Things That Matter

Mexico’s Beautiful And Complex History Will Leave You Wanting To Visit The Country Even More

Mexico makes global headlines every day. Whether news outlets are discussing the new president, the border wall, immigration, their economy, gas shortage, the rise in tourism, it’s truly never ending the multitude of ways Mexico creates a complex and fascinating discussion.

As the 14th largest country in the world, Mexico has been expanding and developing since the first existence of people on the land. While Mexico continues to change and evolve, its culture and people are what truly make the country stand out with vibrancy and beauty.

Here are 20 fascinating ways Mexico has become the country we love today.

1. The first people of Mexico.

CREDIT: Instagram/@jabrielallah

People often talk about the Mayans or Aztecs almost as if they were the first people that inhabited Mexico, but it is the Olmecs who are the first recorded society to settle there. According to History.com, the Olmecs inhabited the area that is now the state of Veracruz. The sculpture above isn’t what they looked like, but rather art they created themselves out of stone.

2. Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire

CREDIT: Wikipedia

In 1521, the Spanish conquered the Aztec empire, which meant that people from Europe now colonized large portions of Mexico. That is why today, Mexicans from all over the country can speak both Spanish and indigenous languages. That is also why Catholicism is the country’s main religion.

3. Mexico gained its independence in 1810.

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Fast forward to the early 1800s, Mexico finally becomes a republic but there’s still a lot of tension between the Spanish elite and the indigenous landless minority.

This chaotic time would soon come in the form of another revolution, but for now, Mexico and other countries including Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica had become their own entity.

4. The meaning behind the colors of the flag.

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The Mexican flag was created in 1821 and embodies both the indigenous people and the Spanish. Green represents hope and victory, white stands for the purity of Mexican ideals and purity of the Catholic faith, and the red stands for the blood shed by the country’s fighters and leaders.

READ: 21 Latin American Flags And The Stories Behind Them

According to amhistory.com, legend has it that “the gods had advised the Aztecs that the place where they should establish their city was to be identified when they saw an eagle, perched on a prickly pear tree, devouring a serpent. They saw this mythical eagle on a marshy lake that is now the main plaza in Mexico City.”

5. Mexican-American War of 1846.

CREDIT: YouTube/@HISTORY

Initiated by American President James K. Polk, the U.S. and Mexico launched into war over territories in 1846. Unfortunately, a bad deal known as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the exchange for $15 million led Mexico to lose parts of California, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

 6. Modern-day Mexico.

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As Mexico settled into the shape that we know today, the people of Mexico continued to go to and from the U.S., almost as frequently as they did before. Treaty or no treaty, wall or no wall, Mexicans have been a congruent part of the American culture and its land. Mexico on its own is a spirited country that continues to evolve with each coming year.

7. Citizens of Mexico.

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Since Mexico is made up of people of indigenous and Spanish descent, the mixture of people that are Mexican citizens is noticeably different from any other country. There are people from all over the world that have been migrating to Mexico for centuries, including Asians (primarily Filipino), Canadians, Germans, British, and many more. American citizens are by far the largest population that live in Mexico, second to Mexicans of course.

8. The ebb and flow of Mexico’s economy.

CREDIT: Unsplash

While Mexico is currently undergoing a gasoline shortage their economy, like most countries in the world, is anything but stable. The country is rich, that is for sure, Carlos Slim Helú, a Mexican citizen, is one of the richest men in the world.  According to the Balance.com, Mexico’s gross domestic product in 2017 was $2.4 trillion.

Mexico’s new president Andrés Manuel López Obrador is also attempting to push that number even further. Despite the economy’s current downturn, the president wants to raise the minimum wage in order to boost the countries economy.

9. Influential Mexicans

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Mexican influencers have always been part of the country’s history, from pioneering leaders like Emiliano Zapata Salazar and Pancho Villa. Some of the most beloved, however, can still be seen in today’s culture including artist Diego Rivera, and, of course, Frida Kahlo. If we get started on all of the incredible talents coming out from Mexico today, well, that would be a whole other story.

