Mexico’s Central Plateau comprises the north and center of Jalisco; the south of Zacatecas; the center of San Luis Potosí; Aguascalientes; Guanajuato; the center and south of Querétaro; the center and south of Hidalgo; the north and center of Michoacán; Mexico State; Tlaxcala; Puebla; Morelos; the center of Guerrero and Mexico City.
Generally speaking, the region is limited to the east by the Sierra Madre Oriental, which separates the region from the Gulf coastal plain; to the west by the Sierra Madre Occidental, which separates it from the Pacific coastal plain; and to the south by the Balsas Depression. Straddling the Tropic of Cancer, the region is scored by a series of small mountain ranges: the Zacatecas, the La Breña and the San Luis, that extend east-west and divide it into two principal zones. The north is characterized by greater aridity and a more uniform topography—that includes the Bolsón de Mapimí Basin and the Zacatecan semi-desert; the southern zone includes the Valleys of Mexico, Toluca, the Bajío and the Tarasca Mesa.
The majority of this territory falls within what archaeologists have named Mesoamerica, which refers to the fact that peoples settled in the region starting in antiquity shared a number of cultural, symbolic and material characteristics.
There are pine and encino oak forests in all the region’s mountain zones; some forests also support cedar, fir, sacred fir, strawberry trees and cypress that cohabit with whitetail deer—at risk of extinction—as well as mountain lions, hares, squirrels, foxes, quail and bird species such as eagles, sparrowhawks, falcons and doves; in some areas one still finds wild turkeys and boars. Valleys, flatlands and hillsides are home to mesquites, huisache, wild lettuce, agave, prickly pear cactus, maguey agave, sotol, ceiba pentandra, damiana, ocotillo cactus, willows and, in lacustrine areas, ahuehuetes and encino oaks. These zones are inhabited by coyotes—in danger of extinction—as well as ducks, hares, rabbits, rattlesnakes, wolves, foxes, doves and eagles.
Regional economic activity includes everything from large-scale mining to small, family-owned artisanal workshops. Almost every economic sector is represented: ranching, forestry, mining, industrial materials and consumer goods manufacturing, retail, communications and information technology. Fruits and produce such as strawberries, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, carrots, garlic, onion, green chiles, agave, barley and pulque agave are cultivated, as are legumes such as beans, garbanzos and lentils; peanuts, sweet potatoes, potato and thyme; cereals and wild grains such as corn, sorghum, wheat, alfalfa, wild oats, grass and pastures; as well as avocado and peach, are cultivated. Lake zones farm and harvest species such as carp, rainbow trout, bream, tilapia, bullfrog, catfish and largemouth bass.
White, red, or green pozole
Atápakua de ayocotes
Enchiladas de molito
Mole de olla
Torta de elote
Dulce de tejocote