Vibrant, colorful and full of character, Mexico is one of North America’s most exciting tourist destinations. This large country is home to many fascinating cultures and traditions and some fantastic and delicious food.
Here are 91 fun facts about Mexico you might not know.
91 Fun Facts about Mexico
- Mexico was conquered and colonized by Spain in the early 16th century. Mexico did try to buy off the Spaniards by offering gold, jade and other gifts and asked them to leave. The Spaniards refused.
2. Mexico won its independence in the early 19th century, a historic event still celebrated by Mexicans every September 16th.
3. In 2014, Mexico had a population of 120 million people, making it the 11th most populated country in the world.
4. Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.
5. There are over 68 other indigenous (native) languages still spoken in Mexico, but only 1% of the population speaks these languages.
6. The official name of Mexico is Estados Unidos Mexicanos (United Mexican States)
7. A Mexican tamale called the Zacahuil is three feet long and weighs about 150 pounds.
8. Mexico introduced chocolate (cacao), corn, Tequila and chilies to the world.
9. Mexico is home to a very rare rabbit called the volcano rabbit.
10. The largest wildcat in North America is the jaguar, found in Mexico’s southern jungles.
11. The first printing press in North America was used in Mexico City in 1539.
12. The National University of Mexico was founded in 1552 by Charles V of Spain and is the oldest university in North America.
13. Millions of monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico every year from the U.S and Canada
14. The border between Mexico and the United States is the second-largest border in the world.
15. Mexico is second only to Brazil in the number of Catholic citizens.
16. The city of Oaxaca is the home of the drink Mezcal.
17. Mexican children do not receive presents on Christmas Day. They receive gifts on January 6, the day on which Mexicans celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men.
18. Mexico is located in the “Ring of Fire”, one of the earth’s most violent earthquake and volcano zones.
19. Mexico City is built over the ruins of a great Aztec city, Tenochtitlan.
20. The Chihuahua is the world’s smallest dog and is named for the Mexican state.
21. Mexico’s size is 756,066 square miles, almost three times larger than Texas.
22. Mexico is the 14th largest country in the world by total area.
23. Modern Mexicans are a unique blend of many ancient civilizations and the Olmex, Zapotec, Toltec, Maya, Aztec, African, French and Spanish cultures.
24. The first great civilization in Mexico was the Olmecs (1400-300 B.C). They established many cities along the eastern coast of Mexico sculpted the famous Colossal Heads and worshipped a mysterious, unnamed God that was part human and part jaguar.
25. The Zapotec civilization (600 B.C-A.D.800) established great cities in southern Mexico and developed the first writing system in the Americas.
26. Snakes repeatedly appear in Mexican mythology, from the serpent god Kukulcan, found on the side of the Chichen Itza pyramid to the feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl.
27. Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in México, Central and South America. Its earliest documented use is around 1100 BC.
The majority of Mesoamerican people made chocolate beverages as did the Aztecs. They made it into a beverage known as xocolatl, a Nahuatl word meaning “Bitter water”. The cacao tree seeds have an intense bitter taste and must be fermented to develop the flavor.
28. The national symbol of Mexico is a golden eagle standing on a cactus with a snake in its beak (this is the Mexican coat of arms).
29. A chemist called Luis Ernesto Miramontes Cardenas invented birth control pills in Mexico.
30. There are 50 varieties of indigenous corn in Mexico.
31. Tomatoes originated in Mexico. Spanish explorer Cortez brought them from Mexico to Europe in 1519.
32. Mexican electrical engineer Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena created the “Chromoscopic Adapter for Television Equipment” in Mexico in 1941. This was essentially the first color television transmission system.
33. The world’s largest pyramid is in Mexico, not Egypt. The Great Pyramid of Cholula or Tlachihualtepetl is in the archaeological site of San Andrews Cholula. It is believed to have been constructed over 2000 years ago.
34. The most important festival in Mexico is Dia de Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead). The festival originated in ancient Mesoamerica and was created to celebrate those who have died. It is a festive event with lots of music, quite different from Halloween.
35. The Mexican sombrero was born of practicality. The word sombrero comes from the Spanish word sombra which means shadow or shade. The hats were created with their characteristic wide brims to protect those wearing them from the sun.
