The State of Mexico (Spanish: Estado de México), officially the Free and Sovereign State of Mexico, is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federal entities of the United Mexican States. It is the most populous, as well as the densest populated. It is divided into 125 municipalities and its capital city is Toluca de Lerdo.
The state’s origins are in the territory of the Aztec Empire, which remained a political division of the New Spain during the Spanish colonial period. After Independence, Mexico City was chosen as the capital of the new nation; its territory was separated out of the state. Years later, parts of the state were broken off to form the states of Hidalgo, Guerrero and Morelos. These territorial separations have left the state with the size and shape it has today, with the Toluca Valley to the west of Mexico City and a panhandle that extends around the north and east of this entity.
The state name is simply México according to the 1917 Constitution of the United Mexican States, but to distinguish it from both the city and the country it is most often called Estado de México. The demonym used to refer to people and things from the state is mexiquense, distinct from mexicano ("Mexican"), that describes the people or things from the country as a whole.
The state is located in the center of the country, consisting mostly of the eastern side of the Anahuác Mesa. Most of the state consists of the Toluca Valley, the Tierra Caliente, Mezquital Valley with the eastern panhandle mostly defined by the Chalco Valley. The state has a territory of 22,499.95km2 and borders the states of Querétaro, Hidalgo, Guerrero, Morelos, Puebla, Tlaxcala and Michoacán. The state surrounds the Federal District of Mexico City on three sides (west, north and east).
The state is divided into five natural regions: the Volcanos of the Valley of Mexico, the hills and plains north of the state, the western mountains, the Balsas Depression and the mountains and valleys of the southeast.
The natural geography of the state varies. The eastern portion is dominated by the Sierra Nevada, which divides the state from Puebla. In this mountain chain are the Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanos. The Sierra de Monte Alto and Sierra de Monte Bajo divide the west side of the Federal District from the state and contain peaks such as Cerro de la Bufa and Monte de las Cruces. The Sierra de Xinantécatl is to the south of the Toluca Valley. At northern edge of this mountain range is the Nevado de Toluca volcano. In the northwest of the state is the Sierra de San Andrés Timilpan. Most of the rock and soil formation in the state is of volcanic origin.
There are three river basins in the state: the Lerma, the Balsas and the Pánuco. The most important is the Lerma River, which begins in the municipality of Almoloya del Río and passes through a large number of municipalities in the state. The southwestern part of the state is dominated by the Balsas River basin. The eastern panhandle of the state is dominated by the Pánuco River basin. On the various rivers of the state are dams such as José Antonio Alzate in Temoaya, Ignacio Ramirez in Almoloya, Guadalupe in Cuautitlán Izcalli, Madín in Naucalpan, Vicente Guerrero in Tlatlaya, Tepetitlan in San Felipe del Progreso as well as those in Valle del Bravo and Villa Victoria.
Lakes in the state include the Laguna del Sol and Laguna de la Luna in the Nevado de Toluca, the lake in the crater of the Cerro Gorde. Atexcapan Lake in Valle de Bravo, San Simón Lake in Donato Guerra, San Pedro Lake and Concepcion de los Baños Lake and Tepetitlan Lake in San Felipe del Progreso, Acuitzilapan Lake at the food of Jocotitlan Mountain, El Rodeo Lake near Xonacatlán, Xibojay and Santa Elena Lakes in Jilotepec and Huapango Lake in Timilpan.
Although the Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many Latin American countries (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexico where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.
About seventy percent of the state has a temperate moist climate, which consists of the highlands of the Toluca Valley and the areas around Texcoco in the north, the Toluca Valley and the areas around Texcoco. Average year-round temperature varies between 12 °C and 18 °C with annual precipitation above 700 mm. Higher elevations, about 13% of the state, in the center and east of the state have a semicold climate with average temperatures below 16 °C. Hotter climes are in the relative lowlands in the south west with have an average temperature of between 18 °C and 22 °C and constitute about eight percent of the territory. The hottest regions occupy five percent of the state in the extreme southwest with temperatures averaging over 22 °C. The coldest areas in the highest elevations such as the Nevado de Toluca, Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl. Snow can be found on these elevations year round. There are some arid areas along the borders of Hidalgo and Tlaxcala with annual precipitation between 500 and 700 mm.
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