Discover more about the rich history of Mexico with our list of educational facts that are perfect for taking your students on an intriguing journey through the cultures, traditions, and pivotal moments in this country’s history. With topics ranging from pioneering inventors and diverse landscapes to unearthed secrets and stunning festivals, you’ll transport your learners through this beautiful country – one fact at a time!
1. The Name “Mexico”
The name “Mexico” is derived from “Mēxihco,” the name for the land of the Mexica (the original name of the Aztecs). The term is believed to originate from the Nahuatl language, meaning “in the center of the Moon” or “in the navel of the moon,” which relates to the Aztec creation myth about their homeland. Mexico’s official name is “Estados Unidos Mexicanos,” akin to the United States of America.
Learn More: Medium
2. Mexican Independence Day
Mexico’s Independence Day is celebrated on September 16th, commemorating the beginning of the fight against Spanish rule in 1810. It’s often mistaken for Cinco de Mayo by people outside of Mexico, which actually marks the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the Battle of Puebla. The call to arms known as “El Grito de Dolores” is reenacted every year by the current Mexican president.
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3. The Mexican Flag
The Mexican flag consists of three vertical stripes in green, white, and red, with the national coat of arms in the center of the white stripe. The green represents hope and prosperity, white symbolizes peace and harmony, and red stands for the blood of the Mexican people. The coat of arms, featuring an eagle eating a serpent atop a cactus, is rooted in an Aztec legend.
Learn More: Stanford
4. Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. It was a major focal point in the Northern Maya Lowlands from the Late Classic through the Terminal Classic and into the early portion of the Postclassic period. The site exhibits a multitude of architectural styles, reminiscent of styles seen in central Mexico and of the Puuc and Chenes styles of the Northern Maya lowlands.
Learn More: The Collector
5. Biodiversity in Mexico
Mexico is considered a “mega-diverse” country, ranking fourth in the world for biodiversity. It’s home to over 200,000 different species, with 10-12% of the world’s biodiversity found in Mexico. This diversity is due to its large size, varied topography, its position between the temperate and tropical zones, and its complex geological history.
Learn More: The Borgen Project
6. The Mexican Economy
Mexico has the 15th-largest nominal GDP in the world and is the second-largest economy in Latin America. The economy is strongly linked to those of its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, especially the United States. Mexico is an export-oriented economy, with trade in automobiles, electronics, and oil being particularly important.
Learn More: MEXICO NOW
7. The Oldest University in North America
The National University of Mexico, founded in 1551 by Charles V of Spain, is the oldest university in North America. This important institution has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2007 and has educated several Mexican leaders and notable figures.
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8. The Mexican-American War
The Mexican-American War was fought between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848. The U.S. victory resulted in Mexico losing about one-third of its territory, including nearly all of present-day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war and was a significant event in the history of both countries.
Learn More: Britannica
9. Mexican Cuisine
Mexican cuisine is known for its blending of Indigenous and European cultures. Traditionally, corn, beans, and chili are the main ingredients. Mexican cuisine was added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010, recognizing its importance to Mexico’s identity and heritage.
Learn More: All Recipes
10. The Day of the Dead
The Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico. It’s a festive and colorful holiday celebrating the lives of those who have passed away and is recognized by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Learn More: AP News
11. The Xochimilco Canals
The Xochimilco Canals are a network of waterways and artificial islands in Mexico City. They’re the last remnants of a vast water transport system built by the Aztecs and are presently a popular tourist attraction that’ve been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Learn More: Fodor’s Travel
12. Mexican Silver Production
Mexico is the world’s largest producer of silver and it plays an important role in the country’s economy and history. The country’s silver mines have been in operation for hundreds of years, and the city of Zacatecas was particularly famous during the colonial period for its rich deposits.
Learn More: Investing News Network
13. The Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution began in 1910, led by Francisco I. Madero against the long-standing regime of Porfirio Díaz. It was a major armed struggle that radically transformed Mexican culture and government. Although the Revolution technically ended in 1920, the country experienced instability for several years afterward.
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14. Monarch Butterfly Migration
Mexico is home to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Every year, millions of monarch butterflies migrate over 2,500 miles from Canada and the United States to the forests of Michoacán and the State of Mexico. This natural phenomenon is unique to North America and is crucial for the survival of the monarch butterfly species.
Learn More: One Tree Planted
15. Tequila and Mezcal
Tequila and mezcal are distilled spirits that can only be produced in Mexico. Tequila is made from the blue agave plant and is primarily produced in the area surrounding the city of Tequila. Mezcal is similar to tequila but can be made from over 30 types of agave and is primarily produced in Oaxaca.
