‘The old regime and the causes of the Revolution’ outlines the historical backdrop to the Revolution. Porfirio Díaz’s rule (1876–1911) proved crucial in the Revolution’s gestation. The Porfirian regime was strikingly successful: railway mileage increased from virtually none to 15,000; foreign direct investment grew more than thirty-fold; exports quadrupled; and GNP nearly tripled. However, Porfirian development did have a decisive—and negative—effect on Mexican (especially rural) society. Two related trends were crucial: the strengthening of the state and the commercialization of agriculture. The rise of liberal opposition in the run-up to the 1910 presidential election took the regime by surprise and provided the opening act of the Revolution.