perhaps the fullest embodiment of the story of all aspects of Western civiliza-
tion. In truth, there are very few places in the Western world where the clash of mag-
nificent, complex, and highly organized civilizations and empires has existed so
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