READ: 25 Intimate Facts About Frida Kahlo That Will Give You A Better Of A Perspective Of The Artist And Her Life’s Struggle

10. The growth of Mexico.

CREDIT: Unsplash

As Mexican citizens migrate to other countries, particularly the U.S., the influx of migration into Mexico has grown as well. The recent migration from Central Americans into Mexico is proof of that. While many of the Central Americans are seeking to move to the U.S., the majority of them stay in Mexico, and the new leader of Mexico wants to help with that situation as well.

11. Violence in Mexico

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One tragic element that is part of Mexico’s history, and that continues to be resounding today, has to be its violence. It’s not a safe place for journalists, students, and mainly women. The ongoings of the Mexican cartel and the corruption of the government means that Mexico is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

According to Forbes, out of 15 most dangerous countries, Mexico ranked at No. 12. The U.S., for those keeping scores, came in at No. 13.

12. A wonder of the world: Chichen Itza.

CREDIT: Unsplash

There are many (many) things one should do before they die: live in New York; see the Golden Gate Bridge; see the Great Wall of China. One thing that should definitely be on that list is experiencing the Mayan Ruins known as Chichen Itza located in the Yucatán Peninsula. It’s one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and is considered the last great Maya capital and features more than 4000 structures.

13. Cartels in Mexico

CREDIT: Instagram@777sicario

As we mentioned before, Mexico is a violent country and the cartel is largely a big reason why. Understanding the growth of the cartel is a whole other beast. One may think that El Chapo is the face of the countries drug wars, and while that may be the case, there are others, primarily Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo. His story can be seen in Netflix’s “Narcos Mexico.” The cartel culture has influenced not only the government, police officials, the economy, but also art and culture.

14. Famous traditions

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For many Latinos, Mexican culture has been ingrained in our everyday life since day one. For the rest of the world, Mexican customs are only now getting the recognition it deserves. From Day of the Dead to folkorico and mariachi music, everyone is barely catching on to the beauty that Mexico bestows.

15. Mexican food.

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Let’s keep it real for a second. Mexican food is probably one the best things to ever been invented. It is like a creation from God and we are blessed that it came from our people. From tamales to menudo to tacos, you basically find Mexican food in every part of the world. Whether it’s good or not, is another story, but if you want the most legit Mexican food you will have to go to Mexico or Los Angeles.

16. Standout cities.

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One of our favorite things about traveling to Mexico is meeting the different kinds of people, and the food that comes from these places. Standout cities that everyone must visit, and here’s a list in no particular order:

  1. Mexico City
  2. Oaxaca
  3. Veracruz
  4. Queretaro
  5. Guadalajara
  6. Tepic
  7. San Miguel de Allende
  8. Merida
  9. Cancun
  10. Puebla
  11. Puerto Vallarta
  12. Ixtapa
  13. Morelia
  14. Guanajuato City
  15. Cuernavaca

17. Indigenous community.

CREDIT: Unsplash

Mexico has gone through an insane and poetic transformation. From colonization to migrations, Mexico is still very much indigenous. You can see native people throughout Mexico and indigenous languages are spoken everywhere.

18. The fluctuating migration.

CREDIT: Unsplash

Mexico’s population has always been diverse, but there is definitely a current migration taking place right now. As tens of thousands of people migrate from Central America many of them remain in Mexico because they can’t gain asylum in the U.S.

According to The Washington Post, many Central Americans have sought Mexican asylum that offers them permission to work in the country, and the new president welcomes that.

19. New leadership.

CREDIT: Instagram/@lopezobrador

On Dec. 1, 2018, Andrés Manuel López Obrador was sworn in as Mexico’s 64th president. There were mixed thoughts about the 65-year-old politician. His radical policies have stirred the pot, but the majority of Mexicans are welcoming new ideas. His economic views and implementations have certainly made things already a little hectic, but he’s doing many positive things too, including wanting to raise the minimum wage.

20. Mexico vs. the U.S.

CREDIT: Instagram/@the_maga_takeover

Mexico and the U.S. have always had a love/hate relationship with each other. While both countries are deeply attached to each other, both literally and metaphorically, they are both dependent on each other as well. President Donald Trump has been a defiant foe to the Mexican people, and at times, to its leaders, from the inception of his presidential campaign. It will be interesting to see how the new president interacts with Trump because Mexico’s previous president had a love/hate relationship with him too.

