100+ Interesting Facts About Mexico

Fun facts about Mexico header

Below, you will find a montón of fun and interesting facts about Mexico, covering its history, people, culture, and food.

¡Hola, amigos!” Welcome to Mexico, a culturally and geographically diverse country bordering the United States in the north and Central America in the south. 

For many more fun facts about Mexico’s capital, read facts about Mexico City!

General Mexico Facts

  • Mexico is the smallest country in North America (according to the NA definition, which only includes Canada, the USA, and Mexico). At just under 2 million km2, it is around one-fifth the size of the United States or Canada.  
A map of Mexico
  • With a current population of 130.7 million, Mexico is the 10th most populous country in the world.  
  • Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, has a population of approximately 22 million (metropolitan area), making it the 5th largest city in the world by population.  
  • Almost half of Mexicans are under the age of 20
  • The Mexican flag is green, white, and red, representing hope, purity, and the blood of national heroes. A mythical eagle at the center represents Aztec heritage. 
The flag of Mexico
  • Mexico has 66 people/km2 (172/mi²), which makes it twice as crowded as the United States, and 16.5 times more crowded than Canada, but 4 times less crowded than the United Kingdom.  
  • 68 official languages are recognized by the Mexican government, most of which are indigenous. Spanish is the de facto language spoken by the majority of Mexicans.  
  • Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world by population, and second largest by size (after Argentina). 
  • Mexico’s official name is Estados Únidos Mexicanos (or “United Mexican States”). 
  • Mexico consists of 31 states plus the capital region, Mexico City.  
Zócalo, Mexico City's main square
The Zócalo, the main square of Mexico City
  • The smallest Mexican state is Tlaxcala (4000 km2 or 1544mi2). It is the same size as America’s smallest state, Rhode Island.  
  • Mexico shares a 3,152 km (1959 mile) border with the United States. It also has borders with Guatemala and Belize. 
  • In Spanish, “México is pronounced “Mehico”. The origins of the name Mexico are uncertain. A common theory is that the name Mexico originates from “Mexitli” (place in the middle of the century plant) or Mēxihco (place in the Navel of the Moon) in the Nahuatl language, but there are several others. 
  • Mexican presidents are elected for one 6-year term only, and there is no vice president.  
  • 80% of Mexico’s exports go to the United States. These include machinery and transport equipment, steel, electrical equipment, chemicals, food products, coffee, petroleum, and petroleum products. 
Piles of coffee beans drying in the sun in Mexico
Mexico is one of the world’s top coffee producers.
  • 90% of Mexico’s trade is governed by free trade agreements. The most notable one is United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced NAFTA in 2018. It has more free trade and investment agreements than any other country. 
  • Mexico has the 15th largest economy in the world, with a GDP of $1.192 trillion. 
  • Wealth inequality is a major issue in Mexico. The richest 10% of the country earn 42.2% of the country’s income. Mexican Carlos Slim is the richest man in Latin America. His net worth is equivalent to 6% of Mexico’s GDP.  
  • The Mexican peso is the most traded currency in Latin America, and third most traded in the Americas after the US and Canadian dollar. 
A cathedral and fountain in the historic center of Puebla in Mexico
The historic center of Puebla is one of Mexico’s 35 UNESCO sites
  • Mexican workers are ranked as the hardest working in the world based on number of working hours per year. 
  • The national sport of Mexico is charrería, a type of rodeo, but football (soccer) is the most popular sport.  
A beautiful beach resort in Cancun, Mexico
Cancun is Mexico’s most popular beach resort.
  • Mexico is the most popular destination among American travelers, who flock to Mexico’s beachside accommodations, from family friendly to adults-only all inclusive resorts. In 2019, 39.3 Americans went to Mexico. Canada, in the second spot, received less than half as many American visitors. Mexico receives more tourists than any country in Latin America.   
  • Over 30% of Mexicans lives on less than $5 per day.  
  • Mexico has had the fourth-highest number of COVID deaths in the world.  

