Administrative divisions of Mexico

Mexican States and Mexico City
Estados mexicanos y la Ciudad de México (Spanish)
Also known as:
Free and Sovereign State
Estado Libre y Soberano
Political divisions of Mexico-en.svg
CategoryFederated state
LocationUnited Mexican States
Number31 States
+ Mexico City
Populations(States only) 637,026 (Baja California Sur) – 12,851,821 (México)
Areas(States only) 3,990 km2 (1,541 sq mi) (Tlaxcala) – 247,460 km2 (95,543 sq mi) (Chihuahua)
GovernmentState government/Mexico City Government
SubdivisionsStates and Mexico City: Municipality
Coat of arms of Mexico.svg
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The United Mexican States (Spanish: Estados Unidos Mexicanos) is a federal republic composed of 31 states and the capital, Mexico City, an autonomous entity.

According to the Constitution of 1917, the states of the federation are free and sovereign in all matters concerning their internal affairs.[1] Each state has its own congress and constitution.

Federal entities of Mexico


Roles and powers of the states

Location of Socorro Island and the rest of the Revillagigedo Archipelago, and extent of Mexico's western EEZ in the Pacific. The islands are part of Colima state, but under federal jurisdiction.

The states of the Mexican Federation are free, sovereign, autonomous and independent of each other. They are free to govern themselves according to their own laws; each state has a constitution that cannot contradict the federal constitution, which covers issues of national competence. The states cannot make alliances with other states or any independent nation without the consent of the whole federation, except those of defense and security arrangements necessary to keep the border states secure in the event of an invasion. The political organization of each state is based on a separation of powers in a congressional system: legislative power is vested in a unicameral congress (the federal congress has two chambers); executive power is independent of the legislature and vested in a governor elected by universal suffrage; and judicial power is vested in a Superior Court of Justice. Since states have legal autonomy, each has its own civil and penal codes and judicial body.

In the Congress of the Union, the federative entities – the States and Mexico City – are each represented by three senators, two elected by universal suffrage on the principle of relative majority and one assigned to the party that obtains the largest minority. In addition, the federation makes up a constituency in which 32 senators are elected by the method of proportional representation. Federal Deputies, however, do not represent the states, but rather the citizens themselves. The Chamber of Deputies and the Senate together comprise the Congress of the Union.

Internal organization of states

The states are internally divided into municipalities. Each municipality is autonomous in its ability to elect its own council. The council is headed by a mayor elected every 3 years with no possibility of immediate reelection. Each municipality has a council composed of councilors in terms of population size. The council is responsible, in most cases, to provide all utilities required for its population. This concept, which arises from the Mexican Revolution, is known as a "free municipality". In total there are 2438 municipalities in Mexico; the state with the highest number of municipalities is Oaxaca, with 570, and the state with the lowest number is Baja California, with only 5.[2]

Mexico City

Mexico City has a special status within the federation, being a federal district. Until January 2016, Mexico City was officially called Federal District. It is the seat of government of the Union and the capital of the United Mexican States.

Mexico City was separated from the State of Mexico, of which it was the capital, on November 18, 1824, to become the capital of the federation. As such, it belonged not to any state in particular but to all of them and to the federation. Therefore, it was the president of Mexico, who represented the federation, who designated its head of government (previously called regente, "regent" or jefe del departamento del Distrito Federal, "head of the department of the Federal District"). However, the Federal District received more autonomy in 1997, and its citizens are now able to elect their chief of government, the head of the boroughs (or delegaciones) and the representatives of the unicameral legislature called the Asamblea Legislativa, "Legislative Assembly".

In 2016, the Mexican Congress approved a constitutional reform eliminating the Federal District and establishing Mexico City as a fully autonomous entity on par with the states but with financial advantages. Unlike the states of the Union, it would receive funds for education and health. With full autonomy, Mexico City would have its own constitution (it previously had only an organic law, the Statute of Autonomy) and its boroughs became municipalities.[3]

If the federal government were to move to another city, Mexico City would be transformed into another state of the Union, called "State of the Valley of Mexico", with new borders and the area given by the Congress of the Union.

Internal divisions of Mexico City

Until the ratification of Mexico City's constitution, the city is still divided for administrative purposes into 16 "delegaciones" or boroughs. While not fully equivalent to a municipality or to the concept of a municipio libre, the 16 boroughs have gained significant autonomy, and since 2000, the heads of government of the boroughs are elected directly by plurality vote; they had previously been appointed by the head of government of the Federal District.

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