Mexico City is a fascinating place both for its diversity and its long history. People have inhabited the region for the past 20,000 years, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the Western Hemisphere. Today, what used to be Lake Texcoco has shrunk considerably, and the city stands on the foundations of many different towns of the past. Mexico contains some 2,500 archaeological zones, over 150 of which are open to the public.
One of the biggest festivals of the year is the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos). Surprisingly, given the name, a happy atmosphere prevails during this fiesta. Families build alters at home or visit graveyards laden with gifts, garlands and food for those loved ones who have passed away. This festival embodies many of the Mexican attitudes toward life and death as well as the exuberant personality of its people.