Learn More: Town & Country Magazine
16. The Aztec Empire
The Aztec Empire was one of the most dominant civilizations in Mesoamerica before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Tenochtitlan, the capital, was located on an island in Lake Texcoco and is today part of Mexico City. The Aztecs were known for their complex social structures, impressive architectural achievements, and advanced agricultural practices.
Learn More: World History Encyclopedia
17. The Mayan Civilization
The Mayan Civilization was another significant Mesoamerican culture that flourished in what is now Mexico, as well as in parts of Central America. They were known for their hieroglyphic script, which is the only known fully developed writing system of the pre-Columbian Americas. The Maya also made significant contributions to mathematics, astronomy, and architecture.
Learn More: Study
18. The Mexican Constitution
Mexico’s current constitution was promulgated in 1917, following the Mexican Revolution. It was one of the first constitutions in the world to include social rights and served as a model for the Weimar Constitution of 1919 and the Russian Constitution of 1918. The Constitution of 1917 has been amended several times but remains the highest legal document in the country.
Learn More: Hein Online Blog
19. The Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran Desert covers large parts of Northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States. It’s one of the largest and hottest deserts in North America. The desert is known for its diverse plant life, including the saguaro cactus, which is an icon of the American Southwest.
Learn More: Center for Biological Diversity
20. The Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges
Mexico is home to the Sierra Madre mountain ranges, which include the Sierra Madre Occidental, Oriental, and del Sur. These ranges are part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges that consist of an almost continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western “backbone” of North America, Central America, South America, and Antarctica. They hold great ecological importance and contain several national parks and protected areas.
Learn More: World Atlas
21. The Mexican Plateau
The Mexican Plateau, also known as the Mexican Altiplano, is a large arid-to-semiarid plateau that occupies much of northern and central Mexico. It’s surrounded by the Sierra Madre Occidental to the west and the Sierra Madre Oriental to the east. The plateau is a high-elevation area that was historically the site of several pre-Columbian civilizations and is now a major agricultural and mining region.
Learn More: Latin America & Caribbean Geographic
22. The Color Television Invention
Mexican engineer Guillermo González Camarena is credited with the invention of a color television system. He received a patent for his “Chromoscopic adapter for television equipment” in 1942, which was used in early color television broadcasting. His invention contributed significantly to the development of television technology worldwide.
Learn More: Mexico Daily Post
23. Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl Volcanoes
The Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes are two of Mexico’s most famous peaks, located near Mexico City. Popocatépetl is active and has had numerous eruptions in recent history, while Iztaccíhuatl is dormant. Local legends personify the mountains as two lovers from pre-Columbian times, adding a rich layer of cultural mythology to these natural landmarks.
Learn More: Earth Observatory
24. The Olmec Civilization
The Olmec civilization, considered to be the first major civilization in Mexico, flourished from about 1200 to 400 BCE. They’re known for creating colossal head sculptures and for being one of the earliest cultures to use a writing system in the Americas. The Olmecs are often regarded as the forerunner of all subsequent Mesoamerican cultures, including the Maya and Aztecs.
Learn More: National Geographic
25. The Cenotes of Yucatán
The Yucatán Peninsula is famous for its cenotes, natural sinkholes resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater. These cenotes were sacred to the Maya and often used for sacrificial offerings. Today, they’re popular sites for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
Learn More: Island Life Mexico
26. The Mexican Film Industry
Mexico has a vibrant film industry, known as the “Golden Age of Mexican Cinema” in the 1940s and 1950s. The country has produced many internationally recognized filmmakers, actors, and movies, and hosts several major film festivals each year, including the Guadalajara International Film Festival. Mexican directors like Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro, and Alejandro González Iñárritu are also among the many that gained international acclaim.
Learn More: Culture Trip
27. Copper Canyon
Copper Canyon, or Barranca del Cobre, in Northwestern Mexico, is a series of massive canyons that together are larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon. The area is home to the indigenous Tarahumara people and is accessible via the Chihuahua al Pacífico Railway, which offers one of the most scenic train rides in the world. The canyons are a popular destination for hiking, biking, and experiencing the natural beauty of Mexico.
Learn More: World Nomads
28. Mexican Music and Dance
Mexican music and dance are a rich amalgamation of indigenous, African, and Spanish influences. Styles such as Mariachi, Ranchera, and Norteño are internationally recognized and celebrated. The Ballet Folklórico de México, which showcases traditional Mexican dances, is a prestigious dance institution that has performed across the world.
Learn More: Hamlet Hub
29. The Mexican Muralism Movement
The Mexican Muralism movement began in the 1920s after the Mexican Revolution and was a way to unify the country under a shared narrative of Mexican history and values. Artists like Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros created large, public murals that depicted social and political messages. Their work has influenced many contemporary artists and can still be seen in public buildings throughout Mexico.
