769,000 sq miles
100,294,036(1999) 80% mestizo (mixed European and Indian heritage), 10% Indigena(indigenous Indians or Native Americans), 10% Other.
While Spanish is the official language you'll have no trouble finding someone who speaks English. This is especially true in tourist savvy areas where English comes close to being a second language. In addition there are approximately 50 indigenous languages.
The currency is the New Peso, which is divided into 100 centavos. Notes come in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10; coins come in denominations of 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 Peso and 50, 20, 10 and 5 centavos.
In the last decade the Mexican government has been working hard to stabilise their economy, and it's paid off. Currency exchange rates do still fluctuate, but with inflation down it's nothing like the bad old days. The current exchange rate is £1.00 to 15 Peso.
Major credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are easy to find, so as long as you are linked to the Plus or Cirrus network getting hold of cash shouldn't be a problem.
Those intending to take Travellers Cheques should be warned that banks and exchange houses(C asas de Cambio) charge horrendous commission. Also as banks generally aren't keen on changing sterling TCs, it's best to take them in US dollars.
Not necessary for UK citizens. On entering the country you'll be issued with a Tourist Permit(at no cost), which you must have stamped and retain until your departure. The Tourist Permit is valid for 180 days.
90% Roman Catholic, 5% other branches of Christianity, 5% indigenous religions.
Most of Mexico runs on Hora del Centro - Central Time. In winter this is six hours behind GMT, and during daylight saving(between the first Sunday in April and the last Sunday in October) five hours behind GMT. The north-west of Mexico spans two further time zones: Mountain Standard Time(GMT minus seven hours) and Pacific Standard Time(GMT minus eight hours - only in Baja California Norte).
110 volts AC, 60Hz. Whatever plug you have you'll find a socket to match it somewhere in Mexico. Lamentably the chances are that it's not going to be in your hotel, so the safest bet is to buy a US-style 2-pin adapter, you may also need a transformer.
For police or ambulance dial 080, for tourist security dial 52 50 01 23. Note that depending on the nature of the problem it may be better to contact the nearest embassy or consulate
To dial Mexico from the UK: 0052 + area code + number.
To dial the UK from Mexico: 0044 + area code(minus initial 0) + number.
The most reliable public phones are run by LADATEL and are easily recognisable by their blue handset logo. Phone cards can be bought from most news stands, and for a transatlantic call you'll need a minimum of a 30 Peso card. If you use your hotel phone you'll pay for the privilege.
Post office opening hours are 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and Saturday mornings. Anything more substantial than a letter is liable to get 'lost', hence packages are best sent through one of the international courier companies such as DHL, UPS or Federal Express. Airmail to the UK typically takes six days.
Internet & Email
Most cities and towns have cybercafes with Internet access, where the equivalent of £1.00 should buy you approximately half an hour's surfing time.
Shops generally open from 9am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday, but may close in smaller towns between 2 and 4pm. On Sundays nearly all shops close. Banking hours mirror those in the UK, opening between 9am and 5pm on weekdays, with some open half-day on Saturday.
In Mexico you generally tip as you would in the UK, one exception is taxi drivers - who won't expect a tip. Otherwise between 10-15% is the norm, with higher tips expected in more expensive resorts.