Mexico City: From Aztec Empire to Mesoamerican Megalopolis
Long before the rise of the European colonial powers, both South America and Mesoamerica were home to massive, decadent and culturally dense empires. From the 14th to 16th century, the Aztecs (who self-identified as the Mexica) were among the most powerful of these expansive nations and hegemonies. Established in 1325, their capital Tenochtitlan became the largest city in both American continents until it was conquered at the hands of Hernan Cortes in 1521. Much of Tenochtitlan’s legendary architecture, such as the famed Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, can still be seen on the outskirts of the booming cityscape that is Mexico City. With a population of approximately 8.9 million people, 16 municipalities, and over 300 neighborhoods, Mexico City is currently the 12th largest city in the world. It is also an alpha city, producing over 15.8 percent of the country’s nominal GDP of US$1.291 trillion. However, Mexico City was not always the international metropolis that it is today. After the Mexican Revolution, the nation adopted the economic model of import substitution industrialization in order to foster the development of its national industries. This effort, in conjunction with other factors, led to an economic triumph known as the Mexican Miracle. Since the 1930s, Mexico City has derived the majority of its considerable GDP from its manufacturing sector. NAFTA’s formation in 1994 has only strengthened Mexico City’s economic potency as an automotive, electronics and machinery manufacturing giant.