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Rightly beloved for its food, tequila, and gorgeous beaches, there's much more to Mexico than meets the eye. We're here to help you get a head start on everything this popular destination has to offer, with some facts that might surprise you!

1. Working For The Weekend

The average Mexican works an impressive 43.2 hours per week, which adds up to 2,246 hours every single year! Compared to the average American work week of 34.4 hours, it's clear our friends south of the border are putting in considerably more time at the grindstone.

In fact, Mexico has ranked as the hardest (or at least longest) working country on earth for the past three years, followed by South Korea, Greece, Chile, and Russia respectively. The United States slots in at 13th.

2. Mexico City Is Sinking

Over the past 100 years, Mexico City has sunk by an unbelievable 9 meters in some areas, and that topographic decline is showing no signs of letting anytime soon.

This crazy sinking phenomenon is due to the fact that the city is actually built atop the ruins of the once-great Aztec metropolis of Tenochtitlan. Tenochtitlan itself was built upon a lake, with great, forgotten causeways connecting the city center to the shore.

This means the modern city of Mexico City has been built directly on top of a lake. Pumps have therefore been forced to draw out the remaining water to make room for the ever-expanding population.

The alarmingly fast rate at which this water is pumped has caused Mexico City to sink. The current rate is estimated to be roughly 8 inches per year.

Main square of Mexico City.
The Zócalo, the main square in Mexico City. Antony Stanley/Flickr.

3. Mother Tongues

Many people wrongly assume that Spanish is the only language commonly spoken throughout Mexico, but this is simply not the case.

While it's true that Spanish is the official and most popular language of Mexico (in fact, Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world!), over 50 other native languages are spoken throughout the country in rural localities.

We just don't want you to be surprised if you're learning Spanish specifically for this trip, and then you find yourself listening to someone speak a language you don't recognize. Whether you do or don't habla español, fear not: most resort employees and people who work in touristy areas speak some degree of English.

4. The World's Largest Pyramid

While pyramids are typically associated with Egypt the largest pyramid in the world is actually in Mexico. Hailed as the largest monumentever constructed, it's called the Great Pyramid of Cholula.

The great pyramid was not constructed all at once, but rather piecemeal over a thousand years or more, starting in the 3rd century BC. It was likely built by the somewhat mysterious Teotihuacan people to honor their feathered serpent diety, whom the Aztecs later called Quetzalcoatl. (The Aztecs were evidently inspired by the imposing ruins the Teotihuacan people had left in the Valley of Mexico, and claimed common ancestry with them.)

Though the Mexican and Egyptian pyramids appear to follow a similar basic structure, they're actually quite different. Mexican pyramids typically feature huge staircases ascending up each side, leading to an expansive temple at the summit.

There's another key difference: Egyptian pyramids were built as tombs for the dead, while Mexican pyramids were constructed as gifts for the gods (or for defensive purposes, since they double as fortresses).

Mexican pyramid with church in background.
Pyramid of Cholula. (Notice the church on top.) Russ Bowling/Flickr.

5. No Christmas Presents For Kids

Mexicans don't go in for the American tradition of opening presents on Christmas morning. Instead, they receive their gifts on January 6th; believe it or not, this practice is actually fairly common around the world.

Receiving Christmas presents on January 6th is seen by many faithful as in accordance with Catholic teachings. This is the day on which Mexicans celebrate King's Day (El Dia De Reyes), which symbolizes the arrival of the three wise men after following the star to Bethlehem.

Since Mexico is definitely a Catholic-dominant country, it makes perfect sense!

6. The Birthplace Of Chocolate, And So Much More

Tortillas and tequila aren't the only food products Mexico has to offer. In addition to chocolate, chilis and corn were also discovered and first introduced here, too.

When first discovered, chocolate was initially made into a drink using natural sweeteners, which some experts say made it the original hot chocolate.

In addition to corn, the majority of the world's chilis are native to Mexico, so it's no wonder a lot of Mexican food is famous for its spice!

Mexican street with tourists.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

7. Caesar Salad Was First Invented Here

Due to its distinctive name, most people simply assume Caesar salad was first invented by the Roman conquerer-tyrant Julius Caesar. (Along with the Caesarian-section and the Caesar cocktail, presumably.) But this is totally wrong.

The traditional Caesar salad was supposedly invented by Caesar Cardini, an Italian-American restaurant worker at a Tijuana eatery.

However, this theory has been strongly disputed by another chef from the same restaurant as Cardini, claiming to have come up with the salad himself using his mother's recipe. Either way, it can't be denied it's a pretty good dish, and regardless of who actually devised it -- it's totally Mexican!

Want to learn more? Check out 15 Beautiful & Bizarre Things To Discover In Mexico.
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