Mexico is a traveler’s paradise. From world-famous Caribbean beaches to lush rainforests, arid deserts and historic cities chock full of landmarks, museums and world-class restaurants, this country is one of the most fascinating destinations in Latin America.
Mexico has carved out a great reputation among travelers thanks to its rich heritage and friendly locals, but that’s not everything: Aside from popular images of the country that are known to many, Mexico is full of cool secrets and less known places.
For example, did you know that chocolate was invented in Mexico and not in Switzerland or Belgium? Many travelers discover the fascinating Mexico facts when they visit this country.
There are a lot of cool Mexico facts and we will take a look at them in this article.
1. Mexico has many different climates
If you have traveled only to coastal areas, this is one of the Mexico facts that might come as a surprise.
From arid deserts, to tropical rainforests, high altitude alpine areas, and temperate forests, Mexico’s landscapes are unlike any other. It also boasts the Great Mesoamerican Reef – The second largest barrier reef in the world that attracts many divers to places like Cozumel, Mahahual and Tulum.
Unless you are visiting only coastal areas of Mexico, pack more than just beach’y clothes, especially if you plan to spend time in Mexico’s cities where the way of dressing is more conservative.
Learn my top travel tips for Mexico to get prepared for your trip and avoid the worst tourist mistakes!
2. Mexico is the birthplace of chocolate
Many things that you love have originated in Mexico.
When we think about Mexico’s most famous products, tacos, tequila and other gastronomical inventions immediately come to mind.
Perhaps, one of the most fascinating Mexico facts is that it has produced other things such as chocolate that was discovered during the Mesoamerican period and later sweetened for export to Europe; chewing gum that was first produced by the Mayans from the extracted tree sap, and later by Aztecs who used it as glue; and finally pop corn.
Aztecs were pretty ingenious people as they figured out how to pop kernels in clay pots, among many other things.
3. The biggest holiday in Mexico is not Cinco De Mayo
In the United States, many know about Cinco de Mayo, a major date commemorating the battle of Puebla in the war against France. However, Cinco De Mayo is not the biggest or most important holiday in Mexico.
September is the month of the homeland in Mexico and September 16 is the day of Independence of Mexico (the country became independent from Spain in 1810) that is celebrated with big and loud fiestas.
Day of The Dead is one of the country’s largest celebrations held on November 1 and 2 when people honor the dead and visit graves with offerings. Some of the biggest Day of The Dead celebrations are held in Oaxaca and Michoacan.
The day of Benito Juárez is commemorated on the third Monday of March. Juarez was Mexico’s first indigenous man to become the country’s president and to this day he is considered a national hero.
4. The official name of the country is not Mexico
The official name of the country is Estados Unidos Mexicanos (or United Mexican States), and not Mexico! The country got its official name after it ratified its first constitution in 1824.
5. Pueblos magicos in Mexico are musts for any traveler
Pueblos Magicos in Mexico is something that every traveler should visit.
Mexico boasts 132 pueblos mágicos, or magic towns that were given a special status by the Mexican government because of their cultural, historical, or architectural significance. Visiting pueblos magicos in Mexico is one of the best ways to get a lesson in the country’s culture and get outside of the tourist bubble.
PRO TIP: Most Mexican states have at least one pueblo mágico and if you want to learn more about them, read my article about the best pueblos mágicos in Mexico.
6. Spanish is not the only language spoken in Mexico
While the official language is Spanish, Mexico has 68 languages that are spoken by many indigenous groups across the country, 63 of which are indigenous. Of the indigenous languages spoken in Mexico, Nahuatl and Maya are the most widely used.
7. Mexico is home to the most Spanish speakers in the world
Mexico is home to the most Spanish speakers in the world, about 120 million. The country’s language differs significantly from the Spanish in Spain and has its own pronunciation, words and dialects.
8. Mexico is huge
Mexico has a population of almost 130 million people. It’s also 13th largest country in the world by land area. Mexico City is the biggest city in North American by population with over 22 million people!
9. Mexico’s flag has a cool story
One of the most fascinating facts about Mexico in my opinion goes back to its flag.
