Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, tourist arrivals in Mexico reached almost 1.5 million. As airports began to allow travel and people were eager to get out of the house, many found themselves taking a trip to Mexico, but why?
Mexico is one of the top countries to visit because of its vibrant culture, delicious food, and historic structures. Many are itching to get back to Mexico (when we all can safely), but in the mean time, let’s enjoy some fun facts about Mexico to understand the country a bit better.
Read on to learn Mexico facts you never knew!
1. Its Name Is Not What You Think
One of the first fun facts about Mexico is that its name is not really Mexico. Mexico’s real name is the United States of Mexico, aka Estados Unidos Mexicanos. This country is divided into states like this U.S.
Mexico has 31 states and a Federal District. Every state has its own police, regulations, and laws.
The Federal District, Distrito Federal, was once the capital of Mexico. Most people believe that the capital city was always Mexico City, but this wasn’t the case until 2016.
It gets tricky to remember because Mexico City’s metropolitan area is within the Federal District. Only those living in the Federal District are considered capital dwellers.
2. It Is More Than a Beach Destination
Travelers tend to make their way out to Mexico for a summer vacation on the beach. Yet, the country is much more than a beach destination.
Mexico has a rich history as they have 34 UNESCO world heritage sites within their borders. Some of the most popular historic centers include Mexico City, Puebla, and Guanajuato.
It is also home to more than a handful of ancient ruins, the most famous being Chichen Itza, and the agave fields of Tequila.
The country is in the middle of the circum-Pacific Belt, more commonly known as the “Ring of Fire,” a place known for its earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
This is one of the coolest Mexico facts because it means Mexico is home to a rare rabbit that lives near volcanoes called the volcano rabbit.
Outside of Puebla, you’ll find the smallest volcano in the world, Cuexcomate. The volcano is only 43 feet tall and looks like a tiny hill.
Along with being home to the smallest volcano, Mexico has the largest ancient pyramids. The Great Pyramid of Cholula is the largest monument ever created in the world.
3. U.S. Citizens Make Up the Largest Immigration Group in Mexico
In Mexico, the largest foreign-born population is actually United States citizens. In fact, more Americans are immigrating to Mexico than vice versa.
A lot of Americans find the food surprising when they move or visit Mexico. Mexican food in the United States is considered Tex-Mex while authentic Mexican food is different.
In Mexico, people don’t eat Chipotle-style burritos or burritos filled with rice. Burritos aren’t that popular in Mexico unless you are in the northern region.
Another difference between the Mexican food found in the United States vs. the food found in Mexico is that the authentic version isn’t very spicy. Instead, it tastes sour because of the use of limes.
4. It’s Home to the First Printing Press
In North America, the first printing press was established and used in Mexico City. This dates all the way back to 1539 at the House of the First Printing Press, or Casa de la Primera Imprenta de América.
The first printing press was actually used in Mexico way before making its way to the United States.
5. It Has Animals Big and Small
The jaguar is the largest wildcat in North America and can be found near the Mayan ruins or roaming the Mexican jungles.
Mexico is also home to the smallest dog breed known to man, the Chihuahua. This dog breed originated in Mexico in the state of Chihuahua, hence the name of the breed.
6. Mexico City Is Sinking
Mexico City is literally sinking each year. In North America, Mexico City is the oldest city and has the highest elevation. It’s also built over the ruins of Tenochtitlán, a city on a lake.
Tenochtitlàn was an Aztec city in which the Aztecs made systems of canals and dikes to prevent floods. When the Spanish came along, they drained the lakebed instead of containing the flood control work.
The Mexican population in Mexico City grows each year requiring more water to get pumped out. As a result, the city is sinking about 6 to 8 inches every year.
7. It’s Not a Third World Country
The Cold War is to thank for the term “third world.” It was created as one of three geopolitical alignment divisions.
Countries aligned with the United States were considered “first world” at the time. Allies of the Soviet Union were “second world” countries. The countries not aligned with either were called “third world.”
