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Learn About Mexico on Cinco de Mayo

Children celebrate cinco de mayoCinco de Mayo is a fantastic opportunity to go beyond the pinatas, maracas, and quesadillas to help children understand – and respect – Mexican culture.

KidCulture has already explained what Cinco de Mayo is really all about here, so let’s concentrate on what we don’t know about one of America’s closest neighbors.

For example, did you know that Mexico is the 15th largest country in the world? You would think that would earn them some bragging rights!

And although Mexico is a large country, most people prefer to live in cities. Mexico’s largest cities include Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, and Juarez.

The name, “Mexico,” comes from the Nahuatl language. Although the exact meaning is not clear, it is believed to mean “the place where the God of War lives” or “the place at the center of the moon.”

Mexico has a relatively young population. Nearly one-third of its people are 14 years or younger.

While most people speak Spanish (more than 97 percent), indigenous languages such as Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional languages are also spoken. In fact, more than one percent of the population does not speak Spanish at all.

While 86 percent of the population can read and write, on average people only receive about 14 years of education. However, Mexico has a strong tradition of education. The Aztecs are the first recorded civilization to mandate universal education for everyone.

Mexico has become a popular tourist destination in part because of its position between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. Yet Mexico also has deserts such as the Sonoran where temperatures can reach as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mexico is also home to one of the most diverse animal populations in the world, particularly among reptiles. More than 700 reptile species can be found in Mexico.

It is believed that indigenous people in Mexico first domesticated corn, enabling them to better control their access to food. This, in turn, transformed the society and firmly established Mexican food among world cuisines. Amazon.com lists more than 700 different Mexican cookbooks.

Corn, or maize, continues to be a staple of Mexican cuisine. From tamales to tortillas, corn is essential.

Mexican food is extremely well-known – and beloved. To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, you might consider trying some new Mexican recipes with your family. Here are some suggestions:

In addition, there are several excellent Mexican cookbooks for children. Check out The Young Chef’s Mexican Cookbook by Karen Ward as a start.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

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