Latin America: 10 facty things

Published May 3rd, 2013

Those crazy cats at Geckos are at it again, this time entertaining and inspiring us with 10 facty things about Latin America. If you’re considering a trip to this great adventurous land, you should check out Gecko's tours of the region and read on for some facts - they may come in handy.


Latin America is full of so much incredible that it’s actually quite hard to fathom. Each country, from Mexico in the north and Argentina in the south to Peru on the left and Brazil on the right, is brimming with brilliance. Not only did Mother Nature cast one hell of a beauty spell over the landscape, the people across the continent are some of the world’s most outwardly awesome too. Then there’s the ancient history, the food, the booze and the nightlife. In short, Latin America is as good as you think it is, only better. Here are a few more things about Latin America you probably didn’t know.


  • Impress friends at parties by referring to Mexico as: Estados Únidos Mexicanos (United Mexican States – its official name). They’ll either think you’re one hell of a smart cookie and want to hang out with you more, or they’ll slowly back away and whisper things like, “That guy’s an idiot”, and “Yeah, I hate him too”, under their breath. Don’t sweat it. You don’t need them.
  • Mexico is so keen on tequila that it actually has a tequila law. The law stipulates that every citizen over the age of 14 must drink tequila at least four times a day for their entire life. Lol jks. The law actually stipulates that at least 51% of any tequila must come from the blue agave plant. They’ve been making this stuff since the 16th century so they take it seriously, alright?
  • In the world of ancient Aztecs, a ball game known as ōllamalitzli was played. Numerous forms of ballgames were practiced in these ancient cultures and the gruesome details vary from one to another. Some – particularly the Mayans – were known to stage rigged ball games in which the losers would be decapitated (or “sacrificed to the gods”, as they were told) and the winners would gain a hero-like status. How’s that for un-sports-man-like conduct?
  • Peru has over 1816 different species of birds, 3532 species of butterfly, and 3500 species of orchids. All this makes Peru a MEGA-DIVERSE country. We put MEGA-DIVERSE in caps because we think it makes it sound cooler. It also makes it sound a bit like something from Power Rangers. Anyway, MEGA-DIVERSE countries are highly regarded because they’ve got MEGA amounts of native wildlife and plant life, due largely to the richness and diversity of their ecosystems and climates. Peru’s killing it in the flora and fauna game, basically.
  • In addition to Peru being MEGA-DIVERSE, it’s also got 28 different and distinct climates. So whether you travel to the world’s driest desert in the west or the tepid Amazon in the east (which makes up more than half of Peru’s ‘office space’), you will soon find that the weather in Peru changes like the wind. Literally.


  • The ancient Inca Empire isn’t actually that ancient. It was still in full swing when the Spanish rocked up in 1526. All the Incas were just kicking back, hanging out and the Spanish were like, “QUE!?” and then they killed all the Incas. All the remaining Incas regrouped and staged a comeback fight but then the Spanish killed them all (again). Please note that this is a terrible history lesson: the conquest of the Inca Empire took more than 40 years and is an extremely complex subject. We’re just trying to keep it brief – much like the Incas, who were only in existence for around 100 years.
  • Brazil has won five football world cups. That’s more than any other country in the world ever. This nimble-footed nation took the cup home in 1958, 1962, 1994, 1970 and 2002, and presumably drank all kinds of beer and liquor out of it whilst they were celebrating. Rumour has it that Ronaldo used to eat his Coco-Pops from it too.* He sure loves that chocolatey milk.**
  • Bolivia is home to the two highest cities in the world - Potosí (the highest) and La Paz (the second highest). Back in the 1570s, Potosí was allegedly the most populated city in the world, which is a title now held by Shanghai. Potosi isn’t even anywhere near the most populated city in the world anymore. Potosi’s really let itself go, which is a shame. It could’ve been a contender.
  • When Christopher Columbus first found Cuba in 1492 he thought he’d landed in China. What an idiot. Cuba was later captured by the British (for one year) in the 1800s, but Spain reclaimed it the following year. The US then tried to invade Cuba heaps of times, but gave up in 1848 (the wimps) and offered the Spaniards $100-million for it. But the Spanish said NO and held onto it until the end of the Spanish-American war in 1898. Cuba gained its independence from the US in 1902. Phew.
  • Two of Ernest Hemingway’s most seminal novels - The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls – were written whilst he was living in Cuba. The former became a book-of-the-month selection and made Hemingway an international celebrity - and he wrote the draft of it in just eight weeks! The moral of the story? Go to Cuba for great success.


* This isn’t true.

** We have no idea if Ronaldo loves chocolatey milk. But it is delicious, so we estimate that it’s 82% probably true that Ronaldo loves chocolatey milk.


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