Even when the Cold War ended, the term remained. “Third world” became another name for poverty while the other two divisions are unheard of.
The gap between the poor and rich in Mexico is large, but they are not considered a poor country because of their GDP per capita. Mexico offers enough attractions like other developed countries.
8. It Differs From Latin America in Some Ways
From the culture to the language, Mexico is vastly different from Latin America. For one, Mexico is in North America, not Latin America.
When it comes to the language, Mexican Spanish is kind of like slang. It’s a unique variation of Spanish.
If you’ve ever studied Spanish in school, you may already be aware of this fact. Spanish teachers reiterate how different the Spanish language can be across the world.
Latin America and Mexico are similar when it comes to toilet paper. Yes, you read that correctly, toilet paper. In Mexico and Latin America, they prefer that you throw toilet paper in the trash instead of flushing it down the toilet. Places that are closer to the ocean in Mexico tend to be stricter about this.
In fact, a friend of ours from India noticed that India and Mexico, are More Similar Than You’d Think
9. Not Everyone in Mexico Speaks Spanish
Officially, Spanish is the national language of Mexico and Mexico is the world’s largest Spanish speaking country. Yet, Mexico’s native people don’t always speak it. There are 68 other recognized languages spoken around the country and Mexico does not have a defined official language.
10. Cinco de Mayo Is Not Celebrated
In 1821 on September 27th, Mexico declared independence. However, over a decade before in 1810 on September 16th, the independence war began. Because of this, Mexico celebrates its independence day on September 16th.
Cinco de Mayo is common in the United States as a day for people to party and have fun. Mexican immigrants in the United States might celebrate this day.
Most are unaware that Cinco de Mayo is a day to commemorate the Battle of Puebla that happened in 1862. The people of Puebla do celebrate this day.
11. Growing Corn Is a Tradition
For centuries, Mexican farmers have continued the tradition of growing corn. This important crop has been threatened by trade agreements and genetically modified variations, but Mexico preserves natural seeds.
They are multiple words that can describe corn because there are 59 varieties of it in Mexico.
12. It Has a Large Catholic Population
Another one of the interesting facts about Mexico is that it has a large Catholic population. Brazil is the only country that has a bigger population of Catholics than Mexico.
13. It Has the Oldest University in North America
When you think of old universities in North America, your first thought may be Harvard. However, the oldest university in North America is actually the National University of Mexico located in the capital city of Mexico City. . It was founded in 1551, 85 years before Harvard was.
14. It Has Interesting Foods
Many foodies travel to Mexico for authentic Mexican cuisine. The most adventurous of foodies may stroll through a market and buy grasshoppers, scorpions, and spiders to enjoy during their next meal.
This may be a horrifying sight for the average joe, but some of these crawly critters have great flavor. Why else would you find the people of Mexico selling them for consumption?
If you can get over the oddness of eating bugs, you’ll find some tasty treats that are high in protein and, of course, are organic. There are tons of edible insects in Mexico to choose from.
It wasn’t meat that got the Aztecs through the day, it was fat-free bugs they found roaming the grounds. If you are feeling risky, sample a delicious critter during your travels in Mexico.
15. Mexico is the World’s Largest Beer Exporter
This Mexico fact caught me by surprise. I had no idea that Mexico is the world’s largest exporter of beer. I have always enjoyed Corona and yet, it exports so much more. In fact, Mexico exported $4.2 billion USD worth of beer in 2019. That’s double what the next closest exporter sold at 2.1 billion.
Fun Facts About Mexico That Will Make You Want to Take a Trip!
Mexico may be at the top of the list to travel because of the beautiful beaches and amazing views. Yet, this country has much more to offer than what people typically seek out.
If you’re looking for rich history, ancient structures, and amazing food, Mexico is the place to be. Don’t settle for a day on the beach when you could be experiencing much more!
Consider these fun facts about Mexico when planning a future trip. Check out our other travel planning resources to make your trip a success!
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