Mexico is an incredible country with a long history, incredible natural landscapes, rich cultures, and delicious food. It may have a reputation in some parts of the world for tequila, sunny beaches, and mariachi bands, but there’s much more going on in the country.
In this post, we’ll look at 30 fun facts about Mexico to learn a little bit more about the country.
1. There Are 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mexico
As a country full of natural and historical wonder, Mexico has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other in the Americas. Of the 35 sites in the country, twenty-seven of them are cultural sites, six of them are natural, and two are mixed.
Among the UNESCO Sites in Mexico are many archeological remnants of ancient civilizations such as Chitzen Itza and Palenque of the Mayans. Several of Mexico’s historic city centers are also designated as UNESCO Sites for their historical significance and representation of Spanish Colonialism.
2. Mexico is Home to the Largest Pyramid in the World
Although Egypt may be the country with the most famous pyramids, the largest one in the world is actually in the Central Mexican state of Puebla. The Great Pyramid of Cholula is the largest pyramid by volume in the world. The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is notably taller than the Pyramid of Cholula, but the latter is significantly wider.
While the pyramid is impressive, it is only part of the larger archeological zone of Cholula, which is about 154 hectares in size.
3. The World’s Smallest Volcano is in Mexico
Mexico breaks all kinds of size records. In addition to having the world’s largest pyramid, it also has the smallest volcano on the planet. Cuexcomate is a volcano in Puebla, Mexico that measures just 13.1 meters (43 feet) in height. It’s thought to have formed as the result of an eruption of the much larger Popocatépetl Volcano.
Cuexcomate is inactive; its last eruption happened in 1660, but locals are still prepared to evacuate should it become active again.
4. Mexico Has 59 Varieties of Indigenous Corn
Corn is a popular food all over the world today, but it is indigenous to the Americas, and Mexico has the largest variety of corn. In the United States, just under 10 different varieties of corn are grown. In Mexico, there are 59 different types.
Each different type of corn has different characteristics that make it more suitable for growing in certain conditions or for certain kinds of meals. This has been important in Mexico where growing conditions vary throughout the country.
5. 69 Different Languages are Spoken in Mexico
While Spanish is the de-facto national language of Mexico, the country doesn’t have an official language. Spanish is spoken by the overwhelming majority of the population, but there are 68 other national languages recognized by the Spanish government. 63 of these are indigenous languages, from which there are approximately 350 different dialects.
The indigenous languages with the most speakers in Mexico are Nahuatl with 1.6 million speakers, Yucatec Maya with 774,755 speakers, and Tzeltal Maya with 589,144 speakers.
6. Mexico is the Home of the Caesar Salad
The Caesar Salad may not be commonly associated with Mexico, but it originated in the city of Tijuana. The salad’s creator was an Italian chef and restaurant owner named Caesar Cardini. He had moved his restaurant from San Diego in California just over the border with Mexico during Prohibition so that he could serve alcohol at his restaurant.
It was during this period in Mexico that Cardini came up with the famous salad. After Prohibition, in 1835, Cardini moved back to California and successfully trademarked the salad dressing.
7. Mexico Has Impressive Biodiversity
The natural world in Mexico is unlike any other in the world. There is a very large number of plant and animal species in the country, which is why it’s considered to be in the top five of the world’s megadiverse countries. Although the country occupies just 1.5% of Earth’s surface area, Mexico makes up about 12% of the world’s biodiversity.
Especially in a region in Mexico’s southern states known as the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, there are a number of species that are at risk of extinction.
8. The Oldest University in North America is in Mexico
Among its superlatives, Mexico can count having the oldest university in North America. The schools that are now called the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico both trace their origins back to 1551 when they were founded by Royal Decree of then King Carlos I.
The university experienced various periods of closure during the 19th century for political reasons. UNAM was founded as a secular alternative to the Royal and Pontifical University.
9. The Mexican Flag Has a Story
The Mexican flag is one of many country flags that use the colors red, white, and green and one of many tricolors. But each color and symbol on the flag of Mexico has a meaning that makes it stand out from the rest. The white of the flag is said to represent the Roman Catholic religion, green represents hope and independence, and red represents the unity of the nation.
The coast of arms in the middle of the flag depicts an eagle devouring a serpent while standing on a cactus growing out of rocks surrounded by water. According to legend, the founders of what is now Mexico City founded a city where they saw this scene.
