Central Mexico – Maps, History and Culture

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There are six states and one federal district that make up the region of Central Mexico: Hidalgo, Mexico State, Mexico City, Morelos, Puebla, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz. Central Mexico is a small region by size in landlocked central Mexico, yet the per capita total is the largest. The total area that Central Mexico covers is just over 60,000 square miles.

List of Cities

  • Ecatepec de Morelos
  • Greater Mexico City
  • Mexico City
  • San Pablo de Monte
  • Veracruz
  • Greater Veracruz
  • Cuernavaca
  • Toluca

Quick Facts

  • Population: ~ 45 million
  • Languages: Spanish, Nahuatl, English
  • Ethnicities: Spanish, Mestizo, White Mexican, Chinese Mexican, Afro-Mexican
  • Capital:
    • Pachuca de Soto, Hidalgo
    • Toluca de Lerdo, Mexico State
    • Puebla de Zaragoza, Puebla
    • Cuernavaca, Morelos
    • Tlaxcala de Xicohtencatl, Tlaxcala
    • Xalapa, Veracruz

Brief History

The region of Central Mexico is rich with Mesoamerican history, as this is the centralized location where most of the indigenous tribes of Mexico lived at one time or another. The Toltecs were the first indigenous tribe to civilize the area. They were eventually overtaken by various other indigenous groups, primarily the Aztecs. The Aztecs ruled the region until their fall in 1325 A.D.

The Spanish conquest began during the 1500s and was led by Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes. Cortes arrived in Mexico City and immediately took advantage of what the Aztecs had started but left behind. After colonizing Mexico City as a Spanish territory, Spanish settlers began to relocate to the region.

They were called Franciscans because they followed Saint Francis of the Catholic church. They arrived in Mexico City in 1523 and immediately took control of all areas of life. They controlled the region’s natural resources, including mining for minerals and developing a successful agricultural system.

During the colonial period of Spanish growth between the 1500s and 1800s, most of the indigenous people who were in the area had ultimately converted to practicing Spanish beliefs and customs, but not all indigenous tribes conformed. Those tribes who did not conform to Spanish rule relocated to the mountainous regions of the Sierra Gorda and Sierra Baja mountains, where there is still evidence today of indigenous tribe presence, including language and culture.

In the early 1800s, a Catholic priest and Mexican leader Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla demanded Mexican independence from Spain. He gathered a large number of followers and helped Mexico win independence from Spain in 1810. Although Mexico was free from Spanish control, it would soon become controlled by France.

In 1862, French forces entered Mexico as a result of Mexico’s economic turmoil that occurred after the Mexican War for Independence. Mexico could not pay debts owed to France and suggested to France that they repay the debt over two years.

France declined and ultimately sent forces into the region to gain control of the land that Mexico ultimately could not defend. As a result, much of Mexico was divided into three military sections to defend themselves.

By 1865, Mexican forces had built up and overthrown the French Emperor, Maximilian I. Once this happened, the Mexican state of Hidalgo was formed, which served as a military base for Mexico beginning in 1869.

Once Mexico had regained control of their territory, they improved the area through agriculture, infrastructure, engineering, communication, and transportation. The area quickly grew and became industrialized. This led many immigrants to relocate to Mexico from various locations, including China and America.


The primary language spoken in Central Mexico is Spanish, but because the region is highly industrialized with many who come and go in the area, it is also common to hear English spoken frequently.

When the Spanish relocated to Mexico during the colonial period, they quickly took control of the region and ran out any indigenous tribe that remained. The indigenous tribes that remained in the area quickly became accustomed to Spain’s language, religion, and culture. Those indigenous tribes who did not conform fled to areas where they could remain a tribe. The language that survived this area during this time was Nahuatl, a version of the Aztec language.


When Spanish settlers arrived in Mexico, they brought their belief system with them. This included their primary religion of Roman Catholicism. The Spanish believed in evangelism, the spreading of the Christian gospel through teaching, preaching, and witnessing. This is how Roman Catholicism quickly spread throughout the region and continues to be the primary religion in Mexico today, making up approximately 80% of the religion practiced by residents in the region.


