Top Ten Interesting and Fun Facts About Mexico
Bienvenido a México! ::::::::::::::::::::: Welcome to Mexico!
Mexico Facts: One
Mexico covers an area of 742474.45 square miles
History of Mexico
Before the first Europeans arrived in Mexico in the sixteenth century, the land was host to a series of astonishingly complex and wealthy civilizations.
These great, ancient civilizations date back to at least 1200 years BC.
Where is Mexico?
Mexico is a nation state and occupies much of the 'land bridge' between the North and South Americas.
Mexico Facts: Two
On the Mexican flag, the green stands for hope, the white for purity and the red for the blood of the people. The eagle eating the snake refers to an Aztec legend.
While the Maya and the Aztec are most widely known, the earliest of the great Mexican civilizations was the Olmec, then the Teotihuacan. The Mayan civilization came after that, then the Toltec, enduring until the time of the conquistadors (the Spanish conquerors) when the Aztec civilization was dominant.
The Mexican Flag
Mexico has a strong sense of its historical heritage and the country boasts some of the finest museum collections in the world.
Aztec City of Tenochtitlan
Hernán Cortés and the Conquest of Mexico
To some he was a hero, to others a god, to yet others nothing but a ruthless killer.
Hernán Cortés, first of the Spanish conquistadors, landed his ships on the Gulf of Mexico in the year 1519.
Mexico Facts: Three
An historical consequence of the Spanish Invasion, the currency in Mexico is still the peso.
It is commonly stated that the Aztecs at first mistook Cortés for their returning god, Quetzacoatl.
However, the most recent scholarship has pointed out that all such accounts were written by scribes in the employ of the Spaniards and after the completion of their conquest.
The lengthiest account of this story is written by Cortés himself, in a letter to the King, in which he is clearly attempting to portray the native people in a poor light.
It's unlikely, then, that the story is true. Such legends are common and history is, as they say, usually written by the conquerors.
In reality, given what we know about the complexity of Aztec culture, language, science, religion and society, it is doubtful indeed that the Aztec people would have thought any such thing!
Mexico Facts: Four
Mexico is rich in natural resources, including oil, gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, gas and timber.
The conquest of Mexico, like the conquest of North America hundreds of years later, was largely a bloody one, and also involved the attempted genocide of native people.
The Europeans also brought diseases with them to which the Aztecs had no natural immunity and so many populations were wiped out by contracting illnesses such as the common cold.
The rule of Spain continued into the early 19th Century. But it was not to last.
Father Miguel Hidalgo
Father Hidalgo and Mexican Independence
In 1810, the revolutionary priest, Father Hidalgo, organized a rebellion against Spanish authority.
In a short time, the struggle was successful and Mexico declared its independence.
Mexico Facts: Five
While still highly controversial in the minds of many, Mexico's national sport is bullfighting. In fact, Mexico City is host to the world's largest bullring.
Mexican Independence Day is widely celebrated on September 16th.
For a hundred years, Mexico enjoyed a state of peace.
But that would also change as the social tensions between the rich and the poor put an increasing strain on the nation's stability.
Mexican Revolution Documentary
Mexico Facts: Six
Mexico City is one of the fastest expanding urban populations outside China, with over 20 million inhabitants and rising.
The Mexican Civil War
In 1910, the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest in a country that had become riddled with corruption and inequality had grown too wide.
Political and diplomatic avenues to bring about social change had failed.
Once again, Mexico was torn apart: this time in a civil war that was to last over ten years. During the conflict, many millions of Mexicans, on both sides, met their deaths.
Finally, in the 1920s, the war ended, and the United Mexican States were formed.
A Mexican Festival
Mexico Facts: Seven
The dominant religion in Mexico today, is Roman Catholicism.
Mexican Food, Festivals and Folk Arts
In the years following the foundation of a stable nation state, Mexico enjoyed a cultural blossoming that continues to this day and is appreciated all around the world.
Mexico is a land of many colors, a melting pot of different races and cultures, which has given rise to a vibrant and powerful array of arts, festivals and fabulous cooking.
The distinctive style of Mexican art is instantly recognizable.