Fun Facts About Mexico

  • Things invented in Mexico include color television, toilet floats, and oral contraceptives (the birth control pill).  
  • The meteorite which most likely led to the extinction of the dinosaurs landed in Mexico. Evidence of the impact is found at the Chicxulub crater in the Yucatán Peninsula. 
Scuba divers in a Mexican cenote
Scuba divers in a Mexican cenote
  • The Yucatán Peninsula is known for its cenotes, huge sinkholes caused by collapsed limestone that exposes groundwater. The Maya used them as a source of water and for sacrificial offerings. Merida, Mexico is the Yucatan’s capital and has a rich Mayan and colonial history. 
  • Mexico is the world’s largest silver producer. It is also home to the largest silver mine by reserve size in the world, Penasquito in the state of Zacatecas. 
  • The largest pyramid in the world by volume is in Mexico. It is the called Tlachihualtepetl, or “the Great Pyramid.” It is located at Cholula in Puebla state, 100 km (62 miles) southeast of Mexico City. It is shorter but much wider than the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt.  
  • The ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itzá in Yucatán state were chosen as one of the New7Wonders of the world in 2007. Its main pyramid has 365 steps, one for each day of the year.  
  • Mexico has over 70 active volcanoes. One of the most active, Popocatépetl, has had 15 major eruptions since the arrival of the Spanish in 1519. It is the second tallest mountain in Mexico and only 70 km (43 mi) from Mexico City. Its name means “Smoking Mountain.” 
Popocatépetl volcano shooting smoke into the air
Popocatépetl is Mexico’s most famous active volcano.
  • Mexican Manuel Uribe once held the record for heaviest person in the world, topping out at 597 kg (1316 pounds). He has since been surpassed by two other men.  
  • Mexico is one of 29 countries in the world where same-sex marriages are legally performed.  
  • Puerto Vallarta is considered Mexico’s most gay-friendly beach resort town
  • Mexico is home to over 10% of the world’s biodiversity, including 957 different types of reptile, second only to Australia.  
  • Endangered animals in Mexico include the jaguar, volcano rabbit, Mexican axolotl, Baird’s Tapir, and ocelot.  
  • The peyote cactus is native to Mexico and is the source of the psychedelic drug mescaline. It has a long history of ritualistic use. 
A macaw in Mexico
A colorful macaw in Mexico
  • The San Diego – Tijuana border crossing is the fourth busiest land border crossings in the world (or second busiest if you don’t count the ones from China to its special administrative regions).  The cities of San Diego and Tijuana are sometimes considered one huge metropolis.
  • Mexico has 1714 airports. Only the United States and Brazil have more airports than Mexico.  
  • Acapulco resort is famous for its cliff divers, the La Quebrada Cliff Divers, who perform daily for the public, diving from cliffs as high as 40 meters (135 feet). 
  • The popular resort of Cancun has the highest per capita income in all of Mexico, and also the highest density of brothels and escort agencies.  
  • Today, the resort town of Tulum is a magnet for yogis, artists, and digital nomads.  
Ruins by the sea at Tulum
Tulum is Mexico’s mecca for digital nomads.
  • Monarch butterflies migrate over 3000 miles every year to and from Central Mexico. It is the furthest migration of any insect.  
  • Los Cabos is called the Marlin Capital of the World because it has so many of this massive swordfish. 
  • Mexico has its own space agency, called Agencia Espacial Mexicana (AEM), but it has never sent any spacecraft up into space. Rather, it focuses on study programs, research, and providing Internet access to the whole country. 
  • Unlike its northern neighbor, Mexico has some of the strictest gun laws in the world. There is only one gun store in the country, in Mexico City, and it takes months of paperwork to even try to get a gun legally. 
  • In Mexico, artists are allowed to pay their taxes with art, in a program called Pago en Especie, or “payment in kind.” More than 700 artists across the country take part in the program.  
Cuexcomate, a geyser in Puebla, Mexico
Cuexcomate is mistakenly called “the world’s smallest volcano”. It is actually a geyser.
  • Cuexcomate in Puebla state is often mistakenly called “the world’s smallest volcano.” It is not technically a volcano but a geyser. It is 13 meters (43 feet) tall. 
  • The Rio Grande, one of the longest rivers in North America, starts in the US, flows along the US-Mexico border, then through Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico. Only 20% of its water reaches the Gulf because most of it used to irrigate farmlands and hydrate cities. 
  • Copper Canyon in northwestern Mexico is the largest canyon system in the world. It stretches more than 20,000 mi2 (51,800 km2) and is four times larger than the Grand Canyon. 
View of Copper Canyon in Mexico
Copper Canyon, the world’s largest canyon system
  • High School is not mandatory in Mexico.  
  • The National Autonomous University of Mexico is the largest university in Latin America and has one of the largest universities in the world. Its predecessor, the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico was the first university in North America (1551).  

