Mexico Impact of the Past

The first people to arrive in Mexico were the ancestors of today’s Native Americans. Native Americans came to Mexico thousands of years ago. From about 1200 B.C to the A.D. 1500s, these people built a series of brilliant, highly advanced civilizations on Mexican soil.  Of these, the Olmec, Mayan, and Aztec are the best known.   Mexico’s Native American heritage has shaped the country’s culture. So has Mexico’s European heritage, brought by Spaniards, who conquered the area in the 1500s. This heritage is mainly Catholicism, which 90 percent of Mexicans follow today.

Questions to Consider:

  • What groups influenced Mexico’s history?
  • How did Spaniards change life in Mexico?
  • What were the major advancements of Native American civilizations?
  • Who were the major players that helped Mexico achieve independence?

Mexico Timeline:

1200 B.C.   Olmec Civilization arises

500 B.C.     Zapotec Build Monte Alban

1325            Aztecs build Tenochtitlan

1492            Columbus Sails to Hispanola

1521             Coretes conquers Aztecs

1821             Mexico declares independence

1833             Santa Anna Becomes President

1840s           Benito Juarez begins liberal reform movement

1847              U.S. wins Mexican American War

1867              Juarez reelected president after France defeated

1867              Porfirio Diaz comes to power

1910              Mexican Revolution begins

1968             Mexico City hosts the first Olympic Games ever held in Latin America

1994             A violent rebellion breaks out in Chiapas. Unrest continues today.

2000             Vicente Fox is sworn in as the first president elected who did not belong to the ruling party (PRI).



Major Advancements of Native American Civilizations
Olmec Maya Aztec
Built first civilization in the Americas Developed 365 day Calendar Built an empire
Carved statues and jewelry Built Pyramids Built a city on a lake between two islands
Grew Maize Developed Hieroglyphics Created ‘Floating Gardens’
Built Drainage Systems Painted Wall Murals Sun Stone Calendar