Mexico is a vast and diverse country with a wealth of culture and traditions, an immense and diverse territory whose highest peak reaches the 5.636 mt. In this post, I am going to share 27 fun facts about Mexico that I have researched. Did I miss anything? Please let me know
There are so many interesting facts about Mexico, that I am also trying to include in all my articles throughout this site which is in fact dedicated to Mexico’s culture, food, and traditions besides its best places to visit. In this brief but complete post, I just want to give you an overview of the most interesting facts about Mexico to offer an introduction to the Mexican culture while entertaining you.
39 Interesting facts about Mexico
- Mexico has around 130 million people, ranking 11th in the world list of the most populated country.
- Mexico is the 14th largest country by land area.
- In Mexico, there are 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- The Pico de Orizaba is the tallest mountain in Mexico, a dormant volcano that reaches 5,636 meters (18,491 ft) above sea level.
- The national symbols of Mexico are the flag, the coat of arms, and the anthems.
- Mexico’s national dish is the Mole a rich sauce made of different kinds of spices, nuts, and chocolate among other ingredients.
- The second iconic dish is the Chile en Nogada the most famous of Puebla food because represents the Mexican Flag and it is eaten during the anniversary of Mexican Independence in September.
- Mexican popular dishes include tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, chilaquiles, gorditas, guacamole, to name a few…
- If you walk around the market in Oaxaca you can find grasshoppers for sale among the local culinary delicacies. So adventurous foodies, that’s all yours!
- The most popular sport in Mexico is football (soccer).
- Mexico hosted the Football World Cup in both 1970 and 1986.
- Mexico City hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 1968.
- Chocolate originally comes from Mexico
- Hot Chocolate was considered a sacred drink among the Aztecs
- Xoloitzcuintli, a hairless breed of dog is the national dog.
- The chihuahua is the smallest dog in the world and it’s actually named after the Mexican state where they originated.
- The National University of Mexico is the oldest in North America and was founded in 1551 by Charles V of Spain. Unfortunately, it has been closed during the dictatorship for a while and that makes Harvard the oldest operating university, but The National University of Mexico has been around for longer.
- Monarch butterflies travel from Canada to Mexico every year. They in colonies of about 20 million at a speed between 80-120 nautical miles per day, depending on the wind and other weather conditions. They settle in the Oyamel fir tree forests in the Mexican state of Michoacan.
- The border between Mexico and the United States is the second-largest border in the world (only the U.S.-Canadian border is longer)
- Mexico City is built over the ruins of a great Aztec city, Tenochtitlán. But it’s also built on a lake, meaning that there is water underneath the city and for this reason, it’s literally sinking at a rate of 6 to 8 inches a year.
- The most popular Pre-Colombian civilization is Mayan. However few people know that the first great civilization in Mexico was actually the Olmecs (1400-300 B.C.) who established many cities along the eastern coast of Mexico, where are now the States of Veracruz and Tabasco. They are famous for their huge sculpted Heads, which can be found in the Anthropology Museum in Xalapa, and worshipped a mysterious, unnamed god that was part human and part jaguar.
- Although Spanish is de facto the official language in Mexico, and Mexico has the greatest number of speakers of Spanish in the world, it is considered a linguistically very complex country with more than 62 recognized indigenous languages, and 330 dialects, and some immigrant languages of lesser importance. (source)
- When Spanish Conqueror Hernan Cortés arrived in 1519, the Aztecs believed he was their returning god, Quetzalcoatl, and offered him hot chocolate which was considered the drink of the gods.
- Chocolate was born in Mexico. The Aztecs and Mayans first cultivated the cacao plant thousands of years ago. They typically enjoyed it as a drink, and they used the beans as currency.
- Chocolate, corn, and chilies were introduced to the world by Mexico.
- The Great Pyramid of Cholula in the Mexican State of Puebla is the largest in the world and also the largest monument ever constructed in the world.
- Mexico is the most populated Spanish-speaking country in the world.
- The Chichen Itza Pyramid in Mexico was named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
- During the colonial era, Hernán Cortés vowed to build 365 churches in Puebla—one for each day of the year. No one is exactly sure if all of these churches were built, and it’s clear that not all of them have survived, but both Puebla and the nearby town of Cholula are indeed full of churches.