Facts About Mexican History

  • Ancient Mexico produced five major civilizations: the Olmec, Maya, Teotihuacan, Toltec, and Aztec. 
Colossal head carved by the Olmec people in Mexico
Colossal head carved by the Olmec people
  • The Olmec carved colossal stone heads weighing 6–50 tons. 17 have been found.  
  • Although they weren’t the first to come up with the concept, the Mayans invented the concept of zero independently of the Old World and used it as a placeholder in calendars. 
  • Ancient Mexicans, especially the Maya, practiced bloodletting as an offering to the gods. They usually cut their tongues to procure the blood.  
An ancient Mesoamerican ball game court in Mexico
Ancient Mexican ball game court
  • Ancient Mexicans played a ballgame with a rubber ball that would be hit with the hips or other parts of the body. In some cases, the losing team was sacrificed.  
  • Cholula is the oldest continually inhabited settlement in North America, first founded as early as 800 BCE. 
  • At its peak in the first millennium, the city of Teotihuacan near modern-day Mexico City had 200,000 inhabitants and some of the largest pyramids in the world.  
Boats in Xochimilco, Mexico City
Boats take visitors past traditional chinampas (floating gardens) in Xochimilco today.
  • Farmers in the Valley of Mexico invented a type of agricultural plot called a chinampa, or floating gardens. These can still be seen today in Xochimilco, one of the 16 boroughs of Mexico City. 
  • The Aztecs built their capital, Tenochtitlan, at what is now the historic center of Mexico City. It was the largest city in the world at the time. They ruled over some 10 million people. The capital city was built on an island on Lake Texcoco.  
A painting of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec Capital in Mexico
Artist’s rendition of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec Capital
  • The first Europeans to arrive in Mexico were the survivors of a Spanish shipwreck in 1511. 
  • Cuauhtémoc was the last latoani, or Aztec Emperor. He was executed under order from Hernán Cortés, who led the conquest, in 1525.  
  • Around 1/3rd of indigenous people in the Valley of Mexico died of smallpox, brought by the Spanish, within 6 months of their arrival. 
  • The Spanish ruled Mexico, or “New Spain”, for 300 years. From Mexico City, they expanded their colony to the north and south into Central America.  
A street in Campeche, Yucatán, Mexico
Colonial architecture in Campeche, Yucatán
  • From 1810 to 1821, insurgents led a war of independence for Mexico. One of them was Father Miguel Hidalgo, who famously said, “Viva Mexico!” – Today, the state of Hidalgo is named after him. Mexico declared its independence on September 27, 1821. 
  • After the Mexican-American war, Mexico was forced to sell its northern territories to the US for $15 million.  
  • Benito Juárez was the first indigenous president of Mexico. He served from 1858 to 1872 and has been called the “Savior of Mexico.”  
  • Cinco de Mayo (May 5) celebrates Mexico’s 1862 victory in the Franco-Mexican War. Contrary to what many falsely believe, it is not Mexico’s Independence Day, which is on September 16. 
  • The Mexican Revolution (1910 to 1920) erupted in response to growing poverty and concentration of landholding among a small wealthy elite. Revolutionary leaders like Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa and Pascual Orozco remain iconic figures in Mexico today. The Mexican Constitution was signed in 1917 and remains in effect today. 
Black & white photograph of Emiliano Zapata and a group of Mexican revolutionaries
Emiliano Zapata and other Mexican revolutionaries
  • In 1913, Mexico had three different presidents in a span of one hour
  • The Summer Olympics were held in Mexico City in 1968
  • The 1959 Mexico hurricane was the deadliest Pacific hurricane in history. 1800 people died. 
  • In 1985, a huge earthquake destroyed much of Mexico City, killing as many as 30,000. Another major earthquake in 2017 killed 370.
  • In 1994, Mexico joined NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. In the same year, the Zapatistas, a Marxist, anti-globalization group, declared war on the government and took over areas of Chiapas. Their leader always appeared masked, and they supported gender equality. 
  • One party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, led Mexico for 71 years, until Vicente Fox of the National Action Party was elected in 2000.  
  • From 2006 until today, Mexico has waged a largely unsuccessful war on drug mafias, and tens of thousands of Mexicans have died as a result.

