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The culture of the Mexicans is one of endurance and resistance, revolutionaries and intellectuals, and a deep bond with the land of their ancestors.

The Spanish colonists arrived in Mexico in the 16th century and called the territory under the power of the Spanish Crown “New Spain.” However, in 1810, following decades of Spanish rule, a war broke out that would culminate in Mexican independence in 1821, first in the form of an empire and then a republic.

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The period of unrest that followed Mexican independence was eliminated by the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz at the end of the 19th century. Diaz’s regime brought in foreign investors in order to modernize the country’s economy and infrastructure; these projects were executed largely to the detriment of the indigenous Indian and mixed-raced small farmer populations. Poverty reinforced a growing sense of dissatisfaction, which would finally lead to revolution in 1910. The dictator was overthrown by revolutionary armies led by Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata, who were supported by peasant forces that called for agrarian reform. These forces included many female soldiers: the famous soldaderas. The conflict, which lasted for over a decade, laid the foundations for the modern Mexican nation. Spanish colonization caused dramatic upheavals for indigenous societies. The conquistadors soon became aware of the immense resources that the territory had to offer. In addition to building gold and silver mines, they began to develop a system of farming based on the Andalusian hacienda: a system of immense farms that operated like micro societies to produce wine, oil, cereal, and livestock. This powerful farming system worked exclusively to the benefit of the estate owners, and many were still in operation in the 20th century when the system was finally overturned by the revolution.

Did you know?

The fictional character, Zorro, was created by Johnston McCulley in 1919. These tales of a famous Mexican vigilante, set during the New Spain period, are said to have been inspired by several historical figures. One of them was an adventurous Irishman named William Lamport, who was born in 1611 and went by the name Don Guillén de Lombardo y Guzmán. A spice smuggler and defender of the oppressed, he was burned at the stake by the Mexican Inquisition in 1659.