Only three countries lie in North America – Canada, the United States and Mexico. Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, although the people here didn’t always speak Spanish. For thousands of years, native Indians lived here and built great cities. The people had advanced systems of language, education and calendars. They had clever ways of raising food.
Mexico Facts For Kids
- Mexico is in North America.
- The capital city is Mexico City.
- They speak Spanish there.
- The currency is the Mexican peso.
- Famous for tacos, burritos, and salsa.
- Celebrates Day of the Dead festival.
- Has ancient pyramids like Chichen Itza.
- Home to the Sonoran Desert.
- Popular sport: soccer (or fútbol).
- Borders the U.S. to the north.
The Aztecs, a captivating civilization once flourishing in what is now Mexico, were renowned for their advanced knowledge in diverse fields such as agriculture, astronomy, and architecture prior to the Spanish conquest. They constructed spectacular cities featuring grandiose temples, with Tenochtitlan, situated on an island in Lake Texcoco and the site of modern-day Mexico City, being among the most notable.
The Aztecs also developed a complex calendar system and were passionate artists, producing intricate pieces of pottery, sculptures, and jewelry. They were also sports enthusiasts, playing a game akin to today’s basketball but with a unique twist – the ball had to be maneuvered through a stone ring using only the hips!
Enshrined in Mexico’s rich ancient history, Teotihuacan stands as an enigmatic, prehistoric city renowned for its expansive archaeological site. It once held the status of being one of the world’s largest cities in the first half of the first millennium AD. Teotihuacan, translating to ‘the place where the gods were created,’ is celebrated for its colossal structures, notably the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon.
The former happens to be the third largest pyramid worldwide, a fact that will astound children! Apart from its majestic pyramids, the city’s meticulously designed streets, particularly the ‘Avenue of the Dead,’ a broad pathway stretching approximately two miles long, also draw admiration. The identity of the city’s builders remains shrouded in mystery, further contributing to its allure as a captivating testament to Mexico’s ancient past.
Situated on the northeastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Cancún is a popular destination renowned for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. The city, which was once home to the ancient Maya civilization, offers more than just scenic beauty; it is steeped in history with fascinating archaeological sites, such as the El Rey Ruins. Beyond its historical allure, Cancún also boasts of an interactive aquarium that provides a hands-on learning experience about marine life, letting children touch starfish and gain knowledge about the underwater world. Additionally, Cancún’s main hub, Kukulkan Boulevard, provides a myriad of entertainment options, teeming with a variety of shops, restaurants, and engaging activities that cater to the enjoyment of both children and adults alike.
The Mexican Revolution, a monumental event in the nation’s history, began in 1910 as an insurrection against the 35-year rule of Porfirio Diaz, a dictator notorious for favoring the affluent landowners while disregarding the common populace’s necessities. This rebellion, which spanned approximately a decade, heralded the active participation of diverse societal groups, including farmers, laborers, and indigenous communities, all rallying for their rights and freedoms.
This era was characterized by considerable political and social transformations, encompassing land reforms and enhancements in education and labor rights. Pancho Villa, a renowned revolutionary leader who later evolved into a folk hero, is one of the most recognized figures from this period. The Mexican Revolution continues to be commemorated as a crucial turning point in the nation’s evolution towards democracy and social justice.
Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos)
The Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a significant Mexican celebration held from October 31st through November 2nd. This period is characterized by family gatherings that are not mournful but joyous and vibrant, seeking to pay tribute to relatives who have departed.
The occasion is marked by the creation of intricate ofrendas or altars, adorned with flowers, candles, photographs of the departed, and their preferred foods and beverages. Family members also make a point to visit their loved ones’ graves, leaving offerings in a poignant gesture of remembrance. Central to this tradition is the belief that during this time, the souls of those lost return to the realm of the living, rejoining their families in a beautiful celebration of life.
Mariachi, a traditional Mexican music genre originating from the country’s western states in the 19th century, has become a global emblem of Mexican culture. The characteristic ensemble comprises musicians donned in traditional Mexican attire, usually featuring violins, guitars, and trumpets. Their songs often narrate tales of love, betrayal, death, politics, and heroes.
Mariachi bands are a common sight at festivals, weddings, and restaurants, presenting an excellent opportunity for children to immerse themselves in and learn about the richness of Mexican culture.
Gulf of Mexico
Encompassing a significant part of Mexico’s geography, the Gulf of Mexico is not only a captivating natural feature but also a critical economic resource for the country. Situated to the east of Mexico, this world’s largest gulf spans approximately 600,000 square miles and teems with diverse marine life, hosting dolphins, sharks, and over 500 different species of fish. The gulf also significantly influences Mexico’s tropical climate due to its role in weather patterns. Moreover, it’s a central hub for Mexico’s oil and gas industries, boasting numerous underwater oil wells, underscoring its importance beyond its natural beauty.
Mexican cuisine, an intriguing aspect of Mexico’s vibrant and diverse culture, captivates children with its colorful presentation and array of flavors. Traditional Mexican ingredients include native fare such as corn, beans, chili peppers, and tomatoes. The cuisine features popular dishes like the taco, a handheld treat filled with a variety of ingredients like meat, cheese, and vegetables, and enchiladas, tortillas rolled around a filling and smothered in chili pepper sauce.
