The official name of Mexico is Estados Unidos Mexicanos (United Mexican States).
A Mexican tamale called the zacahuil is three feet long and weighs about 150 pounds.
Mexico introduced chocolate, corn, and chilies to the world.
Mexico is home to a very rare rabbit called the volcano rabbit which lives near Mexican volcanoes.
The largest wildcat in North America is the jaguar, which can be found in Mexico’s southern jungles.
The first printing press in North America was used in Mexico City in 1539.
The National University of Mexico was founded in 1551 by Charles V of Spain and is the oldest university in North America.
Millions of monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico every year from the U.S. and Canada, though logging operations are rapidly destroying their habitat.
The border between Mexico and the United States is the second largest border in the world (only the U.S.-Canadian border is longer).
Mexico is second only to Brazil in the number of Catholic citizens.
The red poinsettia (which the Aztecs called cuetlaxochitl) originated in Mexico and is named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States ambassador to Mexico (in the 1820s).
Mexican children do not receive presents on Christmas Day. They receive gifts on January 6, the day on which Mexicans celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men.
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, Tenochtitlan. 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.
Mexico’s flag is made up three vertical stripes. The left green stripe stand for hope, the middle white stripe represents purity, and the right red stripe represents the blood of the Mexican people. The picture of an eagle eating a snake is based on an Aztec legend (see fact #25).
The Chihuahua is the world’s smallest dog and is named for a Mexican state.
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 million 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.
Modern Mexicans are a unique blend of many ancient civilizations, including the Olmec, Zapotec, Toltec, Maya, Aztec, Inca, African, French, and Spanish.
The first great civilization in Mexico were the Olmecs (1400-300 B.C.) who established many cities along the eastern coast of Mexico, sculpted the famous Colossal Heads, and worshipped a mysterious, unnamed god that was part human and part jaguar.
The Zapotec civilization (600 B.C.-A.D. 800) established great cities along southern Mexico and developed the first writing system in the Americas.
One unusual Mayan weapon was a “hornet bomb,” which was an actual hornet’s nest thrown at enemies during battle.
n the fourteenth century, a group of Chichmecas (warrior nomads) called the Aztecs (or Mexicas) settled in Mexico when they saw an eagle (representing the sun) standing on a cactus (a symbol of the heart) clutching a snake (a symbol of the earth or Quetzalcoatl)—an image which is now depicted on the Mexican flag.
Snakes appear repeatedly in Mexican mythology, from the serpent god Kukulcan which can be found the side of the Chichen Itza pyramid to the feathered serpent god, Quetzalcoatl.
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.