The flag of Mexico is comprised of three colors – red, white and green. They stand for independence, unity and religion. According to the legend, Aztecs settled on the area when they saw an eagle sitting on a nopal cactus and eating a snake. They later named the place Tenochtitlan, and it for a while it was home to the Aztec capital before it was conquered and destroyed by the Spanish who built modern-day Mexico City in its place.
10. Mexico’s biggest peak is not a mountain
When you hear about volcanoes, you probably think about Central American countries. But Mexico actually has quite a few of them too. In fact, the highest peak in Mexico is a volcano! It is called ‘Pico de Orizaba’ or ‘Volcan Citlaltepetl’ and is 18,491 feet high.
Located on the border between the states of Veracruz and Puebla, it is the third largest volcano in Northern America.
11. Mexico is home to one of the Seven Wonders of The World
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is home to Chichén Itzá, a remarkable archaeological site that was built by the Mayans, and is today one of the Seven Wonders of The World and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The entire Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico is dotted with Mayan ruin sites where you can learn incredible history of Mexico’s earliest inhabitants To read about Chichén Itzá and other famous Mayan ruin sites, check out my article.
Read my complete guide to best places to visit in Yucatan Peninsula!
12. Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world
Mexico City is the capital of the country and is home to more than 17 million people. Guadalajara and Monterrey are tied for the second place with about 4 million people each.
Check my itinerary for 5 days in Mexico City to plan your trip.
13. Mexico is one of the most bio diverse countries in the world
Thanks to its location along the Tropic of Cancer, Mexico is home to an incredible array of biodiversity. In fact, it’s considered one of the most bio diverse countries in the world with over 200,000 different species and a total 10-12 of the entire world’s biodiversity! It also ranks as the first country when it comes to reptile biodiversity.
14. Mexico was home to many ancient civilizations
Mexico was the birth place of many Mesoamerican civilizations, most well known Maya and the Aztecs. The earliest civilization in Mexico was the Olmec culture (c.1200– 400 BCE) who settled in the Gulf of Mexico in the present-day Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco.
The Aztec people, who lived in Central Mexico during 14-15th centuries, ceased to exist after getting sick from diseases that the Spanish brought with them in the early 1500s.
15. Tomatoes originated in Mexico
You might be thinking of Italy when you hear about tomatoes, but they actually originated in Mexico! Tomatoes were first brought from Mexico to Europe in 1519 by Hernan Cortez, a Spanish conquistador who initiated the first wave of colonization of Americas and claimed Mexico on behalf of Spain.
This is one of the most surprising Mexico facts when you think about all the cuisines around the world that have adopted tomato as their staple!
16. The largest pyramid in the world is in Mexico
You are probably surprised to hear this, but the largest pyramid in the world is not in Egypt.
The Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl is located in an archaeological site in San Andrés Cholula, and it was constructed over 2000 years ago. Cholula is located in the state of Puebla, Central Mexico just 20 minutes away from the city of Puebla, and makes a great stop on your Mexico itinerary thanks to its rich culture and traditions.
17. Tequila is trademarked by the Mexican government
Tequila, one of the most famous Mexican drinks is trademarked by the Mexican government.
According to its stipulations, only drinks made in five states (Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas) and following a strict set of production rules could bear a legal name of tequila. Although Mexico has 220 types of agave, the true tequila is made only with the specific type of agave that grows in parts of Jalisco.
18. Mexico is home to the first printing press
Mexico is home to First Printing Press In America. The House of the First Printing Press in Mexico City was home to the first printing press to be established in the New World.
19. Mexico was the cradle of Mesoamerican civilizations
Mexico was the birthplace of many Mesoamerican civilizations, the most well-known Maya and the Aztecs.
The earliest civilization in Mexico was the Olmec culture (c. 1200– 400 BCE) who settled in the Gulf of Mexico in the present-day Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco. The Aztec people, who lived in Central Mexico during the 14-15th centuries, ceased to exist after getting sick from diseases that the Spanish brought with them in the early 1500s.
