The country of Mexico is home to more than 120 million people and spans almost two million square kilometers. Once home to highly advanced ancient peoples, Mexico has a rich history and an incredible amount of natural resources. Sharing a border with the U.S., Guatemala, and Belize, Mexico has long coastlines, dry deserts, hot jungles, and amazing landscapes. There is so much to learn about the architecture, the cuisine, the wildlife, and the local people.
The People and Culture of Mexico
Modern Mexico had been influenced by three different groups of people: the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Spanish. The Maya and Aztecs were ancient peoples with their own governments and sets of religious practices. The Maya were very advanced for their time, building massive monuments, developing their own calendar, and using their own writing system. They had an evolved knowledge of the stars and how they behaved. The later group, the Aztecs, included a triple alliance between indigenous groups. They resided further north. The last group were the conquistadors who hailed from Spain and Portugal with the intent to convert local native peoples. Conquistadors brought European ideas like Christianity to Mexico. The unique culture of Mexico is a blend of the ideas, practices, religions, and cuisine of these three groups.
Homes in Mexico
Mexican architecture is like its people: diverse and interesting! The unique styles of its architecture have often been imitated by many different people in the U.S. There are three styles of homes that tourists notice while on vacation in Mexico: the Spanish colonial style, the adobe style, and the haciendas style. Haciendas are like elaborate, fancy ranches, which often include a main house, a separate stable, and servants’ quarters. They feature thick stone walls and high ceilings. On the other hand, the colonial style is more reminiscent of what one might see while visiting Spain. Lastly, the adobe-style home, a clay-based house with exposed wooden frames, is typically inhabited by poorer families.
If you go on vacation in Mexico, you can taste a multitude of different flavors. From vegetables like jícama to fruits like tomatillos and avocados, the foods in Mexico may at first seem exotic and exciting. However, most traditional Mexican dishes start with three important ingredients: corn, beans, and chili peppers. Rice is also a staple in the modern Mexican diet. Many Americans have heard of tacos, salsa, and guacamole, but there are a host of other kinds of dishes, from barbacoa to mole to menudo.
Mexico boasts a huge amount of biodiversity, meaning that there are many different kinds of species there. The most southern parts of the country contain jungles and rainforests, the Lacandon Jungle being the most famous. The Lacandon Jungle houses thousands of different species, from jaguars to toucans. Further inland is the Chihuahuan Desert, a massive dry area of land that is home to a different array of creatures, from the pronghorn to blacktailed jackrabbits. The many miles of Mexican coastline also feature a diverse array of marine life. While the country is a welcoming home to many kinds of plant and animal life, some local species in Mexico are critically endangered, from the Mexican gray wolf to the adorable Mexican axolotls.
There are several holidays that are important to Mexican culture. The Aztecs and Maya had their own special days, however their holidays have now been mostly replaced with Christians ones. Some holidays, like the Day of the Dead, blend the two traditions together. The Day of the Dead mixes ancient celebrations with Halloween, and commemorates loved ones who have passed. Christian Mexicans also celebrate Christmas( or Navidad) and Easter (or Domingo de Pascua). There are several non-religious holidays as well. There’s normally a big celebration on Cinco de Mayo (on May 5th) and Mexican Independence Day (on September 16th).
Mexico is full of neat natural and man-made landmarks. Some of the most famous landmarks are pyramids and temples built by the Maya and the Aztecs, such as Chichen Itza, Calakmul, or Uxmal. Natural landmarks like sinkholes, waterfalls, and caves are also a favorite for visitors. By far the most visited places in Mexico are its beaches. The most famous are in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Acapulco, and Cabo San Lucas.