19 Facts You Never Knew About Mexico
Mexico is filled with interesting food, jewelry, people, cities, and culture. While many think they know everything there is to know about our great country, the region’s complex history and vibrant culture leave lots to explore for everyone.
In this month’s post, we’ll give you an inside peek with 19 facts you (probably) never knew about Mexico.
1. Mexican food is more than just food
Mexico is the birthplace of many culinary traditions around the world. It’s also a land that views food as more than just sustenance.
Food is considered a part of Mexican cultural traditions and thought of as a way the land connects with the soul. UNESCO has even placed traditional Mexican food on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This recognition was based on a “comprehensive cultural model” comprising:
- Ritual practices
- Age-old skills
- Culinary techniques
- Ancestral community customs and manners
Some other Mexican food facts include…
2. It’s the birthplace of chocolate
The Mesoamerican people were the first to discover chocolate. Generally it was consumed as a hot liquid. This drink, now known as hot chocolate around the world, was considered a sacred drink by the Aztec people.
3. It’s where corn, tomatoes, and chiles were first cultivated
Given Mexico’s rich agricultural history, it’s no surprise that those inhabiting the country were the first to cultivate key produce now important to many other cultures around the world.
These foods include:
- Corn (there are 59 types found in Mexico!)
4. Caesar salad was created in Tijuana
Many people believe this classic salad was first created and served in Italy or the USA. It was actually first created and served in Mexico!
While the exact origins are still up for some debate, legend has it that an Italian-American restaurateur created the salad at his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico. His restaurant catered to Americans traveling to the city to escape prohibitions and get a drink. The salad quickly turned into a restaurant staple.
5. Mexico flourished under native cultures for thousands of years
Mexico civilizations prior to Spanish colonization, referred to as Pre-Columbian Mexico, date back to anywhere between 13,000 and 40,000 years.
These cultures were advanced for their time, and many of their agricultural and customs live on today through Mexico’s culture.
Civilizations from pre-Columbian times generally refer to either Oasisamerica, which included some of the Southwestern United States, and Mesoamerica, which includes…
6. Mexico is named after Mexico City, which used to be an island
Mexico’s full name is actually Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, or the Mexican United States. Contrary to popular belief, the country was named after it’s biggest city and capital, Mexico City. The city was also the former capital of the Aztec people, and used to be called Mexico-Tenochtitlan.
The city was initially an island on Lake Texcoco which was connected to the mainland through a system of bridges. After Spanish colonization and many years of flooding, the lake was drained. Modern Mexico City now lies on almost the entirety of the lakebed.
7. There is meaning behind the Mexican flag
You might have seen the Mexican flag in the past, but have you ever considered its meaning?
Every stripe on the flag has symbolic relevance:
- The green left stripe represents the hope of the independence movement
- The white middle stripe is representative of unity and the purity of the Catholic faith
- The red right stripe represents the blood of the nation’s heroes
The picture of the emblem-shield of an eagle eating a snake symbolizes the Aztec heritage of the region, as the imagery of an eagle eating a snake is important to Aztec culture.
Legend has it that the gods advised the Aztecs they would know where to form their city when they saw an eagle eating a serpent. They then saw such a scene take place in what is now Mexico City.
Mexican nature facts
8. Mexico is in the ring of fire
The ring of fire is a geologically important and active area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. Many of the world’s most dangerous and active volcanoes live along its horseshoe shape. In fact, 75% of the worlds most active volcanoes live in the zone, equaling 450 volcanoes!
Popocatépetl, located just 70 km southeast of Mexico City, is considered the most violent volcano in Mexico.
9. Bonus Tip: Mexico is also home of the Volcano Rabbit, the second smallest rabbit in the world. The rabbit is extremely rare and lives exclusively around Mexican volcanoes.
10. The world’s widest tree is in Mexico
The Árbol del Tule, a Montezuma cypress tree in Oaxaca, is known worldwide as the widest tree on earth!
Given it’s incredible girth (58 meters), some have speculated over the years that the tree is actually a fusion of multiple trees. That was squashed with the availability of DNA testing, which confirmed that it is in fact one tree.
While the exact age of the tree is unknown at this time, experts estimate that it’s around 1140 years old. That’s a lot of rings!
11. Mexico City is sinking every year
As stated above, Mexico City used to be an island on a large lake. The city now sits on top of an aquifer that it uses to supply water to the metropolitan area’s 21 million residents.
Unfortunately, this water extraction is causing the city to sink at a rate of 3.2 feet every year! With no end in site and buildings starting to lose stability, the city is exploring alternative water cultivation methods such as collecting rainwater.
Random fun facts!
- 12. Mexico Contains the oldest university in the world, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
- 13. The Chihuahua breed of dog is named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
- 14. There are 68 official indigenous languages spoken in Mexico
- 15. The color television was invented in Mexico!
- 16. The state of Yucatan was named as such because the local people responded to colonizers request for a name of the region with a response of “yucatan,” which in the native tongue means “I do not understand.”
- 17. Mexico contains one of the 7 wonders of the world, the Mayan pyramid named Chichen Itza
- 18. Mexico is the world’s largest Spanish speaking country
19. Mexico is the world’s largest producer of silver
In Mexico, silver is not only a part of the history of the region, but a part of the cultural heritage of the country. Mexico produces more silver than any other country. This availability has led to the creation of beautiful, handcrafted jewelry by artisans throughout the country.
Taxco in particular is an influential and important silver-making region. The city is where William Spratling, the godfather of modern Mexican silver jewelry, developed his craft and brought to prominence the silver jewelry of today.
The city is now filled with markets where you can find beautiful Mexican silver jewelry made by local artisans.
Explore Mexico’s silver jewelry
Want to learn more about Mexican silver jewelry? Take a look at our selection and explore our blog to find out more about Mexico, and silver jewelry’s influence on the fashion and the culture of Mexico.