20. Chocolate originated in Mexico
Chocolate comes from Mexico, as the cacao plants were first found in ancient Mesoamerica, (present-day Mexico). The Olmec, the earliest civilizations in Mexico drank the chocolate during rituals and used it as medicine.
21. Mexican food is part of UNESCO heritage
Mexican food is known all over the world thanks to its rich flavors and textures and has long become an important part of the country’s culture and its image. Mexican cuisine was recognized as part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
22. Tacos are one of the oldest culinary inventions
Tacos, one of the most popular staples in Mexican cuisine, were invented around 1,000 and 500 B.C., which makes them one of the oldest culinary inventions.
23. Cholula is the oldest city in Mexico
Established between 800 and 200 B.C., Cholula is the oldest city in Mexico. Located in the state of Puebla, it is one of many Pueblos Magicos in Mexico renowned for its architecture, history and gastronomy.
24. Mexico is home to the largest pyramid in the world
You are probably surprised to hear this, but the largest pyramid in the world is not in Egypt, but actually in Mexico! The Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl is located in an archaeological site in San Andrés Cholula, and it was constructed over 2000 years ago.
25. Mexico has nearly 50 active volcanoes
Mexico is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire and has 48 active volcanoes, among them Popocatépetl, the Volcan de Fuego, and Chichón.
26. It also has the largest desert in North America
Covering nearly 250,000 square miles across six Mexican states and parts of Texas and New Mexico, the Chihuahuan Desert is the largest in North America.
27. If you are a history buff, you will love Mexico
Mexico is a heaven for history lovers with 37,266 archeological sites!
28. Corn has been a staple of Mexican cuisine for centuries
Corn has been a staple of Mexican cuisine for centuries. Today, the country has nearly 60 types of indigenous corn.
29. Mexico has dozens of UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Mexico is home to 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Some of the most famous ones of them are Chichén Itzá, Teotihuacán, Oaxaca, Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and Xochimilco, among others
30. Mexico City has one of the highest number of museums in the world
Mexico City boasts over 180 museums, the second only to London.
31. Mexico City is home to the oldest museum in North America
The oldest University of North America is located in Mexico City. The Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico was founded in 1551 and today is called The National Autonomous University of Mexico.
32. U.S.-Mexico border is the second-longest in the world
The US-Mexico border is the second-longest border in the world. Only behind the U.S. Canada border, the border between the United States and Mexico is 3,145 kilometers long.
33. Some U.S. states used to be part of Mexico
The United States got a lot of its territory from Mexico. The Mexican-American war lasted three years (1946-1949) and has resulted in Mexico losing a lot of its territory that includes today’s states of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, portions of Colorado, and California.
This is one of the most interesting Mexico facts when it comes to the country’s history. If you want to learn more about the history of Mexico, visit some of the best museums in Mexico City like Templo Mayor, Anthropology Museum and El Castillo De Chapultepec.
34. Frida Kahlo is most popular Mexican artist
Frida Kahlo is Mexico’s most celebrated artist. Famous for her unique painting style and expressive self-portraits, Kahlo is often portrayed on many souvenirs, murals, and many other items. You can visit her former house, now a museum (La casa Azul) in one of the suburbs in Mexico City.
35. Mexico has thousands of kilometers of coastline
Mexico has more coastline than land borders. Yes, Mexico is famous all over the world for its popular beaches along the Caribbean and Pacific, but the country has hundreds of virgin, pristine beaches along its 11,000 kilometers of coastline.
Learn more Mexico facts in my articles:
Did you enjoy learning all the cool facts about Mexico? Take a look at some of my articles to learn more about this beautiful country:
- How to visit Coba ruins – everything to know about one of the best Mayan ruins in Yucatan
- 14 Best Things to Do in Taxco, Guerrero – one of the most beautiful Pueblos Magicos in Mexico
- 30 Best Places To Visit in Yucatan Mexico – from Mayan ruins to cenotes and colonial cities
- How to visit Xochimilco and book a boat tour – one of the most popular trips from Mexico City
- Bacalar, Mexico – how to visit Mexico’s stunning lagoon of seven colors