Facts About Mexican Culture & People

  • Mexico is one of the cradles of civilization, notably the Maya and Aztec civilizations. Its culture today combines elements from numerous indigenous and European (especially Spanish) cultures. 
A young female indigenous weaver in Chiapas, Mexico
An indigenous weaver in Chiapas
  • 21% of Mexicans are indigenous, including Nahuas, Otomis, Mayas, Zapotecs, Tzeltales and Tzotziles. More than half the population are mestizos, or mixed indigenous-European.  
  • Mexico does not have an official religion, but over 80% of Mexicans identify as Catholic.  
  • The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe honors the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico. It is the most important religious holiday in Mexico, along with Semana Santa, or Holy Week.  
  • Christmas celebrations last from December 12 to January 6 in Mexico. The main event in on December 24, including a midnight feast and opening of presents. On December 25, most people just relax and recover from the festivities the day before.  
  • Priests and nuns could not vote in Mexico until 1991.  
Skulls and other Day of the Dead objects on an ofrenda (altar) in Mexico
Day of the Dead imagery on an ofrenda (altar)
  • The Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, takes place on November 1 and 2 and honors the dead. Rather than being a solemn affair, it is joyful and even humorous.  
  • On the Day of the Dead, Mexicans make ofrendas, or altars containing the favorite foods, drinks, and other photos or memorabilia of the deceased to welcome the souls to visit. 
  • People also make pan de muerto (bread of the dead) and calaveras (sugar skulls), dress in skeleton costumes, and write calaveras literarias, or skull poems.  
  • Mexico has a thriving film industry. It’s Golden Era was from 1930 – 1969, but many films are still made there today. The Guadalajara International Film Festival is the most prestigious film festival in Latin America. 
A painted mural by Diego Rivera in Mexico City
Diego Rivera mural in Mexico City
  • Mexico is famous for its mural artwork. From the 1920s to 1970s, many murals with social or political themes became famous. The Big 3 muralists were Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. 
  • Diego Rivera holds the record for the highest price paid for a painting in Latin America. His 1931 painting The Rivals sold for US$9.76 million. (Note: in 2021, Kahlo beat that record, with her Diego Y Yo painting selling for $34.9 million).
  • Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is one of the Mexico’s most recognized artists today, but her work was relatively unknown until the 1970s. She is known for her signature unibrow. She was twice married to Diego Rivera. 
  • Mariachi is the most well-known type of music that originated in Mexico.  
  • The sombrero is a traditional, wide-brimmed hat and cultural symbol of Mexico. The styles of sombrero vary by region, including the huge charro worn by mariachi players.  
Lucha libre posters on a wall on the street in Mexico
Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) posters
  • The most famous lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) fighter of all time, El Santo, did not reveal his face until just before his death. After his death, his son assumed his persona and mask under the name El Hijo del Santo. 
  • Turning 15 is a big deal for girls in Mexico and celebrated with a huge party called quinceañera. It is considered a rite of passage to adulthood, and girls often receive large gifts or even trips abroad.  
  • In Mexican weddings, the groom usually presents 13 gold coins, or Arras Matrimoniales, to the bride. 
  • The piñata, a papier-mâché filled with candies or toys and hit with sticks by children at parties, has a long history in Mexico, although it may have been of Chinese origin.  
Piñatas for sale in Mexico
Piñatas for sale in Mexico
  • Octavio Paz was the first and only Mexican to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. His poetry, essays, and novels often focused on Mexican identity.  
  • Mexican singer Thalía is considered the “Queen of Latin American Pop”. She has sold more than 25 million records worldwide.  
  • Other celebrities from Mexico include actress Salma Hayek, boxer Oscar de la Hoya, and filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.  
  • Famous modern movies set in Mexico include Three Amigos, From Dusk Till Dawn, Y Tu Mamá También, Frida, and the Disney animated film Coco

