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Lawrence S. Garcia

Brief Overview of Mexico

Mexico today has a population of
over 111 million people, making it
the third most populous nation in
the Americas after the United
States and Brazil. Mexico is one of
the United States’ most important
trade partners. It is the third
largest exporter to the United
States, and its international trade
products include oil exports,
tourism, and the products of its
many assembly plants (called
maquiladoras). Most of the labor
force is employed in the
agricultural sector.

Social and Business
•  Jeans are generally not appropriate, and tight or low cut clothing is never appropriate.
•  Standing with your hands on your hips suggests aggressiveness, and keeping your hands in
your pockets is impolite.
•  Mexicans may not make eye contact. This is a sign of respect and should not be taken as an
• Men should wear a conservative dark suit and tie. Your wardrobe should include suits that
have classic lines and tailoring in gray or navy, and white or light blue shirts. A white shirt is
more formal and should be worn when the formality of the meeting dictates.
• Men shake hands upon meeting and leaving, and will wait for a woman to be the first to offer
her hand.
•  Women may shake hands with men and other women. Many times a woman may pat
another woman's shoulder or forearm, or kiss on the cheek.
•  Longtime friends may embrace, and after several meetings you may also be greeted with an

Social and Business
•  Punctuality is not rigid because of the emphasis on personal obligations. The best time for appointments is
between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., with late afternoon a second choice.
•  Business lunches, rather than dinners are the traditional form of business entertaining and are usually prolonged
affairs, beginning between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. and lasting three to four hours, with little time being devoted to
actual business. Lunches are an essential part of business to establish a personal relationship.
•  Working breakfasts are also popular, meeting at 8:00 or 8:30 at your hotel, and usually lasting two hours at the
•  Conversations take place at a close physical distance. Stepping back may be regarded as unfriendly.
•  Mexican men are warm and friendly, and make a lot of physical contact. They often touch shoulders or hold
another’s arm. To withdraw from this touch is considered insulting.
•  Giving gifts to business executives is not required. Small items with a company logo (for an initial visit) are
•  Secretaries do appreciate gifts. If giving a valuable gift, such as perfume or a scarf, present it on a return visit
• Personal relationships are the key to business success

• The overwhelming majority of Mexicans
today speak Spanish. Spanish is spoken by
92.7 percent of the Mexican population.
About 6 percent of the population speaks
Spanish and indigenous languages, such
as Mayan, Nahuatl and other regional
languages. Indigenous Mexican words
have even become common in other
languages, including English. For example,
chocolate, coyote, tomato and avocado all
originated in Nahuatl.

• Much of Mexican culture revolves
around religious values and the
church, as well as the concept of
family and inclusiveness. Around
82 percent of Mexicans identify
themselves as Catholic, according
to the CIA, although many have
incorporated pre-Hispanic Mayan
elements as part of their faith.
Christian denominations
represented include Presbyterians,
Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day
Adventists, Mormons, Lutherans,
Methodists, Baptists and
Anglicans. There are also small
communities of Muslims, Jews and

Religious and National
• The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is celebrated on Dec. 12, is a
major Mexican holiday celebrating the appearance of the Virgin Mary to an
Indian man in the first years of Spanish rule. She is the patron saint of the
• The Day of the Dead, celebrated on Nov. 2, is a day set aside to remember
and honor those who have died, according to the University of New Mexico.
Carnival is also celebrated in many communities throughout Mexico to mark
the period before Lent.
• Independence Day, marking the country’s separation from Spain in 1810, is
celebrated on Sept. 16. Cinco de Mayo, which marks a Mexican military
victory over the French in 1862, is more widely celebrated in the United
States (as a beer promotion) than it is in Mexico.
• There are many more Religious and National Holidays but ones listed above
are the main days to observe and respect.

Values and Traditions
• Mexicans put a high value on hierarchy and structure in business
and family matters. Especially outside of cities, families are
typically large and Mexicans are very conscious of their
responsibilities to immediate family members and extended
family such as cousins and even close friends.
• Hosting parties at their homes plays a large part of Mexican life
and making visitors feel comfortable is a large part of the values
and customs of the country.
• Family units are usually large, with traditional gender roles and
extensive family involvement from the external members who
assist one another in day to day life. There is a strong connection
between family members. "Parents are treated with a high degree
of respect, as is the family in general and there may be constant
struggle, especially for the growing children between individual
wants and needs and those wants and needs of the family.