Time Difference: Mexico has three time zones, with most of Mexico including Mexico City and Merida, six hours behind GMT.
The second time zone starts just north of Puerto Vallarta (but does not include it), and affects all areas on the coast north of the city, and all of Baja California Sur. Chichuahua City is not affected by this time zone change as it is too far east. This time zone is one hour behind Mexico City.
The third time zone begins in the northern reaches of Baja California, ie the northern area of the peninsula. This area is two hours behind Mexico City.
Language: Spanish is the first language of Mexico, and the country has the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world, with almost a third of all Spanish native speakers. There are 68 linguistic groups recognised in Mexico with 364 different specific varieties of indigenous languages.
Tipping: Tipping is important in Mexico as most people working in the tourism and service sectors rely on tips to supplement their basic pay.
Electrical Current/ Plugs: The voltage is the same as the USA: 120V, 60 Hz. The plugs are two flat prongs.
Culture: Mexican culture is a mix of its indigenous cultures and that of Spain, who colonised Mexico for 300 years.
Religion: Mexico is a Christian country with over 80% of the population designated as Roman Catholic.
Weather: The north of the country has the coolest temperatures, while temperatures on the west coast are lower than the east coast, which has a tropical climate resembling the Caribbean. The Baja California peninsula has a more Mediterranean climate. The east and west coasts are affected by tropical storms which occur from August to October, and the east coast is more prone to hurricanes than the west. On the whole, the weather is very sunny for most of the year, with inland areas having a much drier climate.
Water: The water is not safe to drink in Mexico, and it is also advisable to check whether ice is made from bottled water and that salads have not been washed in tap water. All main hotels and good restaurants should use purified water.
Politics: The United Mexican States has a democratically elected government and has a presidential system according to the 1917 Constitution.
Holidays: Mexico has a number of public holidays, and the most important festivities are Holy Week (Easter) at the end of March or beginning of April, the ‘Grito de Independencia’ (on September 15th), and the Day of the Dead (on November 1st and 2nd), the day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (on December 12th), Christmas and New Year.
Carnivals take place in February and begin with the symbolic burning of evil spirits. The most popular are those held in Veracruz, Mazatlan and Merida.