41 Fun and Interesting Facts About Mexico City

by Stephanie Walsh on August 26, 2012 · 53 comments

in Mexico, North America, Travels

Me in traditional Mexican hat!
Mexico City Flag

Mexico City Flag

Mexico City is like an autonomous world in itself. It has everything you could possibly ever need or want, as well as everything you would never ever need or want.

We have been here for 2 months now, staying with our friend Carlos and working on our online projects as part of The Experiment. It’s such a vast and diverse city, that I couldn’t think of what exactly to write about, without ending up with an extremely broad post. However, the thing that has fascinated me the most about Mexico City, is it’s enormous size. There is nothing quite as eye-opening as flying into Mexico City at night, witnessing the never-ending sea of twinkling lights that have come to represent one of the biggest cities in the world. I don’t think I have ever been left with my mouth open in shock before but the sight and scale of this city really left me stunned and in awe. It is something that needs to be seen to be believed and understood.

So as we spent more time here, I found out numerous other fun and interesting facts about Mexico City that left me amazed, shocked and entertained. So I have put together a list of fun and interesting facts about Mexico City that I have learned and researched over the last few weeks here. Perhaps it will help to shed some light of the importance and size of this city on a global scale.

 

Fun and Interesting Facts About Mexico City:

For easier reading, I have broken the categories down into general, population, transportation, cultural, economy, pollution and crime facts. Enjoy!

General Facts about Mexico City

  • Mexico City is built on a lake called Texcoco.
  • The city is constantly sinking and has sunk more than nine meters in some areas over the last 100 years.
  • Mexico City has had many nicknames in the past including “City of the Palaces”, “City of Hope” and “Capital in Movement”.
Angel of Independence, Mexico City

Angel of Independence, Mexico City

Population Facts about Mexico City

  • More than 20 million people live in Mexico City.
  • The population of Mexico City has grown by more than 20 million people in just over 110 years, from 500,000 in 1900 to 21.2 million people in 2012.
  • Mexico City is the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere and the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world.
  • Over 600,000 U.S. Americans live in Mexico City; the largest concentration of Americans living outside of the USA.
Mexico City by Pablo Lopez Luz

Mexico City by Pablo Lopez Luz

Transportation Facts about Mexico City

  • Mexico City’s Metro is the largest in Latin America and the cheapest in the world at only 3 pesos per journey ($0.23 USD/ Euro 0.18)!
  • More than 4-5 million people use the metro everyday.
  • The city is so big and the traffic so bad that the super rich have taken to using helicopters to get from one place to another. You can often see them landing on the tops of buildings.
  • Taxi’s in Mexico City are as distinct as those found in New York, painted red and gold.
  • Green ‘hippie’ vans are used as local buses throughout the city.
  • Avenida de los Insurgentes is one of the longest avenues in the world.
  • Mexico City International Airport is Latin America’s largest and busiest airport.

Cultural Facts about Mexico City

  • Mexico City has the most museums in the world, with more than 160, almost all of which are free on Sundays!
  • The city also has over 100 art galleries, and 30 concert halls.
  • Mexico City has the fourth highest number of theatres in the world after New York, London and Toronto.
  • The Museo Soumaya, was donated to the city by the worlds richest man; Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim.
  • The 10,000-seat National Auditorium in Mexico City was named the Best Venue in the World.
  • Mexico City is also home to the largest amusement park in Latin America, Six Flags Mexico. It also has La Feria Chapultepec Mágico amusement park in the city center, it’s rollercoasters visible from various points around the city.
  • The city’s famous Zócalo (large square in the city center) turns into one of the worlds biggest ice skating rinks every winter.
  • Mexico City has the most IMAX theatres in the world.
  • Mexico City has two of the S.Pellegrino ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants in the World’ list compiled by British magazine ‘Restaurant’.
  • Mexico City has been the only city in Latin America to host the Olympic Games, with the Summer Olympics in 1968. (Brazil will take this title away from Mexico as it hosts the 2016 Olympic Games).
  • Mexico City is home to the oldest university in the Americas; the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The University is the largest university in all of North, Central and South America. The majority of Mexico’s former presidents have attended this university.
  • UNAM is also the highest ranked Spanish-speaking University in the world.
  • Mexico City is the capital of the media industry in Latin America.
  • There are over 60 radio stations in Mexico City, as well as a huge amount of local transmissions.
Museo Soumaya, Mexico City

Museo Soumaya, Mexico City

Economy Facts about Mexico City

  • Mexico City is the eight richest city in the world.
  • It is the richest city in Latin America.
  • Mexico City is home to the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim.

