10 Surprising Facts About Mexico

By Amanda Little

Mexico is the land of sombreros, tacos, and tiny dogs...well, not quite. Mexico is a vast country and its people vary as widely as its stunning landscapes. Here are some myth-busting Mexican facts that may inspire you to put Mexico on your vacation ideas list.
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1. Mexico City is sinking

The city is slowly sinking to the depths of the oceans like Atlantis! Well, not really. But Mexico City is sinking at a rate of about 10 inches a year as the city pumps draw water from the lake that supports it. In fact, it has sunk so much that it lost its title as the 7th highest capital city in the world to Yemen and now sits at #8.

2. It was the birthplace of North American print

Long before phones and the internet became commonplace, Mexico was the place to find your literature in North America. In 1539, Mexico City was the first place in all of North America to use the printing press. You can even visit the house it was used in!

3. Mexican kids don’t get presents on Christmas

Children in Mexico receive their Christmas presents on January 6th, not December 25th. Rather than celebrating the birth of Jesus, Mexicans instead celebrate the day the Three Wise Men arrived to give gifts to Jesus. Everyone gets presents when Jesus gets presents!

4. Home of the world's largest tamale

Americans are known for having huge portions when it comes to food, but even they would have a tough time finishing a 3-foot long, 150 pound tamale that takes a village to make! The "el zacahuil" is often enjoyed at special celebrations or Xantolo, the Feast of All Saints, and can feed around 70 people. This monstrosity is stuffed with pork or turkey, piled high over chile and a mouthwatering blend of spices, and served up on grilled banana leaves with pickled jalapenos.

5. Mexico City is the oldest city in North America

Many believe the oldest city in North America is St. Augustine, but Mexico City was actually founded a little over 40 years before it in 1521. The city was built by the Spaniards on the ancient ruins of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán.

6. There are women-only cars in the subway

A socially controversial idea that has become popular in some cities around the world is segregated transportation. Mexico City is one of those cities with subway cars where it is illegal for men to enter, creating a space that's completely safe for women. Like any large city, Mexico City has its standard crime rate, and this is to try and help combat public groping, assault, and even kidnapping. To compare cities, Mexico City is still about as safe as New York City. It even has the reputation as one of the safer places to go!

7. You can find crawling cuisine

A stroll through any market in Mexico can bring you by spiders, grasshoppers, and even scorpions, all up for sale to put on your dinner table. Some find this horrifying, but adventurous foodies can find some excellent grub in Mexican markets, among other crawling things.

8. Home of the world’s smallest volcano

Mexico is home to the world’s smallest volcano! A small-cano, if you will. The Cuexcomate Volcano sits just outside the city of Puebla and stands a cute 43 feet tall. Compared to Mauna Loa in Hawaii which stands 13,678 feet tall, this volcano is barely a hill! If that isn’t a good enough height comparison, try this one: Cuexcomate isn’t even half the height of the Statue of Liberty.

9. Mexico is gay-friendly

Same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption are both legal for the inhabitants of Mexico! While its strong ties to the Roman Catholic Church made the country lean towards the conservative side, there has been a social shift, and Mexico has even marketed itself as a gay-friendly destination, with Mexico City as a frontrunner.

10. Mexico has near ancient education

What is the oldest university in North America? Many would assume Harvard, but it has nothing on the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. This dinosaur opened in 1551 as the Royal and Pontifical University of New Spain, but unfortunately was closed in 1867 during the dictatorship. It re-opened during the revolution, so unlike Harvard it hasn’t been open as long, but it has been around longer!

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