Although geographically Mexico is a country in North America, some prefer to use the terms Central or Middle America to describe its geographic location. Mexico is between the United States to the north and Guatemala and Belize to the southeast. Coastlines include the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Mexico is a federation of thirty one states and a Federal District, the capital Mexico City. The currency of Mexico is the peso (MXN) which is divided into 100 centavos. Mexico has no declared official language but Spanish is the de facto means of communication. Mexico is one of the most popular tourist countries with much of the tourist industry centered around the beach resorts and the altiplano (Central Mexican Plateau). Direct air service or connections to Mexico can be found at nearly all major U.S. hubs. What is today Mexico was once home to nearly 2700 years of ancient civilizations: Olmecs, Aztecs, Maya and some others. Mexico has a wide range of accommodations: international hotel chains, small local hotels, boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, hostels, all inclusive resorts, spa resorts. Some of the hotel chains with a presence are: Best Western, Holiday Inn, Hilton, Starwood, Fairmont, Palace Resorts and others. Cuisine is Mexico is varied: International, French, Seafood, Fast Food, family oriented restaurants, upscale and so on. Of course, Mexican cuisine is superb and you may find that it differs in various parts of the country. Visitors to Mexico will find many unique and fascinating ancient sites: Teotihuacan (close to Mexico City), Monte Alban, Palenque, Ek Balam, Uxmal, Chichen Itza and others. Some of the popular natural attractions include: Michoacan's Million Monarch March (late November through March),Whale-Watching (winter), Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches (Between June and November), Lago Bacalar (Yucatan Peninsula), Copper Canyon, Desert Landscapes in Baja Sur and others to numerous to mention. Some well known beaches are: Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Escondido, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Cancun, Tulum, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, La Paz, Los Cabos and others. Visitors interested in architecture, art and museums may want to visit: Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Museo Frida Kahlo (Frida Kahlo House), Palacio Nacional, Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, Templo Mayor, Catedral Metropolitana, Santa Prisca y San Sebastian Church, Museo Rafael Coronel (in Zacatecas-Mexican masks collection) Museo Virreinal de Guadalupe, Morelia's Cathedral, Xalapa's Museo de Antropologia, Puebla's Capilla del Rosario, Puebla's Museo Amparo and numerous others. Some areas considered to be the best shopping in Mexico include: Bazar del Sabado (near Mexico City in San Angel has festive weekly market for exceptional crafts), Polanco, Mexico City (designer boutiques, cigar shops, jewelers, leather goods), Tlaquepaque (wide variety of decorative art) In Tonala (artisan workshops), Taxco (Mexico's silver capital), Huichol Art (Puerto Vallarta), the valley of Oaxaca (weaving, naturally dyed textiles & black pottery), Pa Michoacan/Patzcuaro (crafts, cotton textiles, woodcarvings, pottery, copper), Markets of San Cristobal de las Casas (Maya highlands for waist-loomed wool, cotton textiles, leather shoes, pottery, dolls) Talavera Poblana Pottery (Puebla & Mexico City) and many, many others. Mexico is a country with a fondness for family tradition, with all the right ingredients and child friendly lodging choices it makes for a great family getaway. As with any international destination, proper preparation will allow for the best experience. With some advance planning, families can find discounts and coupons for travel to this unique destination: flights, airlines, tours, attraction discount cards, hotels, motels, lodging, all inclusive resorts, vacation packages.