Administrative divisions of Mexico

For the various countries named Mexico historically, see History 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
Category Federated state
Location United Mexican States
Number 31 States
1 Capital city
Populations (States only) 637,026 (Baja California Sur) – 12,851,821 (México)
Areas (States only) 1,541 square miles (3,990 km2) (Tlaxcala) – 95,543 square miles (247,460 km2) (Chihuahua)
Government State government/Federal District Government
Subdivisions States and Mexico City: Municipality
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The United Mexican States (Spanish: Estados Unidos Mexicanos) is a federal republic composed of 32 federal entities: 31 states and a "capital city" (Mexico City).

According to the Constitution of 1917, the states of the federation are free and sovereign.[1] Each state has its own congress and constitution. Mexico City is currently being reformed to have the same rights of a state.

Federal entities of Mexico


Main article: States 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 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 the Federal District – are each represented by 3 senators, 2 elected by universal suffrage on the principle of relative majority and 1 assigned to the party which 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 their 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. Until 2016, Mexico City was the Federal District, seat of government of the Union and the capital of the United Mexican States. The city was coextensive with the Federal District territorially and administratively.

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 did not belong to any state in particular but to all (i.e., to the federation). Therefore, it was the president of Mexico, in representation of 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 were able directly 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, in that 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 called "Statute of Autonomy" – and would have the right to convert the existing boroughs into municipalities.[3]

If the federal government moves 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 area that the Congress of the Union would give it.

Internal divisions of Mexico City

Until the ratification of Mexico City's constitution, it 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 (they were previously appointed by the head of government of the Federal District).

Self-determination of the indigenous peoples

The second article of the constitution recognizes the multicultural composition of the nation founded upon the indigenous peoples to whom the government grants the right of self-(free) determination and autonomy. According to this article the indigenous peoples are granted

The nation commits to and demands the constituent states and municipalities to promote the economic and social development of the indigenous communities as well as an intercultural and bilingual education. According to the Law of Linguistic Rights, the nation recognizes 62 indigenous languages as "national languages" with the same validity as Spanish in the territories in which they are spoken and the indigenous peoples are entitled to request public services in their languages.

Postal abbreviations and ISO 3166-2 codes

See also: ISO 3166-2:MX
Political divisions of Mexico in two letters
Abbrevations for the states of Mexico
Name of federative entity Conventional
2-letter code* 3-letter code
(ISO 3166-2:MX)
 Aguascalientes Ags. MX - AG MX-AGU
 Baja California B.C. MX - BN MX-BCN
 Baja California Sur B.C.S. MX - BS MX-BCS
 Campeche Camp. MX - CM MX-CAM
 Chiapas Chis. MX - CP MX-CHP
 Chihuahua Chih. MX - CH MX-CHH
 Coahuila Coah. MX - CA MX-COA
 Colima Col. MX - CL MX-COL
 Federal District (Mexico City) D.F. or CDMX MX - DF MX-DIF
 Durango Dgo. MX - DU MX-DUR
 Guanajuato Gto. MX - GT MX-GUA
 Guerrero Gro. MX - GR MX-GRO
 Hidalgo Hgo. MX - HI MX-HID
 Jalisco Jal. MX - JA MX-JAL
 México Edomex. or Méx. MX - MX MX-MEX
 Michoacán Mich. MX - MC MX-MIC
 Morelos Mor. MX - MR MX-MOR
 Nayarit Nay. MX - NA MX-NAY
 Nuevo León N.L. MX - NL MX-NLE
 Oaxaca Oax. MX - OA MX-OAX
 Puebla Pue. MX - PU MX-PUE
 Querétaro Qro. MX - QE MX-QUE
 Quintana Roo Q. Roo. or Q.R. MX - QR MX-ROO
 San Luis Potosí S.L.P. MX - SL MX-SLP
 Sinaloa Sin. MX - SI MX-SIN
 Sonora Son. MX - SO MX-SON
 Tabasco Tab. MX - TB MX-TAB
 Tamaulipas Tamps. MX - TM MX-TAM
 Tlaxcala Tlax. MX - TL MX-TLA
 Veracruz Ver. MX - VE MX-VER
 Yucatán Yuc. MX - YU MX-YUC
 Zacatecas Zac. MX - ZA MX-ZAC

*Mexico's post agency, Correos de México, does not offer an official list. Various competing commercially devised lists exist. The list here reflects choices among them according to these sources.


