The history of Mexico, a country in the southern portion of North America, covers a period of more than three millennia. First populated more than 13,000 years ago, the territory had complex indigenous civilizations before being conquered and colonized by the Spanish in the 16th century and this era before the arrival of Europeans is called variously the prehispanic era or the precolumbian era. The Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan became the Spanish capital Mexico City, from 1521, the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire incorporated the region into the Spanish Empire, with New Spain its colonial era name and Mexico City the center of colonial rule. It was built on the ruins of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, during the colonial era, Mexicos long-established Mesoamerican civilizations mixed with European culture. For three centuries Mexico was part of the Spanish Empire, whose legacy is a country with a Spanish-speaking, Catholic, after a protracted struggle for independence, New Spain became the sovereign nation of Mexico, with the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba. A brief period of monarchy, called the First Mexican Empire, was followed by the founding of the Republic of Mexico, legal racial categories were eliminated, abolishing the system of castas. Slavery was not abolished at independence in 1821 or with the constitution in 1824, Mexico continues to be constituted as a federated republic, under the Mexican Constitution of 1917. The Age of Santa Anna is the period of the late 1820s to the early 1850s that was dominated by criollo military-man-turned-president Antonio López de Santa Anna. In 1846, the Mexican–American War was provoked by the United States, even though Santa Anna bore significant responsibility for the disastrous defeat, he returned to office. The Liberal Reform began with the overthrow of Santa Anna by Mexican liberals, the Reform sparked a civil war between liberals defending the constitution and conservatives, who opposed it. The US was engaged in its own Civil War, so did not attempt to block the foreign intervention, abraham Lincoln consistently supported the Mexican liberals. At the end of the war in the US and the triumph of the Union forces. France withdrew its support of Maximilian in 1867 and his monarchist rule collapsed in 1867, with the end of the Second Mexican Empire, the period often called the Restored Republic brought back Benito Juárez as president. Following his death from an attack, Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada succeed him. He was overthrown by liberal military man Porfirio Diaz, who after consolidating power ushered in a period of stability, the half-century of economic stagnation and political chaos following independence ended. The Porfiriate is the era when army hero Porfirio Díaz held power as president of Mexico almost continuously from 1876-1911 and he promoted order and progress that saw the modernization of the economy and the flow of foreign investment to the country. The period is called the Porfiriato, which ended with the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution in 1910. Under Díaz, Mexicos industry and infrastructure were modernized by a strong, stable, increased tax revenues and better administration brought dramatic improvements in public safety, public health, railways, mining, industry, foreign trade, and national finances
Detail of a relief from Palenque, a Classic-era city. Maya script is the only known complete writing system of the pre-Columbian Americas and enabled the beginning of recorded history.
Pyramid principal de La Venta, one of the oldest pyramids in the Americas.
The Castillo, Chichen Itza, Mexico, ca. 800-900 CE. A temple to Kukulkan sits atop this pyramid with a total of 365 stairs on its four sides. At the spring and fallequinoxes, the sun casts a shadow in the shape of a serpent along the northern staircase.