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Mexico is a truly amazing destination. The country is rich with culture and history ranging from Aztec and Mayan days, through to the Spanish Conquest, and the subsequent struggles for independence. Hidden amongst dense rainforests where toucan and jaguar prowl are ancient cities of stone pyramids and temples. Precious gold pillaged from the ancient cities now adorns monumental cathedrals centred in modern day cities full of charming Spanish Colonial architecture. Her shores are lined with beautiful beaches and amazing resorts attracting tourists from around the world. Finally let’s not forget the unique cuisine, sure to be a highlight of your holiday to Mexico.
The earliest traces of humans in Mexico dates to over 10,000 years ago. From about 700AD the Aztec and Mayan cultures rose to prominence amongst the many small civilisations dotted around the country. It was these civilisations that built the world famous step pyramids at Chichen Itza, Tenochtitlan, and many other sites throughout the country. Their empires came to an end when the Spanish conquistadors invaded Mexico and most of the America’s, bringing much death, destruction, and pillaging to the once proud civilisations.
The Spanish influence took hold of the country as industry arrived, new cities were built, and religion introduced. Like most colonies, Mexico went to war to win her independence from Spain, and won it in 1821. Since then there has been more wars (even one against the US) and revolutions to add yet more chapters to Mexico’s long and fascinating history.
Mexico has a diverse landscape. Massive mountain ranges run down the centre of the country where the North American and Pacific plates collide. Volcanoes and common throughout the country, and earthquakes frequent. The north of the country has a desert like landscape, and forests of pine in the alpine areas. Whereas in the south of the country lush rainforests dominate.
Perhaps Mexico’s most famous feature are her beaches which attract millions of tourists from around the globe every year. Famous spots such as Cancun, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas were long the playground for rich Americans, Canadians and Europeans, but in recent years cut price packages have made them wildly popular for ‘fly and flop’ holidays.
It’s thought Mexico is home to 10-12% of the world’s biodiversity! The jungles of the Yucatan are home to a huge range of animals, essentially being connected to the Amazon Rainforest. There’s black panthers, jaguars, ant eaters, armadillos, lizards, snakes and birds of the brightest colours imaginable. In the north, one particular place of note is the UNESCO World Heritage listed Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. Only known to the world since 1975, the reserve is where millions of North American Monarch Butterfly’s migrate for the winter. A stunning sight.
Mexico has a massive population of around 128,000,000 people and rising. Nearly a fifth of that population resides in Mexico City alone, making it one of the biggest cities in the world. The booming cities across Mexico have a fantastic mix of historic Spanish Colonial buildings and modern day shopping centres with soaring skyscrapers.
Many Mexican cities have had these historic city centres inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Grandiose cathedrals and churches usually dominate the central city squares called ‘Zocalo’s’, and for many blocks around you can explore small cobbled alleyways and lanes hiding amazing triumphs of architecture.
The oldest of the cities even have the odd Aztec or Mayan building which has miraculously survived. Nightlife is huge in cities big and small (they invented tequila after all!), and you’ll find everything from disco’s pumping dance and pop music, to cute wine and whiskey bars hidden in the shadows.
The foodies amongst us will love Mexico’s gastronomic delights. We’re not talking standard nachos and burritos here, but real Mexican cuisine. The Mexican’s love their spices, and you better too as it’s considered a staple along with corn and beans. But it doesn’t have to be hot, there’s many different ways of using it much like we do with salt and pepper. Tropical fruits are abundant in the country, and fresh seafood of all types is pulled from the Pacific or Caribbean daily.
But don’t leave it all to the restaurants, some of the best food comes from the many vendors lining the streets. The oppressive heat of the country will no doubt have you reaching for a drink and the alcoholic options are vast. Corona and tequila are famous worldwide, but the Mexicans also love mojitos, cosmopolitans and of course, margaritas!
Finally, a short note re safety. While violence in Mexico is a major problem, it very rarely, if ever, involves tourists. The majority of major crime exists in the drug and crime syndicates in the border areas of northern Mexico, not in areas visited by tourists (even Mexico City). Apart from the odd case of petty theft, tourists are largely left alone.
This is but a taste of what you can see and do in the wonderful country of Mexico. Speak to your travel agent to find the best deal for you, or read the other inspirational articles for more information.
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