Before industrializing the region with manufacturers, the region boomed with agriculture and connected waterways. This allowed both the indigenous tribes and the Spanish to maximize the different types of opportunities that were offered in the area. There are mountains, valleys, dry plateaus, and swampy waterways that connect the states to one another.

The geography of Central Mexico created a thriving economy. Livestock, agriculture, and forestry are just a few of the industries that geography helped create. Once the cities in the region became industrialized, such as Mexico City, much of the economic growth and opportunities occurred in these locations; however, agriculture, farming, and forestry are still prevalent today.

In addition to economic growth and opportunities, the geography of Central Mexico also helped defend the centralized landlocked region. The rugged mountains to the north provided a defense against those who may attack from the north. This is one of the many reasons why the Spanish chose to colonize this area over others.

Even though the Toltecs and Aztecs had begun to capitalize on agricultural opportunities due to the geography in the area, the Spanish saw more than just agricultural advantages in Central Mexico. They also saw a natural element of defense in the rugged mountains to the north. Between the mountains and the intertwined waterways throughout the region, Central Mexico had virtually every type of geographical landform you could want a territory to have.


Because the Aztecs were so dominant in Central Mexico for so many years, their culture and cultural influences continued and are still celebrated today.

Aztec culture focuses on its belief in mythology. The Aztecs often use a flying reptile to symbolize serpent gods they believed in. These flying reptiles are large with vibrant colors and are often seen in parades, festivals, and artwork.

Other Aztec influences include artwork, architecture, ceramics, weapons, and jewelry. Aztecs incorporated bright colors and symbols into almost everything they produced. Replicated Aztec goods that are produced today follow this same method. Some of the symbols the Aztecs have used include frogs, jaguars, eagles, and serpents.

Immigration and Migration Patterns

The Toltecs and Aztecs were the dominant Mesoamerican people who lived in the region until the Spanish arrived in the 1500s. There was much unrest in Spain due to war, poverty, and disease, so Spanish Conquistadors set out to find better opportunities for the people of Spain. When they arrived in the New World in the west, Mexico was one of the regions they discovered and quickly took advantage of.

Spanish men relocated to Central Mexico by the thousands. There were many types of opportunities to take advantage of in the region, including mining, natural resources, agriculture, and engineering.

In the 1800s, France began to migrate to Mexico because of France’s control over the region after the Mexican War for Independence. Many French people stayed once the French forces had been driven out in 1869.

It also wasn’t uncommon to see Americans relocate to the industrial cities in Central Mexico because of the many opportunities offered in these regions. Americans who lived near the Rio Grande were part of a custody battle between Mexico and America. Once the border was finally decided, citizens of Mexico had the opportunity to relocate to America, and citizens of America had the opportunity to relocate to Mexico.

Even though the area was growing with infrastructure, Mexico called on the help of the Chinese to optimize the transportation and engineering fields, as China was the leader in both of these areas at the time. As a result, many Chinese men immigrated to Central Mexico to help improve these areas.


The genealogy associated with Central Mexico can be traced to Spain, France, China, and additional European countries due to the Americans who had relocated to the region.

The most dominant genealogy will be Spanish, as this was the primary ethnicity of people who relocated nonstop to Mexico for a period of over 300 years. They created new families when they arrived, which resulted in a new mixed-race called Mestizo, a mixture of Spanish and indigenous people. This is why many Central Mexican citizens have similar Spanish features, including dark hair, dark eyes, and dark skin.

It would also be likely for those tracing their Central Mexico genealogy to have French or other European heritages. This may be a direct result of the French that controlled the area for a brief period of time, or it may be related to the Americans who relocated to Central Mexico.

Most Americans were descendants of various European countries, including France, England, Germany, and Italy. Therefore, if these locations are indicated on the genealogy, it can directly relate to Americans who migrated to Central Mexico during the late 1800s.

Caleb Pike
About the author

Caleb Pike is an avid hiker and nature lover, with a passion for exploring the great outdoors. He's a writer, photographer, and adventurer, always seeking new trails to blaze and peaks to conquer.