New Mexico (Spanish: Nuevo Mexico [?nwe?o ?mexiko]; Navajo: Yoot Hahoodzo [jo:t haho:dzo]) is a state located in the southwestern and western regions of the United States, admitted to the union as the 47th state in 1912. It is usually considered one of the Mountain States. New Mexico is the 5th most extensive, the 36th most populous, and the 6th least densely populated of the 50 United States.
New Mexico encompasses over 121,400 square miles with its eastern border at the 103 W longitude to the state of Oklahoma and 3 miles west of the longitude and its southern border with Texas and the Mexican States of Chihuahua and Sonora to its south. New Mexico shares its western Border with Arizona and shares Four Corners with Arizona, Utah, and Colorado in the upper Northwest. Colorado is New Mexico’s Northern Neighbor. The State lacks in water hosting around 250 square miles of surface water. The landscape is varied from deserts to forests, mesas to snow-peaked mountains, gully’s and canyons to caves and mines. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains offers the southernmost part of the Rocky Mountains Range. The Rio Grande, Pecos, Canadian, San Juan, and Gila are the most important rivers running through the state.
New Mexico’s climate could be described as semi-arid or arid even though there are areas with continental and alpine climates. New Mexico is actually mainly covered by mountains, deserts, and the high plains. In the Eastern part of the state, you can find the high plains of the Great Plains where it is similar to the Colorado high plains in Eastern Colorado. Both Colorado and New Mexico share similar terrain of mountains, basins, mesas, plains, and desert lands. New Mexico gets an annual average precipitation of 13.9 inches a year with average annual temperatures from 64 Fahrenheit in the Southeast to below 40 degrees in the northern mountains. Summer temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit at elevations under 5,000 feet above sea level.
The bio-diversity of New Mexico is extreme with extensive habitats for a variety of species – plants, animals, and insects. Botany varies from mesquite, cactus, yucca, desert grasses, Creosote bush, black gramma, purple three-awn, tobosa, burrograss, ponderosa pine, aspen, cottonwood, spruce, fir, scrub oak, Russian olive, and much more. Fauna has a wide range including black bears, cougars, jaguars, coyotes, porcupines, skunks, Mexican grey wolves, deer, elk, plains Bison, collared peccary, bighorn sheep, squirrels, chipmunks, pronghorn, western diamondback, rodents, reptiles, birds, jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, prairie dogs, antelope, and many others.
New Mexico was first inhabited by indigenous peoples for many centuries before Euro-Americans moved in or even saw exploration. New Mexico first belonged to the Imperial Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain. It became part of Mexico before it became a U.S. territory and then state. New Mexico has the highest population of hispanics in the United States including descendants from Spanish colonists who lived in the area for over 400 years. New Mexico also has the second highest percentage of Native Americans after Alaska, and the fourth highest total of Native Americans after California, Arizona, and Oklahoma. The existing Native Populations consist mostly of Navajo, Puebloan, and Apache peoples. New Mexico’s imagery, state colors, and flag are influenced with the scarlet and gold colors from the royal standards of Spain and the ancient sun symbol of the Pueblo’s “Zia”.
New Mexico or “Nuevo Mexico” is mistakenly believed to have taken its name from “Mexico”, which is not the case. The area was given the name “New Mexico” in 1563 and again in 1581 by the Spanish Explorers who believed the area contained wealthy Indian cultures similar to those of the Aztec “Mexica” Empire. “Mexico” as part of New Spain, adopted its name centuries later in 1821 after gaining independence from Spanish rule. New Mexico was only part of the independent federal republic of Mexico for 12 years from 1836 to 1848.
The first human cultures were Paleo-Indians, starting with the Clovis culture followed by Mogollon and Ancestral Pueblo. Euro-Americans came in the 16th century and encountered villages built by the Pueblo, Navajo, Apache, and Ute. From 1540-1542, the Spanish Explorer Francisco vasquez de Coronado set through New Mexico with a jassive exxpedition looking for the mystical seven golden Cities of Cibola as described by Fray Marcos de Niza. The name Nuevo Mexico came from gold miners led by leader named Francisco de Ibarra exploring far to the north of Mexico in 1563 stating his findings as being in “a New Mexico”. Santa Fe was established at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains the southern end of the Rocky Mountains around 1608. Much of Santa Fe and settlements around the state were abandoned from 1680-1692 by the Spanish after the Pueblo revolt. Once the Pueblo leader leading the revolt died, Diego de Vargas restored the area back to Spanish rule Returning settlers founded Albuerqueque in 1706. As it was “New Spain” at the time, claims of the State were often covered by independent Mexico in 1821 followed by the Mexica War of Independence. In 1836 the Republic of Texas claimed portions east of the Rio Grande after it seceded from Mexico in 1836. Most of the northeastern part of the state was owned by France and sold to the U.S. during the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
From 1846-1848 the region was thrown into the Mexican-American War, and in 1848 Mexico and America made the Treaty of Guadalupe with Mexico ceding its northern holdings of the American Southwest including New Mexico and California to the U.S. Texas also ceded its claims to the area east of the Rio Grande in exchange for 10 million dollars, so the U.S. established the Territory of New Mexico on September 9, 1850 including most of present-day Arizona and New Mexico, and part of Colorado. This compromise created the current boundary between New Mexico and Texas. Historically New Mexico had a role in the American Civil War, as part of the Trans-Missisippi Theater where the Confederate and Union governments claimed territorial rights over the New Mexican territory. The Confederacy claimed the souther tract as part of the Arizona Territory in 1861 waging an ambitious campaign to control the American Southwest and open access to Union California, but this was broken after the Battle of Glorieta Pass in 1862. They continued to operate from Texas marching under the Arizona flag until the end of the war. Over 8,000 troops served the Union from New Mexico.
(not a complete list, just places we’ve covered so far, work in progress)