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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.

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CREDIT: Instagram/@jabrielallah
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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

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CREDIT: Wikipedia

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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), CanadiansGermansBritish, 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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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
  • Oaxaca
  • Veracruz
  • Queretaro
  • Guadalajara
  • Tepic
  • San Miguel de Allende
  • Merida
  • Cancun
  • Puebla
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Ixtapa
  • Morelia
  • Guanajuato City
  • Cuernavaca

17. Indigenous community.

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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.

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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.

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CREDIT: Instagram/@lopezobrador

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.

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CREDIT: Instagram/@the_maga_takeover

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.

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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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These Substitutes Make Our Favorite Latino Foods Healthy, Delicious, Satisfying, And Good For You

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These Substitutes Make Our Favorite Latino Foods Healthy, Delicious, Satisfying, And Good For You

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We’ve decided to make healthier food choices this year, without cutting out on the pleasures of having a good and delicious Latin meal. Here’s how our family is changing up the way we eat in the new year.

1. Cut back on meat, especially red meat.

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We love meat and would probably never go vegetarian, let alone vegan, but that doesn’t mean we can’t cut back on meaty foods. Instead of eating meat (bacon, ham, carne asada, pork, chicken), every other day attempt to eat it once a week. Substitute fish or meatless products. Have you ever tried Soyrizo? It’s so good!

Think about the healthy foods you do like to eat, and eat more of that.

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Who doesn’t love avocados!? While avocados may be high in fat, it’s a good kind of fat. Avocados are also high in fiber, which is great.

Have you ever tried cucumbers con sal y limon? It’s so good. Cucumbers have a ton of positive nutrients including antioxidants, it promotes hydration, and it can contribute to lowering blood sugar.

Everything should be consumed in moderation especially alcohol.

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This is probably one of the toughest things to cut back on, and it’s not because we love drinking night and day, but we do love to socialize. Socializing always comes with drinking, but alcohol has a ton of sugar and is loaded with calories. Typically a margarita has 150 calories, and you know you can never have just one.

Cutting back on drinks is hard but doable. Try low sugar drinks and/or refreshing and healthy mocktails.

Cheat days should be limited to once a week.

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Restricting fatty foods shouldn’t mean you have to ban them from your life, that will most likely make you want them even more. If you truly want to eat those loaded nachos, have them once a month, and make a note of it so you keep account of what you’re doing. If you can’t cut them out that much, treat yourself once a week.

Plan out your meals. 

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If you’re one of those people who eats last minute, meaning if you find yourself hungry, you turn to eat anything quickly, that is how you’ll get in trouble.

Planning what you’re going to eat a week ahead, even a day ahead, will make you more likely to make better choices.

Decide what meal gives you the most fuel.

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There’s an age-old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That can be the case for some people, but that’s not the general rule. So if you feel that lunch gives you the most energy, make that your bigger meal. Eat smaller meals for breakfast and dinner. Just understand when your body needs fuel and feed it at that time.

It’s okay to make limitations but do not starve yourself.

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As we said, healthy choices are all about moderation, but never about starvation. Your metabolism needs to keep moving, so if you skip meals or not eat, your metabolism will just stop itself and the result is completely devastating.

Make pragmatic choices.

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When attempting to make healthier choices, be sure to be rational about what you are going to eat, and when you’re going to be eating. Think about your meals, the ingredients, and how it’s going to be cooked. By being pragmatic, you will make smarter and healthier choices.

Sub meat with meatless foods.

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Have you ever tried meatless tacos or seitan asada? Yes, that’s a thing. There are so many ways to incorporate tofu, or meatless products into your meals.

Cut back on tortillas.

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As much as we love eating tortillas with everything they also contain a lot of carbs. The low-calorie tortilla is a good substitute, but in my opinion, they are not very good. What we decided to do is instead of buying a whole pack of tortillas, we made them ourselves. That means we can omit the salt, the lard, and anything else, and just include the basics. That also means the size is much smaller, which is a very good thing.

Top Latin foods with more veggies.

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Rather than load nachos, tacos, burritos, or any Latin food with cheese, sour cream, or meat, load them up with lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, carrots, any veggie that you like. Latin foods tend to be more vegetarian or vegan with meat added later. Keep to the basics and you will see a feel a change in yourself.

Don’t use lard as an ingredient.

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Some Latin foods such as refried beans and tortillas call for lard as an ingredient but putting straight up fat is not a healthy choice. Some people opt to use shortening instead of using lard, but we don’t use either. You truly don’t need it at all.

Try dairy free products.

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Two main ingredients that most Latin foods contain is cheese and sour cream, but if you don’t want those added calories, try using dairy-free sour cream and dairy-free cheese.

Make your own food instead of eating out.

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The food served at restaurants, whether it’s fast food or not, contains so much more sodium and butter. You truly don’t need to cook with those amounts. If you make your own tacos or your own nachos, you will be saving yourself hundreds of calories.

Skip the salt and use herbs, garlic, and other seasonings

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Rather than using salt to add flavor to your meals, they’ll become more flavorful if you use other kinds of seasoning and herbs. The meals will instantly be more unique.

Take advantage of the fruit.

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Yes, fruit has a lot of sugar which equals carbs, but it’s so much better if you eat plantains, or a mango rather than eating ice cream or chips, you will notice a huge difference in yourself.

Incorporate fiber in your meals.

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Beans, one of our favorite foods, has a ton a fiber. In fact, a lot of Latin foods including avocados, nopales, and much more.

Don’t like veggies? Try superfood powders.

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If you’re not a fan of eating salads or just eating vegetables, you still need those nutrients. One great substitute is incorporating superfood powders into smoothies. That is an instant and nutritious meal.

Good fat vs. bad fat.

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As we said before, some fatty foods like avocados and beans have lots of great nutrients that will benefit your health. That also includes extra virgin olive oil, so when you’re making those huevos rancheros, be sure to put some EVOO in the pan for those good and beneficial fatty foods.

Don’t think of food as your enemy, enjoy it.

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Once you start to consider that food isn’t a crutch or comfort food but rather fuel to energize your body, you will start eating better. Just because us Latinos love to eat yummy foods, doesn’t mean there isn’t really good substitutes out there.

Just remember, we need food to survive, not to make us feel heavy and/or tired, so have fun and enjoy those meals.

READ: 20 Foods And Drinks That Instantly Take Caribbean Latinos Back To Their Childhood

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