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Mexico makes global headlines every day. Whether news outlets are discussing the new president, the border wall, immigration, their economy, gas shortage, the rise in tourism, it’s truly never ending the multitude of ways Mexico creates a complex and fascinating discussion.
As the 14th largest country in the world, Mexico has been expanding and developing since the first existence of people on the land. While Mexico continues to change and evolve, its culture and people are what truly make the country stand out with vibrancy and beauty.
Here are 20 fascinating ways Mexico has become the country we love today.
1. The first people of Mexico.
People often talk about the Mayans or Aztecs almost as if they were the first people that inhabited Mexico, but it is the Olmecs who are the first recorded society to settle there. According to History.com, the Olmecs inhabited the area that is now the state of Veracruz. The sculpture above isn’t what they looked like, but rather art they created themselves out of stone.
2. Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire
In 1521, the Spanish conquered the Aztec empire, which meant that people from Europe now colonized large portions of Mexico. That is why today, Mexicans from all over the country can speak both Spanish and indigenous languages. That is also why Catholicism is the country’s main religion.
3. Mexico gained its independence in 1810.
Fast forward to the early 1800s, Mexico finally becomes a republic but there’s still a lot of tension between the Spanish elite and the indigenous landless minority.
This chaotic time would soon come in the form of another revolution, but for now, Mexico and other countries including Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica had become their own entity.
4. The meaning behind the colors of the flag.
The Mexican flag was created in 1821 and embodies both the indigenous people and the Spanish. Green represents hope and victory, white stands for the purity of Mexican ideals and purity of the Catholic faith, and the red stands for the blood shed by the country’s fighters and leaders.
According to amhistory.com, legend has it that “the gods had advised the Aztecs that the place where they should establish their city was to be identified when they saw an eagle, perched on a prickly pear tree, devouring a serpent. They saw this mythical eagle on a marshy lake that is now the main plaza in Mexico City.”
5. Mexican-American War of 1846.
Initiated by American President James K. Polk, the U.S. and Mexico launched into war over territories in 1846. Unfortunately, a bad deal known as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the exchange for $15 million led Mexico to lose parts of California, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
6. Modern-day Mexico.
As Mexico settled into the shape that we know today, the people of Mexico continued to go to and from the U.S., almost as frequently as they did before. Treaty or no treaty, wall or no wall, Mexicans have been a congruent part of the American culture and its land. Mexico on its own is a spirited country that continues to evolve with each coming year.
7. Citizens of Mexico.
Since Mexico is made up of people of indigenous and Spanish descent, the mixture of people that are Mexican citizens is noticeably different from any other country. There are people from all over the world that have been migrating to Mexico for centuries, including Asians (primarily Filipino), Canadians, Germans, British, and many more. American citizens are by far the largest population that live in Mexico, second to Mexicans of course.
8. The ebb and flow of Mexico’s economy.
While Mexico is currently undergoing a gasoline shortage their economy, like most countries in the world, is anything but stable. The country is rich, that is for sure, Carlos Slim Helú, a Mexican citizen, is one of the richest men in the world. According to the Balance.com, Mexico’s gross domestic product in 2017 was $2.4 trillion.
Mexico’s new president Andrés Manuel López Obrador is also attempting to push that number even further. Despite the economy’s current downturn, the president wants to raise the minimum wage in order to boost the countries economy.
9. Influential Mexicans
Mexican influencers have always been part of the country’s history, from pioneering leaders like Emiliano Zapata Salazar and Pancho Villa. Some of the most beloved, however, can still be seen in today’s culture including artist Diego Rivera, and, of course, Frida Kahlo. If we get started on all of the incredible talents coming out from Mexico today, well, that would be a whole other story.
10. The growth of Mexico.
As Mexican citizens migrate to other countries, particularly the U.S., the influx of migration into Mexico has grown as well. The recent migration from Central Americans into Mexico is proof of that. While many of the Central Americans are seeking to move to the U.S., the majority of them stay in Mexico, and the new leader of Mexico wants to help with that situation as well.