10. Mexico is the Only Home of the Volcano Rabbit
One of the most interesting facts about Mexico involves a very small rabbit. The volcano rabbit is a special rabbit that can only be found on the slopes of four extinct volcanoes in central Mexico. It’s one of the smallest rabbits in the world and has characteristically short ears and legs. It’s thought that there are only around 7,000 of these rabbits still living in Mexico.
11. Mexico’s National Dog is the Xoloitzcuintle
The national dog of Mexico is unlike any other, and it’s name is equally unique. The Xōlōitzcuintli, or Xolo, is thought to be one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. There’s archeological evidence suggesting their existence more than 3,500 years ago.
Also known as the Mexican hairless dog, Xolos are a rare breed that are known for exhibiting loyalty to their owners and for thriving in a pack of dogs.
12. Frida Kahlo Comes From Mexico
Frida Kahlo is one of the best known painters in the world. She was born in Coyoacán, Mexico and was married to Diego Rivera, another Mexican painter. She became famous for her colorful self portraits and for her work which explored questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, and race in Mexico.
Although her work was largely unknown until the 1970s, she has since become an international figure associated with things such as the feminism movement, the LGBTQ+ community, Chicanos, and more.
13. Mexico City’s Taxi Fleet is Huge
With more than 140,000 taxi cabs running in Mexico City, it’s got one of the largest fleets of taxis in the world. The metropolitan area of Mexico City has a population of well over 22 million, which is sure to account for the large number of taxis.
Modern taxis were popularized in Mexico City during the 1970s because of an initiative started by the Mexican government with the intention to make travel through the city more affordable. The current design of Mexican taxis utilizes Mexican pink and white paint.
14. Mexico City is Sinking
Some models measure parts of Mexico City sinking by as much as 51 centimeters (20 inches) per year! This is related to the fact that the city is located on a former body of water. The Aztec’s built the city of Tenochtitlán on an island in the middle of a lake, which is now the location of Mexico City.
The former lake below Mexico City has been drained, and the city continues to tap the ground for water, causing the city to sink further in a process called subsidence.
15. Cinco de Mayo is More Popular in the United States
It’s a common misconception outside of Mexico that May 5th is the country’s independence day — it’s not! The day actually commemorates the Battle of Puebla, when Mexico had victory over the Second French Empire.
The holiday is celebrated in the city of Puebla, but it isn’t celebrated much in the rest of the country. Mexico’s actual independence day is September 16th, which is indeed celebrated across the country.
16. It’s the 13th Largest Country in the World
Mexico covers an area of 1,964,375 km2 (758,449 mi2) which makes it the 13th-largest country in the world. It’s also the third-largest country in North America and the fifth-largest country in the Americas. Mexico’s large size lends itself to a variety of landscapes and indigenous cultures throughout the country.
The borders of Mexico have changed several times throughout history. Much of what is now part of the USA, such as the states of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and more, was once Mexican territory.
17. The Meteor That Killed the Dinosaurs Landed in Mexico
About 66 million years ago, a meteor crashed into the Earth, causing a mass extinction and decimating the world’s dinosaur population. The location of impact was in modern-day Mexico, just off of the Yucatán Peninsula coast.
The crater formed by the meteor is called the Chicxulub crater, named for the Mexican community in the area. It’s the second-largest impact structure on Earth after the Vredefort impact structure in South Africa, which was created many millions of years prior.
18. Mexico is the World’s Largest Beer Exporter
Mexico may have more of a reputation for tequila than beer, but the country actually exports more beer than any other in the word, and by a big margin. In 2021 alone, Mexico exported more than $5 million worth of beer. That’s more than twice as much as the next leading exporter, the Netherlands. Belgium and Germany round out the top three beer exporters.
The biggest importers of Mexican beer are the United States and Canada, though Australia, Chile, and South Africa also trade heavily in Mexican beer.
19. Mexico is the 7th Most Visited Country in the World
Given its beautiful beaches, colorful culture, and delicious food, it only makes sense that Mexico is one of the most visited countries in the world. Most of its visitors come from nearby countries in the Americas like the USA, Canada, and Central America, but people from all over the world make their way to Mexico.
As with just about every country, tourism in Mexico declined during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has since begun to rebound. Cancun, Tulum, Mexico City, and Puerto Vallarta are just a few of the country’s most popular locations for tourism.