Constitutional empire

Political divisions of the First Mexican Empire.
  Treaty of Córdoba
  Acquisitions (1821–1822)

On September 27, 1821, after three centuries of Spanish rule, Mexico gained independence. The Treaty of Córdoba recognized part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain as an Independent Empire – "monarchist, constitutional and moderate".[4] The new country took the name of Mexican Empire. The morning after the Army of the Three Guarantees entered Mexico City on September 28, 1821, Agustín de Iturbide ordered the Supreme Provisional Governmental Junta (September 1821 – February 1822) to meet to elect a president of the Imperial Regency and to issue a declaration of independence for the new nation. Iturbide was elected president of the Regency, and that afternoon the members of the Regency and the Supreme Junta signed the Declaration.

A minority of the Constituent Congress, looking for stability, elected Agustín de Iturbide as emperor. On July 21, 1822, Iturbide was crowned Emperor of Mexico.[5] However, the Constitutional Empire quickly demonstrated the incompatibility of its two main parts: the Emperor and the Constituent Congress. The deputies were imprisoned just for expressing their opinions and finally, Iturbide decided to dissolve the Congress and establish instead a National Board.[6]

The lack of a legitimate legislature, the illegitimacy of the Emperor and the absence of real solutions to the nation's problems increased revolutionary activity.[7] Antonio López de Santa Anna proclaimed the Plan of Casa Mata, to which later joined Vicente Guerrero and Nicolás Bravo. Iturbide was forced to reestablish the Congress and in a vain attempt to save the order and keep the situation favorable to his supporters, he abdicated the crown of the Empire on March 19, 1823.[8]

However, the Congress nullified the designation of Iturbide and therefore the recognition of the abdication and made the coronation of Iturbide seem a logical mistake in consummation of Independence.[8]

The dissolution of the Empire was the first political realignment of independent Mexico.

Federal republic

Political divisions of Mexico after the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1824 was enacted.
  Federal territory
  Sovereign state

After the fall of the Empire a triumvirate called the Supreme Executive Power was created. The provisional government would be responsible for the creation of the Federal Republic, and it was in effect from April 1, 1823 to October 10, 1824.[9]

Unrest in the provinces was huge. On May 21, 1823, The Founding Plan of the Federal Republic was enacted. Its sixth article precisely stated, "The component parts of the Republic are free, sovereign and independent States in that which touches internal administration and government".[10] Most of the Free States which were invited to form the Federal Republic joined the Union, except for the former Captaincy General of Guatemala which formed their own Federal Republic.[11]

On January 31, 1824, the decree to create a Constitutive Act of the Mexican Federation was issued, which incorporated the basic structure of the Federal Republic. It was determined that the criteria for inviting states to the federation should be that they "...not be so few that through expansion and wealth in a few years they be able to aspire to constitute themselves as independent nations, breaking the federal bond, nor so many that through lack of manpower and resources the system should come to be unworkable."[12]

Between 1823 and 1824, some of the free states created their own constitutions and others had already installed a Constituent Congress. Special cases were those of Yucatán, which on December 23, 1823 decided to join the federation but as a Federated Republic, and Chiapas, which decided by referendum to join the federation on September 14, 1824.[13]

On October 4, 1824, the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1824 was enacted. The constitution officially created the United Mexican States. The country was composed of 19 states and 4 federal territories.[14] After the publication of the constitution, on November 18, the Federal District was created.[15] On November 24 Tlaxcala, which had retained a special status since the colonial era, was incorporated as a territory.[16]

On October 10, 1824, Guadalupe Victoria took office as the first President of Mexico.[17]

Centralist republic

The Centralist Republic with the separatist movements generated by the dissolution of the Federal Republic.
  Territory proclaimed its independence
  Territory claimed by the Republic of Texas
  Territory claimed by the Republic of the Rio Grande

The political structure of the Republic was amended by a decree on October 3, 1835, when the centralist system was established.

