Administrative divisions of Mexico

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For the various countries named Mexico historically, see History of Mexico.
"States of Mexico" redirects here. It is not to be confused with the state-type political division of Mexico named Mexico, see State of Mexico.
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The United Mexican States (Spanish: Estados Unidos Mexicanos) is a federal republic composed of 32 federal entities: 31 states and 1 federal district.

According to the Constitution of 1917, the states of the federation are free and sovereign.[1] Each state has its own congress and constitution, while the Federal District has only limited autonomy with a local Congress and government. The territory of the Federal District, commonly known and referred to as Mexico City, serves as the national capital.

Federal entities of Mexico[edit]

Political divisions of Mexico

Federal district[edit]

EntityOfficial NameFlagAreaPopulation (2010)[2]Date of establishment
Ciudad de MéxicoDistrito FederalFlag of Mexican Federal District.svg0 1,485 km2
(573.4 sq mi)


States of Mexico
StateOfficial Name

Estado Libre y Soberano de:

FlagCapitalLargest cityArea[4]Population (2010)[2]Order of Admission
to Federation
Date of Admission
to Federation
AguascalientesAguascalientesFlag of Aguascalientes.svgAguascalientesAguascalientes0056185,618 km2 (2,169 sq mi)011849961,184,9962424185702051857-02-05[5]
Baja CaliforniaBaja CaliforniaFlag of Baja California.svgMexicaliTijuana07144671,446 km2 (27,585 sq mi)031550703,155,0702929195201161952-01-16[6]
Baja California SurBaja California SurFlag of Baja California Sur.svgLa PazLa Paz07392273,922 km2 (28,541 sq mi)00637026637,0263131197410081974-10-08[7]
CampecheCampecheFlag of Campeche.svgSan Francisco de CampecheSan Francisco de Campeche05792457,924 km2 (22,365 sq mi)00822441822,4412525186304291863-04-29[8]
ChiapasChiapasFlag of Chiapas.svgTuxtla GutiérrezTuxtla Gutiérrez07328973,289 km2 (28,297 sq mi)047965804,796,5801919182409141824-09-14[9]
ChihuahuaChihuahuaFlag of Chihuahua.svgChihuahuaCiudad Juárez247455247,455 km2 (95,543 sq mi)034064653,406,4651818182407061824-07-06[9]
Coahuila1 4Coahuila de ZaragozaFlag of Coahuila.svgSaltilloTorreón151563151,563 km2 (58,519 sq mi)027483912,748,3911616182405071824-05-07[9]
Colima6ColimaFlag of Colima.svgColimaManzanillo0056255,625 km2 (2,172 sq mi)00650,555 650,5552323185609121856-09-12[10][11]
DurangoDurangoFlag of Durango.svgVictoria de DurangoVictoria de Durango123451123,451 km2 (47,665 sq mi)016329341,632,9341717182405221824-05-22[9]
GuanajuatoGuanajuatoFlag of Guanajuato.svgGuanajuatoLeón03060830,608 km2 (11,818 sq mi)054863725,486,372022182312201823-12-20[9]
GuerreroGuerreroFlag of Guerrero.svgChilpancingo de los BravoAcapulco06362163,621 km2 (24,564 sq mi)033887683,388,7682121184910271849-10-27[12]
HidalgoHidalgoFlag of Hidalgo.svgPachucaPachuca02084620,846 km2 (8,049 sq mi)026650182,665,0182626186901161869-01-16[13]
JaliscoJaliscoFlag of Jalisco.svgGuadalajaraGuadalajara07859978,599 km2 (30,347 sq mi)073506827,350,682099182312231823-12-23[9]
MéxicoMéxicoFlag of Mexico (state).svgToluca de LerdoEcatepec de Morelos02235722,357 km2 (8,632 sq mi)1517586215,175,862011182312201823-12-20[9]
