Mexico is Really Called the United Mexican States

Daven Hiskey August 29, 2011 8
Today I Found Out that Mexico is really called the United Mexican States or Estados Unidos Mexicanos.  Specifically, there are thirty one states in the UMS, with 111 million people making it the 11th most populated country in the world.

The United Mexican States was originally called “New Spain” around the time they won their independence from Spain.  They then decided to name the country after the capital city, Mexico City, which was originally founded in 1524 at the same location as the Aztec capital, Mexico-Tenochtitlan.

Interestingly, the original meaning of this name is not known, though it is known it is from the Nahuatl language.  A variety of theories have been suggested about it’s meaning though.  One of the most popular is that it is derived from the secret name for the Aztec god of war, Mexihtli or Huitzilopochtli, “Place where Mexihtli lives”.

The name of the country has also changed as the government has changed.  Two other names the United Mexican States have gone by are (in English): the Mexican Empire and the Mexican Republic.

Bonus Facts:

  • “Tenochtitlan” comes from the Nahuatl “tetl”, meaning “rock”, and “nochtli”, which means something to the effect of “prickly pear”.  Thus, it more or less means “at the place near rock-cactus-fruit”.
  • Words that have come to the English language via the Nahautl language include: tomatoes (tomatl); chocolate (chocolatl); and avacados (ahuacatl).
  • One of the many ways the Aztecs would chose who was to be sacrificed to keep the sun moving (by giving it human blood) was to play a ball game called tlachtli, which is thought to have been something like racquetball, though the rules of the game are not precisely known.  At the times when this game was used to pick who was sacrificed, the loser would be sacrificed to the gods.
  • Because Mexico City is built on a lake, it is sinking at around 8 inches per year.
  • The first major civilization in Mexico is thought to be the Olmecs beginning around 1400 BC to around 300 BC.
  • The Mayan’s once had a “hornet bomb” weapon, which is pretty much exactly what you’d think.  They would take a hornet’s nest and throw it at enemies in battle, very sophisticated.

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8 Comments »

  1. stranger May 1, 2010 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    I’ve known the official name of Mexico for years, but many people think I’m making it up because it contains the words United and States.

  2. El Vic May 2, 2010 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    It’s clearly printed on the coins. Estados Unidos Mexicanos (Mexican United States). It’s been named like that for hundreds of years, before the United States!!!

  3. Justin August 29, 2011 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    @stranger: I just pull a peso out of my bag.

  4. Raleigh Eye Doctor September 6, 2011 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    I’ve thought for years that the amount of time and emphasis spent during Americans’ public education on the history and geography of Canada and Mexico was appalling, and this just proves it. This should not be a “just found out” for any of us.

  5. Cabo October 18, 2011 at 11:33 am - Reply

    I wonder how the Aztecs decided who would be the “hornet bomb guy” in battles.

    I can’t imagine too many people volunteered.

  6. Octavio November 29, 2012 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    @Cabo

    You did be surprised, since being the “hornet bomb guy” was an honor.

    Also, this is wrong.

    “[...] the loser would be sacrificed to the gods.”

    The WINNER would be sacrificed. After all, it was an honor, and the gods deserved the best. Aztecs wouldn’t want to upset gods by giving them unworthy blood.

    Just saying. (As Mexican I know that, is one of those fun facts you learn in elementary school. You know, you joke with that with “Haha, poor guys, they were like ‘WE WON’,now what?’ ‘Now you lie down here, while we’re killing you for the gods, :)’ “)

  7. Larry August 16, 2013 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    “The Mayan’s once had a “hornet bomb” weapon, which is pretty much exactly what you’d think.”

    Was this the first instance of biological warfare?

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