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History of New Mexico
Evidence of the earliest human existence in what is now known as New Mexico, were the sandia people found near Albuquerque in the Sandia Cave. Then, around (10000-500) BC, the Cochise people arrived and started cultivating corn, beans, and squash in the Southwest of New Mexico.
The advent of agriculture led to the entrance of the Ancient Pueblo Indians. They settled along the upper Rio Grande river and its tributaries and built a prosperous sedentary culture around the 13th century AD.
Around 1528-1536, Cabeza de Vaca, along with Estevan, the Moor and two others entered Culiacdn, after apparently crossing the present southern New Mexico. It was they, who began the rumors of the gold cities, which were then identified by Fray Marcos de Niza as the Seven Golden Cities of Cibola or what was also identified as the mythical seven cities of gold. The rumors prompted Francisco Vasquez de Coronado to set on a search mission around (1540-42) to find these gold cities. It was then the term Nuevo Mexico surfaced.
After over 50 years, Juan de Onate entered Mexico with a number of Spanish settlers and soldiers and over 7,000 of livestock. He subsequently established the first Spanish settlement on 11 July 1598 in New Mexico. The settlement was named San Juan de los Caballeros and was located on the Rio Grande adjacent to the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. Onate went on to become the first governor of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico, the new province. Santa Fe was eventually established and declared the capital of New Mexico in 1610.
Several uprisings by the Apache (native North Americans from the southwest) in 1676 and then the Pueblo in 1680 gradually drove the Spanish out of New Mexico. The Spanish did not dare to return till their control over the place was reestablished by a campaign of Diego de Vargas Zapata in 1692. The 18th century saw the development of ranching, farming, and mining and this paved the way for the development of Spanish culture in New Mexico that still persists.
New Mexico became a domain of Mexico, following Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821.
In the year 1846, the Mexican-American war commenced during which Stephen W. Kearny annexed New Mexico to the United States. In the meantime, the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ended the Mexican-American War. Following the incidents of the war and the treaty, Mexico surrendered the American southwest and California to the United States. On 9 September 1850, the US government founded New Mexico Territory comprising of present day Arizona State, New Mexico, and a part of Colorado. The territory was later enlarged in 1853 through the Gadsden Purchase. In 1862, the battles of Velarde de and Glorieta Pass brought an end to the confederate rule on New Mexico.
On 6 January 1912, the Congress declared New Mexico as the 47th state in the Union.
New Mexico is spread over a total area of 121,412 square miles. The state is bordered by Colorado on the north, Arizona on the west, Texas and Oklahoma on the east. On the south, New Mexico shares an international border with Mexico while the eastern two-thirds is bordered by Texas. Wheeler Peak standing at 13,161 feet above the sea level is the highest point in New Mexico and Red Bluff Reservoir standing at 2,842 feet above the sea level is the lowest point in New Mexico. The major rivers of the state are Rio Grande and Pecos River while the major lakes are the Elephant Butte Reservoir, Conchas Lake, and the Navajo Reservoir.
There is scarcity of water in New Mexico and it has a surface water area of about 250 square miles. The four corners in the northwestern corner of New Mexico comprises of the states of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. This particular corner is famous for being the only point where four states meet. Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico and Albuquerque is its largest city.
New Mexico’s landscape is broadly divided into Great Plains, High Plains, Rocky Mountains, the Basin and Range Region. New Mexico has an arid and semi-arid climate. The high plains, deserts and the mountainous regions have continental and alpine climate. The highest recorded temperature in Lakewood, New Mexico was 122 degrees Fahrenheit on 27 June 1994; while the lowest recorded temperature was –50 degrees Fahrenheit at Gavilan on 1 February 1951.
Rightly referred to as the “land of enchantment,” the state has a number of picturesque tourist places that are a feast for the eyes. The top cities of New Mexico, which deserve a mention in this respect, are: Santa Fe, Taos, Albuquerque, Roswell, Silver City, Las Cruces, Farmington, Los Alamos, and Chimayo. New Mexico is blessed with numerous mountain ranges, sand dunes, deserts, and snow capped peaks. Some of the top tourist places of New Mexico are:
- Chaco Canyon National Historic Park
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park
- Bandelier National Monument
- Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad
- Nambe Falls
- Four Corners Monument
- El Malpais National Monument and Conservation Area
- Sandia Peak Tramway
- Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
- White Sands National Monument
- New Mexico Pueblos
- Albuquerque Biological Park
Last Updated on: February 22, 2020