Fascinating Facts About Mexico
By Richard Rhoda, Ph.D
Did you know that Tijuana is closer to Juneau, Alaska than to Cancun? Furthermore, Cancun is closer to Nova Scotia than to Tijuana? While much smaller than Canada or the US, Mexico stretches over 2,000 miles [3250 kms] from end to end and is the world’s 13th largest country.
What is interesting about the Mexican population? In 1500, the population in what is now Mexico was about 15 to 20 million making Mexico the 3rd most populous country in the world, behind only China and India. Now it ranks 11th in population. Surprisingly, 50% of Mexicans live in the tectonically very active “Volcanic Axis” which stretches from Tequila and Colima volcanoes through Mexico City and Puebla and into Veracruz. It turns out that volcanoes make for very fertile soils which can support large populations. Mexico has the highest average elevation of all major countries; fully 80% of Mexicans live above 1000 meters [3300 ft] compared to 5% in the US and Canada.
What about biodiversity? Did you know that Mexico is among the world leaders in biodiversity along with Brazil, Colombia, China, India and the Congo? It is surprisingly among the top three in number of mammal species along with Brazil and Indonesia. Mexico has more species of pine trees, oak trees and cactus than any other country. Its biodiversity comes from enormous variations in elevation and climate. Mexico is only one of seven countries with arid deserts, tropical rainforests and alpine icepacks. It gets more annual rainfall on average [760mm or 28”] than either the US or Canada.
Does Mexico have natural wonders? Mexico’s Copper Canyon is bigger and deeper than the Grand Canyon, but receives far fewer tourists and is not as photogenic. A cave in Chihuahua has the world’s largest natural crystals; these sword-shaped selenite crystals can be 6 meters [20 ft] long. Visiting the cave is not recommended as the temperature is 60oC [140oF] with humidity near 100%. The level of Lago Encantado [Enchanted Lake] in Veracruz naturally rises to its peak elevation every dry season and hits its lowest point in the rainy season. It is not exactly clear why this happens. Mexico indeed has some fascinating natural wonders.
Is the economy interesting? The silver-backed Mexican peso was legal tender in the US and Canada for over 100 years until the middle of the 19th century. Mexican Carlos Slim is the world’s richest person. Mexico’s 44 free trade agreements are more than any other country. Mexico is the world’s biggest exporter of smart phones and flat panel TVs, is 2nd in beer exports, and is 4th in car exports behind only Japan, Germany and Korea. These are all “Hecho en Mexico” though most carry foreign brand names. Bimbo is the world’s [and the US’s] largest bread maker and now owns such US brands as Thomas’ English Muffins, Entemann’s, Sara Lee pastries, Arnold’s and Orowheat. Bimbo is the world’s 4th largest food company, behind only Nestle, Kraft and Unilever. Virtually all the products in Wal-Mart’s bread aisle are from Bimbo.
There are some fascinating facts about Mexico, but is it important on the world’s stage? Mexico ranks 13th in size and 11th in both population and economic production [Purchasing Power Parity]. Mexico is one of only six countries in the Top 15 in all three categories. The other five are China, the US, India, Russia and Brazil. Doesn’t this make Mexico important on the world’s stage?
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