11. Violence in Mexico
One tragic element that is part of Mexico’s history, and that continues to be resounding today, has to be its violence. It’s not a safe place for journalists, students, and mainly women. The ongoings of the Mexican cartel and the corruption of the government means that Mexico is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
According to Forbes, out of 15 most dangerous countries, Mexico ranked at No. 12. The U.S., for those keeping scores, came in at No. 13.
12. A wonder of the world: Chichen Itza.
There are many (many) things one should do before they die: live in New York; see the Golden Gate Bridge; see the Great Wall of China. One thing that should definitely be on that list is experiencing the Mayan Ruins known as Chichen Itza located in the Yucatán Peninsula. It’s one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and is considered the last great Maya capital and features more than 4000 structures.
13. Cartels in Mexico
As we mentioned before, Mexico is a violent country and the cartel is largely a big reason why. Understanding the growth of the cartel is a whole other beast. One may think that El Chapo is the face of the countries drug wars, and while that may be the case, there are others, primarily Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo. His story can be seen in Netflix’s “Narcos Mexico.” The cartel culture has influenced not only the government, police officials, the economy, but also art and culture.
14. Famous traditions
For many Latinos, Mexican culture has been ingrained in our everyday life since day one. For the rest of the world, Mexican customs are only now getting the recognition it deserves. From Day of the Dead to folkorico and mariachi music, everyone is barely catching on to the beauty that Mexico bestows.
15. Mexican food.
Let’s keep it real for a second. Mexican food is probably one the best things to ever been invented. It is like a creation from God and we are blessed that it came from our people. From tamales to menudo to tacos, you basically find Mexican food in every part of the world. Whether it’s good or not, is another story, but if you want the most legit Mexican food you will have to go to Mexico or Los Angeles.
16. Standout cities.
One of our favorite things about traveling to Mexico is meeting the different kinds of people, and the food that comes from these places. Standout cities that everyone must visit, and here’s a list in no particular order:
- Mexico City
- San Miguel de Allende
- Puerto Vallarta
- Guanajuato City
17. Indigenous community.
Mexico has gone through an insane and poetic transformation. From colonization to migrations, Mexico is still very much indigenous. You can see native people throughout Mexico and indigenous languages are spoken everywhere.
18. The fluctuating migration.
Mexico’s population has always been diverse, but there is definitely a current migration taking place right now. As tens of thousands of people migrate from Central America many of them remain in Mexico because they can’t gain asylum in the U.S.
According to The Washington Post, many Central Americans have sought Mexican asylum that offers them permission to work in the country, and the new president welcomes that.
19. New leadership.
On Dec. 1, 2018, Andrés Manuel López Obrador was sworn in as Mexico’s 64th president. There were mixed thoughts about the 65-year-old politician. His radical policies have stirred the pot, but the majority of Mexicans are welcoming new ideas. His economic views and implementations have certainly made things already a little hectic, but he’s doing many positive things too, including wanting to raise the minimum wage.
20. Mexico vs. the U.S.
Mexico and the U.S. have always had a love/hate relationship with each other. While both countries are deeply attached to each other, both literally and metaphorically, they are both dependent on each other as well. President Donald Trump has been a defiant foe to the Mexican people, and at times, to its leaders, from the inception of his presidential campaign. It will be interesting to see how the new president interacts with Trump because Mexico’s previous president had a love/hate relationship with him too.
21. Tourism in Mexico.
Mexico has always been an exotic destination for tourists, despite its issues with violence and the economy. Trump’s hateful words about Mexicans and Mexico hasn’t deterred that one bit. According to Forbes, the “country is the No. 1 destination for tourists from the U.S. and is receiving record levels of visitors.”
In the last year, it was projected that more than 40 million people visited Mexico, and we’re certain that number will continue to increase year after year.
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Aprender a dudar es apprender a pensarOctavio Paz