Mexico City, the world's most populous city, just keeps growing and growing with no end in sight. In the next ten to twenty years, Mexico City may become the world's first urban area with 50 million residents.
If Mexico City currently has 25,000,000 people than the area within a hundred mile radius approaches 35,000,000 people. This is due to increased population growth and decreasing open areas including farmland.
The actual figures given by the Mexican Government do little to help answer the big number question. For example, Pachuca, a city about 60 miles northwest from Mexico City, is officially given a population of around 400,000.
Driving through the greater metro area of Pachuca one certainly can see the government figure is deflated.
The Mexican Government census is known for undercounting and not giving accurate estimates in between official census dates. Especially undercounted are Mexico's marginal poor and those that do not have permanent addresses.
While there is some open land between Pachuca and Mexico City, there is virtually no open land between Mexico City and its neighbor Toluca to the west. While the official government estimate for Toluca in 2005 is 1.6 million it is clear the region has many more people.
Not only are the official population figures consistently lower, the official figures do not count many surrounding towns and smaller cities. The official government figures for 2005 estimate the population of Mexico City at about 8.5 million.
To the southeast, the City of Puebla was estimated in 2005 to have almost 5.5 million inhabitants. While there still are some open spaces between Mexico City and Puebla, there aren't many and in a few short years it too will be one large Mexico City suburb.
To the south, Cuernavaca was estimated to have a little less than 1.0 Million inhabitants in 2005. That figure has certainly risen since then.
As the debate and polemics rage on about the actual demographics, the implications of this massive population growth are much clearer.
The municipal government of Mexico City is doing little to discourage this population growth. Under the PRD party and past Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and present Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico City has continued to grow.
And since Mexico City is a strong base for the PRD party, the party has done little to discourage this growth. To the contrary, the PRD party has made great efforts to increase and build on Mexico City's highway and subway system.
This continuing construction means one can drive from Pachuca to Mexico City in two hours but it might take another two hours to get to the international airport.
By extending the Metro subway and building more expressways, the infrastructure has increased its capacity to integrate even more people. But not all the infrastructure can be fixed so easily.
One of Mexico City's biggest problems is that it is built on an old lakebed and is slowly sinking. This sinking has caused major structural damage to buildings and streets but perhaps most importantly to the aging drainage and sewer system.
Largely built in the 1950's and 1960's, this system is slowing being crushed as the land and the structures on it sink. In some areas it is estimated that less than 20% of the original pipe capacity is still left.
This reduced drainage capacity has caused major flooding in 'delegations' throughout the City. Heavy thunderstorms can cause roads and expressways to flood quickly trapping motorists and flooding surrounding neighborhoods.
And of course the infamous air pollution shows no signs of abating even when cars are prohibited from circulating on certain days of the week.
How bad is the air and how bad can the air get? Rarely are the skies ever blue anymore and rarer still are the days when city residents can see the volcano Popocatepetl to the southwest.
Much more common are days when parents are warned not to let their children go outside to play and adults are warned it is unhealthy to exercise outdoors.
Visitors now complain of itchy eyes, bleeding noses and sore throats after only being in the Distrito Federal for a few days.
Almost no one believes the argument anymore that humans can adapt or grow used to the bad air; fecal matter and high particulate counts create constant air hazards especially for the sick, young and elderly.
And the air and sagging infrastructure have little to do with the soaring crime rate and kidnappings.
Thirty years ago, residents of Mexico City laughed at those living outside the city as being from the 'provinces' and backward. To get educated, get quality health care or find a good job one had to go to Mexico City.
Not any more. The folks from the provinces now laugh and joke about the "Chilangos" of Mexico City and how they act funny, speak funny and often look pale.
They look pale because in the world's largest city, the sun seldom shines anymore.