10 Fun Things You Might Not Know About Mexico

Mexico Surprises: 10 Fun Things You Might Not Know

Broken and stacked chocolate barWhen you think of Mexico, what comes to mind? For most, it likely revolves around tequila, tacos and beach resorts. But Mexico contains a wealth of culture, history and nature that most never discover. Read on for 10 fun facts you might not know about Mexico.

1. It's Incredibly Biodiverse

With over 200,000 varieties of plants and animals, Mexico is one of the most biodiverse countries on earth. You'll find native wildlife here from mahogany trees and dahlias to spider monkeys, bobcats and the golden eagle, Mexico's official bird. Mexico also witnesses breathtaking annual monarch butterfly migrations as they fly here for the winter.

2. They Have More UNESCO World Heritage Sites Than Most Countries the World Over

Mexico is home to 35 UNESCO world heritage sites, the most of any country in the Americas and seventh most in the world. One such site is the city of Chichen Itza, where you'll find the Chichen Itza Pyramid, recently named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

3. Mexico Is Located in the Ring of Fire

Popocateptl Volcano, Mexico City in the foreground

The Ring of Fire is one of the most violent earthquake and volcanic eruption zones in the world. Mexico's second-highest mountain, Popocatépetl, is one of its most active volcanoes.

4. It Also Has the World's Smallest Volcano

An offshoot of Popocatépetl, the Cuexcomate volcano tops out at 43 feet and is only 75 feet wide, making it the smallest volcano in the world. Unlike its larger sibling though, the Cuexcomate volcano is inactive.

5. Mexican Food Inspires Chefs Around the World

Authentic Mexican food encompasses a wide range of flavors and ingredients, and traditional Mexican cuisine is considered part of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

6. We Have Mexico to Thank for Chocolate

In ancient Mexico, chocolate was a bitter, chili-spiced beverage. European explorers carried it across the ocean in the 16th century, paving its way to become the confection we know today.

7. The Oldest University in North America Is in Mexico

Founded in 1551, the University of Mexico is the oldest university in North America and was originally called the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico.

8. Mexico Is Formed From Many Civilizations

The people of Mexico are an amalgamation of civilizations, including Aztec, Mayan, Incan, Spanish and French. Case in point: The Mexican government officially recognizes 68 different languages.

9. They Got Creative With Their Historical Weapons

Hornets Nest

Continuing the history lesson, the Mayan military had a unique weapon they employed: hornet nests. That's right, the Mayans perfected the art of lobbing hornets at their enemies. Another unique weapon is the Aztec macahuitl, a flat wooden club embedded with sharpened obsidian blades.

10. Mexico City Is Sinking

Maybe that's a result of building a city on the remains of a lake. In any case, the city is sinking at a rate of up to 10 inches per year.