READ: 17 Things That Would Happen If President Trump Has His Way And The Wall Was Built

21. Tourism in Mexico.

CREDIT: Unsplash

Mexico has always been an exotic destination for tourists, despite its issues with violence and the economy. Trump’s hateful words about Mexicans and Mexico hasn’t deterred that one bit. According to Forbes, the “country is the No. 1 destination for tourists from the U.S. and is receiving record levels of visitors.”

In the last year, it was projected that more than 40 million people visited Mexico, and we’re certain that number will continue to increase year after year.


READ: I Started Yearly Trips To Mexico With My White Husband So We Could Better Understand Each Other

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Here Are Nine Fascinating Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Puerto Rico

Culture

Here Are Nine Fascinating Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Puerto Rico

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Over the last couple of years, Puerto Rico has been in the news probably more than ever. From the lingering effects of Hurricane Maria to the resignation of the island’s governor over a sexist and homophobic scandal, Puerto Rico has seen its share of environmental and political drama. Meanwhile, the island is also home to some of the world’s top artists – Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny, Residente – just to name a few.

But unless you or your family are actually Puerto Rican, very few people really know the island. Scratch the surface, though, and you’ll uncover all manner of surprising facts far beyond the white sands and crystal-clear waters. Whether it’s science, geography or politics, here are nine fascinating insights into this unique and beautiful island.

1. Rum, Rum, And Más Rum

Credit: BacardiUSA / Instagram

Rum is the libation of choice, the island’s chief export, and the base ingredient in many of Puerto Rico’s best cocktails. Puerto Rico and rum go way back, about 400 years, give or take a decade. Bacardi and Don Q are the largest producers on the island.

Puerto Rico is the only rum producer in the world to maintain a minimum aging law for its rum. You can get three main categories of rum here: light, dark, and añejo, or aged.

2. It’s About The Size Of Connecticut

Credit: Google Earth

Given its population (it’s one of the most densely populated islands in the world), Puerto Rico is a relatively small place. If it were a state, it would be down near the bottom of the list in terms of size, even if you include the network of islands around the mainland.

3. It’s Home To The World’s Largest Radio Telescope

Credit: NASA Blueshift / Flickr

Not known as a scientific hub, Puerto Rico has a technological marvel nestled in the hills of Arecibo. The dish measures 1,000 feet in diameter, spans about 20 acres, and is the most sensitive radio telescope in the world.

There’s a chance you’ve seen the Arecibo radio telescope, even if you’ve never been to Puerto Rico before. In the climactic last scene in the James Bond movie Goldeneye, the (inevitable) showdown between 007 and the bad guy takes place right here.

4. It’s Mascot Is The Unique Coquí Tree Frog

Credit: UIG / Getty

Anyone who has been to Puerto Rico is familiar with the incredible coquí, which is native to the island. The inch-long amphibian has a powerful and melodic voice, and its high-pitched, chirrupy song can be heard for miles.

The coquís sing from dusk to dawn, and while the locals find this a lilting lullaby, unsuspecting foreigners aren’t always comforted by their song. But they are cute, and a much-loved symbol of Puerto Rico.

5. It’s One Of The World’s Beauty Queen Capitals

Credit: Alfredo Marcia / Flickr

The Miss Universe beauty pageant is one of the biggest and most famous across the globe. Among the countries whose representatives have won the title more than once is Puerto Rico. Despite the island’s small size and population in comparison with other countries, 5 winners have come from Puerto Rico: Marisol Malaret, Deborah Carthy Deu, Dayanara Torres, Denise Quinones, and Zuleyka Rivera.

6. The Island Was Home To Real Life Pirates

El Pirata Cofresi is Puerto Rico’s most famous, real-life pirate as the legend goes. Born in the seaside town of Cabo Rojo, he was encouraged to dream about exploring the sea from sailors in town.

According to Cofresi Palm Resort, as a pirate Cofresi would attack boats and share his spoils with the poor and as a result, people would help him hide. Compared to Robin hood for his actions, there is a story that says that some of his treasure may still be hidden.

