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In mid-2008 Mexico had an estimated population of 106.7 million. The population growth rate has been falling since the 1970s, declining from an average of 3.4 percent annually during the 1960s to 1.8 percent annually in the 1990s. The decrease is largely attributable to declining fertility. Emigration to the United States has increased significantly since the 1970s. The number of Mexican-born residents in the United States grew from an estimated 760,000 in 1970 to 8.5 million in 2000 (8.7 percent of Mexico's population in the 2000 census).

Immigration has not been a significant factor in population growth since the 1920s. Nationwide, population density was 52 residents per square kilometer according to the 2000 census. Density varied widely among the 31 states and Federal District from a high of 5,975 residents per square kilometer in the Federal District to a low of 12 residents per square kilometer in Baja California Sur. Mexico experienced heavy urbanization during the latter half of the twentieth century. In 1950 less than half the population (42.6 percent) lived in communities of 2,500 or more inhabitants. By 2005 more than three-quarters (76.2 percent) of Mexicans lived in such communities.

The national population is heavily concentrated in central Mexico along a roughly northwest to southeast axis from Guadalajara to Veracruz. This area includes the heavily populated contiguous states of Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Hidalgo, México, Distrito Federal, Morelos, Puebla, and Veracruz-Llave-which together are home to about half the national population. Major urban agglomerations are also found in the north, centered on the cities of Ciudad Juárez, Tijuana, and Monterrey-with more than 1 million residents each. In the south, the largely Amerindian populations in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca live mainly in small- to medium-sized towns and villages.

Most rural Mexicans opt for cities in their own country, looking for better financial prospects without giving up their culture or friends or family. The expense and danger of moving to the United States play a role, too. While the gains might be higher,” Riosmena says, “the risk is much higher as well. Of the 7 million Mexicans who relocated between 2005 and 2010, perhaps 1.4 million came to the United States. In other words, only a fifth of Mexico’s total migrants crossed the U.S. border.

The two main ethnic categories of mestizo and Indian/Amerindian are defined broadly along cultural rather than racial lines. The term "mestizo" describes persons with a solely European background, those with a mixed European-indigenous ancestry, and indigenous people who have adopted the dominant Hispanic societal values. According to anthropologists, the terms "Indian" or "indigenous" describe persons who identify themselves as such, use an indigenous language in daily speech, remain actively involved in indigenous communal affairs, or participate in religious ceremonies rooted in native American traditions. Approximately 60 percent of the population is mestizo, 30 percent Amerindian or predominantly Amerindian, 9 percent white or European, and 1 percent "other."

Spanish is the dominant language for both the mestizo and Indian populations. Approximately 6 million Mexicans spoke an indigenous language as a first language in 2000. The number of indigenous language speakers rose slightly in absolute terms from 1990 to 2000 but declined slightly as a percentage of the total Mexican population (7.2 percent in 2000 versus 7.8 percent in 1990). Indigenous speakers are highly concentrated in the southern states of Guerrero, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Chiapas, and Yucatán. Among indigenous language speakers, 83 percent also speak Spanish, while about 1 million are monolingual. Linguistically isolated communities are most prevalent in the states of Chiapas and Guerrero. Specialists have identified 12 distinct Mexican indigenous linguistic families, more than 40 subgroups, and at least 90 individual languages. According to the 2000 census, nearly 24 percent of all native speakers spoke Náhuatl, the language of the Aztec people and the most geographically dispersed native language. Other major indigenous languages include Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec, Otomí, Tzeltal, and Tzotzil.

Mexico's birthrate has been declining since the 1960s. During the 1990s, the rate of natural increase was 1.6 percent, half the rate observed during the 1960s (3.1 percent). In 2008 there were an estimated 20.0 live births and 4.8 deaths per 1,000 population. Life expectancy at birth was estimated at 75.8 years overall (73.1 years for men and 78.8 years for women). The total fertility rate (children born per woman) was 2.4. Infant mortality stood at 19.0 per 1,000 live births in 2008, compared to 79.3 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1970. The 2008 age structure of the population was as follows: 0-14 years, 30 percent; 15-29 years, 27 percent; 30-49 years, 27 percent; 50-64 years, 10 percent; 65 years and older, 6 percent. The median age was 26 years, and females slightly outnumbered males by a ratio of 1.04:1. As a result of declining fertility and rising life expectancy, by 2025 Mexico's population is predicted to age overall; the share of the youngest cohort (0-14) will decline to 24 percent, and that of the oldest will rise to 10 percent.

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Page last modified: 12-01-2017 18:44:40 ZULU