Interesting Things You Might Not Know About Mexico

Updated: Dec 20, 2020


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We gathered some interesting facts and information about Mexico from across the web to share with you, so be sure to pass it along to a friend. There are so many misconceptions about Mexico, its safety, culture and more. Mexico is actually one of the most visited countries in the world! If you have a cool fact or info that you would like to share please leave it in the comment section below and we will add it!


Sian Ka'an Nature Reserve

Mexico is not a big desert! About 2/3 of Mexico is forest, rainforest and jungle. Mexico is in the top five countries in the world in terms of biodiversity and is technically thought of as mega diverse. It is first place in the world for reptile biodiversity, second for mammals, fourth in amphibians and plants and in tenth place for birds. Just like many other North Americans, the monarch butterfly migrates to Mexico each year. There is a sanctuary for these beautiful creatures call Piedra Herrada that you can visit and be surrounded by nature and these amazing travelers. If you are staying in Cancun or the Riviera Maya you can make a visit to Sian Ka'an Nature Reserve where you can see dolphins in their natural habitat or Rio Lagartos where you can see flamingos in the wild. You can also swim with whale sharks that make a visit to the area June through September. The Isla Contoy National Bird Sanctuary is an amazing place to visit to see around 120 species of birds including flamingos and feed stingrays!

Quick Facts

  • Mexico’s size is 756,066 square miles, which is almost three times larger than Texas.

  • Only ten countries in the world have a larger population than Mexico’s 109,955,400 people.

  • Mexico City has the highest elevation and is oldest city in North America. It is also one of the largest cities in the world.

  • Mexico is the 14th largest country in the world by total area.

  • Mexico is located in the “Ring of Fire,” one of the earth’s most violent earthquake and volcano zones.

  • Mexico City is built over the ruins of a great Aztec city, Tenochtitlán. Because it is built on a lake, Mexico is sinking at a rate of 6 to 8 inches a year as pumps draw water out for the city’s growing population.

Not only is Mexico very diverse in nature but in people as well. Did you know that technically Spanish is not the official language? Around 6 million people that live in this country speak no fewer than 68 different languages. Keep in mind that with every different language the people also have their own customs, dress and traditions. Every government office has official documents available in every one of these languages! Over 1.3 million citizens speak Nahuatl which was the language of the Aztecs. We have words like chocolate, guacamole, jicama, chipotle and avocado that come from this language.


Coba Mayan Ruins

Mexico has over 150 archaeological sites open to the public for people to visit. Most of the sites still have much more excavation and restoration to be done. There are thousands of sites that have been recorded with the National Institute of Archaeology and History (INAH) but are not currently open to the public. Chichen Itza has been named one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is an amazing place to visit. Ek Balam is a personal favorite and thought to have been more important than Chichen Itza in its glory days. The Mayan ruins of Tulum are the second most visited ruins in Mexico despite being one of the smallest in size, maybe because it is just a short walk to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world! Coba has a unique setting being nestled in thick jungle and is one of the sites that you can actually climb the large pyramid.


The Aztecs adopted human sacrifice from earlier cultures (such as the Olmecs) because they believed the universe would come to an end and the sun would cease to move without human blood. There are many ancient statues of gods sticking out their tongues, such as Huitzilopochtli, which may be a sacred gesture that suggests their thirst for blood. During an Aztec human sacrifice, five priests, sometimes with their faces painted with different colors, held the sacrificial victims’ arms and legs. The heart, referred to as “precious eagle cactus fruit,” was cut from the live victim and burned on a fire in the temple. Shells and stones on the Aztecs' ritual blades symbolized the faces of the gods for which the sacrificial hearts were intended. They would sacrifice between 10,000 to 50,000 victims per year. Under the rule of Montezuma II, 12,000 victims were sacrificed in one day. The Aztecs played ritual ball game known as tlachtli in which the losers were often sacrificed to the gods.


Cinco de Mayo is a largely misunderstood holiday. Most people only think of it as a good excuse to partake in a frosty margarita and have a big fiesta. Surprisingly it is celebrated more in the United States than Mexico. Cinco de Mayo is also not Mexico's Independence Day but a celebration of Mexico's victory over France in the Battle of Puebla.


For Americans, it is tradition to give loved ones a red rose on a special occasion, but colors of flowers have different meanings in Mexico. It is thought that red flowers cast spells while white are thought to lift them. It is tradition that yellow flowers signify mourning and death.



"The three colors of Mexico’s flag hold deep significance for the country and its citizens: green represents hope and victory, white stands for the purity of Mexican ideals and red brings to mind the blood shed by the nation’s heroes." - History.com


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References

Ackroyd, Peter. 2004. Cities of Blood: Voyages Through Time. New York, NY: DK Publishing.

Bernal, Ignatio. 1968. 3000 Years of Art and Life in Mexico. Trans. Carolyn B. Czitrom. New York, NY: Henry N. Adams, Inc.

Cobb, Allan B. 2004. Mexico: A Primary Source Cultural Guide. New York, NY: PowerPlus Books.

Goodwin, William. 1999. Mexico. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books.

Gruzinski, Serge. 2001. Images at War: Mexico from Columbus to Blade Runner (1492-2019). Trans. Heather MacLean. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Kalman, Bobbie. 2002. Mexico the People. New York, NY: Crabtree Publishing Company.

Merrell, Floyd. 2003. The Mexicans: A Sense of Culture. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

The World Fact Book: Mexico. November 20, 2008. Accessed: November 25, 2008.