Traditional Crafts and Folk Arts from Mexico
Popular Mexican Folk Arts
Some of the most popular and well-known Mexican folk arts include:
- making wooden masks
- beautiful, multi-colored textiles
- making repoussé tin items
- making papel picado
Mexican Papel Picado
Papel picado is a craft which involves punching designs out of colored paper. Some of the designs can be very elaborate.
'Grey Horse' Repoussé by Mexican Artist, Manolo Vega
Many beautiful crafts objects are made especially to celebrate seasonal and religious festivals:
- sugar skulls for The Day of the Dead
- piñatas for birthdays, Christmas and Easter
Mexican Sugar Skulls
Piñatas can be made either from clay, woven straw, cardboard or papier maché.
They are shaped to resemble animals or people and then filled with sweets and treats.
They are hung from the ceiling of a house or outside from the branch of a tree.
Food and cooking also plays an important part in Mexican daily life. Traditional Mexican cooking, which uses rich flavors and plenty of spices such as hot chilli, has become popular all over the US and Europe, as well as within Mexico itself.
How to Make Guacamole, Totillas, Salsa, and Tinga de Pollo
Mexico Facts: Eight
Modern Mexican culture has been influenced by contact with Spain and Asia. This is reflected in the cooking style and in the fact that Spanish is the most common language in Mexico.
Mexico City stands over the original site of the ancient Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan.
It is a large, historic city which boasts dozens of extraordinarily beautiful monuments. These include everything from ruined fragments of the ancient Aztec buildings to the soaring edifice of the Metropolitan Cathedral.
Metropolitan Cathedral - Mexico City
Mexico Facts: Nine
Much of Mexico is very mountainous.
The world's largest active volcanoes - Popocatepetl, Ixtaccihuati and Citlaltepetl - are all found in Mexico.
The city is in a unique location, too, being some 2,240 meters above sea level and nestled down in the valley between two giant volcanoes.
If the city itself seems too hectic and crowded, on the outskirts you can find peace and relaxation in Xochimilco - a maze of waterways bordered by poplar trees and bright-colored flowers.
Xochimilko - Mexico City
Mexico Fact: Ten
On Lake Xochimilco, rafts loaded with soil are floated, anchored to the bottom. A wide variety of fruit and vegetables are grown on these self-watering, floted gardens!
The Troubled Story of the Mexican Border
The border between the USA and Mexico stretches 1,952 miles coast to coast, from the Gulf of Mexico in the east to Tijuana in the west.
Border controls have a complex history and a troubled present.
Many Mexicans who still struggle in a state of relative poverty try to cross the border in the hope of establishing a better life in the United States, just as the Pilgrims crossed the oceans from Europe to America with the same hope.
But it is not only simple folk seeking a better life that troubles the Mexican/USA border. There are drugs smugglers, illegal arms traders and, more recently, potential terrorists, also attempting to cross the border.
Mexican Border Patrol
Mexico Facts: Bonus Fact
The official name of Mexico is 'Estados Unidos Mexicanos' which means, 'The United MexicanStates'.
In more recent times, in an attempt to increase control of who can and cannot cross the border, many miles of fences and walls have been constructed along the most accessible stretches of border territory.
More Crazy Facts About Mexico...
The border isn't closed, however. There are a number of legal crossing points where, if you have the right papers and passport, these can be checked and traffic flows both ways, into and out of Mexico.
The largest and busiest of these legal border crossings is in Tijuana, located right in the top north-west corner of the country.
Tijuana, on the Border of Mexico and the USA
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Mexico is a beautiful country which boasts a beautiful landscape of rugged mountains, rumbling volcanoes, deep forests, wild deserts and seemingly infinite, tropical beaches.
Unfortunately, it still has its fair share of troubles - from water pollution to the wide gap between rich and poor.
However, there's no doubt that Mexico is a beautiful land and the Mexican culture is a vibrant and colorful one.
As a people, Mexicans are warm and welcoming with a strong sense of tradition, of family and of faith.
Hope you enjoyed the trip to Mexico. It just remains to say:
Just before you go, you might like to try the above quiz to test your knowledge of all things Mexican. All the answers can be found somewhere in this article.
*Have a safe journey home
© 2014 Amanda Littlejohn