MichoacánMichoacán de OcampoFlag of Michoacan.svgMoreliaMorelia05864358,643 km2 (22,642 sq mi)043510374,351,037055182312221823-12-22[9]
MorelosMorelosFlag of Morelos.svgCuernavacaCuernavaca0048934,893 km2 (1,889 sq mi)017772271,777,2272727186904171869-04-17[14]
NayaritNayaritFlag of Nayarit.svgTepicTepic02781527,815 km2 (10,739 sq mi)010849791,084,9792828191701261917-01-26[15]
Nuevo León4Nuevo LeónFlag of Nuevo Leon.svgMonterreyMonterrey06422064,220 km2 (24,800 sq mi)046534584,653,4581515182405071824-05-07[9]
OaxacaOaxacaFlag of Oaxaca.svgOaxaca de JuárezOaxaca de Juárez09379393,793 km2 (36,214 sq mi)038019623,801,962033182312211823-12-21[9]
PueblaPueblaFlag of Puebla.svgPuebla de ZaragozaPuebla de Zaragoza03429034,290 km2 (13,240 sq mi)057798295,779,829044182312211823-12-21[9]
QuerétaroQuerétaro de ArteagaFlag of Queretaro.svgSantiago de QuerétaroSantiago de Querétaro01168411,684 km2 (4,511 sq mi)018279371,827,9371111182312231823-12-23[9]
Quintana RooQuintana RooFlag of Quintana Roo.svgChetumalCancún04236142,361 km2 (16,356 sq mi)013255781,325,5783030197410081974-10-08[16]
San Luis PotosíSan Luis PotosíFlag of San Luis Potosi.svgSan Luis PotosíSan Luis Potosí06098360,983 km2 (23,546 sq mi)025855182,585,518066182312221823-12-22[9]
SinaloaSinaloaFlag of Sinaloa.svgCuliacánCuliacán05737757,377 km2 (22,153 sq mi)027677612,767,7612020183010141830-10-14[17]
Sonora2SonoraFlag of Sonora.svgHermosilloHermosillo179503179,503 km2 (69,306 sq mi)026624802,662,4801212182401101824-01-10[9]
Tabasco5TabascoFlag of Tabasco.svgVillahermosaVillahermosa02473824,738 km2 (9,551 sq mi)022386032,238,6031313182402071824-02-07[9]
Tamaulipas4TamaulipasFlag of Tamaulipas.svgCiudad VictoriaReynosa08017580,175 km2 (30,956 sq mi)032685543,268,5541414182402071824-02-07[9]
TlaxcalaTlaxcalaFlag of Tlaxcala.svgTlaxcalaVicente Guerrero0039913,991 km2 (1,541 sq mi)011699361,169,9362222185612091856-12-09[18]
VeracruzVeracruz de
Ignacio de la Llave
Flag of Veracruz.svgXalapaVeracruz07182071,820 km2 (27,730 sq mi)076431947,643,194077182312221823-12-22[9]
Yucatán3YucatánFlag of Yucatan.svgMéridaMérida03961239,612 km2 (15,294 sq mi)019555771,955,577088182312231823-12-23[9]
ZacatecasZacatecasFlag of Zacatecas.svgZacatecasZacatecas07553975,539 km2 (29,166 sq mi)014906681,490,6681010182312231823-12-23[9]


  1. Joined the federation with the name of Coahuila y Texas.
  2. Joined the federation with the name of Estado de Occidente also recognized as Sonora y Sinaloa.
  3. Joined the federation as República Federada de Yucatán[19] (English: Federated Republic of Yucatán) formed by the current states of Yucatan, Campeche and Quintana Roo. Became independent in 1841 constituting the second Republic of Yucatán and definitely rejoined in 1848.
  4. States of Nuevo León, Tamaulipas and Coahuila became independent de facto in 1840 to form the República del Río Grande (English: Republic of the Rio Grande); never consolidated its independence because independent forces were defeated by the centralist forces.[20]
  5. State of Tabasco seceded from Mexico on two occasions, the first on February 13, 1841, rejoining again on December 2, 1842. And the second time was from November 9, 1846 to December 8 of that year.
  6. Includes the remote Revillagigedo Islands, which are federally administered.

