29 interesting facts about Mexico

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The most interesting facts about Mexico, from ancient civilisations home to the world’s largest pyramid to its sinking capital city.

Chichén Itzá in Mexico
Interesting facts about Mexico include its ancient civilisations (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: United Mexican States
Population: 129 million
Area: 1,964,375 sq km
Capital city: Mexico City  (Ciudad de Mexico)
Major languages: Spanish
Major religions: Christianity
Time zone: UTC-6
– Source: CIA World Factbook

Interesting facts about Mexico

1. Mexico is a country located in North America bordering Belize, Guatemala and the USA.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

2. Mexico has been inhabited for at least 11,000 years after human artefacts dated to around 9000 BC were found together in the region.
– Source: Britannica

3. Mexico has been home to several ancient civilisations including the Olmec, Maya, Toltec and Aztec peoples.
– Source: History Channel

A map of Mexico
A map of Mexico (Shutterstock)

4. Spain colonised Mexico in the 16th century until 1821 when Mexico became an independent country following the War of Independence (1810-21).
– Source: BBC News

5. The world’s largest pyramid is in Mexico. The Great Pyramid of Cholula has a base four times larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt and nearly twice the volume. However, it is significantly shorter than many pyramids around the world. Built around 300 BC by the Choluteca people, it is the world’s largest monument ever constructed by any civilisation and contains over 8km (5 miles) of tunnels.
– Source: BBC Travel

6. Following Spanish colonisation, the pyramid became overgrown and was mistaken for a large hill. As such, the Spanish constructed many buildings on top of the Great Pyramid of Cholula including a church.
– Source: BBC Travel

The Spanish church on top f the the Great Pyramid of Cholula which looks like a hill in Mexico
Cholula was mistaken for a hill for centuries (Shutterstock)

7. Mexico is also home to the world’s third-largest pyramid, the Pirámide del Sol in the UNESCO-listed ancient city of Teotihuacán. The Pirámide del Sol was built around 100 AD.
– Source: Lonely Planet

8. The country’s capital, Mexico City used to be known as the Federal District or “DF”. However, in 2016, the city officially changed its name to Mexico City (Ciudad de México in Spanish). As such, it is now also known by the new acronym, CDMX.
– Source: The Guardian

9. If you include the wider metropolitan area, Mexico City has a population of nearly 22 million people, making it the world’s fifth biggest city.
– Source: Newsweek

The CDMX sign in Mexico City
Mexico City is known as CDMX (Shutterstock)

10. The countries of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, along with the US states of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah, were initially all part of Mexico. During the 19th century, however, the territories all became independent countries or were ceded to the USA.
– Source: BBC News

11. Mexico’s flag is made up of three stripes of green, white and red with Mexico’s coat of arms in the centre. Green represents independence; white represents the Roman Catholic religion and red represents union.
– Source: Moira Butterfield (2019) The Flag Book. Lonely Planet Kids: London

12. Mexico’s coat of arms depicts an Aztec prophecy, predicting that an eagle with a snake in its beak standing on a cactus growing out of rocks in the middle of water will be the site of the new city of Tenochtitlán (now Mexico City).
– Source: Britannica

The flag of Mexico flying in the sky
The flag of Mexico (Shutterstock)

13. By population, Mexico is the 10th largest country in the world; the third largest in the Americas; and the second largest in Latin America.
– Source: World Bank

14. By area, Mexico is the 13th largest country in the world; the fifth largest in the Americas; and the third largest in Latin America.
– Source: World Bank

15. Mexico is the seventh most-visited country in the world, receiving 45 million visitors in 2019 according to the latest edition of the International Tourism Highlights report.
– Source: UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

A drone shot of Cancun Beach lined with hotels
Cancun Beach is a popular destination (Shutterstock)

16. The first printing press in the Americas was established in Mexico City in 1539 by publisher Juan Cromberger.
– Source: The Hispanic American Historical Review Vol. 20, No. 4 (1940) Durham: Duke University Press

17. In total, Mexico has 35 properties inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List – the seventh highest of any country.
– Source: The Telegraph, UNESCO

18. The ancient Maya city of Chichén Itzá is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
– Source: Britannica

Chichén Itzá
Chichén Itzá (Shutterstock)

19. Mexico City is sinking at a rate of almost 50cm (20 inches) per year. As the city is built on a mix of clay and volcanic soil, the ground beneath the city is steadily compacting causing subsidence.
– Source: Eos Magazine, New York Times

20. Mexico takes its name from a Náhuatl term derived from the words metztli (moon), xictli (navel or centre) and co (place). As such, the name Mexico means “the place in the centre of the Moon” and refers to when the Aztecs built Tenochtitlán in the middle of the Lake of the Moon (later named Lake Texcoco).
– Source: History Channel

21. Jaguars can be found in Mexico. The jaguar (Panthera onca) is the largest cat species in the Americas and the third largest in the world after tigers and lions. Jaguars are also the only big cat species in the Americas.
– Source: WWF, National Geographic

A Jaguar in wildlife park of Jucatan
Jaguars can be found in Mexico (Shutterstock)

22. Mexican Guillermo González Camarena invented the colour television in the late 1930s.
– Source: El País (Spanish)

23. Mexico has had three Nobel Prize winners. Alfonso García Robles won the 1982 peace prize, Octavio Paz won the 1990 literature prize and Mario Molina won the 1995 chemistry prize.
– Source: Nobel Prize1, 2, 3

24. The world’s smallest recognised breed of dog, the Chihuahua, is from Mexico. Chihuahuas are named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua and typically only stand around 13-20 cm (5-8 inches) tall.
– Source: Britannica

A Chihuahua sitting down
The Chihuahua is from Mexico (Shutterstock)

25. Mexico is one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world. Megadiverse countries are the world’s most biodiversity-rich countries.
– Source: The Telegraph

26. Mexico has 8.8% of the world’s Catholics – the world’s second-largest Catholic population after Brazil.
– Source: Pew Research Center

27. Mexico has an annual holiday called Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) which takes place on the night of 1 November and usually lasts a week. The festival is in remembrance of departed souls and draws on a belief system inherited from the Aztecs that sees the souls of the dead return to their homes at this time of the year.
– Source: Lonely Planet, The Guardian

People dressed up and wearing masks during Día de Muertos celebrations
Interesting facts about Mexico include its Día de Muertos holiday (Shutterstock)

28. Mexico is the world’s largest exporter of delivery trucks ($23.8 billion), beer ($4.89 billion), tropical fruits ($3.34 billion) and tomatoes ($2.62 billion).
– Source: Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC)

29. Mexico has the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world.
– Source: The Guardian

We have tried hard to corroborate these facts about Mexico using only primary sources. However, if you spot an error or have any questions, please contact us.