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The region of New Mexico has been inhabited for thousands of years. Its earliest inhabitants were the Anasazi and the Mogollon people – ancestors of the Pueblo and other Native American tribes. More recent inhabitants of New Mexico include Native American tribes, including the Apache, the Navajo and the Ute. The Spanish were the first Europeans to arrive in New Mexico in the 16th century in search of the fabled seven cities of gold. They never did find the gold but ended up colonizing the land on behalf of Spain.
The lucrative trade between New Mexico and the United States led to the establishment of the Santa Fe wagon trail, an important trade and migration route for people traveling west. The border dispute between Mexico and Texas was the cause of the Mexican-American war that eventually allowed the United States to gain control of a large part of New Mexico and make it a US territory in 1850. With the Gadsden Purchase the US acquired the entire region in 1853, though New Mexico did not become a US state until 1912. Union forces captured New Mexico from the Confederates during the Civil War. The same period saw the end of the Apache Wars and most other conflicts between the US Army and the Apache nations.
During the early and mid-1800s, New Mexico was part of what is known as the “Wild West.” This was the era of the western expansionist movement, when most of the land was open to raising livestock and homesteading. Local law and order were practically non-existent or rarely enforced and military presence was confined to a few parts of the region. New Mexico of the 1800s was a land of wide open spaces and beautiful blue skies, where buffalo hunters, railroad workers, cowboys, drifters, gamblers, outlaws, horse thieves and soldiers scrapped and eked out a precarious existence. Unsurprisingly, one of the most famous outlaws of 19th century America was New Mexico native Billy the Kid, who is buried in Fort Sumner. The Wild West culture and cowboy attitude of the region is rooted in the values of individualism, hard work and a deep love of frontier life.
New Mexico became the 47th state of the United States in 1912. Because of its remoteness and low population density, it was chosen as the site for the Manhattan Project that involved the development and testing of the first atomic bomb during World War 2.
Although the unruly days of the Wild West are long past, the legendary mystique remains and can still be felt in the magnificent mountain communities, quirky desert towns and modern-day cities of New Mexico which showcase many aspects of cowboy culture.
Here’s a comprehensive list of interesting facts about New Mexico:
Source: United States Postal Service – Abbreviations
Source: Resident Population Data – 2010 Census
|Governor||Susana Martinez (Republican, to January 2015)|
|Entered the Union||January 6, 1912|
as the 47th state
|Motto||Crescit Eundo (It Grows As It Goes)|
|Nickname||Land of Enchantment|
|Song||O Fair New Mexico and Asi es Nuevo Mexico|
|Professional Sports Teams||No NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA, MLS, or NHL teams.|
(sports listing policy)
|Origin of Name||From the country of Mexico|
|Historical Sites||Fort Union, Billy the Kid keepsakes at Historic Lincoln, and the Chaco Culture National Historic Park|
|Points of Interest||Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Inscription Rock at El Morro National Monument, and the White Sands and Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monuments|
|Bordering States||New Mexico borders Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona.|
Follow these links to read articles about New Mexico from Encyclopedias and Almanacs:
Official State Links
- Welcome to New Mexico: the New Mexico State Government Portal
This is the official website for the State of New Mexico.
- New Mexico State Library
Here is the homepage for the New Mexico State Library.
- Historical Society of New Mexico
Here is the homepage for the New Mexico State Historical Society.
- Museum of New Mexico
Here is the homepage for the Museum of New Mexico, which houses art, history, and culture collections in four museums and five monuments statewide.
- New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science
Here is the homepage for the New Mexico State Museum.
- New Mexico State Records Center and Archives
Here is the homepage for the New Mexico State Archives.
- New Mexico.org
Here is the official state tourism website for New Mexico.
Other State Links
- 50states.com: New Mexico
The site provides a wealth of information about New Mexico. It includes everything from the highest point to county profile to climate.
- Roadside America: New Mexico Attractions
Roadside America describes itself as an online guide to offbeat attractions. This site offers reviews of “weird sites along the highway” in New Mexico.
- New Mexico’s Cultural Treasures
This site is a database of New Mexico’s museums, parks, and monuments.
- New Mexico Magazine
This online magazine is published in partnership with the New Mexico Tourism Department and provides information about New Mexico’s multicultural heritage, arts, climate, environment, and people.
Did You Know
- New Mexico is one of the U.S. leaders in output of uranium and potassium salts.
- The movies Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, City Slickers, Wyatt Earp, and Young Guns were all filmed in New Mexico.
- In 1824, New Mexico briefly became a Mexican territory, but in 1846 U.S. Gen. William Kearny’s troops followed Anglo merchants down the Santa Fe Trail to occupy New Mexico, which became an American territory.
- New Mexico’s distinctive insignia (found on the state flag) is the Zia Sun Symbol which originated with the Indians of the Zia Pueblo in ancient times. Its design reflects their tribal philosophy, with its wealth of pantheistic spiritualism teaching the basic harmony of all things in the universe.
Some Famous People from this State
- Neil Patrick Harris, the TV actor who played Doogie Howser, M.D.
- Demi Moore, actress, was born in Roswell, New Mexico in 1962.
- John Denver, singer.
- Ralph Bunche, Nobel Peace Prize winner.
- Oliver LaFarge, Pulitzer Prize Winning author.
- William Bonney, a.k.a “Billy the Kid” is New Mexico’s most infamous outlaw.