Here are seven Mexican fun facts that even the savvy international business professional may not know:
1. Coca-Cola is Rey (King). Mexicans are the premier per capita drinkers of Coca Cola in the world. An average of 675 eight-ounce bottles are consumed per person each year (stats from 2010 Coca-Cola annual report) — that’s nearly two a day! Mexican Coca Cola has a cultish following, perhaps in part because it’s made from the original recipe and sweetened naturally with sugar (while American coke is make with high-fructose corn syrup). There’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to Mexican Coca-Cola.
2. How many national languages? Mexico’s government recognizes no fewer than 68 Amerindian languages as “national languages”, meaning that citizens can go into any government office and request official documents in their native tongue. Spanish is, therefore, not the technically “official” language of Mexico. Around 6 million Mexicans speak these indigenous languages.
3. Nahuatl? Gesundheit! Nahuatl was the language of the Aztecs and counts over 1.3 million speakers in current-day Mexico. Several of its seemingly-ancient words have made their way into the English language. The following are just a few: chile or chili, chocolate, coyote, guacamole, jicama, tamale, avocado, chipotle.
4. Business is better over breakfast. “Working breakfasts” are popular for conducting business in Mexico. They can start as early as 7:00 or 8:00 am and typically last several hours. Standard fare is steak and eggs. A big taboo when finishing the meal is to attempt to split the tab — Mexicans find this practice rude. The host or the eldest person in the room is typically expected to pay for el desayuno, or breakfast.
5. Don’t be a flippant flower-giver. Colors in Mexico bear different meanings than in the States. Red and white flowers, for example, both have religious symbolism; red is thought to cast spells while white flowers are thought to lift spells. Yellow flowers, on the other hand, represent death and mourning.
6. Fernandez is Fernando’s son. Child-naming traditions in Mexico are patronymic (derived from the father’s name). The convention is to add “ez”, “iz” or “az” to the father’s first name to create the child’s. In this way, “Martinez” means “son of Martin” and “Fernandez”, “son of Fernando”. So who is Juarez’s dad?
7. Mexico is “megadiverse”. Mexico is home to over 10% of the world’s biodiversity and is one of the 18 “megadiverse” countries (those with the most species). Mexico counts over 200,000 different species and ranks first in the world for reptiles — there are 707 different scaly beasts within its borders.
Do you know more about Mexico now than you did five minutes ago? We sure hope so, and our blog post on MIST countries puts Mexico in a business perspective. If you have any more fun facts to share about our neighbor to the south, simply comment on this blog post below to keep the discussion going.
And stay tuned for tips on doing business with Mexico in 2012. Hasta pronto!
Photo attribution: Alyssa Paris