The first people to inhabit this land may have arrived 20,000 years before Columbus. Their descendants, including the Mayan and Aztecs, built a succession of highly developed civilizations that flourished from 1200 BC to 1521 AD.Hernán Cortés landed on the coast near modern-day Veracruz on 21 April 1519,after intial uprising and resistance from the local population ,mexico became a Spanish colony.
From the 16th to 19th centuries, a sort of apartheid system existed in Mexico. Spanish-born colonists were a minuscule part of the population but were considered nobility in New Spain (as Mexico was then called),. By the 18th century, criollos (people born of Spanish parents in New Spain) had acquired fortunes in mining, commerce, ranching and agriculture and sought political power commensurate with their wealth. Below the criollos were the mestizos, of mixed Spanish and Indian or African slave ancestry, and at the bottom of the pile were the remaining Indians and Africans.The catalyst for rebellion came in 1808 when Napoleon Bonaparte occupied most of Spain - direct Spanish control over New Spain suddenly ceased and rivalry between the Spanish-born and criollos in the colony intensified. On 16 September 1810 Miguel Hidalgo Costilla, a criollo parish priest, issued his call to rebellion, the Grito de Dolores. In 1821 Spain agreed to Mexican independence.
Since then Mexico has faced a series of political upheavals unstable governments and an ever increasing crime rate. In the freest and fairest national election since the Mexican Revolution of 1910-20, National Action Party (PAN) presidential candidate and former Coca-Cola executive Vicente Fox beat Zedillo's hand-picked successor, PRI candidate Francisco Labastida.