Canada and Mexico
The United States of America has a land border with just two countries-Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. These nations have been our neighbors, in some shape or form, for most of US history, so it's important to learn about them and understand them. We have fought wars against both over the course of time, but today we share favorable relations with one, and complicated relations with another.
Canada and the US have a very similar founding story-that of pioneers and settlers which came to America from Europe to seek their fortune... though the US started out as a British colony, and Canada started out as a French colony. The two came to blows during the French and Indian War, though the result-British control of Canada-would give Americans and Canadians even more in common eventually. Canada and the US would go on to fight one more war-the War of 1812. In this war, Americans declared war on Britain because the British were capturing American sailors, and because Americans wanted to annex Canada, which was still a British colony. The war resulted in peaceful borders between the US and Canada, and no grudges were kept.
Today, Canadian-US relations are among the best of any two countries in the world. A 2012 poll revealed that 96% of Americans like Canada. A 2013 poll showed that 64% of Canadians liked America. The two countries are the world's biggest trade partners. They also have the world's longest shared border, and one of the least-militarized borders in the world. Canada and the US cooperated closely during World War II, and the friendship and military cooperation of these countries grew even more during the Cold War.
The other country which the US borders is Mexico. The two countries are very close diplomatically and politically, though the early history of these relations was also marked by war, in this case the Mexican-American War. Prior to the Mexican-American War, the US had been on good terms with Spain, who was Mexico's colonial overlord. There was a lack of clarity over who owned a large piece of land in Texas, but the US signed over control of Texas to Spain in 1819, and bought Florida from them instead.
When Mexico gained independence in 1821, the issue of Texas arose again, and this time, the Texans themselves rebelled from Mexico and agreed to a US offer of annexation. This is what launched the short but bloody Mexican-American War, in which the United States won Texas and California from Mexico. Relations from that point between the countries grew favorable, as the US did not recognize Napoleon Bonaparte's attempted meddling in Mexico during the Civil War.
However, a conflict which would continue to mark US-Mexican relations for years to come began in the late 1800s. Native American tribes, notably the Apache tribe led by Geronimo, would conduct raids on both sides of the border. Despite the fact, the US constructed a railroad going from Mexico City, Mexico to El Paso, Texas, in 1884, which brought the countries closer, border instability remained an issue. Over the course of the 20th century, US-Mexico relations grew closer. However, the border issue remains, as Mexican drug gangs are able to sell drugs and traffic illegal weapons on both sides of the border, plus immigration problems. This made the issue of the US-Mexico border an important talking point in U.S. elections.
Today, despite the complicated border relationship between the US and Mexico, the United States enjoys some of the friendliest neighbors of any country in the world.
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