Letter From Mexico City: Vital Stats

Mexico City population... Metro area population... Area... Number of cars...

Mexico City population: 8.7 million

Metro area population: 21.5 million

1,485 square kilometers, or 573 square miles

Number of cars:
Over 3 million

This story first appeared in the October 30, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Main Businesses: Commercial and financial services; manufacturing.

Average Hotel Rates: $18 per night for hostels in the center of town; $50 for small hotels, and $500 for luxury accommodations.

• Mexico City generates 21.5 percent of Mexico’s total GDP.

• Mexico City inhabitants are known as “Chilangos.” While nobody knows exactly what the word means, it is considered derogatory except when used by natives themselves.

• Distinguished locals: Montezuma II, ninth Aztec emperor (1502-1521) who was manipulated by conqueror Hernán Cortes and stoned to death by his people. What is commonly known as “Montezuma’s Revenge” (intense stomach trouble) actually has nothing to do with the mild-mannered emperor.

• Carlos Slim, richest man in the world, according to Forbes magazine.

• Novelist Carlos Fuentes.

• Carlos Monsivais, journalist and essayist, whose campy Estanquillo Museum is a great example of local culture.

• Singer Thalia, who married Sony executive Tommy Mottola wearing a gown with a 52-foot train at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

• Film director Alejandro González Iñárritu, whose movie “Amores Perros,” shot in Mexico City (2000), ignited global interest in contemporary Mexican film.

• Actor Diego Luna, who starred in director and fellow native Alfonso Cuarón’s film “Y Tu Mama También”(2001).

• Mexico City was also home to artists Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Siquieros and Orozco and gave refuge to noted Marxist Leon Trotsky. Even today Mexico City gives asylum to those persecuted in their countries. At the Casa Refugio Citlaltépetl, writers, mostly from Muslim countries, find refuge and continue with their work.

• Mexico City once had the largest population of any city in the world.

• Hundreds of years ago, the Aztecs claimed the city from small local tribes, named it “Tenochtitlan,” and built a system of damns surrounding it with fresh water.

• Mexico City became the capital of the Mexican Republic when the country declared independence from Spain in the 19th century.

• The public park Bosque de Chapultepec contains three lakes, a zoo, a castle and the president’s palace.

Sources: INEGI (Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, Geografia e InformAtica; Bloomberg; British Council, Mexico City, Destination360.com