Mexico's President Felipe Calderon has sent a bill to congress asking to change the country's official name, which is currently the United States of Mexico.

The current name was adopted in 1824 after it gained independence from Spain, in imitation of its democratic northern neighbour.

The official name is rarely used except on official documents, money and other government materials.

President Calderon now wants the country to officially change its name to simply Mexico, as it is known across the world, because it no longer needs to emulate another nation.

Speaking at a news conference, Calderon said: "Mexico doesn't need a name that emulates another country and that no one uses on a daily basis.

"Forgive me for the expression, but Mexico's name is Mexico."

Calderon, who leaves office on 1 December, first suggested the name change in 2003 as a congressman, but the bill did not make it to a vote.

While Calderon admits the name change "doesn't have the urgency of other reforms", he believes it is a relevant issue, dubbing it a "matter of great importance."

"It is time for Mexicans to take back the beauty and simplicity of our fatherland's name: Mexico. A name we chant, we sing, that makes us happy and fills us with pride", he added.

Critics have said the push for an official name change is nothing more than a symbolic gesture, coming just over a week before he leaves office.

Calderon hands Mexico's reins to president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party on 1 December.