Interesting Facts About Popocatépetl

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Do you know any interesting facts about Popocatépetl? Popocatépetl is an active stratovolcano that is located in Central Mexico about 43 miles | 70 kilometers southeast of Mexico City. On a clear day, over 30 million people can see the summit of Popocatépetl at 17,802 feet | 5426 meters.

Situated in the Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park, Popocatépetl is the 2nd highest peak in Mexico. This legendary volcano is one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes – and it’s absolutely stunning.

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Popocatépetl Quick Facts:

  • Elevation: 17,802 feet | 5426 meters
  • Prominence: 9909 feet | 3020 meters
  • Isolation: 88.61 miles | 142.6 kilometers
  • Area: 24,664.5 mi² | 63,880.9 km²
  • Lat/Long: 19.022472, -98.627807
  • Range: Cordillera Neovolcanica, Central Mexico Ranges
  • First Ascent: October 1520 – Diego de Ordaz
  • Weather Forecast: Popcateptl

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Let’s look at some interesting facts about Popocatépetl:

  • Popocatépetl is the 2nd highest peak in Mexico. Only Citlaltépetl (Pico de Orizaba) is higher at 18,491 feet | 5636 meters.
  • It is the 2nd highest volcano in North America and the 5th highest peak in North America.
  • Popocatépetl is the 89th most prominent peak in the world and the 17th most prominent peak in North America.
  • This volcano’s diameter is 16 miles | 25 kilometers at the base.
  • Scientists estimate that the volcano is about 730,000 years old.
  • Locals shorten the name Popocatépetl to either El Popo or Don Goya.
  • The active stratovolcano straddles the Mexican states of Mexico, Morelos, and Puebla. Over 40 villages are located on the slopes of the mountain or nearby.
  • Popocatépetl has near perfect symmetry – except for on the northwest side where the peak of Ventorrillo sticks out. This is a remnant of an older volcano.
  • The upper slopes of Popocatépetl appear glacier clad, but the ice lacks the typical features, like crevasses, of true glaciers .
  • Popocatépetl is part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. It is part of the Cordillera Neovolcanica Range of the Central Mexico Ranges.

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  • The mountain is located in the Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park, which was established in 1935.
  • Monasteries on the slopes of Popocatépetl are part of a World Heritage Site.
  • In 2010, UNESCO declared the area part of the Los Volcanoes Biosphere Reserve, which covers 663.225 square miles | 171,774.4 hectares.
  • The 1966 Merrie Melodies Cartoon, titled Snow Excuse, was set on Popocatépetl.
  • Popocatépetl is one of Mexico’s most active volcanoes. According to VolcanoDiscovery.com, El Popo was active during the following years: 1345-47, 1354, 1363(?), 1488, 1504, 1509(?), 1512, 1518, 1519-23(?), 1528, 1530, 1539-40, 1542, 1548, 1571, 1580, 1590, 1592-94, 1642, 1663-65, 1666-67, 1697, 1720, 1802-04, 1827(?), 1834(?), 1852(?), 1919-22, 1923-24, 1925-27(?), 1933, 1942-43, 1947, 1994-95, 1996-2003, 2004-ongoing.
  • Three major cones were destroyed by gravity during the Pleistocene – leaving avalanche like deposits on south side.
  • There have been 15 major eruptions since the Spanish arrived in 1519.
  • After 50 years of dormancy, the mountain woke up in 1994.
  • Today, the mountain erupts frequently and regularly spews smoke into the air. Due to it’s volcanic activity the peak is rarely climbed. Numerous sources state that people are not allowed to climb it.
  • Popocatépetl has a crater that is 250-450 meters deep and 400×600 meters wide.
  • For the most up-to-date info on El Popo, visit Cenapred.UNAm.mx.
Popocatépetl Silhouette | Pixabay Image
Popocatépetl Silhouette | Pixabay Image

Learn about the legend of Popocatépetl:

  • The Legend of Popocatépetl goes as follows: Popocatépetl was an Aztec warrior in love with Princess Iztaccihuatl. Iztaccihuatl’s father sent Popocatépetl to war in Oaxaca with the promise that Iztaccihuatl would be his wife if he returned. The father then told his daughter that Popocatépetl died in battle and she died from sadness. When Popocatépetl returned, he killed himself with a knife through the heart. The Aztec gods buried them in snow and then turned the lovers into mountains. Those mountains are Popocatépetl (17,802 feet | 5426 meters) and Iztaccihuatl (17,159 feet | 5,230 meters).
  • Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl connect via a ridge line that’s linked via the Paso de Cortes at 11150 feet | 3400 meters. Iztaccihuatl sits 10 miles north of Popocatépetl.
  • In Aztec, Popocatépetl means “Smoking Mountain” and Iztaccihuatl means “Sleeping Woman.”
  • Other legends exist too and you can read about those on Wikipedia.org.

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Let’s look at a quick climbing history of Popocatépetl:

  • The Tecuanipas tribe claim the first ascent of Popocatépetl in 1289, but this feat is disputed by historians.
  • Emperor Montezuma claimed to have sent 10 warriors to climb Popocatépetl in the early 1500’s, but only two returned to tell the story.
  • Diego de Ordaz, one of Cortes’s men, also claims the 1st ascent of Popocatépetl in 1519. Although Cortes disputed it.
  • In 1521, Francisco Montano and 4 other men climbed Popocatépetl to obtain sulfur to manufacture gunpowder for Cortes. This ascent has been confirmed by historians. Read more about the 1519 and 1521 ascents at DanKat.com.

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Feel free to contact us if any of the above information is incorrect or if you know of additional interesting facts about Popocatépetl.


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