Mexican Geography & Major Landmarks
Thinking about a Mexican vacation? Before you dive in and rent in Mexico, learning about the geography and landmarks will help.
Mexico has many different biomes: Some areas are hot, dry, and flat, while others are rocky and mountainous. There are even jungles!
The area you decide to rent in will make a tremendous difference, including what kind of scenery you'll enjoy, the nearby amenities, and what time of year will be best to visit.
Mexico has 31 different states spanning more than 761,500 square miles. As a matter of fact, Mexico is approximately one-fifth the size of the continental United States, or three times the size of Texas.
Each Mexican state has its own flavor and culture. Indigenous communities tend to be focused around the interior of the country, while many vacation properties are in Baja California, owing to the area's pristine beaches and inviting surf. The peninsular states of Baja California and Baja California Sur are an easy drive for residents of Texas and California.
In terms of security, many people prefer to rent in Mexico around the federal district of Mexico City. The southern state of Oaxaca is a hotbed of Aztec ruins, while those whose Spanish skills are advanced or who love Central American culture might choose the far southern states of Campeche or Quintana Roo, which border Guatemala and are accessible by boat via the Gulf of Mexico.
Mexico Facts and Trivia
Mexico as we know it got started with the 1910 Mexican Revolution, when the local people threw off Spanish colonial rule. It shares other similarities with the United States as well: For example, its formal name is Estados Únidos Mexicanos, the United Mexican States, whereas in Spanish, the U.S. is often simply called Estados Únidos.
The history of major crops like maize, chocolate, and chilies begins in Mexico, and it is also home to the biggest wildcat on the North American continent, the jaguar. Despite breaking with Spain, Mexico's culture still has many aspects influenced by it: For example, it's home to the oldest university anywhere in North America, which was founded by Spain's King Charles V all the way back in 1551.
The spirit of ancient indigenous culture is alive and well in many places, too. For example, Mexico City's very foundations were laid atop the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán. Mexico has the largest Spanish-speaking population worldwide and the second-largest number of Catholics: In this, it's second only to Brazil.
Although modern Mexico is only about 105 years old, much of Mexico's culture dates back millennia. The modern flag has three stripes laid out vertically: From left to right, these stand for hope, unity and purity, and the memory of Mexico's past heroes.
Mexico has more holidays than virtually any other nation, with 15 national holidays and perhaps twice that when other major feasts and festivals are counted. Like Americans, Mexicans also recognize Columbus Day, which takes place on October 12: Some choose to celebrate the arrival of Spain and Hispanic culture, but protests also take place on this day. The rest of the calendar is marked by many Catholic observances: Almost 83% of the population is Catholic.
The best-known holiday for international visitors is probably Carnival, also called Mardi Gras, or "Fat Tuesday." This wild street party stretches across more than 200 communities, but the cities of Veracruz and Mazatlan are the focal points.
Know Before You Go
Mexico uses the peso for currency, which has weakened against the dollar in recent years. Modern medical facilities are available in major cities, and a thriving industry of expatriate health care in English helps to accommodate long-term visitors.
In a general sense, the Mexican lifestyle is a little more laid back than in the United States. Influenced by the old culture of Spain, Mexicans' approach to many of life's annoyances is de nada: literally "it's nothing" or "no problem." The traditional siesta has fallen out of favor in recent years, but Mexicans still take time to enjoy the pleasures of life. Their relaxed approach to time can sometimes frustrate their northern neighbors!
Still, it's a good idea to get used to the local customs and to try to live at the same pace as everyone else.
- Learn About the Mexican States: Find informative geography links and information about Mexico and other topics for young children here.
- Mexican Destinations by Alphabet: Plan the Search for Mexico Vacation Rentals: This comprehensive guide has facts, illustrations, and other information covering the whole of Mexico. It discusses the Mexican states and compares life on the coasts.
- Topics on Mexican History and Culture: This page includes a variety of links, maps, and multimedia pertaining to Mexican history, culture, and current events. With fun timelines and other surprises, there's plenty to explore.
- History of the American West: Wondering about the Old West and how it relates to the history of Mexico? This complete guide will introduce you to the major topics.
- Don't Rent in Mexico Until You Read This Great History Information: Another great historical overview, this page covers key points in the history of modern Mexico. It includes Manifest Destiny, the 1846 war against Mexico, and Texas's annexation.
- 15 Summer Cocktail Recipes in One Infographic: Are you looking for something tasty to sip at your rental in Mexico? This article and accompanying graphic can help give you some refreshing ideas.
- Learn Spanish Online Before You Rent in Mexico: It's a great idea to learn some Spanish if you plan to spend time in Mexico. This page covers basic language topics like spelling, grammar, and vocabulary plus fun cultural facts.
- Mogollon Coming to Rocky Point Rally: Rocky Point is one of the most popular locations for vacation rentals in Mexico, and the band Mogollon is a fixture in the area. Now, it's coming to the annual Rocky Point Rally to rock Rocky Point!
- See Mexico Vacation Rentals in Action With Great Photos: Seeing is believing, so this site from Fairway Vacation Rentals will give you an idea of what to expect if you decide to book a rental somewhere in Mexico.
- A Sigh of Relief for Those Who Want to Rent in Mexico: "No Evidence" for Rocky Point Travel Warning: Information about the U.S. consulate decision to rescind a travel warning for the Rocky Point area is found on this page.
- Off to Mexico! A Trip to Rocky Point: A top travel blogger is headed to Mexico, and you can get in on the action by checking out this little announcement and following the developments from this "Friendly Source for Traveling the World."
- Rocky Point: A Great Place for Mexico Vacation Rentals or Even to Retire: Rocky Point isn't just for vacationers; it's also a fun place to retire. It's particularly popular among people from Arizona.
- Mexican and Immigrant Health Research at Rutgers University of New Jersey: Mexican people and Mexican immigrants can sometimes face challenges accessing top-quality health care, but this Rutgers scholar is on a quest to improve the situation.
- Cardiology at Cancun Professional Development Seminar From the Mayo Clinic: Proof that great things happen in Cancun, this page provides information on an important professional development event for specialists in heart health.
- Can Visiting Mexico Affect Blood Donor Status? Key Research: Blood donors should know a thing or two before traveling outside the United States, and this research highlights some particular issues around traveling in areas with malaria risk.
- Travel Precautions to Take Before Leaving for Mexico: Originally written for UCLA Extension students, this page nonetheless provides some good general advice for travelers to Mexico.
- Rutgers Travel Visa Information for Getting to the Host City: This page from Rutgers centers around travel and events taking place in Cancun, especially for attendees of the 2015 IEEE CAMSAP event.
- Family Getaway: An interesting reflection on the joys and pitfalls of a family vacation to Mexico is provided by Notre Dame Magazine and written by a 1990 MBA graduate.
- Amazing Cancun Pictures: A selection of neat pictures is found here along with some information on key attractions in the Cancun area that potential renters might consider.
- Tijuana Safety Facts: Is Tijuana safe? It's always good to get the facts and know what the situation is, so check out this report from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
- Migratory Animal Lesson About Mexico for K-2 Students: Animals love Mexico, too! This lesson for young students will help introduce children to various migratory animals that make Mexico their home at least part of the time.
- Dessert Buffet and Silent Auction: Find information on a tasty event with a number of enticing prizes for attendees.
- Mexico Tourism Safer Than You May Think: Are you worried about Mexico safety? This piece from The Daily Wildcat, the campus newspaper of the University of Arizona, asserts that it's safer than you might imagine.