By Jessica Chilián
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Mexico is located in the extreme south of North America, between 14 ° 32 ’45’ ‘and 32 ° 43’ 5 ” north latitude and 86 ° 46 ‘and 117 ° 08’ west longitude. It limits to the north with the United States, to the east with the Golfo de Mexico, to the south with Belize, Guatemala and the Pacific Ocean and to the west with that ocean. It occupies an area of 1,972,546 square kilometers (including island area).
Limits of Mexico with the United States of North America.
- Rivers that limit Mexico to the north: Bravo river and Colorado river.
- Length in kilometers of the borders with the United States: 2369 kilometers.
- Name of the treaties that establish the limits of Mexico with the United States: Treaties of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) and the Treaty of Peace and Friendship (1853)
Limits of Mexico with Guatemala.
- Rivers that border Mexico with Guatemala: Suchiate river, Chixoy river and Usumacinta river.
- Within the mountainous elevations we have: Tocana volcano and Buenavista Hill.
- Length of the border of our country with Guatemala: 962 kilometers.
Limits of Mexico with Belize
The river that marks the limits in part is: Hondo river, the limits were established by the treaty with United Kingdom in June 1893-1894, and it reaches a length of 176 kilometers.
Mexico would have a tropical climate in its southern part and subtropical in its northern region; but the physical configuration of its soil and the influence of the air masses coming from the Gulf of Mexico modify the climatic conditions, making it possible to identify three zones determined according to the altitude: hot, temperate and cold lands. The former covers the coastal plains and lowlands of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Tabasco, Campeche and the Yucatecan Platform. The average annual temperature is above 22 ° Celsius and abundant rainfall (2000 to 3000 mm.)
The flora includes various species characteristic of tropical, subtropical, temperate, cold and Mediterranean areas, and latitude acts as a determining factor in their distribution. The tropical forest, in regions with a tropical rainy climate, without a dry season, includes large trees with deep roots, such as cedar, mahogany, Brazil duck, epiphytic and parasitic plants such as vanilla and various orchids; it mainly covers the State of Tabasco and the neighboring areas of Veracruz and Chiapas. As the height increases, the tropical species are being replaced by the mixed transition forest, between 1700 and 2000 meters, formed by oaks, oaks, ash trees, strawberry trees, walnut trees, etc. The coniferous, pine, cypress and white cedar forests are found between 2000 and 3000 meters, on both slopes of the Sierra Madre Occidental, south of the Neovolcanic Cordillera and north of the Central Plateau of Chiapas.
Mexico is one of the 12 megadiverse countries in the world. With about 200,000 different species, Mexico is home to 10–12 percent of the world’s biodiversity. Mexico ranks first in reptile biodiversity with 733 known species, second in mammals with 448 species, third in amphibians with 290 species, and fourth in flora, with 26,000 different species. Mexico is also considered the second country in the world in ecosystems and the fourth in total species. Approximately 2,500 species are protected by Mexican legislation.
The Mexican government created the National Information System on Biodiversity, which is in charge of studying and promoting the substantial use of ecosystems. In Mexico, 170 thousand square kilometers are considered “Protected Natural Areas”. Including 34 biosphere reserves (unaltered ecosystems), 64 national parks, 4 natural monuments, 26 areas to protect flora and fauna, 4 areas for natural protection and 17 sanctuaries (areas with rich diversity of species)
The fauna is very varied and abundant. In the hot and low regions, there are monkeys, tapirs, jaguars, squirrels, reptiles (crocodile, caiman, iguana), snakes, insects, arachnids and birds (toucan, quetzal, ibis, flamingo, etc.). In temperate lands there are coyote, black bear, servant, antelope, rodents, peccaries, hares, etc. Birds of prey abound in the mountains. The coasts are rich in fish and crustaceans (shrimp, prawns and lobsters)
(Source: Water Atlas in Mexico 2018. CONAGUA)
The Mexican river with the largest basin is the Bravo or Grande del Norte, which serves as the border with the United States and receives the Conchos, San Juan and Salado on its Mexican shore. It drains into the Gulf of Mexico. The Panuco, Tuxpan, Nautla, Papaloapan, Coatzacoalcos and Tonala rivers also belong to this variant; the Mexalapa, the Grijalva and the Usumacinta flow together in the Barra de Frontera and, finally, the Campeche, Champoton, Candelaria and Hondo rivers, bordering Belize.
