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New Mexico

State of New Mexico
Estado de Nuevo México
(Flag of New Mexico ) (Seal of New Mexico )
State nickname: Land of Enchantment
Other U.S. States
Capital Santa Fe
Largest city Albuquerque
Governor Bill Richardson
Official languages English and Spanish
Area 315,194 km² (5th)
 - Land 314,590 km²
 - Water 607 km² (0.2%)
Population (2000)
 - Population 1,819,046 (36th)
 - Density 5.79 /km² (45th)
Admittance into Union
 - Date January 6, 1912
 - Order 47th
Time zone Mountain: UTC-7/-6
Latitude 31°20'N to 37°N
Longitude 103°W to 109°W
Width 550 km
Length 595 km
 - Highest 4,011 m
 - Mean 1735 m
 - Lowest 866 m
 - ISO 3166-2 US-NM
Web site

New Mexico is a state in the southwestern United States. Its U.S. postal abbreviation is NM. The state's two official languages are English and Spanish. Nuevo México was the Spanish name for the territory north and west of the Rio Grande.

USS New Mexico was named in honor of this state.



New Mexico is centered on the Rio Grande valley, the historical center of Spanish settlement and conquest of the Pueblo people, Native American tribes who lived in small towns along the Rio Grande and nearby as at Acoma. In 1540, the Spanish conquistador Coronado trekked through the area known today as New Mexico in search of the fabled seven cities of gold.

The incorporation of the modern-day state's territory into the United States was a gradual process. The northeastern corner was ceded by France in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The remainder of what is now New Mexico was then wholly claimed by the Spanish colony of New Spain and its successor state (after 1810), the Republic of Mexico. The incorporation of this territory into the USA came in three stages: the portion to the east of the Rio Grande was claimed by the breakaway Republic of Texas when it seceded from Mexico in 1836; this territory was transferred to the federal government by Texas in 1850. Most of the western portion of the state (to the west of the river) was surrendered by Mexico under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. Finally, the southwestern corner of the state (the "boot heel") was ceded by Mexico under the 1853 Gadsden Purchase. The Territory of New Mexico was established on September 9 1850; under the terms of the Missouri Compromise, slavery was legal in the territory, but does not appear to have taken significant hold there. The eastern half of the territory became the State of New Mexico, which was admitted to the Union as its 47th member on January 6, 1912, the western half being admitted separately as the 48th state of Arizona on February 14, 1912.

New Mexico is home to two national laboratories, Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The first atomic bomb was detonated at the Trinity site in the desert on the Alamogordo Test Range on July 16, 1945.

Law and government

The capital of New Mexico is Santa Fe and its governor is Bill Richardson, a Democrat. Its two U.S. senators are Jeff Bingaman (Democrat) and Pete V. Domenici (Republican). New Mexico has three representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives: Steve Pearce (Republican), Tom Udall (Democrat) and Heather Wilson (Republican). For a list of past governors of the State of New Mexico, see List of New Mexico Governors.


See: List of New Mexico counties

It has a southern border with Mexico, an eastern border with Oklahoma (103° W) and Texas (3 miles west of 103° W), and a western border with Arizona (109° W). The 37th parallel forms the northern boundary with Colorado. The spot where New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah come together is called the Four Corners. The landscape ranges from rose-colored deserts to mountains that are snow-capped most of the year. Despite New Mexico's arid image, forests cover a significant portion of the state.

New Mexico's areas of geographical and scenic interest include White Sands National Monument, Capulin Volcano National Monument, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, the Valles Caldera National Preserve, the Gila wilderness , and Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Interstate highways

United States highways

North-south routes East-west routes


New Mexico's 1999 total gross state product was $51 billion, placing it 38th in the nation. Its 2000 Per Capita Personal Income was $22,203, 48th in the nation. The state's main agricultural outputs are cattle, dairy products, hay, nursery stock, pecans and chiles. Its industrial outputs are electric equipment; petroleum and coal products; food processing; printing and publishing; and stone, glass, and clay products. Tourism is an important source of service jobs.

