MEXICO CITY, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 12th Augst,2016) - Colorful gondolas lazily ferry tourists around the floating gardens of Mexico City's Xochimilco district, but not all is green in this idyllic vestige of the Aztec empire increasingly choked by urbanization. Criss-crossed with natural canals and artificial islands, Xochimilco is the last reminder of how the Aztecs lived 500 years ago at the time the Spanish conquistadors arrived, when Mexico City was mostly covered in water.
The Spaniards set about draining the giant system of lakes, eventualy leaving only the canals of Xochimilco (pronounced sho-chee-MEEL-co). Today, they too are threatened as this metropolis of nine million people struggles to deal with the pressure exerted by its booming population. The neighborhood, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that draws a million tourists a year, is dotted by around 600 shantytowns. There were 17,500 illegal residences in 2009, according to local officials. New shacks pop up every month, eventually morphing into more permanent buildings. In the tourist quarter, the trumpets and guitars of mariachi music serenade visitors as they stroll along the canals, with their lush vegetation and man-made islands called "chinampas."