Recent media attention may have focused on the US president’s wall, but there is much more to Mexico for both tourists and investors
Exploring Mexico’s impressive art scene and economic potential
All nations are to some extent caricatured by lazy stereotypes and headline-grabbing sensationalism by the media. Few, however, get as bad a press as Mexico. You’d never guess, in the slew of lurid stories on drug and gun trafficking, horror-film criminality, Trump’s wall and immigration, that the United Mexican States, one of the oldest territories settled by Europeans in the mainland Americas, is the world’s 15th biggest economy, second biggest in Latin America, home to the largest Spanish-speaking population in the Americas – and a powerhouse of literature, the arts, architecture and gastronomy.
Any visitor to Mexico City – perhaps the most misrepresented of all Mexican destinations – is quickly apprised of the fact that life south of the Rio Bravo (its name in Mexico, not Grande) can be pretty wonderful. The range of hotels is perhaps the widest in Latin America, from five-star chains to boutique properties. Gastronomy is world class, as suggested by the fact that six of the top 50 Latin American restaurants, including long-revered eateries Pujol and Quintonil, are in Mexico City. (Another five are found elsewhere in Mexico.) In the capital, art is showcased at shimmering buildings such as the MUAC, Museo Jumex and Carlos Slim’s Museo Soumaya, while the city’s Zona Maco and Material Art Fair are among the Western Hemisphere’s most important art gatherings.
Home to 8.9 million inhabitants, it’s perhaps no surprise that Mexico City should have big-city attractions. But there are draws in smaller destinations, too, from Guadalajara’s film and arts scenes to Oaxaca’s innovative cuisine and colonial centre.
WHEELS OF INDUSTRY
Underlying the cultural diversity is an industrial giant. Mexico’s US$1.15 trillion economy (IMF) is built on petroleum, iron and steel. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rates Mexican people as the hardest-working in the world. One of the most diversified economies in its region, it is also the only Latin American nation to edge into the economic complexity top rankings.
Mexico is always near the top of the table of global tourism. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), 39.3 million people visited Mexico in 2017, making it the sixth-ranked tourism destination; admittedly, the numbers are pumped up by →
Underlying Mexico’s cultural diversity is an industrial giant built on petroleum, iron and steel
National Museum of Finland.
TOP: Started in 1573, Mexico City’s Cathedral was not competed until 1813 ABOVE AND ABOVE RIGHT: Pujol, which is ranked 13th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, reinterprets Mexican cuisine through a contemporary lens