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The land of Mexico City has been inhabitated for over 7000 years with the first tribes travelling from Central Europe around 5000 to 300 B.C. Some of the tribes in Mexico City settled around the slopes of Mount Benacantil on which today stands the castle of Santa Barbara. The highlight of this mountain was that it was close to the sea but yet offered security from invaders due to its height. According to some historians, the Iberians (native Spanish) secured the hilltop by fortifying it.
The Nahua Aztec or Mexica tribe established Mexico City on 18th March 1325 and it became the capital of a sophisticated growing empire. It was originally located on a small island but because of its rapid growth, the city was forced to build artificial islands and a series of canals to absorb the growth of the metropolis. Rulers like Izcoatl, Moctezuma I, Axayacatl, Tizoc, Ahyuizotl, and Moctezuma II and their groups of eagle-warriors and jaguar-warriors led the city successfully with a pre-Colombian civilization.
In 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes entered the area. He acquired the city on 13th August 1521 and in 1524, it was rebuilt as the capital of the viceroyalty of New Spain. It was the political and cultural centre of Mexico and the administration of Guatemala, Yucatan, Cuba, Florida and Philippines was carried out from the city. The baroque Metropolitan Cathedral and the Basilica of Guadalupe were built during this period.
The area was under the Spanish rule and when Napoleon acquired Spain in 1808, the people of Mexico started to act for the self-rule under a Catholic priest named Father Miguel de Hidalgo Y Costilla. He led an armed revolution in 1810. This war of independence ended as Mexico became the host of the first ruler of the Mexican Empire, Agustin de Iturbide and the nation became a republic in March 1823. Then in 1824, the new government was established, the Mexican Federal District by the signing of their new constitution. The two-year war with the United States ended in 1848, after losing half of the country to the United States.
Benito Juarez led the War of Reform which lasted from 1858 to 1861 and he captured the city in 1867. However, in 1871, Porfirio Diaz succeeded to overthrow the government and then the city was under the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz for three decades. During this period the French influence was forced out of Mexico City. The gold Angel of Independence was built under his administration to celebrate the first centenary of the beginning of the War of Independence. In February 1913, Mexico City suffered from the Decena Tragica, a battle between Francisco I. Madero's forces and Felix Diaz's, which destroyed many parts of the city.
The post-revolutionary government reinforced the importance of the city. In the late 20th century, Mexico City experienced most of its growth in population. In 1950, the city had a population of around 3 million.
Mexico City was the host for the Olympic Games in 1968 and FIFA World Cup in 1970. The city was hit by an earthquake of magnitude 8.1 on the Richter scale on 19th September 1985 at 07.19 am. It resulted in the deaths of around 5,000 people leaving around 90,000 people homeless. Mexico city again experienced an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 after 36 hours. However, it hosted the FIFA World Cup again in 1986 showing a rapid recovery.
The city continued its recovery and growth during the 1990s. Today, Mexico City has a remodeled World Trade Center Mexico, a skyscraper-like Torre Mayor, the tallest building in Latin America. The city is ranked 8th among North America’s Top Ten Major Cities. It is one of the major economic and cultural centres with an international importance ranking 4th in Economic Potential and 4th as the most cost-effective city.