The United Mexican States, or commonly Mexico, is a nation located in North America, bound on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the North Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Central America, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of Mexico. The United Mexican States is a constitutional republican federation of thirty-one states and a federal district, Mexico City, one of the most populous cities on Earth. With a population of almost 109 million, it is the 11th most populous country and the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world.
Human presence in Mexico has been shown to date back 40,000 years based upon ancient human footprints discovered in the Valley of Mexico (previous evidence substantiated indigenous inhabitants at 12,500 years ago). For thousands of years, Mexico was a land of hunter-gatherers. Around 9,000 years ago, ancient Mexicans domesticated corn and initiated an agricultural revolution, leading to the formation of many complex civilizations.
The federal government represents the United Mexican States and is divided into three branches: executive, legislative and judicial as established by the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, published in 1917. The constituent states of the federation must also have a republican form of government based on a congressional system as established by their respective constitutions.
Cochineal is the name of both crimson or carminedye and the cochineal insect (Dactylopius coccus), a scaleinsect in the suborder Sternorrhyncha, from which the dye is derived. There are other species in the genus Dactylopius which can be used to produce cochineal extract, but they are extremely difficult to distinguish from D. coccus, even for expert taxonomists, and the latter scientific name (and the use of the term "cochineal insect") is therefore commonly used when one is actually referring to other biological species; suffice it to say that the reader should be aware that there is more than one cochineal insect. The primary biological distinctions between species are minor differences in host plant preferences, in addition to very different geographic distributions. D. coccus itself is native to tropical and subtropical South America and Mexico.This type of insect, a primarily sessileparasite, lives on cacti from the genus Opuntia, feeding on moisture and nutrients in the cacti. The insect produces carminic acid which deters predation by other insects. Carminic acid can be extracted from the insect's body and eggs to make the dye. Cochineal is primarily used as a food colouring and for cosmetics.
Cerro de la Silla, or Saddle Hill, is an imposing landmark and Natural Monument of the city of Monterrey in Mexico. The tallest of its four peaks, the Pico Norte, is 1820 m (5970 ft) high. The mountain is a popular recreational area, although since the city is at an altitude of 560 m (1837 ft) the climb to the top is relatively challenging. This picture, taken from the west, shows the profile of the "saddle" to its best advantage.