Chihuahua, Mexico: A Guide for Intercultural Success

11/15/2017 10:01 am ET
Paola Guevara

Chihuahua is the largest state in all of Mexico. This mountainous Mexican state and major international business center is home to the world’s fifth largest oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos. According to Forbes, the state of Chihuahua’s continuous growth is classified as “green” with 65 percent in economic development, ahead of Mexico City’s 45 percent growth. As many pet lovers know, the cute, small-sized canine breed of Chihuahuas originated here.

If you are a first-time business traveler or entrepreneur seeking global expansion into Chihuahua, Mexico, consider the following 8 international tips and facts:

  1. Climate: Due to Chihuahua’s mountainous and desert region, the year-round climate is usually dry. Chihuahua’s average annual temperature is about 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18.2 degrees Celsius. Its warmest month is June with average temperatures of 86°F (30°C) and its coldest month is January dropping as low as 42.8°F (6°C) with occasional snowfall.
  2. Population: Chihuahua’s total population is approximately 3.5 million people, with 85 percent living in urban areas. The state’s major cities in terms of population are: Cuidad Juárez, Chihuahua, Cuauhtémoc, Delicias, and Hidalgo del Parral.
  3. Regional Differences: Chihuahua is located in Northern Mexico and shares a border with the United States. As a visiting traveler, it’s beneficial to know that Chihuahua is vastly different than the capital of Mexico City due to the country’s Northern and Southern regional distinctions. Accents, cuisine, time zones, and state nicknames are specific to their respective regions. For instance, people from Mexico City are known as chilangos, whereas Chihuahua natives are considered norteños or more specifically, Chihuahuenses.
  4. Terrain: Chihuahua is home to the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains known as Copper Canyon or Barrancas del Cobre, which is larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona. A train called the Chihuahua Pacific Railroad, or “El Chepe” runs from the state capital of Chihuahua, Chihuahua and into the canyon. Once there, you can ride one of the longest ziplines in the world, The Ziprider.
  5. Native Indians: When visiting Chihuahua, you’re bound to encounter the state’s native Tarahumara Indians. They’re shy, yet friendly locals who are experts in weaving and running. Most Tarahumaras reside in caves in Copper Canyon, where others have migrated into urban areas like the state capital. They love intercultural interactions, making it a great cultural opportunity! Don’t be surprised if they don’t respond to your Spanish greeting; they only speak their native language Raramuri.
  6. Time Perception: Traditionally, Mexico’s view of time has been considered flexible as a polychronic country, meaning punctuality is not highly regarded. However, as Mexico’s international affairs increase, business professionals have moved closer toward a monochronic preference in business environments.
  7. Gender Roles: Mexican businessmen behave courteously and chivalrously. Opening doors for women and standing when greeting women are respected customs. Geert Hofstede, a Dutch social psychologist, emphasizes Mexico being a Masculine society, with a high score of 69 indicating that decisiveness and assertiveness are major preferences in society. Additionally, the 2016 Global Gender Gap Index ranked Mexico 66th out of 144 countries in terms of gender equality.
  8. Societal Values: Mexico is a collectivist society; where Mexicans highly value relationships, long-term commitment, and loyalty. Geert Hofstede indicated that Mexico has a score of 30 on Individualism as opposed to the United States, an individualistic society, with a score of 91. In business environments, “employer/employee relationships are perceived in moral terms, like a family link,” according to Hofstede. To foster successful business endeavors, develop strong relationships with your Mexican counterparts.

Not only is Chihuahua a vibrant Mexican State with rich culture, but also a thriving international arena as a popular business destination. Prior to visiting Chihuahua, check out your local U.S. Embassy and Consulates here and follow this guide for a successful trip.

¡Buen Viaje!

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary seriesConfucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

Photo credit: Paola Guevara

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