Mexico's population grew rapidly after 1940, when improved living
standards and preventive health care measures produced a dramatic
increase in longevity and a decrease in infant mortality. In 1997
Mexico had an estimated population of 96,807,451. Population density
averaged 49 persons per sq km (128 per sq mi).
Spanish control of Mexico led to the dominance of Spanish, the official
language. As many as 100 Native American languages are still spoken
in Mexico, but no single alternative language prevails. Eighty percent
of those Mexicans who speak an indigenous language also speak Spanish.
The most important of the Native American languages is Nahuatl.
It is the primary language of more than a million Mexicans and is
spoken by nearly one-fourth of all Native Americans in the country.
This is followed by Maya, used by 14 percent of Native Americans,
and Mixteco and Zapoteco, each spoken by about seven percent of
Native Americans. No other indigenous language is spoken by more
than five percent of Mexico's Native Americans.
During the colonial period, the Spanish colonizers imposed the Roman
Catholic religion on the indigenous population. The states that
are the least Catholic generally have the highest percentages of
Protestants. Others claims no religious affiliation.