Mexico City (-enˈmɛksɨkoʊ ˈsɪti; , or simply D.F. -essjuˈðað ðe ˈmeːχikopron) is the Federal District (Distrito Federal), capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole. Mexico City is the country's largest city as well as its most important political, cultural, educational and financial center.
As an "alpha" global city Mexico City is one of the most important financial centers in North America. It is located in the Valley of Mexico, a large valley in the high plateaus at the center of Mexico, at an altitude of 2240 m (7349.1 ft). The city consists of sixteen boroughs.
The 2009 estimated population for the city proper was around 8.84 million people, and has a land area of 1485 km2 (573.4 sqmi). According to the most recent definition agreed upon by the federal and state governments, the Mexico City metropolitan area population is 21.2 million people, making it the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere and the fifth largest agglomeration in the world.
Mexico City has a gross domestic product (GDP) of $390 billion US$ in 2008, making Mexico City the eighth richest city in the world. The city was responsible for generating 21% of Mexico's Gross Domestic Product and the metropolitan area accounted for 34% of total national GDP.
The city was originally built on an island of Lake Texcoco by the Aztecs in 1325 as Tenochtitlan, which was almost completely destroyed in the 1521 siege of Tenochtitlan, and subsequently redesigned and rebuilt in accordance with the Spanish urban standards. In 1524, the municipality of Mexico City was established, known as México Tenochtitlán, and as of 1585 it was officially known as La Ciudad de México (Mexico City). Mexico City served as the political, administrative and financial center of a major part of the Spanish colonial empire. After independence from Spain was achieved, the Federal District was created in 1824.
After years of demanding greater political autonomy, residents were given the right to directly elect the Head of Government and the representatives of the unicameral Legislative Assembly by popular vote in 1997. Ever since, the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) has controlled both of them. In recent years, the local government has passed a wave of liberal policies, such as abortion on request to any woman up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy, a limited form of euthanasia, no-fault divorce and same-sex marriage.