Pollution Facts about Mexico City

  • Just over 10 years ago, thousands of children and adults were dying and suffering diseases because of the extreme air pollution of the city.
  • In 1991, the air quality was announced as a public risk for 355 days out of the year.
  • Since then the government has taken a number of steps to reduce the air pollution, which has resulted in a huge improvement to the situation. Lead levels have fallen 95% since 1990. Sulfur dioxide levels have fallen 86%. Carbon monoxide has dropped 74%, while ozone levels have been reduced by 57% since 1991.

Crime Facts about Mexico City

  • In the years 2000 to 2004 an average of 478 crimes were reported each day the city. The actual crime rate was thought to be much higher, due to the fact that a lot of people do not report crimes in the city.
  • Mexico City has one of the highest police to resident ratios in the world. There is said to be one police officer for every 100 residents.
  • Mexico City has seen a huge decrease in crime rates in recent years. It is said to now be safer than cities such as Moscow or Washington DC.

 

Steph’s Random ‘Facts’ about Mexico City

  • When there’s heavy traffic in Mexico City it can take 3 hours to drive what would normally take 15-30 minutes! Trust me!
  • Although Mexico in general has some of the best food in the world, the street food stalls can smell disgusting.
  • If you don’t like the cold and rain, don’t visit from June to October, the rainy season. It.never.stops.raining!

 

Me with traditional Mexican Hat

Sorry, I couldn't resist!

If you want to escape the buzz of the capital, a Xochimilco day trip is definitely a good idea!
 
For more posts and info on Mexico, check out our Mexico travel section here.

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 TammyOnTheMove September 16, 2012 at 1:42 am

Wow, I love the photo of Mexico City from above. Just shows how vast and massive this place is. Would love to go there one day.
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2 Stephanie Walsh September 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I was pleasantly surprised with Mexico City, there are so much amazing places to see and an endless amount of things to do. And yes, it really is enormous!!! :P

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3 Facts about Mexico - International Living October 8, 2012 at 4:14 am

Our readers love everything about living and retiring in Mexico. It is one of our top retirement destinations. Retirees love the affordable cost of living, the friendly people, the stunningly beautiful landscape, the superb weather that Mexico has to offer.
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4 Stephanie Walsh October 8, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I can understand why! Everything you said is so true, what an amazing and beautiful country! :) Thanks for reading!

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5 Julian Lippi October 19, 2012 at 6:12 am

Mexico City is a very special place. To not visit and experience it is to live a deprived life.

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6 Stephanie Walsh October 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Completely! It’s a very special place indeed Julian!

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7 Ruth (Tanama Tales) November 6, 2012 at 11:35 pm

You have to love Mexico City. There are so many things to. Imagine th etime you will need to visit 160 museums.
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8 Stephanie Walsh November 8, 2012 at 5:11 pm

I know, I wish I got to see more museums! There are just so many though!

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9 Sarah Somewhere November 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Eek! Looks overwhelming and amazing and crazy! I’ll be there tomorrow, thanks for the cool info!!!
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10 Stephanie Walsh November 23, 2012 at 10:35 am

It definitely is! How’s it going? It was very rainy when we were there…how is the weather now?

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11 cayla November 28, 2012 at 6:30 pm

mexico city is a great pleace to look for information about it now that i know alot about mexico city i can teel my friends and family about it. thank you so much for helping me now i can get in a on my projest from you Mexico City i will vist you when i turn 22 or 24 11 or 13 more years to go. love’ cayla THANK YOU MEXICO CITY…………..

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12 IGG February 2, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Very good!!!

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13 bobby lambert March 7, 2013 at 12:27 pm

it is boring and i never wanna go there again

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14 Adrian April 16, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Were you in a box with 2 holes? or maybe just an ignorant American :(

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15 Diego July 18, 2013 at 11:58 am

Green ‘hippie’ vans are used as local buses throughout the city = False. (The hippie vans were used at 80′s, doesn’t exist anymore).

