Seventy-seven hopefuls are set to compete here on Monday for the crown of Miss Universe 2007, now worn by Zuleyka Rivera of Puerto Rico.
The final of the prestigious international pageant is scheduled to take place in the Mexican capital's National Auditorium, a theatre with capacity for 10,000.
The winner of the competition is to be crowned with a diamond-and-pearl crown valued at $250,000.
Among many other benefits, she is to receive a yearlong salary, the use of a New York City apartment during her reign and a personal wardrobe, as well as a two-year scholarship from The NY Film Academy valued at up to $100,000.
Runners-up will have to settle with a prize of up to $3,000 in cash, a trophy and various beauty-enhancing gifts. <b1>
The Miss Universe Organization, which produces Miss Universe, is a Donald J. Trump and NBC broadcaster partnership, and aims among other things to promote global awareness of illnesses like AIDS and breast and ovarian cancer.
"The titleholders of the Miss Universe Organization personify the combination of beauty and intelligence that defines the 21st Century," the organization says in its website.
A private group, Grupo Promotor MU, invested some $15 million to hold the 56th edition of the pageant in Mexico, where Miss Universe has been chosen three times before - in 1978, 1989 and 1993. Mexico intends the pageant to boost its tourist industry.
"What convinced the directors and the organizers of Miss Universe was our country's natural beauty, and for us it is a great satisfaction to have brought to Mexico this important event," said Pedro Rodriguez of Grupo Promotor MU.