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Spotlight on Culture

People that call this area Home

Latin American Countries

 Immigrants from other areas of the Americas


 Estados Unidos Mexicanos,

from the Nauatl Mēxihco

Notable Details

When we think of Mexico as a country, a lot comes to mind- starting with their wonderful cuisine, their history, their biodiversity, their music and their artists, their traditions, their beaches. The list could go on for hours, and Mexico is all that and much more.

Their rich culture, a mixture of European and indigenous in origin, is full of great things. Some date back thousands of years, traditions carried on from their indigenous past, generation to generation. Some were brought to the new world with the Conquistadors.

Some of the things we love, like chocolate and avocados, had their origin in Mexico. Its vibrant cuisine and culture have spread all over the world. Mexican culture is a blend of the country’s indigenous roots and its history of European conquest and colonization. Modern traditions are often based on this distinct history.

Here are some fun facts about this country you might not know

The Mexican food and drink profile is much more than just tacos and tequila. Its complexity, flavor and quality are regarded all over the world and it has been proclaimed by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Some of the best dishes are deceptively simple, yet incredibly flavorful. favorites of most people that visit as a tourist are tacos al Pastor y tacos de Birria, but we can't talk about their food without mentioning mole, Chiles en Nogada, Tamales or Nopalitos. A favorite of mine is Esquites, a wonderful way to serve corn. They have the most wonderful soups as well, like for example Menudo. Each region of the country is famous for a variety of dishes, usually prepared with very fresh ingredients and plenty of hot peppers. We will be talking about their cuisine in more depth in another post, with recipes.

The country is home to 34 of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) world heritage sites, 26 of which are tied to their distinct culture, 6 to its natural beauty, and 2 to a mixture of the two. From the Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila to the Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque, the country is full of cultural traditions, and is home to the world's largest pyramid, in Cholula, Mexico. Tlachihualtepetl, or the Great Pyramid of Cholula, is about 217 feet (66 meters) tall with a base of 1,476 by 1,476 feet (450 by 450 meters). Mexico has more than 60 pyramids, almost twice as many as Egypt. The pyramids were built by the Aztecs and Maya. The Temple of Kukulkan at the Chichen Itza ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula is one of the new seven wonders of the world.

Mexico has more volcanos than any other country in the world, including one (Paricutin) that is relatively young. They have 200 volcanoes, but only 48 are active. The state of Chiapas has the most volcanoes in Mexico with 5 large and 30 smaller peaks. The most active volcanoes are Popocatépetl, Colima, and El Chichón. They are also home to the smallest volcano: Cuexcomate, located outside Puebla City and only 43 feet tall.

The country is one of the most bio-diverse on the planet, one of only 12 countries who house 70% of the world’s species of flora and fauna. Between 10 and 12% of all the world's species can be found there. They are the third place globally in mammal diversity, with over 564 species (30% of them endemic), and the second in reptiles with 864 different species (45% of them are endemic). It is also a biocultural hotspot, center of origin of globally widespread species and a host to a rich natural heritage, safeguarded by indigenous people and local communities. Over 5,000 species of flora (about 23%) have a traditional use, with over 3,000 medicinal plants in the country. Sadly, that also makes them one of the countries with the most threatened and endangered species. More than 60% of Mexico’s 113 threatened species are classified as endangered. These include the vaquita porpoise, Mexican gray wolf, leatherback sea turtle,

and jaguar.

With so many volcanoes, it comes to no surprise that they are home to a species of rabbit endemic to them. The Volcano rabbits are very small, only about a pound when fully grown.

Chihuahuas are named for the Mexican state of Chihuahua. In the 1880s, merchants started selling these small dogs to tourists, who in turn brought them home to the United States and other countries as pets. People in the US then named the dog breed after the region where they got them from. Their national dog, however is a very different dog- the Xoloitzcuintli. Also known as Mexican Hairless dog, the Xoloitzcuintli is native to Mexico. Its name comes from the Aztec god of lightning and death, Xolotl, and the Aztec word for dog, itzcuintli.

The world’s longest insect migration (Monarch Butterflies) starts in September in Canada and the northern United States and the Monarchs start arriving in Mexico at the end of October. Millions of butterflies travel 3,000 miles from Canada to Mexico and stay there until March. The Monarch Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cholula, Mexico, is the oldest city in the Americas. It is estimated to have been founded around 2000 B.C.E. The city is in the Puebla State, about 78 miles from Mexico City. Humans have lived in Mexico for at least 22,000 years- the Tlapacoya archaeological site has evidence of humans from more than 22,000 years ago.

The National University of Mexico, founded by Charles V of Spain in 1551, was founded 85 years before Harvard. Today it’s known as the National Autonomous University of Mexico or UNAM Mexico and is considered one of the best universities in the world.

Mexico City was built over an ancient city, Tenochtitlan. This ancient city was destroyed by conquistador Hernán Cortés. It has been inhabited continuously since 1524. Today, you can see the ruins of Templo Mayor, a sacred area surrounded by a wall decorated with images of serpents, in the heart of it.

Some of Mexico’s lakes are pink- Las Coloradas are in the Yucatan Peninsula. They’re colored pink by red algae, plankton, and brine shrimp.

Next week we'll continue with more facts about this wonderful country, including information about their thriving TV and Movies industry and famous people.

Stay tuned for more information on Mexico's rich history, culture, its people and the arts in future posts. Our area is blessed to be called home by many people of many cultures, and they deserve to be acknowledged.


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