Can You Pass This Mexican History Quiz?



By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: E. B. & E. C. Kellogg, New York and Hartford

About This Quiz

It’s part of the bridge between North and South America, a country that’s seen more than its share of strife and chaos in the past two centuries. It is Mexico, a nation packed with diverse ethnic groups, political factions and sometimes, grim violence of the worst kind. But like its northern neighbor, Mexico has also seen its share of triumphs in the name of liberty. In this sun-baked quiz, what do you really know about the history of Mexico?

Long before the Mexican Constitution came along, there were multiple empires on the lands that would eventually become Mexico. These empires sprawled throughout Mesoamerica, built on the toil of millions of people … and may have been the biggest empires of their day. Do you remember any of the details of these great civilizations?

The modern-day version of Mexico is very young, with its roots in the early 20th century, and it’s the result of a back-and-forth tug of war between colonial powers, natives, and liberal and conservative groups. Indeed, the country is a patchwork of political motives and economic interests. What do you recall about the circumstances that created Mexico’s current form?

From the Mexican War of Independence to the Mexican Revolution, to the horrors of the Drug War, Mexico has a fascinating past -- and a conflicted present. Take this Mexican history quiz now!

People have been living in the area of Mexico for about how long?

For about 13,000 years, humans have been living in the area of Mexico. The region has witnessed the rise and fall of major empires of world history.


Before he became an 19th-century Mexican president, what career did Antonio de Santa Ana pursue?

Santa Ana is one of Mexico's most famous historical figures. He was a career military man who wound up as president, and in spite of many setbacks, managed to stay there for a long time.


The Mayans were an ancient people who lived in the region. They are renowned for which cultural development?

Many historians believe the Mayans were an extremely advanced culture. The Mayans developed a complex writing system and shared information over a broad geographical area.


In the 1500s, which nation conquered much of the area of Mexico?

In the 16th century, European nations were busy in colonizing many far-flung areas of the world. Spain conquered much of Mesoamerica, including the area that would become Mexico.


Mexico City is built on the ruins of what?

Spanish conquerors destroyed the ancient Aztec Empire capital. Then, they began rebuilding what became known was Mexico City, now one of the world's biggest metropolitan areas.


Antonio de Santa Ana was president of Mexico during which conflict?

Santa Ana was the leader of Mexico during the Mexican-American War of the 1840s. In a time of fractious politics, the president was unable to put together a force cohesive enough to beat back the American invasion.


Mexico is currently comprised of how many states?

The number of states has changed over time. Currently, Mexico is made up of 31 states, along with one federal district.


The Mexican War of Independence gave Mexico its freedom from which nation?

Starting in 1810, Mexican rebels began their fight for independence from Spain. The struggle was a long one, but the fighters finally overthrew Spain's dominance.


What happened during the 1854 Reforma?

In 1854, liberals gained momentum in Mexico. They toppled President Santa Ana and began creating a Mexican constitution, which would be ratified in 1857.


The Olmecs were the first ancient civilization in the region. What did they pioneer?

The Olmecs were concentrated in the southern part of what's now Mexico. They learned agriculture and used farming to grow beans, corn, chile peppers and other crops that are still popular in the area.


In 2006, the Mexican government began using its military for which purpose?

Mexico's drug cartels wax and wane in power, sometimes using violence to get the upper hand on their rivals. In 2006, the violence ecalated to an alarming degree, and the Mexican Army stepped in to slow the bloodshed.


The Mexican Constitution of 1857 did NOT guarantee which of the following rights?

There were no Communist leanings in the Mexican constitution. Instead, this document bears some eerie resemblances to the one created by Mexico's northern neighbor.


Who was Miguel Hidalgo?

The Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla is often called the father of Mexico. At the beginning of the war for independence, he called men to arms and told them to fight off the Spanish.


The 1810 Battle of Calderón Bridge was part of the War of Independence. It found 100,000 insurgent troops facing how many Spanish regulars?

At the Battle of Calderón Bridge, about 100,000 insurgents faced off against just 7,000 Spanish regulars. The battle should've been a rout. But things took an unexpected turn.


What happened at the Battle of Calderón Bridge?

Although they were outnumbered 10 to 1, the Spanish won the Battle of Calderón Bridge. They were heavily armed against the 100,000 rebels, many of whom had primitive weapons. The crushing defeat meant that it would be a decade before the rebels won independence.


Since 2006, about how many people have been killed due to organized crime in Mexico?

The carnage of the Mexican Drug War is hard to overstate. Since 2006, about 200,000 people have been killed, and more than 1.5 million people have been forced to move to escape violence.


In 1845, the United States annexed land and turned it into a new state. What state was it?

In 1845, America annexed the Republic of Texas, which Mexico still regarded as part of its country. Then, the U.S. granted Texas statehood.


Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés destroyed the Aztec Empire with just a few hundred soldiers. How did he manage this feat?

In the early 1500s, Hernán Cortés landed in the region with just a few hundred soldiers. But he pitted the locals against one another, slowly but surely bringing the mighty Aztec Empire to its knees.


What day is the Mexican equivalent of America's Fourth of July?

September 16 is Mexican Independence Day. It marks the day that a true uprising gained momentum against Spanish leaders, culminating in independence 11 years later.


Which issue triggered the Mexican-American War?

United States leaders made clear their interest in the lands between Mexico and America (and even tried to buy it), but the conflict boiled over into war. The U.S. won the war, and Mexico lost about 30% of its land.


Who is "El Chapo"?

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán shot to fame as a leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, and made incredible amounts of money as the boss. He's been arrested (and escaped) multiple times but is now in U.S. custody.


Who was U.S. president during the Mexican-American War?

James Polk wanted areas of the Southwest for the U.S., and made overtures to Mexican authorities in hopes of purchasing those lands. When they rejected his offer, Polk instead used force to seize Texas, and more.


What problem fed the flames of the 1910 Mexican Revolution?

In 1910, Mexico's lower class was disgusted with the country's imbalance of wealth and power. The Revolution caught fire … and nearly 2 million people died in the 10-year civil war.


Which country invaded Mexico in 1861?

In 1861, France (with the help of Britain and Spain) invaded Mexico and occupied Veracruz. The European powers were retaliating because Mexico paused its repayment of debts.


Who was Maximilian I?

In 1861, France invaded Mexico to prevent Mexico from backing out of its loan repayments. Then, with help of wealthy Mexicans, the French installed Maximilian I as the Emperor of Mexico.


How did the reign of puppet leader Maximilian I end?

Just a few years after becoming a puppet leader of Mexico, Maximilian I faced an armed uprising. He and his men were cornered and captured … and then executed by firing squad.


Santa Ana was in command of Mexican troops at the Battle of the Alamo. What happened at this battle?

At the Battle of the Alamo, Mexican troops surrounded the fort and laid siege. Days later, they attacked and killed every last man inside, sparing only women and children.


How many people now live in Mexico?

About 100 million people now live in Mexico. It's the biggest Spanish-speaking nation on Earth.


After the Mexican-American War, the U.S. agreed to do what?

After the Mexican-American War, American leaders agreed to pay $15 million for damages that the war caused to Mexico. The U.S. gained vast swaths of the southwest after the war.


How did World War II affect Mexico?

World War II invigorated many parts of the Mexican economy. It triggered massive infrastructure improvements and modernized many parts of the nation.


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