Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Geography of Mexico

The Republic of Mexico’s 31 states and one federal district covers almost 780,000 square mi (2 million square km) making it the world’s eight largest nation.  The country curves from northwest to southeast, narrowing to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the south and then continuing northeast to the Yucatan Peninsula .  To the west and south it’s bordered by the Pacific Ocean .  The Sea of Cortes lies between the mainland and Baja California , the world’s longest peninsula.  Mexico ’s east coast is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico all the way from the US border to the northeastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula .  The eastern Peninsula faces the Caribbean Sea . 
The northern border with the US is 1,947 mi long (3,141 km), the border in the south and east with Guatemala is 596 mi (962 km) and the border to the east withBelize is 155 mi (250 km).  The coastline totals 5,785 mi (9330 km).
The northernmost portion of Mexico is covered by two different deserts.  The largest is the Chihuahuan desert which covers approximately 176,700 sq mi (453,000 sq km) and is centered between the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental mountain ranges.  The Sonoran desert covers about 86,000 sq mi (221,000 sq km) and ranges from the majority of the Baja peninsula and the northwestern portion of the mainland.
Northern and central Mexico have also have coastal plains on the east and west and two north/south mountain ranges framing a group of broad central plateaus known as the Altiplano Central.  The Altiplano Central is divided into northern and central parts, themselves split by minor ranges and varies in altitude from about 3,300 ft (1,000 mt) in the north to more than 6,500 ft (2,000 mt) in the center of the country.  The central plateau is mostly rolling hills and broad valleys and includes some of the best farm and ranch land in the country.  The altiplano is bound on the east by the Sierra Madre Oriental and includes peaks as high as 12, 000 ft (3,700 mt).  The Gulf Coast plain is an extension of a plain in the US and is wide in the north but narrows as it nears the port of Veracruz .
South of the Altiplano Central and the two Sierra Madres, the Cordillera (mountain range) Neovolcanica runs east-west acress the country.  This range includes the active volcanoes Popocatepetl (17, 800 ft; 5,452 mt) and Volcan de Fuego de Colima (13,000 ft; 3,960 mt), as well as Mexico’s other highest peaks, Pico de Orizaba (18,000 ft; 5,611 mt), Iztaccihuatl (17,300 ft; 5,286 mt) and Paricutin (9,200 ft; 2,800 mt).
The Pacific lowlands cover a narrow strip west of Guadalajara .  The Sierra Madre del Sur stretches across Guerrero and Oaxaca to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec the narrowest part of Mexico .  The north side of the isthmus is part of a wide, marshy plain stretching from Veracruz to the Yucatan Peninsula .  In the southernmost states the Pacific lowlands are backed by the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, the Rio de Grijalva basin and the Chiapas highlands.  Each of these highlands is a tropical rainforest area stretching into northern Guatemala .  The jungle turns into a region of tropical savanna on the flat, low Yucatan Peninsula and at the tip of the peninsula, an arid desert-like region.
Northwestern Mexico and inland northern areas are drier than the rest of the country.  It is hot in the summer and north winds can make inland northern Mexicochilly in winter, with temperatures sometimes approaching freezing.  Inland at higher elevations, the climate is also dry and temperate, and the mountain peaks are often capped with snow. 
The Tropic of Cancer cuts across Mexico near Mazatlan and Ciudad Victoria and south of the tropic it’s hot and humid all year long along the coastal plains on either side of the country.  The hot, wet season runs from May to October with the hottest and wettest months falling between June and September for most of the country.  Low-lying coastal areas are wetter and hotter than elevated inland ones. Though the hottest summer extremes are generally found on the coastal plains, temperatures in the Altiplano and the Plataforma Yucateca often reach higher than 100 degrees F (38 degrees C). 
In the east, rainfall is high on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Madre Oriental and on the northern side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec .  On the Yucatan peninsula, along the mainland Pacific coast, along the Gulf coast north of Veracruz and in the Depresion de Balsas, annual rainfall reaches 30 inches (80 centimeters) or more. Mexico ’s highest rainfall totals are in northeastern Chiapas and along the Gulf coastal plains of Tabasco with over 98 inches (250 centimeters) per year.
What is the weather like in the Mexico today?  Follow this link to The Weather Underground for the forecast for the cities visited by our explorers.  Or check out this satellite map from  
Try converting the temperature in your town from Fahrenheit to Celsius.