36. Mexico has 34 UNESCO World Heritage sites and is home to over 37,000 registered archaeological sites.
37. There are over 48 active volcanoes in Mexico. One of those is the smallest volcano in the world. Little Cuexcomate Volcano in Puebla is just 43 feet tall – tiny in the world of volcanoes. And Mexico’s highest peak is an inactive volcano called Pico de Orizaba.
38. The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest desert in North America. It covers just under 250,000 square miles across six Mexican states and parts of Texas and New Mexico.
39. Mexico is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It is home to approx 10% of the world’s biodiversity and over 200,000 different species of plants and animals live in Mexico. Of those, 2,500 have been placed under protection including the jaguar and the Mexican Wolf.
40. Mexicans work the longest average hours in the world. The average person works 43 hours a week or 2,255 hours per year.
41. Mexico is the world’s largest producer of silver. In 2017 5,600 MT was produced in Mexico.
42. The Aztecs sacrificed 1% of the population each year. This was considered essential to appease and honor the gods. The sacrifices would occur during specific rituals at certain times of the year.
43. Mexico is the world’s largest exporter of beer. We all know Corona but they also produce and export Bohemia, Victoria, Sol, and many more.
44. Mexico City is sinking by 3 feet each year. This is because there is a large demand for water in the city. This water is being taken from the aquifer which sits below the city. As a result, buildings are now leaning in the city.
45. When a girl turns 15 in Mexico, a bit party called a quinceanera is traditionally held in her honor. This is seen to make the transition from girl to woman.
46. Mexico City has the largest taxi cab fleet in the world. It is believed that there are 100,000 taxis in the city.
47. There is only one shop in Mexico where guns can be purchased legally. Most guns in Mexico have been smuggled in from the United States.
48. Mexico City is believed to be the most traffic-congested city in the world.
49. The lowest elevation point in Mexico is Lagunda Salada. It is 10 metres above sea level.
50. Mexico has four time zones across its three geographical regions: northern, central, and southern.
51. Mexico City has the most museums in the world. It also has 30 concert halls and 100 art galleries.
52. The national sport in Mexico is known as Charreira. It involves distinctive horsemanship techniques.
53. The Caesar salad was invented in Mexico by Caesar Cardini.
54. Mexico has two climates. In the north the climate is temperate. Average temperatures are generally between 16 and 18 degrees Celsius outside the Sonoran Desert.
The average temperature in Southern Mexico is between 20 and 24 degrees. The southern region of Mexico receives more than twice the rainfall of the northern region.
55. Plague was one of the key reasons that the Spanish were able to conquer Mexico. The Spaniards carried smallpox with them from Europe when they arrived in Mexico in the 16th century.
They had been able to build up some resistance to the disease. However, it wiped out many Mexicans and left the Aztecs short on people to fight the Spaniards.
56. Mexico became the most important of Spain‘s colonies. Its gold and silver made Spain the richest and most powerful country in Europe. Its position between Spain and its colonies in the Americas and Asia also added to its importance.
57. 30% of Mexico’s exports are electronics. Only China exports more electronics to the USA than Mexico. Mexico is the 6th largest producer of electronics in the world.
58. Most cars in North America are made in Mexico. Big car brands like Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors have operated manufacturing plants in Mexico since the 1930s.
59. 82% of Mexicans own mobile phones compared to only 40% of other Latin American countries. Mexico’s mountainous geography makes landline communication difficult and expensive.
60. Mexico is the 6th largest producer of oil in the world. Its oil industry is worth $86 billion and pumps about 4 million barrels of oil each day.
61. Chicoasen Dam is the tallest dam in North America. It is built on the Grijalva River and stands 261 meters high and 485 meters tall. Its reservoir is estimated to produce about 2000 MW of electricity per day.
62. The Guadalajara International Book Fair is the most important cultural event in the Spanish-speaking world. The fair was first held in 1987 at the University of Guadalajara. The fair runs for nine days.
63. Cheese-making is a big deal in Northern Mexico. The state of Chihuahua is well known for its cheeses.
64. Southern Mexican food contains ingredients quite unusual for those of us from the western world. These include grasshoppers (chapulines), ants, and grubs.
65. Dinner is considered to be the most important meal of the day in Mexico. It normally begins with a soup followed by meat with salsa, beans, and tortillas.
66. The meteorite that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs landed in Mexico near the town of Chicxulub in the Yucatan Penisula. It is possible to visit the 150 km diameter crater today.