Mexican states[edit]

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[edit]

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.[21]

Distrito Federal[edit]

Mexico City has a special status within the federation. According to Article 44 of the federal constitution, Mexico City is the Federal District, seat of government of the Union and the capital of the United Mexican States. The city is coextensive with the Federal District territorially and administratively. If the federal government moves to another city, the Federal District 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.

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 does 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 full autonomy in 1997 and its citizens now elect directly their chief of government, the head of the boroughs (or delegaciones) and the representatives of the unicameral legislature called the Asamblea Legislativa, "Legislative Assembly". It does not have a constitution but a statute of autonomy. Nonetheless it enjoys many privileges as the capital of the federation.

Internal divisions of the Federal District[edit]

For administrative purposes, the Federal District is divided into 16 delegaciones or boroughs. While not fully equivalent to a municipality (nor 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). Given that Mexico City is organized entirely as a Federal District most of the city services are provided by the Government of the Federal District and not by the boroughs themselves, while in the constituent states these services would be provided by the municipalities. It should be noted that while other municipalities within the constituent states of the federation exercise their autonomy through the municipal council, some, like Mexicali or Querétaro, have further subdivided the municipality into delegaciones or boroughs for administrative purposes as well.

Self-determination of the indigenous peoples[edit]

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.

ISO 3166 codes[edit]

Political divisions of Mexico in two letters
Abbrevations for the states of Mexico
Name of stateConventional
2-letter code3-letter code
(ISO 3166-2)
 AguascalientesAgs.MX - AGMX-AGU
 Baja CaliforniaB.C.MX - BCMX-BCN
 Baja California SurB.C.S.MX - BSMX-BCS
 CampecheCamp.MX - CMMX-CAM
 ChiapasChis.MX - CSMX-CHP
 ChihuahuaChih.MX - CHMX-CHH
 CoahuilaCoah.MX - COMX-COA
 ColimaCol.MX - CLMX-COL
 Federal DistrictD.F.MX - DFMX-DIF
 DurangoDgo.MX - DGMX-DUR
 GuanajuatoGto.MX - GTMX-GUA
 GuerreroGro.MX - GRMX-GRO
 HidalgoHgo.MX - HGMX-HID
 JaliscoJal.MX - JAMX-JAL
 Mexico StateEdomex.MX - MEMX-MEX
 MichoacánMich.MX - MIMX-MIC
 MorelosMor.MX - MOMX-MOR
 NayaritNay.MX - NAMX-NAY
 Nuevo LeónN.L.MX - NLMX-NLE
 OaxacaOax.MX - OAMX-OAX
 PueblaPue.MX - PUMX-PUE
 QuerétaroQro.MX - QEMX-QUE
 Quintana RooQ. Roo.MX - QRMX-ROO
 San Luis PotosíS.L.P.MX - SLMX-SLP
 SinaloaSin.MX - SIMX-SIN
 SonoraSon.MX - SOMX-SON
 TabascoTab.MX - TBMX-TAB
 TamaulipasTamps.MX - TMMX-TAM
 TlaxcalaTlax.MX - TLMX-TLA
 VeracruzVer.MX - VEMX-VER
 YucatánYuc.MX - YUMX-YUC
 ZacatecasZac.MX - ZAMX-ZAC


Constitutional empire[edit]

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 its independence. The Treaty of Córdoba recognized part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain as an Independent Empire, which was recognized as "Monarchist, constitutional and moderate."[22] 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.[23] 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.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26]

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.[26]

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

Federal republic[edit]

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.[27]

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".[28] 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.[29]

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."[30]

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 Yucatan, 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.[31]

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.[32] After the publication of the constitution, on November 18, the Federal District was created.[33] On November 24 Tlaxcala, which had retained a special status since the colonial era, was incorporated as a territory.[34]

On October 10, 1824, Guadalupe Victoria took office as the first President of Mexico.[35]

Centralist republic[edit]

