Weather: Average temperatures range between 25° C to 30° C (77° F to 86° F). The hottest time of the year runs from May to September (especially on the coasts), and it gets cooler from October to April.
Population: More than 100,000 inhabitants, with the largest populations concentrated in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey (and their surrounding areas).
Official Language: Spanish, although still spoken are some 66 indigenous languages, which come from pre-Hispanic cultures.
Time Zone: During the winter, the southern, eastern and some central region states are on Central Standard Time (GMT –6 hours). The northwest and Pacific coast states are on Mountain Standard Time (GMT –7 hours) and Baja California is on Pacific Standard Time (GMT –8 hours). Daylight savings time is applied during the summer.
Currency: Bills come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 pesos. Coins are issued in denominations of five, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and one, two, five, 10 and 20 pesos (although the latter is no longer accepted in many places). The U.S. dollar is accepted at all money exchange bureaus across the country; it’s also possible to exchange such currencies as the euro and the Canadian dollar.
Taxes: When leaving the country, you must pay departure and airport taxes, which cost about US$13 and US$8.50, respectively. When purchasing your airline ticket, ask if the taxes come included. (Tax fees may vary)
Leaving Tips: Generally, you should tip waiters, bellhops, skycaps (about US$1 per bag), tourist guides and valet parking attendants. In restaurants, leave 10% or 15% of the bill. Taxi drivers usually don’t expect tips.
Customs: To obtain information concerning cars and other items that you are allowed to bring into the country, visit the following websites:
Systems of Measurement: Metric (for distances), Celsius (for temperatures), and the 60-cycle, 120-volt system (for electricity).
Making a Phone Call: The country code when dialing to Mexico is 52 and the long distance code is 01. When calling the United States and Canada, you must first dial 001. To place other international calls, dial 00, followed by the country and city codes. In Mexico, you’ll find pay telephones in most cities; some are coin-operated phones and others require prepaid cards that cost 30, 50 or 100 pesos.
Internet Access: Mexico offers plenty of Internet cafes and public sites with connections ranging from standard dial-up to high-speed DSL.
Emergency Numbers: Here are some important emergency phone numbers: 060 for police, 080 for the fire department and ambulances, 078 for highway emergencies, (55) 5250-0123 for tourist security, and (55) 5658-1111 for information service Locatel.
Visas and Passports: To apply for a visa or passport, you can consult the Mexican Embassy’s website at www.sre.gob.mx/delegaciones/dire.htm. You can also consult Immigration Services at www.migracion.gob.mx/principal.asp
Social Customs: When greeting someone in Mexico, it’s common to shake hands with men and women that you have just met; women might also greet men or women with a kiss on the cheek.
Holidays: The most important dates are: Independence Day (September 16), Easter week (from March to April), Day of the Dead (November 2) and the Virgin of Guadalupe Day (December 12).
Other Holiday Dates: January 1, May 1 and 5, November 2 and 20, and December 25.
Transportation: Mexico has an excellent highway system, airports in many major cities, and bus terminals in nearly every municipality. For local transport, most cities offer taxi and bus services. Mexico City and Leon use a so-called metrobus, an express bus line, and Mexico City and Monterrey have underground metro services.
Tourist Information: In every state, and at every important destination, you’ll find tourist information offices and booths, as well as embassy and consulate services.
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