New Mexico Facts

Introduction

The state of New Mexico is located in the southwestern United States. The state of Utah is located in the mountainous southern Rocky Mountains, sharing the Four Corners region of the western U.S. with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona, and bordering Texas to the east and southeast, Oklahoma to the northeast, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora to the south. 

New Mexico’s capital is Santa Fe, the oldest capital in the U.S., founded in 1610 as the capital of Nuevo México in New Spain; Albuquerque is the largest city.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT NEW MEXICO

  • Capital City: Santa Fe
  • Largest City: Albuquerque
  • Nickname: Land of Enchantment
  • Statehood: 1912; 47th state
  • Population (as of 2020): 2,120,220
  • Abbreviation: NM
  • State bird: greater roadrunner
  • State flower: yucca
  • Total Size Of The State: 121,591 sq mi (314,918 km2)

Historical Background

More than 12,000 years ago, people settled in New Mexico. They are believed to have crossed a land bridge known as the Bering Strait during the last Ice Age from what is now Russia. This bridge was covered as water levels rose after the Ice Age ended. Thousands of years later, Native American tribes lived on the land, including the Apache, Zuni, Navajo, and Pueblo.

In 1540, Spanish explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado toured the area in search of the gold cities that were rumored to exist in the Americas. Unfortunately, he did not discover treasure, but the Spanish colonized the land over the next century. After Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1821, the area became part of Mexico.

New Mexico became a U.S. territory after the United States won the Mexican-American War in 1848. 1912 marked the creation of this 47th U.S. state.

Why Does It Have That Name?

Spanish explorers hoped they would find as valuable a piece of land as they had seen in Mexico when they explored the region. 

Therefore, they named the area New Mexico. According to some experts, the word Mexico is a version of a name the Aztecs (a group of Mexicans) gave to one of their gods (though there are many theories).

Mountain ranges, forests, and deserts all abound in the state. Its nickname is the Land of Enchantment because of this.

Geographic Features and Landforms

Colorado borders the state to the north, Oklahoma and Texas to the east, Mexico to the south, and Arizona to the west. Its northwest corner touches Arizona, Utah, and Colorado, making it the only point where four states converge.

Three regions can be found in the state. First, a high plateau with deep canyons in the Great Plains region stretches across the east. Second, Carlsbad Caverns, another attraction in the area, has more than 119 caves to explore.

New Mexico’s highest point is Wheeler Peak, located in the Rocky Mountain region.

Basin and Range is a region in the central-southwest. This region is known for its mountainous ridges, flat deserts, and the White Sands National Monument, which is located at the center of the Rio Grande River. In that field of sand dunes, the mineral gypsum is the most abundant.

The Natural World

This state is home to black bears, bighorn sheep, cougars, coyotes, and one of the rarest mammals in North America-the black-footed ferret. Vultures such as black vultures, red-shouldered hawks, scarlet tanagers, streak-backed orioles soar overhead, western green toads, barred tiger salamanders, and New Mexico whiptail lizards scurry underfoot.

Some trees that grow throughout the region include New Mexico olive, pion pine, Rio Grande cottonwood, and desert willow. New Mexico thistle and New Mexico evening primrose are among the wildflowers named for the state. Succulents and cacti are also abundant.

Natural Resources

Perlite is a form of glass used in insulation and gardening and is produced primarily in New Mexico. Additionally, about three-quarters of the United States potash is mined in this state.

The state earns about half of its revenue from natural resources from oil and natural gas.

Some Fun Facts About New Mexico

  • Taos Pueblo in north-central New Mexico has been inhabited continuously for more than a thousand years by the Pueblo people.
  • Has anyone ever seen an alien on Earth? In the Roswell UFO Museum, visitors can decide whether a UFO crashed there in 1947.
  • One of the most famous New Mexicans is singer John Denver, while another famous New Mexican is Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos.
  • Turquoise is a common sight in New Mexico. Unfortunately, only a few turquoise mines are left today, which is why a piece can be worth thousands of dollars.

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