A glimpse at historyAn eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus devouring a snake is not only the coat of arms of Mexico, but the foundational myth of its capital as well. This story dates back to when the Mexica people parted from Aztlan, home of the Aztecs, in search of such a symbol under the guidance of the god Huitzilopochtli. Thus, Mexico-Tenochtitlán was founded in 1325 CE on an islet over the Lake Texcoco, where the mythic eagle stood. After the fall of the Aztec Empire and the Spanish conquest, the city, rebuilt under colonial standards and renamed Ciudad de Mexico, became the capital of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. During the following centuries, and despite the frequent floods, the city’s population grew remarkably as it became, once again, a political, religious and economic hub.
After the Mexican War of Independence from Spain, the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1824 federalized Mexico City and maintained it as the nation’s capital. Distrito Federal (DF) was more or less spared by the Mexican–American War, the French Intervention, the Reform War, and the Mexican Revolution, attracting migrants from the war-torn countryside throughout decades. The 20th century was characterised by rapid development and modernization in the city, which also led to by-products such as pollution, violence, the expansion of shantytowns and overcrowding.
Economy and crime in Mexico CityDuring the past years, Mexico City's economic output has hovered at a value of three trillion Mexican pesos, making it, by far, the federal entity with the largest contribution to the nation’s GDP. As with many other big metropolises, the city’s economy used to be more diversified during the second half of the 20th century, relying on a mix of industrial activity, services, and a large administrative apparatus. However, services kept growing while industries closed and, nowadays, the tertiary sector accounts for most of the capital’s GDP, and employs about 63 percent of the working population . CDMX's position as one of the most attractive financial center in Latin America and Caribbean is just more proof of how the service sector has come to spearhead the local economy.
Nevertheless, the preeminent economic, political, and cultural position of Mexico City has not prevented the metropolis from suffering the problems affecting the rest of the country, namely, inequality and violence. Even if it stood well bellow the national average, one third of the population in Mexico City still lived in poverty in 2020. Poverty, together with worrisome levels of population density, pushes hundreds of thousands of residents to live in slums. Simultaneously, and testament to the economic breach that separates the richest and poorest elements of the CDMX society, the average purchasing power in the city is amongst the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean. On the other hand, the rising levels of violence and crime registered across the country in recent years have not spared Mexico City. In 2021, it registered the second highest crime rate in Mexico, with 45,336 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants, as well as 920 homicides. Violence in the North American nation is tightly tied to organized crime, and fortunately for citizens in CDMX, the capital is not the main focus of operations of the numerous cartels present in the country, such as Jalisco Nueva Generación or Sinaloa, nor has it been a major stage in the the Mexican war on drugs.