Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed Spanish and Indian ancestry, 80 percent), indigenous groups (14 percent), other (six percent)
Language: Spanish – although Mexican Spanish differs quite strongly from European Spanish. There are a further 62 recognised languages in the country.
Capital: Mexico City
National holidays: New Year’s Day (Jan 1), Constitution day (Feb 5), Natalicio de Benito Juárez (Mar 21), Labor Day (May 1), Independence Day (Sep 16), Revolution Day (Nov 20), Transmisión del Poder Ejecutivo Federal (Dec 1), Christmas Day (Dec 25)
Business hours: In larger cities, Monday to Friday 10am – 8pm, with a long lunch, usually around 2.30-5pm. Closer to the north, hours are usually closer to US business hours (9-5).
Like the majority of South and Central America, Spanish is the primary language of Mexico. Although English is fairly widely-spoken, levels may vary across the country, so speaking Spanish would definitely be an advantage.
When addressing one another, colleagues usually use ‘Mr’ or ‘Mrs’ unless they have a very close relationship. Sometimes, titles such as ‘Liciendo’ / ‘Licienda’ (lawyer, male or female) are used.
Like citizens of some of its nearby countries, Mexicans tend to engage in sometimes heated discussions – as with most of those countries, this is usually seen as positive, as it shows that you are engaged with and passionate about an idea.
Body language also differs in Mexico – people tend to stand much more closely to each other as well as maintaining stronger eye contact. If you appear unwilling to engage in such body language, you may appear standoffish.
There are many international corporations that have operations in Mexico, and such businesses will usually have a structure similar to that of those in their home countries. However, Mexican companies are likely to be far more hierarchical.
Decisions in Mexican companies usually lie with a few very senior figures, so ensure you are negotiating with the right people to save time. You should never send junior employees to deal with Mexican managers as it will be seen as disrespectful – likewise, if they send a junior member of staff to meet you it probably means that they are not taking a deal seriously.
There is less emphasis on punctuality in Mexico than you would see in the UK. Meetings tend to start and finish late, which can make scheduling difficult. Try to avoid scheduling meetings any later than 1pm – lunch starts at around 2pm and tends to be long.
Although agendas may be produced for meetings they are not often followed as meetings are used more to generate ideas and distribute information. Small side-meetings and other interruptions will often take place within a scheduled meeting.
Teams in Mexico tend to work well together, as long as the team members have a good relationship with each other. If people on the team do not know each other it may be more difficult for them to work well together.
Dress codes vary around the country but are at their most formal in the capital, Mexico City. You should always dress to reflect how successful you are – but do check dress codes in advance.