All About New Mexico Geographic Area
New Mexico (Spanish: Nuevo México [ˈnweβo ˈmexiko]; Navajo: Yootó Hahoodzo [jo:tó haho:dzo]) is a state located in the southwestern and western regions of the United States. 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.
Inhabited by indigenous peoples of the Americas for many centuries before European exploration, New Mexico was subsequently part of the Imperial Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain. Later, it was part of the newly formed nation of Mexico for a short period before becoming a U.S. territory and eventually a U.S. state. Among U.S. states, New Mexico has the highest percentage of Hispanics, including descendants of Spanish colonists who have lived in the area for over 400 years. It also has the second-highest percentage of Native Americans after Alaska, and the fourth-highest total number of Native Americans after California, Oklahoma, and Arizona. The tribes in the state consist of mostly Navajo, Puebloan and the Apache peoples. As a result, the demographics and culture of the state are unique for their strong Hispanic and Native-American influences, both of which are reflected in the state flag. The scarlet and gold colors of the New Mexico flag are taken from the royal standards of Spain, along with the ancient sun symbol of the Zia, a Pueblo-related tribe.
New Mexico, or Nuevo México in Spanish, is often incorrectly believed to have taken its name from the nation of Mexico. However, New Mexico was given its name in 1563, and again in 1581, by Spanish explorers who believed the area contained wealthy Indian cultures similar to those of the Mexica (Aztec) Empire. Mexico, formerly known as New Spain, adopted its name centuries later in 1821, after winning independence from Spanish rule. Consequently, New Mexico was only a part of the independent federal republic of Mexico for 12 years, 1836 through 1848. The two developed as neighboring Spanish speaking communities, with relatively independent histories.
The state's total area is 121,412 square miles (314,460 km2). The eastern border of New Mexico lies along 103° W longitude with the state of Oklahoma, and three miles (5 km) west of 103° W longitude with Texas. On the southern border, Texas makes up the eastern two-thirds, while the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora make up the western third, with Chihuahua making up about 90% of that. The western border with Arizona runs along the 109° 03' W longitude. The southwestern corner of the state is known as the Bootheel. The 37° N latitude parallel forms the northern boundary with Colorado. The states New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah come together at the Four Corners in the northwestern corner of New Mexico. New Mexico, although a large state, has little water. Its surface water area is about 250 square miles (650 km2).
The New Mexican landscape ranges from wide, rose-colored deserts to broken mesas to high, snow-capped peaks. Despite New Mexico's arid image, heavily forested mountain wildernesses cover a significant portion of the state, especially towards the north. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost part of the Rocky Mountains, run roughly north-south along the east side of the Rio Grande in the rugged, pastoral north. The most important of New Mexico's rivers are the Rio Grande, Pecos, Canadian, San Juan, and Gila. The Rio Grande is tied for the fourth longest river in the U.S.
The U.S. government protects millions of acres of New Mexico as national forests including:
Areas managed by the National Park Service include:
Visitors also frequent the surviving native pueblos of New Mexico. Tourists visiting these sites bring significant money to the state. Other areas of geographical and scenic interest include Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument and the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The Gila Wilderness lies in the southwest of the state.
The climate of New Mexico is generally semi-arid to arid, though there are areas of continental and alpine climates, and its territory is mostly covered by mountains, high plains, and desert. The Great Plains (High Plains) are located in the eastern portion of the state, similar to the Colorado high plains in eastern Colorado. The two states share similar terrain, with both having plains, mountains, basins, mesas, and desert lands. New Mexico's average precipitation rate is 13.9 inches (350 mm) a year. The average annual temperatures can range from 64 °F (18 °C) in the southeast to below 40 °F (4 °C) in the northern mountains. During the summer months, daytime temperatures can often exceed 100 °F (38 °C) at elevations below 5,000 feet (1,500 m), the average high temperature in July ranges from 97 °F (36 °C) at the lower elevations to the upper 70s (°F, up to 26 °C) at the higher elevations. Many cities in New Mexico can have temperature lows in the teens. The highest temperature recorded in New Mexico was 122 °F (50 °C) at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Loving on June 27, 1994 and the lowest recorded temperature is −50 °F (−46 °C) at Gavilan on February 1, 1951.
New Mexico contains extensive habitat for many plants and animals, especially in desert areas and piñon-juniper woodlands. Creosote bush, mesquite, cacti, yucca, and desert grasses, including black grama, purple three-awn, tobosa, and burrograss, cover the broad, semiarid plains that cover the southern portion of the state. The northern portion of the state is home to many tree species such as ponderosa pine, aspen, cottonwood, spruce, fir, and Russian olive, which is an invasive species. Native birds include the greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) and wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). Other fauna present in New Mexico include black bears, cougars, jaguars, coyotes, porcupines, skunks, Mexican gray wolves, deer, elk, plains bison, collared peccary, bighorn sheep, squirrels, chipmunks, pronghorn, western diamondback, kangaroo rat, jackrabbit and a multitude of other birds, reptiles, and rodents. The black bear native to New Mexico, Ursus americanus amblyceps, was formally adopted as the state's official animal in 1953.
