5 Things you didn’t know about Mexico
Mexico is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet, and it’s not hard to see why. From incredible historical monuments and architecture to the incredible food which has swept around the world (tacos and guacamole!), Mexico pretty much has everything you need to have a good trip away. Plus, there are beaches. But there’s more Mexico facts than famous beaches, right?
Yet it’s always nice to know a little bit more about a country before you visit it. That’s what this article, written by my friends Agness and Cez is all about. Mexico isn’t just a holiday destination or a place to travel to, it’s also one of the most culturally influential societies in the world today. That’s no small feat when you’re bordered by the USA.
Here are 5 Mexico facts you didn’t know
1. Mexico is responsible for inventing a lot of what we use today
For instance, did you know that it was Mexicans who were responsible for the invention of Chewing Gum, or popcorn, or even the rubber ball? A lot of these inventions come from as far back as the Aztecs and their societies. The Aztecs were surprisingly advanced. If it hadn’t have been for the Spanish and all that horrible flu and sickness, who knows where they would be today.
To fill in the gaps a bit on these Mexico facts, popcorn was invented by the Aztecs in around 1150 – 1350 CE. It’s not known by whom. Chewing Gum was invented by the Aztecs as a way of sticking things together – the mouth-freshening qualities were just a secondary consideration. The Rubber Ball was originally created before 1600 BCE by a civilization known as the Olmec (the oldest in the modern-day Mexico area) and was later adopted by the Mayans and Aztecs for use in ball games.
Mexico is also the first place known to have adopted practices like universal education and some even believe, tobacco smoking. More recently, Mexicans have been responsible for the invention of the Color TV, the Birth Control Pill, and the modern mechanism for making your toilet flush. So, next time you think of Mexico as a place which hasn’t contributed much to the world, think again.
2. Its real name was (partially) due to bad translators
Whilst we all call Mexico, Mexico, that’s not its real name. Just because we can say it in English doesn’t mean it’s true – it’s not one of the Mexico facts. The real name of Mexico is actually a bit longer. It is Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos. That translates to the United States of Mexico.
The meaning behind Mexico – or Mexicanos – originally came from something of a misunderstanding. After the Spanish had arrived and conversed with the Aztecs, they believe that the Aztecs had been calling this the land of Mexica. So obviously, from that point it stuck. However, it wasn’t until 1821, when Mexico declared official independence from Spain, that the united states part was added.
3. Mexico has 34 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
According to this list of Mexico facts – and a couple of other lists too – that makes it 5th in the world for number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. No small feat of historic significance. Unfortunately, Native American history is usually forgotten about and replaced by the modern US history which most people have been brought up with. Mexico, however, still has a strong thread of its roots located within its society. Th fact that they look after and protect their historical artifacts is an example of that.
These architectural wonders are mainly what has been left behind by the Aztecs and the Mayans. For example, Chichen Itza and Tulum are both incredible structures which have been kept in great condition. There are a huge number of them, so pick where you’re going to go in Mexico and then find which ones are nearby. You’re bound to not be that far from at least one.
TIP: I am a crazy pyramid lover and in Mexico I’ve been to more than 15 archaeological sites. Read about those I visited and you should not miss either 😉
4. Mexican cuisine is highly diverse
As a country of over 15.7 million indigenous people, with enough diversity amongst themselves to hold up 68 distinct languages, Mexico isn’t filled with people who are the same. In fact, that diversity is so much so that the cuisine choices and practices throughout the country are known for being very different. It isn’t all tacos and burritos, as you might have been led to believe by their Northern neighbor.
Seaside areas are particularly known for their own blend of cuisine based heavily on seafood. Ceviche is often a favorite, being a mix of fish, onion, lemons, lime, and chili. Yet head down to the southern areas of Mexico and you’ll find much more grounded dishes like mole. Mole is a rich blend of chili, chocolate, spices and much more.
Stay at a luxurious and opulent getaway destination like the Finest Playa Mujeres, and you’re bound to end up finding yourself digging into a lot of what makes real Mexican food so great. It will be an experience unlike anything you’ve had before.
5. Friendliness is important
The final entry on our list of Mexico facts is one which most holidaymakers and travelers will probably find themselves becoming a part of whether they like it or not. That is the importance of greetings and farewells in Mexico.
Whenever you meet someone, you should make a conscious effort to make sure to greet or welcome them in as friendly a way as possible. That means that hugs are common practice – even among men. Now, most Mexicans are going to probably be aware that this isn’t a part of most other cultures, but don’t be taken aback when a friendly Mexican gentleman goes in for the kill by outstretching his arms and walking towards you. It’s normal.
Learn as you go
Mexico is the perfect place to learn as you go. From the moment you step off the plane you’re probably going to find that Mexico isn’t the country you’ve read or heard about before. That’s part of the adventure and what makes it such a great travel destination.
TIP: Read about 26 reasons why Mexico is my favorite country in the world and why yo should visit it 🙂
*Have you been to Mexico or is it still on your bucket list only?