Access to water is a chronic problem in the southwest; to address this problem, the Elephant Butte Dam and Reservoir impounds the waters of Rio Grande, north of Las Cruces.

New Mexico's economy is heavily tied to government and military spending, with federal properties such as the national laboratories at Los Alamos and Sandia and the missile and spacecraft proving grounds at White Sands adding greatly to local economies.

Despite the impact of these facilities, many communities in New Mexico, particularly in heavily Native American and Hispanic rural areas, are economically underdeveloped.


According to the Census Bureau, as of the 2003, the population of New Mexico was 1,874,614. The population of New Mexico has grown 23.7% from its 1990 levels.

The racial makeup of the state is:

The 5 largest ancestry groups in New Mexico are Mexican (18.1%), German (9.9%), American Indian (9.5%), Spanish (9.3%), English (7.6%).

7.2% of New Mexico's population were reported as under 5, 28% under 18, and 11.7% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.8% of the population.

New Mexico's Hispanic community

In many communities of Northern New Mexico, the Hispanic population consists of the descendants of Spanish colonizers who settled the region in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the southern part of the state, the Hispanic population is mostly derived from Mexican immigration during the 20th century. The Native American population consists of Pueblo Indians (some living in communities dating from before European settlement), and the Navajo and Apache, both of Athabaskan origin.

The presence of various ancient Native American communities, the long-established Spanish and Mexican influence, and the diversity of Anglo-American settlement in the region, ranging from pioneer farmers and ranchers in the territorial period to military families in later decades, make New Mexico a particularly heterogeneous state.


The religious affiliations of the citizens of Nee Mexico are:

  • Protestant – 44%
  • Roman Catholic – 37%
  • Other Christian – 4%
  • Other Religions – 1%
  • Non-Religious – 11%

The three largest Protestant denominations in New Mexico are: Baptist (12% of the total state population), Methodist (7%), Lutheran (3%).

Important cities and towns

The largest (by far) city in New Mexico is Albuquerque. Each city or urbanized area named in bold has a population at least 100,000.

25 Richest Places in New Mexico

Ranked by per capita income

1 Tesuque, New Mexico $52,473
2 Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico $43,143
3 Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico $40,883
4 White Rock, New Mexico $36,288
5 Placitas, New Mexico $36,243
6 Corona, New Mexico $34,987
7 Los Alamos, New Mexico $34,240
8 Corrales, New Mexico $33,629
9 Eldorado at Santa Fe, New Mexico $33,107
10 Angel Fire, New Mexico $29,614
11 Galisteo, New Mexico $27,719
12 Cedar Crest, New Mexico $27,263
13 Carlsbad North, New Mexico $27,192
14 Chupadero, New Mexico $26,915
15 Yah-ta-hey, New Mexico $26,307
16 Mesilla, New Mexico $25,922
17 Canada de los Alamos, New Mexico $25,707
18 Santa Fe, New Mexico $25,454
19 Santa Teresa, New Mexico $24,561
20 House, New Mexico $24,300
21 Virden, New Mexico $23,184
22 Jaconita, New Mexico $22,888
23 Ruidoso, New Mexico $22,721
24 Grenville, New Mexico $21,536
25 Elephant Butte, New Mexico $21,345
See complete list of New Mexico places


Colleges and universities

Miscellaneous information

State bird: Roadrunner
State flower: Yucca flower
State tree: Two-Needle Pinyon pine
State insect: Tarantula hawk wasp
State fish: Cutthroat trout
State vegetables: Chile pepper and pinto bean
State question: "Red or Green?" (refers to a diner's preference for either red or green chile with their meal)

Some fauna

Further reading

  • The Great Taos Bank Robbery and other Indian Country Affairs, Tony Hillerman, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1973, trade paperback, 147 pages, (ISBN 082630530X)
  • Great River, The Rio Grande in North American History, Paul Horgan, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, reprint, 1977, in one hardback volume, (ISBN 0030293057)

External link

  • New Mexico Government
  • US Census Bureau

Last updated: 02-03-2005 07:29:05
Last updated: 02-20-2005 07:20:02