Learn More: The Mexican Muralism Movement
30. The Peso and Mexican Currency
The Mexican peso is the currency of Mexico, denoted by the sign “$” or “MXN.” It was the first currency in the world to use the “$” sign, which later was adopted by the United States and others. The peso has undergone several devaluations in the country’s history and remains an important symbol of the Mexican economy.
Learn More: Currency Wiki
31. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is one of the most visited Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. It’s dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe, who’s said to have appeared to Saint Juan Diego in 1531. The basilica houses the original tilma (cloak) of Juan Diego, which bears the image of the Virgin Mary and is considered a miraculous artifact.
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32. The Mexican War of Independence
The Mexican War of Independence lasted from 1810 until 1821, culminating in Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule. It began with the Grito de Dolores, a call to arms by the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. The war was a complex and lengthy conflict that involved several leaders and factions fighting for a variety of causes.
Learn More: The Collector
33. Traditional Mexican Clothing
Traditional Mexican clothing varies widely and reflects the diverse cultures of the country. Items like the sombrero, sarape, and huipil have become symbols of Mexican culture around the world. These garments are often made with vibrant colors and intricate patterns, some of which have deep indigenous roots and significance.
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34. The Mexican Legal System
Mexico’s legal system is based on a mixture of indigenous, Roman, and Napoleonic legal principles. The country transitioned from a system of legal codes to a more adversarial system similar to that of the United States. This change was part of a larger judicial reform intended to increase transparency and due process in the legal system.
Learn More: LibGuides at the University of Arizona Law Library
35. The Chiapas Coffee Region
Chiapas is one of Mexico’s most important coffee-producing regions, known for its high-quality Arabica beans. The coffee from this region is often grown by small-scale farmers and is a significant part of the state’s economy. Chiapas coffee is appreciated for its mild flavor profile with bright acidity and is often certified as organic.
Learn More: Research Gate
36. The Gulf of California
The Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, lies between the Baja California Peninsula and mainland Mexico. It’s one of the most biodiverse seas on the planet, home to many species of marine mammals, birds, fish, and invertebrates. The gulf’s rich ecosystems support both local communities and global biodiversity.
Learn More: IILSS
37. The Mexican National Anthem
The Mexican national anthem, “Himno Nacional Mexicano,” was composed by Francisco González Bocanegra and Jaime Nunó. It was officially adopted in 1943, although it had been in frequent use since its composition in 1854. The anthem is a source of national pride and is played at all official events, sports matches, and school ceremonies.
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38. The Lacandon Jungle
The Lacandon Jungle, located in the state of Chiapas, is one of the last rainforests in North America and is home to the Lacandon people, one of the last indigenous Maya groups. It’s a hotspot for biodiversity but is unfortunately under threat due to deforestation and the expansion of agricultural lands.
Learn More: Venture Beneath The Skies
39. The Tropic of Cancer in Mexico
The Tropic of Cancer crosses through Mexico, marking the northernmost latitude at which the sun can appear directly overhead at noon. This line of latitude passes through several Mexican states, including Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas. The Tropic of Cancer’s path through Mexico divides the country into temperate and tropical zones.
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40. The Tarahumara People
The Tarahumara or Rarámuri are Native American people who live in the mountainous regions of Northwestern Mexico. Their culture is rich with traditions, rituals, and crafts, including their distinctive colorful clothing. Interestingly, they’re renowned for their long-distance running ability, often traversing great distances through rugged terrain.
Learn More: Medium
41. The Guelaguetza Festival
The Guelaguetza festival is an annual indigenous cultural event in Oaxaca that features traditional dance, music, and costumes. It’s held in July and brings together various ethnic groups from the state to celebrate their cultures and heritage. “Guelaguetza” is a Zapotec word meaning “reciprocal exchange of gifts and services,” reflecting the spirit of cooperation and community that the festival embodies.
Learn More: Discover Oaxaca Tours
42. The Voladores de Papantla
The Voladores de Papantla is an ancient Mesoamerican ritual that’s still performed today and is recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage. It involves dancers climbing a tall pole and launching themselves tied with ropes to descend to the ground. The ritual is a form of worship and is said to bring fertility to the land and people.
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43. The Chihuahuan Desert
The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest desert in North America and is an important ecological region with several protected areas on both sides of the border. Spanning parts of Mexico and the United States, it’s characterized by its varied topography, including mountains, valleys, and plains, and a diverse range of flora and fauna adapted to its arid conditions.
Learn More: Mexico Daily Post
44. The Puebla Tunnels
Recently discovered tunnels under the city of Puebla in Central Mexico have revealed a network of paths dating back to the city’s founding in the 16th century. These tunnels are thought to have been used for a variety of purposes, including the transport of goods and troops, as well as hiding during sieges. The discovery of the tunnels has provided new insights into the historical urban development of Puebla.
Learn More: Atlas Obscura