Nine days before stepping down from office, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said he will submit a bill to Congress to change the country's official name.

Calderon, who will hand over power on Dec. 1, wants Mexico to be called by that name alone rather than its official name, Estados Unidos Mexicanos (United Mexican States).

"It's a matter of the utmost importance because a country's name expresses a symbolic relationship ... with its people, its origins, its culture, its customs and above all, with its identity," the president told reporters Thursday at the Los Pinos official residence.

He recalled that when Mexico won independence from Spain in the 19th century a number of names for the new country were proposed, including Mexican Nation, Mexican Empire, Republic of the Anahuac States, Republic of Mexico, Mexico and United Mexican States.

Finally, in the 1824 constitution, that latter name was chosen "following the example of the United States of America, which at that time was, in the opinion of some members of the Constituent Congress, the model of democracy and freedom for the nascent republics of the hemisphere."

"Mexico doesn't need a name that emulates another country and which none of us Mexicans use on a daily basis," Calderon said, adding that his countrymen refer to their homeland as Mexico and the use of the name United Mexican States has been restricted to official documents and certain formal proceedings.

"It's time for Mexicans to return to the beauty and simplicity of the name of our fatherland: Mexico. A name we chant, that we sing, that brings us joy, that identifies us, that fills us with pride," the president said.

He did not indicate why he was proposing a constitutional change of such symbolic importance just days before the end of his six-year term.

The bill must be analyzed in committee and then passed by both houses of Congress. EFE