September 16 marks more than 200 years of Mexican independence from Spain. Mexicans celebrate the day with parades, fireworks, parties, mariachi bands, and traditional foods such as pozole and tlayuda. One of the most popular events is when the president reenacts the start of the country’s fight for independence by ringing a 200-year-old bell and reciting the Grito de Delores speech just as priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla did on September 16, 1810, setting off the 10-year War of Mexican Independence. The current president recites the speech in front of an audience of 500,000 and on live TV the night before.
Mexico’s fight for independence was long in the making. Once known as New Spain, Mexico suffered under Spanish rule for 300 years. Spain finally gave up its control and withdrew from the country on August 24, 1821.
Today, more than 125 million people with backgrounds from all over the world call Mexico home. The capital, Mexico City, is the eighth most populated city in the world, with over 21 million residents. Mexico is one of the world’s largest oil, silver, copper, gold, lead, and zinc producers and a tourism hotspot.
Here are just a few Mexicans you probably have heard of.
- Frida Kahlo’s legacy looms so large that she appears on Mexico’s 500 pesos note. The surrealistic artist took a backseat to her more famous husband when they were both alive, but today, her work and image have become iconic.
- Guillermo del Toro is an Oscar-winning film director known for his hit The Shape of Water and his breakout film Pan’s Labyrinth.
- Francisco “Pancho” Villa was a general during the Mexican Revolution and a key figure in forcing out President Porfirio Díaz.
- Rosario Castellanos was a Mexican poet and writer and one of the country’s most significant literary voices.
- Salma Hayek started her acting career in telenovelas before becoming a big-screen star. She continues to act and produce, including the hit TV show Ugly Betty.
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