- 5 de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico to commemorate the Mexican victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla, on 5 de mayo de 1862. Not sure why it’s celebrated in the US as well…I want to think that it started as a celebration of the Mexican immigrants and it just expanded. Or just an occasion to get together and drink the day away.
- Mexico City was founded by the Spaniards over the ruins of Tenochtitlan in 1521 which makes it the oldest city of North America, and not San Agustin, Florida which was instead founded in 1585.
- Mexico has 10-12% of the world’s biodiversity, which makes it the fourth country in the world in terms of biodiversity rate. Among the wildlife that you can easily appreciate are the spider monkeys, guacamayas, whales in Baja California.
- Frida Kahlo is one of the most renowned Mexican artists, known for her original self-portraits but also her tragic and controversial life. She was born in the neighborhood of Coyoacan, in Mexico City in 1907.
- The day of the dead, Dia de los Muertos is one of the most celebrated Mexican holidays that, in fact, celebrates the dead. It is only a coincidence that falls around the same time as Halloween, but it has a completely different meaning as the prehispanic culture believed that on that day the souls of their deads would come back on earth to pay a visit to family and friends. That’s why there is the tradition to prepare altars with all sorts of food and flowers to celebrate the reunion.
- Mexico is home to the world’s smallest volcano! The Cuexcomate Volcano sits just outside the city of Puebla and is only 43 feet tall. How cute is that!?
- According to the CIA, Mexico has the second-largest Catholic population
- …and yet Mexico is one of the countries that allow same-sex marriage and same-sex adoptions, marketing itself as a gay-friendly destination.
- According to the World Population Review, Mexico is the 7th most visited country in the World.
- Mexico is the world’s largest beer exporter, with a 26.9% share of total beer exports(source)
Essential facts about Mexico
- Geographical location: Mexico is the southern country of North America and the third-largest country in Latin America after Brazil and Argentina.
- Official Name: Estados Unidos Mexicanos (Mexican United States)
- Official Language: Spanish (de facto) and over 66 local languages and more than 300 dialects.
- Government: Federal presidential constitutional republic
- Currency: Mexican Peso. 1 USD =19 MXN at the present time
- Borders: On the north side the Mexican frontiers border with The United States of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas for a total of 3,141 km. In the south, Mexico shares borders with Guatemala for 962km and Belize for 250 km.
- Tallest mountain in Mexico: Pico de Orizaba 5.636 mt in the state of Veracruz.
- Total area almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi)
- Largest Lake: Lake Chapala
- Total Population: 108,701,000
- Capital city: Mexico City (Ciudad de Mexico – CDMX) – with a population of almost 12 million people and a maximum elevation of 3,930 m (12.890 ft) ( about 2300 in the city center)
- Second biggest city: Guadalajara, the capital city of the Jalisco State.
- The biggest pre-hispanic civilizations: Mayas, located in the south of Mexico in what is nowadays called Yucatan Peninsula, and Chiapas. Aztecas, in the central and northern region. Olmecas, in Veracruz and Tabasco.
- National Day: 16th September
- Religion: 83% Roman Catholicism
- Country Number/Prefix: +52
- Country Code: MX
Books about Mexico
I have included this section in case you wish you know more about Mexican culture and society. Of course, the list is no limited to these few. These books and authors are the most popular but I will add more as I read them.
The Labirynt of Solitude – Octavio Paz
Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel
The diary of Frida Khalo – Carlos Fuente
Aura: A Novel – Carlos Fuente
Massacre in Mexico – Elena Poniatowska
Mexico: a novel – James A. Michener
Slavery Inc.: The Untold Story of International Sex Trafficking – Lydia Cacho
Sidewalks – Valeria Luiselli
Do you have books to suggest? Please be my guest and write on…
For Further Reading
- 35 Mexico travel tips that you need to read before traveling
- The 39 most unique places to visit in Mexico
- How to get to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen, Cancun and Tulum
- 3 great tips on how to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen
- 8 fun facts about Cozumel