Sample Mexico Worksheet
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Mexico
By Ekaterina Zhdanova-Redman
  

1     Mexico lies between the southern border of the United States and the northern border of Guatemala and Belize. As the southernmost country in North America, Mexico lies just to the north of the region known as Central America.
 
2     The first inhabitants of Central America were American Indians of Asian and Mongolian origin. The date of their arrival to Mexico is speculative. Some archaeologists believe that it was from 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, but the date of approximately 9,000 BC is more common among scientists.
 
3     These first American people were hunters of large herd animals, such as the mammoth. Later, by about 7,500 BC, with the change of climate and fauna Indians turned to the hunting of smaller animals and the collecting of wild food plants.
 
4     It took the first people centuries to develop their skills in hunting and collecting food, and by about 5,000 BC, they learned to cultivate wild plants and to live together in villages. At that time they already used avocados, maize (corn), chili peppers, and squashes, and learned about pumpkins and beans. Around 2300-1500 BC, Indians produced the first pottery.
 
5     During the following centuries, Central Americans improved their agricultural skills and cultivation techniques and transformed from the simple agricultural villages to more complex societies, living in larger towns and developing political and religious systems.
 
6     The first known society of that time was the Olmec civilization. The Olmecs lived in hot, humid lowlands of southern Mexico. They are known for their monumental architecture and sculpture, among which are colossal carved stone heads that have characteristic flat faces, thickened lips, and wear hats that look like helmets. Also, Olmec art is presented in small jade carvings and pottery, with the dominant motifs of their gods.
 
7     The Olmecs developed a wide trading network, and their cultural influence spread all over the region. Many of the basics, set by the Olmecs, were used by later Indian cultures of Mexico and Central America, such as Maya and Aztec civilizations.
 
8     The first information about Maya dates about 2500 BC, but Maya civilization turned into a highly developed society much later. By about 1500 BC they had settled in villages and developed agriculture. They began to build ceremonial centers, and by 200 AD developed them into cities with temples, pyramids, palaces, and courts for playing ball. The Maya made paper from fig trees and wrote their hieroglyphs on books made from this paper.
 
9     The Mayan civilization had greatly developed the shared Olmec traditions. They brought astronomy, mathematics, calendar making, and hieroglyphic writing, as well as monumental architecture, to their highest expression.

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