The Centralist Republic with the separatist movements generated by the dissolution of the Federal Republic.
  Territory proclaimed its independency
  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.[36]

The Seven Constitutional Laws (Spanish: Siete Leyes Constitucionales) were promulgated on December 30, 1836.[37] 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.[38] 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:[39]

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

Restoration of the Republic and Second Empire[edit]

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.[40]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States". Supreme Court of Mexico. p. 113. Retrieved April 5, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Censo 2010
  3. ^ "Conmemora la Secretaría de Cultura el 185 Aniversario del Decreto de Creación del Distrito Federal". 
  4. ^ "INEGI". 
  5. ^ "Calendario de Eventos Cívicos - Febrero". 
  6. ^ "Transformación Política de Territorio Norte de la Baja California a Estado 29". 
  7. ^ "Secretaria de Educación Publica". 
  8. ^ "Secretaria de Educación Publica". 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Las Diputaciones Provinciales" (in Spanish). p. 15. 
  10. ^ "Portal Ciudadano de Baja California". 
  11. ^ "Universidad de Colima". 
  12. ^ "Erección del Estado de Guerrero". 
  13. ^ "Congreso del Estado Libre y Soberano de Hidalgo". 
  14. ^ "Enciclopedia de los Municipios de México". 
  15. ^ "Gobierno del Estado de Tlaxcala". 
  16. ^ "Gobierno del Estado de Quintana Roo". 
  17. ^ "500 años de México en documentos". 
  18. ^ "Portal Gobierno del Estado de Tlaxcala". 
  19. ^ "La historia de la República de Yucatán". 
  20. ^ "República de Río Grande, el País que no pudo ser." (in Spanish). 
  21. ^ "Catalogo de Municipos y Localidades por Estado". 
  22. ^ "24 de agosto de 1821. Se firman los tratados de Córdoba". Gobierno Federal. Retrieved October 5, 2010. 
  23. ^ "21 de julio de 1822. Agustín de Iturbide es coronado emperador de México.". Gobierno Federal. Retrieved October 5, 2010. 
  24. ^ "La Transición del Imperio a la Republica (1821-1823)". Estudios de Historia Moderna y Contemporánea de México. Retrieved October 5, 2010. 
  25. ^ Suárez y Navarro, Juan (1850). Historia de México y del general Antonio López de Santa Anna. México. p. 23. 
  26. ^ a b "La Transicion del Imperio a la Republica o la Participacion Indiscriminada" (in Spanish). 
  27. ^ "El Viajero en México (Pág. 30)". CDigital. Retrieved October 5, 2010. 
  28. ^ "División Territorial de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (1810-1995) Pag.21". INEGI. Retrieved October 5, 2010. 
  29. ^ "01 de julio de 1823. Las Provincias Unidas del Centro de América se independizan de México". Gobierno Federal. Retrieved October 5, 2010. 
  30. ^ "Acta constitucional presentada al soberano Congreso Constituyente por su comisión." (in Spanish). 
  31. ^ "Aniversario de la Federación de Chiapas a México" (in Spanish). 
  32. ^ "Decreto. Constitución federal de los Estados-Unidos Mexicanos." (in Spanish). 
  33. ^ "Decreto. Se señala á México con el distrito que se expresa para la residencia de los supremos poderes de la federación" (in Spanish). 
  34. ^ "Decreto. Se declara á Tlaxcala territorio de la federación" (in Spanish). 
  35. ^ "Guadalupe Victoria.". 
  36. ^ "Bases Constitucionales Expedidas por el Congreso Constituyente", en Felipe Tena Ramírez", Op.cit. p. 203
  37. ^ "La Suprema Corte en las Constituciones Centralistas." (in Spanish). 
  38. ^ "Division Territorial de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos de 1810 a 1995 (Page 27)." (in Spanish). 
  39. ^ "Division Territorial de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos de 1810 a 1995 (Page 28)" (in Spanish). 
  40. ^ "Division Territorial de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos de 1810 a 1995 (Page 29)" (in Spanish).