How are the living conditions in Mexico


Self-build settlements as a solution

Life is not easy for the inhabitants of the second largest city in the world: 60 percent are considered poor. Many live in self-build settlements on the outskirts. The city sinks under a cloud of smog every day. Drinking water becomes scarce in summer.

Mexico City, center of politics and economy of Mexico (& copy NASA / JPL-Caltech)


The Mexican capital is located at an altitude of about 2,300 meters - surrounded by mountains, which also include the Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes. Mexico City is the highest megacity in the world and the only one that is not on a river or the sea. Today over 19 million people live in Mexico City, the second largest urban agglomeration after Tokyo. Ciudad de México, as the city is officially called, is the political and economic center of the country. According to the last census from 2005, around 8.4 percent of all Mexicans live in the capital.

The influx of the rural population to Mexico City increased with the settlement of industrial companies in the 1940s. In 1950 less than three million people lived in the capital, the number tripled within two decades. Mexico City has not coped well with this influx. Problems arise above all with the supply of drinking water and the connection to the sewer system - the water has to be pumped high into the city from remote wells, but the pipeline system is ailing.

In particular, the supply of the outlying districts, which arise as self-build settlements without official town planning, is problematic. An illegal housing market has established itself there, in which land traders parcel out areas and sell them without structural restrictions. Officially, this is usually tolerated because the city administration itself is not able to provide the necessary living space. The high level of air pollution and the traffic chaos, which even the construction of a subway system in the early 1970s, has not been able to tame, pose a major challenge to politics.