This post discusses fun and peculiar Mexico facts. Enjoy!
There is no way to deny it. I love Mexico!
When I lived in Puerto Rico, I knew very little about the country. Once I moved to California, I had the opportunity to befriend Mexicans, visit cities in Baja California and take cheap flights to visit places such Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca.
Every interaction, every step and every bite in the country opened my eyes to a new story, a new fact, a new way of life. The energy in there makes me happy!
Even though I try to visit Mexico as often as possible, I know there is still a lot I have to see. I dream with visits to Oaxaca, Campeche, and Guanajuato. I am in plans of taking an extended trip around the country.
In the meanwhile, I have compiled 50 interesting, fun and quirky Mexico facts. Because, to me, talking about Mexico never gets boring!
So, let’s go ahead and learn a little bit more about Mexico. Shall we?
2. It is the 13th largest country in the world by total area. It covers almost two million square kilometers (760,000 square miles).
3. Even though the country is huge, at one point, it was larger than Europe. After a war with the United States, Mexico lost more than half of its territory.
4. Mexico is the country with the 10th largest population in the world with 127.5 million inhabitants. If you think about it, there are more Mexicans in the world than Germans, French or Spaniards.
5. The word “Mexico” comes from the Nahuatl, the language spoken in the Aztec Empire. The word means “land of the Mexica.” Others suggest the word means “place at the center of the moon” or “belly button of the moon.
6. It is the most populous Spanish speaking nation in the world.
7. Even though Spanish is the de facto language in the country, about 300 languages are spoken in the territory. Of those, the government recognizes 68.
8. The country is composed of 31 states and a federal entity (Distrito Federal) which serves as the capital (and, by the way, it is the most populous city in the country).
9. Interestingly enough, the capital of the country was built over a dry lake (Lake Texcoco). The instability of the terrain is causing the city to sink with time (it is sinking slowly but still sinking)
10. In terms of national symbols, dahlias are the national flower, the golden eagle is the national animal, the jaguar is the national mammal and the grasshopper is the national arthropod.
11. And, to make things interesting, the xoloitzcuintli is the national dog. These dogs are hairless and were sacred to the Aztecs and other groups.
12. Government officials claim Mexico City has more museums than any other city in the world. Officials say there are about 170 registered entities. However, this title seems to be disputed and there is not an international organism that deals with this issue.
13. Mexico seems to love Guinness World Records. As a matter of fact, Mexico City is the city in Latin America with more recognized records. For example, it holds the record for more people dancing to Michael Jackson’s classic, Thriller (not sure how they came up with this).
14. Chapultepec Park, the lungs of Mexico City, is almost double the size of the Central Park in New York
15. Chihuahua is the largest state in the country in terms of size
16. Tlaxcala, a virtually unknown state, is the smallest in the country (size wise)
17. Mexico is the country with more UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Americas and the 7th in the world. At the moment, it has 34 sites recognized by UNESCO and more than 20 in the tentative list.
18. Mexican gastronomy was recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010.
19. Ingredients such as a corn, peppers, beans, pumpkin, avocado, tomatoes, cacao, sweet potatoes are native to the Americas and they are featured prominently in Mexican gastronomy. In some ways, we can say Mexico gave to the world all of these.
20. The food of Mexico is distinguished by its variety. Each state or area has their own specialties. However, a lot of us associate Mexico with tacos, enchiladas, menudo, pozole, mole, aguas frescas and champurrado. This is just a short list. It would be necessary to a visit each state to get to know what is popular there.
21. Insects have been eaten in Mexico for centuries. Till this day, people eat escamoles (ant larvae), jumiles (stink bugs), chapulines (grasshoppers), chicatanas (ants), maguey worms, beetles and others
22. In addition, huitlacoche is sometimes known as the Mexican truffle. This is a disease that grows on the ears of corn in puffy, gray clouds. Those “clouds” are collected and sautéed or prepared in stews
23. Tamales are one of the most emblematic dishes of Mexico. Each state has a way of preparing them. One particular example, the zacahuil, can be 5 meters long.
24. The well-known poinsettia has origins in Mexico. It was named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first US ambassador in Mexico.
25. Mexico is the 4th country with more biodiversity on earth. This fact makes the country a flora and fauna paradise.
26. Mexico is the largest silver producer in the world.
27. Believe it or not, Mexico is the country with more soda consumption in the world. Seems like people prefer a soda over water.
28. The Autonomic University of Mexico (a UNESCO Site) has been around since 1551. It was the first in America to offer classes in medicine, theology, arts, etc.
29. The National Institute of Anthropology and History has registered more than 37,000 archeological sites in Mexico.
30. The most well-known archeological sites include Teotihuacan, Chichen Itza, Monte Alban, Uxmal, and Palenque. I recommend visiting other lesser known sites. They are fascinating too!
31. Scholars recognized the Olmecs as the first great civilization in Mexico. They peaked between 1200 and 300 B.C. and inhabited the modern states of Veracruz and Tabasco
32. Other notable civilizations include the Toltec, Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya, and Aztec. They arose to power at different points in time
33. The Great Pyramid of Cholula is the largest pyramid in the world.
34. Mexico spent three centuries under Spain’s control until independence in 1821
35. As you may know, Chihuahuas are from Mexico. They are considered the smaller dogs in the world but they are named after the largest state in the country.
36. Mexico gets about 35 million international visitors per year. Resort areas such as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas receive a big share of those visitors
37. Mexico has more than 40 volcanoes. The most active ones are Popocatepetl, Colima and El Chichon.
38. The world’s smallest volcano (Cuexcomate) is located in a suburb of the city of Puebla.
39. And, I am not done with volcanoes! Paricutin (located in Michoacan) is the world’s younger volcano
40. The monarch butterfly travels more than 4,000 kilometers to spend winter in Michoacan and the state of Mexico. The conglomerate of millions of them has been described as one of the greatest natural spectacles in the world.
41. The gray whales travel to Mexico during winter too. They leave the waters of Alaska to have their babies in the shallow lagoons of Baja California. They do the longest mammal migration in the world.
42. Color television was invented by a Mexican, Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena
43. Several Mexican painters from the 20th century have gained international fame. The list includes names such as Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.
44. Family ties are very strong in Mexico
45. The Yucatan Peninsula has the largest concentration of natural sinkholes in the world. They are known as “cenotes.”
46. In the state of Colima, there is a spot known as the Magic Zone. In this place, there is a road with a notable slope. Objects placed on the road (including cars) move uphill instead of downhill (as you would expect). Nobody seems to know why that happens.
47. The Peninsula of Baja California was thought to be an island during the early colonial period
48. The famous Caesar salad was invented in Tijuana. You can visit the hotel where the dish was conceived
49. Futbol (soccer) is most popular sport in Mexico. It was introduced to the country by Cornish miners at the end of the 19th century (near Pachuca).
50. The country has 111 Pueblos Magicos (or Magical Towns). These places are characterized by its legends, stories, important events, gastronomy, and charm.
What is your favorite Mexico fact? Is there something else you want to add?