Mexico is an incredible place that most of us probably don’t know much about. It’s a long way across the water from Ireland, with lots of different traditions and ways of life. You’ve probably eaten Mexican food like burritos and nachos, but how much do you know about Mexican culture?
Here are five facts that you can share with the kids. You might not have known before.
Mexico has hosted the World Cup twice
Mexico enjoys the proud boast of being one of the few countries to have hosted the World Cup more than once. In fact, football is Mexico’s most popular sport. In the 2006 FIFA Big Count, there were more than 8 million registered and unregistered players out of a population of around 112 million.
It was the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City that hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1970, and again in 1986. Mexico made it no further than the quarter finals either time. The eventual winners were Brazil in 1970 and Argentina in 1986.
Its proper name is the Estados Unidos Mexicanos (the United Mexican States)
Mexico has 31 states and the country’s capital is Mexico City. There are also four different time zones across this Spanish-speaking country, and although the country’s main unit of currency is the peso, you can also pay in dollars in many places.
If you ever go to Mexico, you’ll probably find yourself in the state of Quintana Roo on the Caribbean Coast. Cancun oozes excitement, with plenty to do from spending the day at a water park to exploring Caribbean islands.
The Spanish arrived in Mexico in the early 1500s
A Spanish soldier called Hernando Cortés led an expedition to the Mexican coast in 1519. There he founded a settlement called Veracruz. The Aztecs lived in Mexico at this time, and at first the Aztec king, Montezuma, welcomed Cortés with luxurious gifts.
Later, however, fighting broke out between the Aztecs and the Spanish. This ended in 1523, when Mexico was called New Spain and Cortés became governor.
Mexico became independent in 1821
The Mexican War of Independence started on 16th September 1810. A priest called Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla declared war against the Spanish government in a speech known as the Grito de Dolores (‘The Cry of Dolores’).
Fighting continued for more than ten years before the first Mexican Republic was created. Nowadays, however, Mexicans still celebrate Independence Day on the anniversary of the Grito de Dolores in September.
Mexico’s supports a vast variety of plant and animal species
Mexico is large and has mountain, desert and even tropical jungle landscapes. As a result of its location, it’s home to all kinds of plant species. In the northern desert region, you’ll find Cardon cacti, the tallest type of cacti in the world.
The southern jungles have everything from howler monkeys to jaguars. The country’s location sees it also act as a temporary home for animals migrating from hot southern or cold northern climates. These include pods of grey wales who swim all the way from Alaska.
There is so much more you can learn about this huge and fascinating country — so why not find out more, or maybe even travel there yourself someday?