Just over 10 years ago, thousands of children and adults were dying and suffering diseases because of the extreme air pollution of the city. = Totaly false. (Please tell your sources, because as far I as know, no one had died in Mexico City in last 30 years directly of pollution).

the street food stalls can smell disgusting. = It dependes on everyone’s point of view. That’s not generally true, in some places you can find bad food (even in restaurants) and in some places excelent and tasty food (even in the ugliest streed)

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16 Stephanie Walsh July 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Hi Diego. Thanks for reading and commenting.
In regards to your first point, I have seen and riden in these green ‘hippie’ vans that you claim do not exist…as early as last year. They definitely exist. Maybe they are not used throughout the city but they are definitely used to transport people to the various metro stations in the Polanco area, where we were.

Secondly, no one really dies directly of pollution but the diseases caused by harmful particles in the ozone. There are numerous papers published and reports to show how pollution in Mexico City has attributed to a number of health factors among both children and adults. Check out this study conducted from the years 1993 to 1995, just over 10 years ago: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3703084

The third point on street food is a personal opinion of mine and I agree with you in that you can certainly find good and bad food everywhere. I included it at the end in my unofficial ‘facts’ section but I should probably remove the word ‘fact’ from the title.

Thanks for contributing your thoughts.
Stephanie

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17 Bian July 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Of course they exist! They’re called “combis” and you can also find the cruising through Churubusco.

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18 Ruso July 19, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Hey Diego,

There are several of those green buses. The called “Trolebus” that go around many places of Mexico City… The new ones they did for the “Circuito Bicentenario”. Please, if you live here in Mexico, where I live and had lived all my life, see around and use public transportation that besides the bad driving skills of the drivers, it is very efficient.

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19 Stephanie Walsh July 19, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Thanks for clarifying the names of the buses I was talking about Ruso. :)

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20 Xavier May 15, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Trolebus are cable cars you do see some of those but the VW vans are known as “Peseras” because in the old days (80′s), when they were all VW vans, the cost a couple of pesos… You still see them.

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21 Ruso July 19, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Thank you for talking about my city so well. There are some things that you say that maybe are not bad (like traffic), hahaha… But yeah traffic sucks, and we need a better public transportation, and less people! omg…

Thank you very much

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22 Stephanie Walsh July 19, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Hi Rusa. Thanks for commenting and you’re very welcome. We loved Mexico City so it was a pleasure to write about all of the amazing things it has. I think the public transportation, especially the Metro, is amazing. Maybe more people just need to start using it instead of their cars, to help reduce traffic.

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23 David July 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm

“Mexico City has had many nicknames in the past including “City of the Palaces”, “City of Hope” and “Capital in Movement”.”
The last two nicknames were given by the image/marketing department of the government in power at the time (PRD under AMLO and Ebrad). The people that live in D.F. (Mexico City) do not refer to their city by that name.
In fact, City of Hope or La ciudad de la esperanza, was the nickname of the city where a former mayor of Mexico City, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, was from.

A more accurate nickname will be El DeFectusoso or Chilangolandia. Chilango was the nickname given to people that moved from other states into Mexico City in search for work and further opportunities. This term, chilango, is now used to describe all people born in Mexico City.

In terms of the smell of some of the food stands in the city, one of the reason why some stands smell, is due to its proximity to a grate/drain in the street, or other factors.

Thanks for taking an interest in my city. Your post was very interesting and informative.

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24 Stephanie Walsh July 19, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Hi David, thanks for contributing such great insight into the history of the nicknames. I heard the Chilango term many times when I was in Mexico, so it’s good to know where it came from :)

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25 Pedro July 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Mexico City use to be the “Clearest Air Region” (La Region Mas Transparente del Aire)

I disagree with you about the food places on the streets :) most of them have the best traditional food!!!

Is nice read something about your own country, with the perspective of a tourist.

:)

Añso, a note, Museumms are free for Mexicans on Sundays :) you need to show an id

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26 Stephanie Walsh July 19, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Hi Pedro, thanks for commenting.
Yeah there are definitely great places to eat on the street in the city. I can only really talk about the very small percentage of places I visited, but it’s true not all of them smelled bad! :)

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27 José July 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm

“Over 600,000 U.S. Americans live in Mexico City”: that’s a big lie.

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28 Stephanie Walsh July 19, 2013 at 8:26 pm

So please inform us of the true number? Of course that number could be wrong but I think using the word ‘lie’ is a bit harsh when it’s clearly not intentional.

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29 Gonzalo Fernandez July 20, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Simply wonderful! Could you ad something about its people, please?

