15 Mexican Facts You Need To Know Before Visiting!
Mexico is a popular holiday destination thanks to its interesting sites, great weather, beaches, food and more. Find out more about this great Central American country right here!
1. United Mexican States
Although commonly referred to simply as Mexico, officially it is called Estados Únidos Mexicanos, or the United States of Mexico in English. Made of up 31 separate states in total, the country is the 14th biggest in the world.
Although it may be the 14th largest country in terms of area, Mexico actually has the 11th biggest population in the world, with a total number of over 122million people living in the country. It also has the second largest number of Catholics in the world there, after the South American country of Brazil.
Thanks to its rich and varied culture, dozens of languages are still spoken in Mexico, including a form of Aztec! However, Spanish remains the dominant language of the country, although the indigenous languages are also well represented. In fact, Mexico is the largest Spanish speaking country in the world, with over 50million native speakers and the vast majority of the rest of the population speaking it as a second language.
4. No Extradition
Mexico operates a clear no extradition policy for prisoners that would face a death penalty if they were extradited abroad. The country has successfully saved 400 defendants from this, with most of the extradition orders coming from the USA.
5. The Great Pyramid of Cholula
When you say pyramid you immediately think of Egypt, Pharaohs and the Ancient Egyptian civilisation. However, did you know that the largest pyramid in the world is in fact in Mexico? The Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl, is a huge complex located in Cholula, Puebla, in the south of the country, and is definitely a site to see, having been constructed over a period of 1000 years to make it the colossal size it is!
6. UNESCO Sites
Aside from its impressive pyramid, Mexico boasts over 30 UNESCO World Heritage sites throughout the country, which is the largest number of any country in the Americas. This is in part due to its exciting history involving ancient civilisations, including the Aztecs and Mayans, as well as for its stunning natural beauty.
As mentioned above, the Aztecs were an ancient civilisation that ruled in central Mexico between the 14th and 16th centuries, and they definitely left their mark on the country. Although eventually defeated and conquered by the Spanish Conquistadors, their bloodlines, legacy and artefacts live in. The one thing this civilisation of the past is known for is its human sacrifices.
8. The Flag
The Mexican flag is a well-known one, having been in use unofficially for over 100years. Made up of 3 vertical stripes, the left green stripe stands for hope, the middle white stripe represents purity, and the right red stripe represents the blood of those who died fighting for Mexico's independence. And the picture of an eagle eating a snake is based on an Aztec legend.
Bullfighting in Mexico was introduced by the Spanish, and it nowadays it has the most bullfighting rings in the world. The largest of these rings in the world is also in Mexico; the Plaza México in central Mexico City, which seats 48,000 people. Falling out of favour recently due to its obvious animal cruelty, 3 states in Mexico have already banned it.
The worldwide famous alcoholic spirit from Mexico, tequila, is one of the most enduringly popular too. Distilled from the blue agave plant in the area surrounding the city of Tequila (yes there’s a city called Tequila!), and its production is protected by Mexican law. It has been made there since around the 16th Century, although the Aztecs distilled spirits from the blue agave plant before this too.
Another worldwide sensation that we can thank Mexico for is chocolate, with the word itself believed to come from the Aztec language, although the sweet stuff has been dated back to 1750BC in the country. Enjoyed as a drink for most of its history, the Spanish brought it back to Europe where it was sweetened and began to turn into what we know today.
While it may be their neighbours north of the border that we think of when we hear about obesity, Mexico actually surpassed the USA in this back in 2013. Thanks to more sedentary lifestyles, and a diet heavier in imported yet popular fast food in lieu of the healthier traditional diet, 70% of Mexicans are overweight, and over 30% of this number are clinically obese.
13. Junk Food Tax
Mexico is not taking their obesity epidemic lying down however, and in January 2014 the government introduced a stringent junk food task in an effort to curb this huge problem. Adding a 5% tax to things such as fizzy drinks and pre-packaged junk food, consumption of these has already decreased and other countries are looking at this as an encouraging way to battle their own obesity problems.
14. Mexico City
It’s the biggest city in Mexico with a population of approximately 9million, and Mexico City is also the country’ capital. Found in the very centre of the country, it is also the oldest capital of the Americas, having been created in the 13th Century by the Aztecs. Other notable facts are that it has the largest number of taxis in the world with 100,000, and is unsurprisingly also the most traffic congested!
15. Town of Naco
The town of Naco is a fascinating place in that it is divided by the second longest border in the world, that between Mexico and the USA, with there being the town of Naco in the Mexican state of Sonora, but also Naco in Arizona on the other side of the fence. Luckily the border crossing is open 24hours a day!