The constituent states of the Republic lost their freedom, autonomy, independence, and sovereignty by being totally subordinated to the central government. However, the territorial division itself was the same; the text of Article 8 of the Law determined: The national territory is divided into departments, on the basis of population, location and other leading circumstances: its number, extension and subdivisions, would be detailed by constitutional law.[18]

The Seven Constitutional Laws (Spanish: Siete Leyes Constitucionales) were promulgated on December 30, 1836.[19] The 1st article confirmed the decree of the law October 3, 1835; the Republic would be divided into departments, these in districts and the districts in parties. The 2nd article pointed that the division of the Republic in departments would be under a special law with constitutional character.[20] On December 30, 1835, a transitory decree was added to the Seven Laws. The decree stated that the territory of Tlaxcala and the Federal District would become a part of the Department of Mexico. The territories of Alta and Baja California would form the department of the Californias. Coahuila y Texas would be divided into two departments. Colima would form part of Michoacán and Aguascalientes would be declared a department.

This period of political instability caused several conflicts between the central government and the entities of the country. There were rebellions in several states such as:[21]

On September 11, 1842, the region of Soconusco joined Mexico as part of the department of Chiapas.

Restoration of the Republic and Second Empire

The Federal Republic was restored by the interim president José Mariano Salas on August 22, 1846. The state of Guerrero was erected in 1849 (provisionally), conditioned to the acceptance of the legislatures of the states of México, Puebla and Michoacán; which would be affected in their territories.

On February 5, 1857, was enacted the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1857. On 1864, however, after the French intervention, the conservative Mexicans restored the constitutional monarchy, known as the Second Mexican Empire, led by the emperor Maximilian of Habsburg and supported by the French army of Napoleon III. The Empire was deposed in 1867 by the republican forces of Benito Juarez and the Federal Republic was restored again under the Constitution of 1857.

The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1917 was the result of the Mexican Revolution. The third Constitution of Mexico confirmed the federal system of government that is currently in force.[22]

See also



  1. "Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States" (PDF). Supreme Court of Mexico. p. 113. Retrieved April 5, 2011.
  2. "Catalogo de Municipos y Localidades por Estado".
  3. "Ponen fin al DF tras 191 años; Senado aprueba Reforma Política". 16 December 2015.
  4. "24 de agosto de 1821. Se firman los tratados de Córdoba". Gobierno Federal. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  5. "21 de julio de 1822. Agustín de Iturbide es coronado emperador de México.". Gobierno Federal. Archived from the original on October 6, 2010. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  6. "La Transición del Imperio a la Republica (1821–1823)". Estudios de Historia Moderna y Contemporánea de México. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  7. Suárez y Navarro, Juan (1850). Historia de México y del general Antonio López de Santa Anna. México. p. 23.
  8. 1 2 "La Transicion del Imperio a la Republica o la Participacion Indiscriminada" (in Spanish).
  9. "El Viajero en México (Pág. 30)" (PDF). CDigital. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  10. "División Territorial de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (1810–1995) Pag.21" (PDF). INEGI. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  11. "01 de julio de 1823. Las Provincias Unidas del Centro de América se independizan de México". Gobierno Federal. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  12. "Acta constitucional presentada al soberano Congreso Constituyente por su comisión." (in Spanish).
  13. "Aniversario de la Federación de Chiapas a México" (in Spanish).
  14. "Decreto. Constitución federal de los Estados-Unidos Mexicanos." (in Spanish).
  15. "Decreto. Se señala á México con el distrito que se expresa para la residencia de los supremos poderes de la federación" (in Spanish).
  16. "Decreto. Se declara á Tlaxcala territorio de la federación" (in Spanish).
  17. "Guadalupe Victoria.".
  18. "Bases Constitucionales Expedidas por el Congreso Constituyente", en Felipe Tena Ramírez", Op.cit. p. 203
  19. "La Suprema Corte en las Constituciones Centralistas." (PDF) (in Spanish).
  20. "Division Territorial de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos de 1810 a 1995 (Page 27)." (PDF) (in Spanish).
  21. "Division Territorial de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos de 1810 a 1995 (Page 28)" (PDF) (in Spanish).
  22. "Division Territorial de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos de 1810 a 1995 (Page 29)" (PDF) (in Spanish).
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