What problems does Mexico have

Mexico City

Metropolis with growing pains

Mexico City was simply a very large city until 1950. With a rich history and proud architecture - the former center of the Aztec Empire and the former capital of the Spanish colonial rulers in Latin America. Then came industrialization - and the population exploded.

The economic growth attracted millions of people. But it couldn't feed everyone. And the city couldn't hold everyone. Around the center, slums arose from self-made miserable huts, without water, without electricity.

The city continued to grow: unimpressed and uncontrolled. At its core it became hectic, loud, dirty, dangerous - at least for those who had more than others. One million people left the city center in the 1970s.

In addition to the structural problems, there was a natural disaster: on September 19, 1985, Mexico City was shaken by an 8-magnitude earthquake. At least 10,000 people died and more than 95,000 downtown apartments were destroyed.

The historical center of the city became the "ciudade perdida", the "lost city". Only much later and with a lot of money was the city center restored. Today the Centro Hist├│rico is the heart of the city again: chic, beautiful and safe.

Mexico City is a city full of contrasts: Beverly Hills with an adjoining slum. The first and third world are very close together here. Those who can afford it now live in the south and west of the city - behind high fences, solid walls, surrounded by security guards.

The city in the lake - drained and half sunken

Mexico City is surrounded on three sides by mountains and was built in the middle of a lake. When the Aztecs founded the city under the name Tenochtitlán in the 14th century, this location had a great advantage: it made it almost invulnerable.

Today, however, it presents many challenges. The lake was drained so that the city could grow. Today this leads to a lack of drinking water.

The heavy drainage also results in faults: In the city center you can see churches and buildings that are sunk up to 8.5 meters into the ground. The basic supply is also affected: the lowering results in breaks in the water and sewage pipes. This pollutes the water and leads to minor flooding.

Metropolis in the haze - exhaust gases instead of oxygen

The high mountains that surround Mexico City are great to look at - if you can see them. For decades this was seldom the case. The city was trapped under an opaque smog bell. The air quality was so catastrophic that it was long said Mexico City was the dirtiest city in the world.

The basin prevented a rapid exchange of air and kept the huge amounts of sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide in the city. On some days, the residents of Mexico City actually threatened to run out of air.

Breathing is already difficult because of the extreme altitude of the city at 2308 meters. The air contains around 23 percent less oxygen than at sea level. In order to get enough oxygen, city dwellers have to breathe even more polluted air. A risk to health: allergies and respiratory diseases are common.

Even today there are still days when Mexico disappears in the haze. And high concentrations of carcinogenic substances are still measured in the air.

But the really bad days are no more. Politicians have been able to do a lot here: A large oil refinery has been closed. Less mountains of rubbish are burned. Petrol no longer contains lead and the cars have catalytic converters.

Incidentally, the VW Beetle is a victim of pollution controls. The car was a trademark of the city for a long time: as a green and white painted taxi. But the cars are old and blow large amounts of pollutants into the air.

Politicians were even willing to pay bonuses to the taxi drivers who retired their Beetles - but without much success. Most taxi drivers preferred to keep the reliable car. In 2012, the government finally banned the Beetle as a taxi - officially for safety reasons, as it did not have four doors. Today there are only a few unofficial Beetle taxis left in the poorer parts of the city.

Limits to growth - the octopus is full

2007 was a turning point: for the first time, more people worldwide lived in cities than in rural areas. Experts expect this trend to intensify in the coming decades. Cities around the world will grow: fastest those in developing countries. Mumbai, Delhi, Jakarta: All of them overtook Mexico City in terms of population in 2020, as the city is growing slowly today.

Attempts at decentralization, such as the outsourcing of industries, have been successful. And demographics are changing. In the 1970s, the government sponsored controlled family planning. This is noticeable today: the birth rate has fallen significantly. Since the 1980s, Mexico City has had less population growth than the rest of the state.