Facts About Mexican Food & Drinks

  • Maize (corn) was first domesticated in Mexico as early as 9000 years ago. Corn remains a staple in Mexico, and there are 59 indigenous varieties it. 
Various chili peppers for sale on the street in Mexico
Chiles for sale in Mexico
  • Mexico also gave cacao (chocolate), tomatoes, peanuts, avocados, corn, vanilla, pumpkin, popcorn, chia seeds, and chili peppers to the world. 
  • Chewing gum also originated in Mexico
  • The Olmecs drank chocolate during rituals or as medicine. The Aztecs used it to make xocolatl or “bitter water”, a thick drink with chilis, water, and cornmeal.  
  • The Spanish introduced rice, olive oil, garlic, various meats & dairy products, sugar, and many spices to Mexico. Before that, Mexicans got most of their protein from beans. 
  • As of 2010, Mexican cuisine is considered an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations. 
A plate of mole poblano, national dish of Mexico, with various toppings
Chicken in mole poblano, often considered a national dish of Mexico
  • Mole, or sauce, is a common component of Mexican cuisine. Traditional moles originated in Puebla or Oaxaca, but today there are numerous kinds. They can contain chili peppers, fruits, nuts, cocao, and various spices. The classic version is mole poblano.  
  • There are more than 100,000 tortilla-making establishments in Mexico. Tortillas can be made of corn or wheat. The corn ones go back at least 2500 years.  
  • Mexicans drink more pop (soda) than any other country in the world, narrowly beating the US. The average person in Mexico consumes 150 liters of Coca-Cola and other sweet carbonated drinks per capita per year. 
  • In most of Mexico, especially rural areas, food is mainly consumed at home
A person holding a plate of tacos, a typical street food in Mexico
Street food in Mexico
  • Many Mexican foods known abroad, such as tacos, quesadillas, and tamales, are common street foods in Mexico.  
  • Some candies in Mexico are spicy. Called dulces echilados, they are covered with chamoy sauce and tajin. 
  • The Caesar salad was invented in Mexico, by an Italian immigrant at the Hotel Caesar in Tijuana. 
  • Tabasco sauce is named after tabasco peppers, not the state of Tabasco in Mexico. The brand’s origins are entirely American, and the peppers first used to make it were grown on Avery Island in the US. 
  • The world “barbecue” originates from barbacoa, a form of slow cooking meat (often lamb) over an open fire wrapped in Maguey leaves, or in a hole in the ground covered in agave leaves, that originated among the Mayans and is now common the Mexico City and the central highlands.
A sol beer truck with the driver relaxing in the front.
Sol is one of the most popular beers in Mexico.
  • While Corona is the most common Mexican beer found abroad, in Mexico you are more likely to encounter local favorites like Bohemia, Sol, Modelo, Pacifico, and Dos Equis.  
  • Mexicans often add salt, lime, chilis, tomato juice and other ingredients to beer. The drink is then called a michelada.  
  • Tequila is the national spirit of Mexico. It is a type of mezcal, referring to any liquor made from agave. Tequila is only made from blue agave. Only mezcal ever has the “worm” in it, which is actually the larva of a moth typically found on the agave plant.  
Shots of mezcal and some spicy sauces on a table in Mexico
Sampling mezcal in Mexico
  • The origins of the margarita are widely disputed, with multiple claims of invention. The drink is most likely an adaptation of the daisy (margarita is Spanish for “daisy”), replacing brandy with tequila.  
  • To say “cheers” in Mexico, say “¡Salud!” 

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