Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mexico: Short History and Cultural Vocabulary

If Mexico is on your list of places to visit, enhance your experience by learning about the cultural history before you travel. Mexico has a rich culture that reflects a fascinating combination of ancient peoples and European settlers.

As early as 300 B.C. indigenous people ruled the land known as Mexico. Over the years many tribal groups fought for power over the country leaving behind a long cultural history. The founding tribe, known as the Mayans, was known for their intellect in math and science. They created large, intricate cities. Many of the cities created by the Mayans are still standing and can be seen through tours.

By the 1400’s a tribal group called the Aztecans, also known as the Mexicas, had completely taken over control of most surrounding tribes in the area. Building further on the ancient Mayan civilizations, they also created the tribes religion. Their capital city, Tenochtitlan, is still the capital city of Mexico today, now known as Mexico City. Human sacrifice was a large part of the Aztecan culture. They believed the earth would not exist if they did not sacrifice human life everyday.

The Spanish arrive in the early 1500’s gaining control of the capital. The Spanish brought many new things upon their arrival including ships and other supplies. They also brought diseases never seen by the indigenous people resulting in killing many of them, including those who fought along the Spanish against their own tribe. The Spanish influence changed Mexican culture and language forever.
Finally, in the early 1800’s, Mexico declared its independence. The struggle for independence lasted over a decade and resulted in the Mexican War of Independence. The history officially records Mexican independence as September 16, 1821. This holiday remains one of the most widely spread celebrations in the history of Mexico.

Here are some characteristics of ancient Mexican culture to review before your trip and some other interesting facts about Mexico’s past:

Cultural Vocabulary:
  • Mayan- The term used to represent the founders of ancient Mexico.
  • Aztecan- The term used to represent the tribe for whom achieved political and military dominance over large parts of Mesoamerica
  • Tenochtitlan- The ancient capital city of Mexico which once held the title of the largest city in the world with over 500,000 people in the 1500’s
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