The cuisine’s sweet side is represented by treats like churros and flan. In recognition of its cultural significance, UNESCO added Mexican cuisine to the list of the world’s ‘intangible cultural heritage’ in 2010. Thus, indulging in Mexican food offers not just a delightful culinary experience, but also a taste of Mexico’s rich history and traditions.
The Maya civilization, an intriguing aspect of Mexico’s history that captivates children, thrived in the southern regions of Mexico and parts of Central America around 2000 BC. Renowned for their profound knowledge in mathematics, astronomy, and writing, the Mayans were the first in the Western Hemisphere to maintain a written record of their history and culture through a distinctive system of writing known as hieroglyphics.
In addition to their intellectual prowess, they showcased remarkable architectural and construction skills, erecting grand cities characterized by colossal stone pyramids, temples, and palaces without the use of any metal tools. Their cities, such as Chichen Itza and Tulum, continue to exist today, drawing in millions of tourists annually.
Lucha Libre, a Spanish term translating to ‘free fight’, is a professional wrestling variant that has gained significant popularity in Mexico since its inception in the early 20th century. The sport, characterized by colorful masks, acrobatic maneuvers, and compelling narratives, appeals to a broad demographic, particularly children.
The masks in Lucha Libre hold immense symbolic value, embodying the identity of the wrestler. The loss of a match often entails the removal of the mask, an act perceived as a significant disgrace. More than a mere display of strength, Lucha Libre also emphasizes skill, agility, and theatricality, making it an exhilarating spectacle, particularly for a younger audience.
When the Spanish conquistadors led by the explorer Hernan Cortes arrived in the 1500s, the old ways of life changed. The Aztec and Mayan empires were destroyed. Many people died from diseases the Spanish colonists brought with them. Spain ruled Mexico until she gained her independence in 1821. Since then, the country has struggled to rise above poverty.
Fun Facts about Mexico for Kids
- The northern part of Mexico is a desert. Similar to southern Arizona, this part of Mexico has saguaro cactus, scorpions and rattlesnakes. Water is scarce here.
- Southern Mexico is a tropical rain forest. Most people live in the middle of the country.
- Mexico is a very crowded country. There are over 127 million people living here.
- Over 50 percent of the population is under the age of 18. That means there are many children in Mexico. It is hard to raise enough food to feed all the people who live here. Mexico must buy food from other countries.
- The capital city of Mexico is Mexico City. Mexico City is a very polluted city but the government are trying to improve conditions.
- Mexico has over 1,964,375 square miles of land.
- People here speak Spanish, Mayan and other native languages.
- Most people here are Roman Catholic. However, many of the old Indian traditions remain.
- Lopez Obrador is the current president of Mexico (information based July 1st 2018).
- Pico de Orizaba is Mexico’s tallest mountain standing at 5,636 m
- Mexico City lies dangerously close to one of the worlds most dangerous volcanoes “Popocatepetl”. It is 70 km south west of Mexico City with over 20 million people living there.
- Rio Grande is the longest river in Mexico flowing for 3,108 km – it begins in Colorado United States and travels the long journey to the Gulf of Mexico.
- With a surface area of over 420 square miles Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest freshwater lake.
- Mexican Peso is the currency in Mexico although the US$ is widely accepted.
- The Mexican border shared with the US is the 2nd largest border in the world after the Canadian / US border.
- By total area Mexico is the 14th largest country in the world.
- Mexico is also prone to earthquakes and sits in one of the most dangerous earthquake zones named “The Ring of Fire”.
- Do you love dogs? Well one of the smallest dogs in the world the “Chihuahua” is named after a Mexican State.
- The color TV system was invented by a Mexican named Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena in 1942.
- A new species of dinosaur named Acantholipan gonzal was discovered in 2018. It is the oldest dinosaur fossil to be found in Mexico and it is estimated that it roamed around over 85 million years ago.
- Advanced: complex, difficult
- Clever: smart, wise
- Destroy: ruin
- Independence: freedom
- Poverty: lack of money, food and resources
- Scarce: limited
All About Mexico Video for Kids
Check out this cool video about Mexico for kids:
This animated video shows facts about Mexico.
Question: What is the culture and food like in Mexico?
Answer: Many of the old customs and traditions remain, although they’re blended with Spanish traditions. Each village has a patron saint and each patron saint has his or her own special day. The people celebrate each saint’s day with a fiesta, or festival. There are 115 saints, which means a lot of parties.
Embroidery and weaving are traditional crafts. Women embroider and weave brightly colored fabrics with birds and flowers. Chiles, onions, corn, beans, and tortillas made from corn are the most common foods. Mexicans mix chocolate with chiles to make a delicious sauce called mole. This sauce is served with meat and chicken.
Map of Mexico
Here’s a map of the country of Mexico and all its cities and villages. Zoom in to get into street level or zoom out to see other countries around Mexico! You can see the terrain, but also see the roads, images of the buildings and even take a 3D tour through the streets of the cities of Mexico, as though you are actually there!