It is believed that the meteorite crashed into the earth 66 million years ago and that this even resulted in the extinction of 75% of plant and animal life on the planet.
67. The largest and longest underwater cave system in the world is in Mexico. The longest underwater cave in the world, Sac Actun, was discovered in 2018 on the Yucatan Peninsula. It is 216 miles long. The deepest cenote or freshwater sinkhole is in Zacaton in the Tamaulipas. It is more than 282 meters deep.
68. Mexico is one of a few countries with more coastline than land borders. It is estimated that Mexico has 11,000 kilometers of coastline along the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
69. Mexico City is the most populous metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere and the 7th largest in the world with a population of over 21 million.
70. Mexico is the 8th wealthiest city in the world and has one of the highest economic growth rates of any city. It contributes to nearly 20% of the country’s GDP.
71. The Zocalo, the main square in Mexico City, is the world’s third-largest public square. The square is in the exact center of what was the Aztec empire. This square turns into the world’s largest ice skating rink in the winter.
72. Mexico has the cheapest subway system in the world. It is also the largest subway system in Latin America. It spans 12 lines over 140 miles and is used by 7 million people daily.
73. Today’s Mexican flag was adopted in 1968 and consists of three vertical stripes. The green represents hope, joy, and love. The white stripe in the center symbolizes peace, purity, and honesty. The red stripe represents the bravery, courage, and blood of those who died fighting for Mexico’s independence.
74. The Villa de Guadalupe is the most visited Catholic site in the world after the Vatican in Rome.
75. It is suggested that Mexico has had inhabitants for around 23,000 years. This is based on tools found in Mexico.
76. A big part of the USA once belonged to Mexico. Texas was once a province of Mexico. When Texas declared its independence from Mexico, the result was war between the USA and Mexico between 1846 and 1848.
77. Mexico’s $2.4 trillion economy is currently the 11th largest globally. It continues to grow and is expected to become one of the world’s top 5 economies by 2050.
78. Mexican cuisine is one of only three worldwide to be considered Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
79. Over 60% of the population of Mexico is what is known as Mestizos. This means people who have a mix of Amerindian and Spanish blood.
80. The largest and most densely populated cities in Mexico are Mexico City, Itzapalpa and Ecatepec.
81. Sugary drinks kill more people in Mexico than violent crimes. Mexico tops the list of fattest countries in the world with the USA and 33% of Mexicans are classified as obese. Mexico is also the world’s biggest consumer of Coca-Cola, with the highest consumption per capita.
82. Popcorn was first domesticated in Mexico 9000 years ago.
83. In 1913 Mexico had three different presidents over one hour.
84. Mexico has its own NASA space program. It is known as the Agencia Espacial Mexicana and was created in 2010.
85. In Mexico artists can use their artwork to pay their taxes.
86. The longest river in Mexico is the Rio Grande of the Rio Bravo del Norte. This river begins in the southwest of the United States and flows into Mexico.
87. The world’s biggest cactus is called the Cardon Cactus. These Mexican cacti can measure up to 70 feet in height and can live up to 300 years.
88. The Mariachi are the popular musicians who play folk music in Mexico. They mainly use string instruments but can also use trumpets. They play at birthdays, weddings and other major celebrations in Mexico.
89. Mexican food is super healthy. Most people associate Mexican food with being spicy, and heavy but, in reality, it’s really healthy. That’s because it’s high in vitamins and minerals and low in fat.
Some dieticians believe that Mexican food is the perfect blend of the four food groups, as meat, dairy, grain, and vegetables feature in all dishes in one form or another. All of this despite Mexico being the fattest country in the world.
90. Mexican dishes require special utensils to prepare them. To prepare authentic Mexican dishes properly, there are several tools that are needed.
These tools include a molcajete, which is a small mortar used to grind spices. Then there’s also a molinillo, which is used for making foam chocolate, and a comal, a flat pan used to fry tortillas.
91. Nachos were an accidental creation. Nachos are a popular, and delicious snack that came about completely by accident, much like the Caesar salad.
One night back in 1943, Mexican chef and restaurateur Ignacio Anaya Garcia (known as “Nacho”), threw together ingredients to make a snack plate for a group of U.S military wives who were visiting his restaurant. He fried some tortillas, served them with grated cheese and jalapeno peppers, and called the dish” Nachos Especiales”).