7. It’s Home To Its Own Version Of The Galapagos Islands

Credit: US National Park Service

Off the western shore of mainland Puerto Rico you’ll find Mona Island, a natural reserve unspoiled by man. It has been compared to the Galapagos Islands for its natural beauty and its colony of iguanas. These iguanas, known as the Mona Iguana, are found nowhere else on earth, adding to the uniqueness of this ecosystem.

8. Coconuts Aren’t Native To Puerto Rico – Or The Americas At All

Credit: Unsplash

You might picture yourself on the beach sipping delicious coconut water out of a freshly cut coconut, but did you know that coconuts are not native to the Americas?

The coconut was introduced to Puerto Rico in 1542, after the Spanish imported it from the Far East. Soon after it became part of the colonial Spanish diet and eventually emerged in one of the most popular drinks on the island – the Piña Colada.

9. San Juan Served As Headquarters During The Spanish Inquisition

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The Catholic Church has played an important role in the history and development of Puerto Rico since the early 1500s. As mentioned before, the oldest church still in use in the Americas was built in Old San Juan in 1522, yet, in 1519 Pope Leo X declared Puerto Rico the first ecclesiastical headquarters in the New World. 

As a result, Puerto Rico became the epicenter of the Spanish Inquisition – one of the most barbaric and infamous events of Western civilization.

Photographer Diego Huerta Took An Update Photo Of The Most Beautiful Girl In Mexico

Culture

Photographer Diego Huerta Took An Update Photo Of The Most Beautiful Girl In Mexico

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Diego Huerta is a photographer who has used his talents and time to document indigenous communities to preserve the culture and history. One of Huerta’s most famous photos was one of a young girl that he called the most beautiful girl in Mexico. He recently shared a new photo of the girl as a woman.

Diego Huerta shared an updated photo of the most beautiful girl woman in Mexico.

Huerta first met the girl when he was traveling through Mexico years ago. The first photo, posted in 2016 but taken in 2011, highlighted the young woman that he dubbed the most beautiful girl in Mexico. The latest photo shows the girl grown up and still living in her same pueblo in 2017. She is still a stunning reminder of the beauty that exists in southern Mexico.

The woman lives in Chiapas, the last Mexican state before entering Central America by way of Guatemala. There are multiple indigenous communities in Chiapas. While Huerta does not mention the indigenous community the woman belongs to, the clothing appears to represent the Zoque people.

The woman is still creating wander and interest among Huerta’s fans.

Credit: diegohuertaphoto / Instagram

Her quiet and still composure makes her seem like a Mexican Mona Lisa, tbh. Her stoic face in the photographs has captivated Huerta fans for years. The first photo of the young woman was seen around the world and her beauty was celebrated by everyone who saw the photo.

The young girl’s eyes are what drew in the love and praise from people around the world.

Huerta made it a point to call out the young girl’s eyes in the photo. It isn’t because of the color of her eyes. He was intrigued by her eyes because she is deaf and her eyes are one of the ways she is able to communicate with the world around her.

“In my journey through South Mexico, in a town located in the middle of the Chiapas’ mountains I found the most brilliant eyes that I have ever seen,” Huerta wrote in the original post. “The beauty of this girl was similar to the panoramic views I was able to appreciate every time I turned around. She´s deaf, the way to communicate with her was by signs. It is no mystery that the beauty of the true Mexican woman is way above all beauty contests.”

People are obsessing over her beauty that seems to improve with age.

Credit: diegohuertaphoto / Instagram

Nine years makes a big difference in a young person’s development. It can be the difference between 11 and 20, which is a huge difference. Her silent beauty is proof that indigenous communities hold some of the most beautiful people in the world. There is no reason to praise and adhere to Euro-centric beauty standards.

The Instagram posted is filled with messages of appreciation celebrating the photo and the young woman we saw grow up.

Credit: diegohuertaphoto / Instagram

Huerta currently has a documentary about the Tehuana people in Oaxaca. His photographs and film collection highlighting and exalting the indigenous community of Mexico is beautiful and necessary. He is collecting an important and vibrant part of human history by giving the first people to inhabit the land a chance to shine and show who Mexico truly is.

READ: Photographer Diego Huerta Is Giving Everyone A Look Into The Tehuana Culture In Oaxaca, Mexico