20. It’s Home to the World’s Largest Spanish-Speaking Population
Mexico may not have an official language, but Spanish is the de-facto national language. With more than 124 million Spanish-speakers, it’s got more than any of the other Spanish-speaking countries. Spanish was brought to Mexico in the 16th century by Spanish conquistadors.
The Spanish spoken in Mexico is unique to any other country. There is a great deal of Mexican slang that isn’t present in other countries, and the accent is its own, though it shares more similarities with other Latin American varieties of Spanish than that which is spoken in Spain.
21. US Citizens Are the Biggest Immigrant Group in Mexico
When speaking of immigration between the United States and Mexico, the conversation is often focused on Mexicans emigrating to the USA. The truth, however, is that there is data showing that more people are moving into Mexico from the USA than vice versa in the past few years.
The groups moving to Mexico include Mexicans relocating back to Mexico as well as non-Mexicans moving to Mexico for retirement or other reasons.
22. Mexico is full of “Magic Towns”
The beaches in Mexico are incredible, but there’s more to the country than sandy shores and piña coladas. Magic Towns, or Pueblos Mágicos in Spanish, are towns that have been designated by the Mexican Government as places of natural beauty or cultural richness, among other distinctions.
As of 2020, there were 132 Magic Towns. Some of the more popular towns include Tulum and San Cristobal de las Casas, and many of them also feature UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
23. Chitzen Itza is one of the Seven New Wonders of the World
Chitzen Itza by itself is an excellent reason to visit Mexico. It’s one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and is located on the country’s Yucatán Peninsula. More than just a spectacular pyramid, Chitzen Itza was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Mayans.
Today, the Chitzen Itza archeological site is one of the most visited spots in Mexico, attracting millions of tourists each year. A fee is required for admission to the site, but Mexicans and foreigners with Mexican residency can enter for free each Sunday.
24. It Was Home to the First North American Printing Press
The adjustable-type printing press took some time to make it around the world. First invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1450 in Germany, it didn’t make its way to North America until 1539, when Juan Cromberger established the continent’s first press in Mexico City.
Even after it made its way to Mexico City, it would be another century before a printing press made its way from England to the British Colonies in Boston, in 1638.
25. It’s Been Inhabited for Many Thousands of Years
Mexico has been inhabited for so long that it is considered one of the world’s six cradles of civilization. While there are varying opinions on how long the area has been inhabited by humans, it seems most widely agreed upon that humans lived in the area at least 10,000 years ago.
This is because of artifacts such as pieces of stone tools found next to camp fire remains. Some archeologists claim that humans have lived in the area for upwards of 30,000 years.
26. The Longest Insect Migration Happens in Mexico
The Monarch butterfly migration is truly a site to behold. It’s considered the longest annual insect migration in the world and involves butterflies traveling around 3,000 miles between regions in the USA and Mexico.
The butterflies travel to warmer climates in California and Mexico to spend the winter before heading north again in the spring. There are several different populations of monarchs that travel between different locations on the continent.
27. Mexico Has the Most Cenotes
A cenote is a natural sinkhole where groundwater has been exposed. The name comes from a Mayan language, so perhaps it’s no surprise that Mexico has the greatest concentration of cenotes in the world. There are over 6,000 cenotes in Mexico, and most of these are located in the Yucatán Peninsula.
Once used as water sources or for sacrificial offering by the Maya, they are now popular swimming holes for tourists and locals alike.
28. The Only Real Castle in North America is Mexican
There are a few castles that have been built in North America, but most of them were built by super-wealthy castle-enthusiasts or Walt Disney. The only castle on the entire content that has served as a royal residence is Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. The castle is located at the entrance to Chapultepec Park and is open for visitors.
29. Mexican Food is Recognized by UNESCO
Mexican food is unlike any other. The country’s cuisine varies by region and is often based on ancient customs and practices. This is why it was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2010. The food is so good that imitations can be found all over the world! The city of Oaxaca is known for being one of the food capitals of Mexico.
30. Chocolate Comes From Mexico
Mexico’s relationship with chocolate is unlike that of any other country. The cacao tree is native to Mexico, the word “chocolate” comes from a Nahuatl word, and chocolate was used at least 4,000 years ago by the Mayans and Aztecs. It may not be the world’s biggest producer of chocolate today, but Mexico is where it all started.