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30 Frank July 22, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Great post Stephanie, you really do your research! I was in Mexico city a few months ago and was amazed, it was nothing like I expected: http://bbqboy.net/mexico-city/ (I have my own cool photo looking down on the city).
Love your photo on the museum!
Frank (bbqboy)
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31 Larry Chappell August 27, 2013 at 5:53 am

I’ve never been to Mexico City but I’ve explored it through the Street View feature on Google Earth. What a gigantic city! I’m still trying to find the downtown area.

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32 Lewis Moreno August 29, 2013 at 11:21 am

My boyfriend and I are new to the city and we really enjoyed reading your fact list. Since we are here for a limited time, we want to know what would be your top museum picks or top things to do on a budget? PS you look cuteness in that hat.

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33 Brian Gadowry September 2, 2013 at 4:35 am

I recently married a Mexico City woman who is quite Cosmopolitan, and educated.

I have much to learn about Mexico not to mention the language.

Thank you

Brian

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34 Zai October 17, 2013 at 2:19 am

I loved your post

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35 Stephanie Walsh November 7, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Thank you!

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36 aaliyah October 30, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I LOVE MEXICO <3 $ ! :D

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37 Stephanie Walsh November 7, 2013 at 7:27 pm

ME TOO! :D

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38 aaliyah October 30, 2013 at 1:36 pm

LOL I AM IN ISS AT SCHOOL!! LEARNING ABOUT FUCKING MEXICO HATE SCHOOL SO BAD LOVE AALIYAH

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39 Stephanie Walsh November 7, 2013 at 7:28 pm

STAY IN SCHOOL KID!! :P

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40 Rodriguez Macrevis February 12, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Hey Diego,

Last time i remember a Diego putting his hand up to score a cheap point was in the world cup against England. If i remember correctly though, there was a talent beyond most in the world at the time, put your hand up by all means but make sure its to go to the toilet to dump your crap, not on someone you think is an easy target so you feel elevated about your own self esteem! What’s that? Yes go on hurry up and empty your bottom Diego, flush the chain and wash your hands, then sit down and behave, this lady can teach you common decency the way she replied, i can’t but may i suggest research as a prelude to gobshite. High six yeah!

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41 Roger Macrevis February 12, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Well said Phil! I think Mexico City is worth a visit if only because Steph is there and she obviously loves it. Diego on the other hand makes me think I should start the “Campaign Legalising Incarceration Tossers Obviously Require Instant Sentencing” unfortunately the acronym might not catch on, Diego may be a twat but the connection will be lost on him. Steph, it sounds a much enriched city with you there. Diego, freephone number for you to get the information required its….0800kissmyarse use it 24/7 its unmanned and no response is what you deserve, research, check, check again then say… We are on about Morocco here aren’t we?

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42 Kate February 18, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Great post! Lots of facts I didn’t know about Mexico City. I love the aerial photo, it’s really shows how vast it is and how populated. I’m going to Central America soon and it will be great to visit Mexico :)

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43 greta April 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm

wow sounds good and fun

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44 greta April 17, 2014 at 1:12 pm

I love this place sounds like a fun place to set a good family even though my step mom lives there and my own loving gramma and grandpa.

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45 heaven May 6, 2014 at 9:28 am

yep girlfriend

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46 heaven May 6, 2014 at 9:28 am

l want to vist mexico city?

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47 El Araño May 27, 2014 at 9:55 am

“Don’t visit from June to October, the rainy season. It.never.stops.raining!”

You know it’s gonna rain every single day between 3 and 6 PM, but it only lasts for a couple of hours and it will eventually stop.
I mean, is absolutely nothing compared to London, where it can be raining during the whole week :P
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48 Elena June 14, 2014 at 6:44 am

Wow, had no idea there’s a rainy season in Mexico! It’s all over the country or just in some specific regions?
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49 Nefi July 24, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Yes, right now it’s raining (and hailing) almost every day. It starts like at 5pm every single day… they even had to close one of the subway lines for a couple hours the other day because of the amount of rain.

A couple years ago it was even worse…. rain season ended in November/December… and started again in January and rained almost the whole year! (2012 I think)

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50 Sophie Dyson August 6, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Hi Stephanie, it’s a fabulous place to visit.

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51 Markelle Gillian Thompson August 6, 2014 at 9:40 pm

It’s cool stepfani

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52 Markelle Thompson August 6, 2014 at 9:52 pm

I love Mexico City girls!!

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53 Markelle Thompson August 6, 2014 at 9:58 pm

It’s such a perfect place to visit omg I’m so in love

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