Lake Chapala is the largest of the inland lakes in Mexico. It has an area of 1,116 square kilometers and has an average depth that ranges between four and six meters. The bodies of water fulfill hydrological functions for their basins, in the case of Chapala, the lake is a significant supply source for the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara. Bodies of water can also be created by man (in which case they are called artificial), such as reservoirs formed by dams. The main lakes in the country are: Chapala, Cuitzeo, Patzcuaro, Yuriria and Catemaco, ranging from 1,116 km² to 75 km² and with a storage capacity of between 8,126 million m³ to 454 m³.
The rivers and streams of Mexico constitute a hydrographic network of 633 thousand kilometers in length 87% of the republic’s surface runoff flows through the channels of the 51 main rivers and its basins cover 65% of the country’s continental territorial surface. Due to the area they cover, the basins of the Bravo and Balsas rivers stand out, and due to their length, the Bravo and Grijalva-Usumacinta rivers. The Lerma, Nazas-Aguanaval rivers belong to the interior slope. Two thirds of the surface runoff occur in the channels of seven rivers: Grijalva-Usumacinta, Papaloapan, Coatzacoalcos, Balsas, Panuco, Santiago and Tonala, while their basins represent 22% of the surface of country. Several Mexican rivers flow partially through neighboring countries. With the United States of America there are agreements on the distribution of the waters of the rivers of the northern border.
The importance of groundwater is manifested in the magnitude of the volume used by the main users 39.1% of the total volume concessional for consumptive uses (that is, 34,380 million cubic meters per year as of 2017), belongs to this origin. For groundwater administration purposes, the country has been divided into 653 aquifers, whose official names were published in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF) on December 5, 2001. From that moment on, a process of delimitation, study and determination of the average annual availability 5 of aquifers. As of December 31, 2017, the availability of the 653 aquifers of the republic had been published.
The country is divided into 757 hydrological basins, of which 649 are in a condition of availability.
Wetlands are transition zones between aquatic and terrestrial systems, they constitute temporary or permanent flooding areas with characteristic hydrophilic vegetation, or soils permanently humid due to the discharge of aquifers. The conservation and sustainable management of wetlands can ensure the biological wealth and the environmental services that they provide, such as water storage, aquifer conservation, water purification through the retention of nutrients, sediments and pollutants, protection against storms and flood mitigation, shoreline stabilization and erosion control. The study “Humedales de la Republica Mexicana” (2012) generated the National Inventory of Wetlands (INH), which includes 6,331 wetlands and wetland complexes, covering 5% of the country’s surface (table 4.9). Wetlands are classified as marsh (related to lagoons or swamps), lacustrine (lakes), fluvial (rivers), estuarine (estuaries) and created by anthropogenic action. At the international level, an intergovernmental convention was signed in the city of Ramsar, Iran (1971), known as the Ramsar Convention. Said convention “… serves as a framework for national action and international cooperation in favor of the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources”, in Mexico it entered into force on November 4, 1986 and by 2017 142 Mexican wetlands inscribed on the Ramsar List3, covering a total area of 8 657 057 hectares (Ramsar 2018).
Relief and Natural Regions
The Mexican territory has the shape of a triangle with the base resting on the border with the United States and its vertex deviated towards the southeast. Numerous folds, subsidence and elevations have determined the formation of relief lines that configure the orography of the country, in which the highlands predominate. Two mountain systems, the Sierra Madre Oriental and the Sierra Madre Occidental, frame the Great Mexican Plateau to the east and west, respectively.
The orographic system in the southern part is complicated and vigorous, formed by the Sierra Madre del Sur; the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca with the Intermediate Mixtec Shield: the Sierra Atravesada, on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec; the Central Table of Chiapas and the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, which ends on the border with Guatemala at the Tacaná volcano of 3,804 meters. Towards the southeast emerges, closing the Gulf of Mexico to the south, the Yucatecan Platform, a wide peninsula of 500 kilometers in length and an average width of 350 kilometers, whose ¾ parts belong to Mexico, 1/8 to Guatemala and another one is in the Power of the British Empire. It constitutes a slab of karstic termissions, with a total absence of surface water currents.