Holidays to Mexico are rich in fantastic flavours, endless sunny days and some of the best beaches west of the Caribbean. Yet look a little further beneath the surface, and you’ll find a deep history and some incredible facts.
Mexico is an ancient land in many ways, with forgotten civilisations still honoured today even around lively tourist destinations like Cancun. Here are some of our favourite facts to give you a taste of this fascinating country.
All in the name
Mexico’s full name is the Estados Unidos Mexicanos, or the Mexican United States. Like its northern neighbour, it’s divided into numerous states that eventually came together to form the country we know and love today.
The name of the country, Mexico, comes from the name of one of its original native peoples, the Mexica (pronounced meh-shee-kah). Look a little closer, and you’ll find that love of naming goes even further, especially in some of the country’s most famous exports. For instance, the famously potent tipple known as tequila is so named for the town of Tequila, where the Blue Agave plant that’s distilled to make the drink is natively found. Similarly, the little dog breed known as Chihuahua takes its name from a Mexican town.
Flavours for all
A lot of the food we enjoy today has its roots in Mexico, even if it falls beyond the realm of what we expect Mexican food to be. Of course, while tacos and tortillas are one thing, it’s pretty surprising to imagine that snacks like popcorn were being eaten in Mexico even thousands of years ago.
In fact, it’s thanks to Mexico and the people who first lived here that the whole world has corn, chillies and chocolate, and nowadays we can’t imagine our eating habits without them. The same goes for the cocoa you might enjoy on a winter’s night, which was originally seen as the Aztec drink of the gods. The Caesar Salad was also invented in Mexico. Although that might raise some eyebrows, the healthy treat was invented in the 1920s by Italian-American restaurateur Caesar Cardini.
The biggest pyramid in the world is not in Egypt, but in Mexico. The Great Pyramid of Cholula is the world’s largest monument, and it’s not the only ancient wonder here.
There’s also the Chitzen Itcha, although holidaymakers spending their time around the nearby Playa del Carmen will also likely want to check out Tulum. The Tulum ruins are tucked atop a clifftop, and they’re pretty unique insofar as they represent one of the few walled cities that the Mayans ever built. They say it’s walled because it was a combination of a fortress and a powerful trading post in its heyday in the 1400s. You can enjoy some spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea from here, but also appreciate the stonework and design that makes Tulum one of the most visited of all Mexico’s landmarks.
Community spirit in Cancun
Cancun wasn’t always the holiday hotspot it is today. As recently as the 1970s, only three local families lived in the community, but the natural beauty of Cancun and the fact it’s so near so many places of interest saw it flourish.
Of course, the vast kilometres of beach probably count, with the sand formed by crushed coral. In fact, the Great Mayan Barrier Reef is the second biggest expanse of coral in the world, and it’s a gorgeous place to dive. Only Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is bigger, but Cancun has plenty of Mexican charm that makes it a must-see holiday destination.