The first known inhabitants of New Mexico were members of the Clovis culture of Paleo-Indians.:19 Later inhabitants include American Indians of the Mogollon and Ancestral Pueblo peoples cultures.:52 By the time of European contact in the 16th century, the region was settled by the villages of the Pueblo peoples and groups of Navajo, Apache and Ute.:6,48
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado assembled an enormous expedition at Compostela in 1540–1542 to explore and find the mystical Seven Golden Cities of Cibola as described by Fray Marcos de Niza.:19–24 The name Nuevo México was first used by a seeker of gold mines named Francisco de Ibarra who explored far to the north of Mexico in 1563 and reported his findings as being in "a New Mexico". Juan de Oñate officially established the name when he was appointed the first governor of the new Province of New Mexico in 1598.:36–37 The same year he founded the San Juan de los Caballeros colony, the first permanent European settlement in the future state of New Mexico, on the Rio Grande near Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo.:37 Oñate extended El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, "Royal Road of the Interior," by 700 miles (1,100 km) from Santa Bárbara, Chihuahua to his remote colony.:49
The settlement of Santa Fe was established at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains, around 1608.:182 The city, along with most of the settled areas of the state, was abandoned by the Spanish for 12 years (1680–1692) as a result of the successful Pueblo Revolt. After the death of the Pueblo leader Popé, Diego de Vargas restored the area to Spanish rule.:68–75 While developing Santa Fe as a trade center, the returning settlers founded Albuquerque in 1706 from existing surrounding communities,:84 naming it for the viceroy of New Spain, Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, 10th Duke of Alburquerque.
As a part of New Spain, the claims for the province of New Mexico passed to independent Mexico in 1821 following the Mexican War of Independence.:109 The Republic of Texas claimed the portion east of the Rio Grande when it seceded from Mexico in 1836, when it incorrectly assumed the older Hispanic settlements of the upper Rio Grande were the same as the newly established Mexican settlements of Texas. Texas' only attempt to establish a presence or control in the claimed territory was the failed Texan Santa Fe Expedition, when their entire army was captured and jailed by Hispanic New Mexico militia.
The extreme northeastern part of New Mexico was owned by France, and sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. By 1800 the Spanish population had reached 25,000, but Apache and Comanche raids on Hispanic settlers were common until well into the period of U.S. occupation.
Following the Mexican-American War, from 1846–1848 and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, Mexico ceded its mostly unsettled northern holdings, today known as the American Southwest and California, to the United States of America.:132 In the Compromise of 1850 Texas ceded its claims to the area lying east of the Rio Grande in exchange for ten million dollars:135 and the US government established the New Mexico Territory on September 9, 1850, including most of the present-day states of Arizona and New Mexico, and part of Colorado. The United States acquired the southwestern boot heel of the state and southern Arizona below the Gila river in the mostly desert Gadsden Purchase of 1853, which was related to the construction by the US of a transcontinental railroad.:136
The compromise of 1850 created the current boundary between New Mexico and Texas. It is also considered during this time a surveyor's error awarded the Permian Basin to the State of Texas, which included the city of El Paso. Claims to the Permian were initially dropped by New Mexico in a bid to gain statehood in 1911.
New Mexico played a role in the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War. Both Confederate and Union governments claimed ownership and territorial rights over New Mexico Territory. In 1861 the Confederacy claimed the southern tract as its own Arizona Territory and waged the ambitious New Mexico Campaign in an attempt to control the American Southwest and open up access to Union California. Confederate power in the New Mexico Territory was effectively broken after the Battle of Glorieta Pass in 1862. However, the Confederate territorial government continued to operate out of Texas, and Confederate troops marched under the Arizona flag until the end of the war. Additionally, over 8,000 troops from New Mexico Territory served the Union.
Congress admitted New Mexico as the 47th state in the Union on January 6, 1912.:166
A major oil discovery in 1928 brought prosperity to the state, especially Lea County and the town of Hobbs, named for James Hobbs, who was a homesteader there in 1907. The Midwest State No. 1 well, begun in late 1927 with a standard cable-tool drilling rig, revealed the first signs of oil from the Hobbs field on June 13, 1928. Drilled to 4,330 feet and completed a few months later, the well produced 700 barrels of oil per day on state land. The Midwest Refining Company's Hobbs well produced oil until 2002. The New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources called it "the most important single discovery of oil in New Mexico's history".
During World War II, the first atomic bombs were designed and manufactured at Los Alamos and the first was tested at Trinity site in the desert on the White Sands Proving Grounds between Socorro and Alamogordo.:179–180
New Mexico has benefited from federal government spending. It is home to three Air Force bases, White Sands Missile Range, and the federal research laboratories Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. The state's population grew rapidly after World War II, going from 531,818 in 1940 to 1,819,046 in 2000. Employment growth areas in New Mexico include microelectronics, call centers, and Indian casinos.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of New Mexico was 2,085,572 on July 1, 2014, a 1.28% increase since the 2010 United States Census.
Of the people residing in New Mexico, 51.4% were born in New Mexico, 37.9% were born in a different US state, 1.1% were born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Island areas, or born abroad to American parent(s), and 9.7% were foreign born.
7.5% of New Mexico's population was reported as under 5 years of age, 25% under 18, and 13% were 65 or older. Women make up approximately 51% of the population.
As of 2000, 8% of the residents of the state were foreign-born.
Among U.S. states, New Mexico has the highest percentage of Hispanic ancestry, at 47 percent (as of July 1, 2012), including descendants of Spanish colonists and recent immigrants from Latin America.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the racial composition of the population in 2012 was:
Ethnically, 47.0% of the total population was of Hispanic or Latino.
According to the United States Census Bureau, 1.5% of the population is Multiracial/Mixed-Race, a population larger than both the Asian and NHPI population groups. In 2008 New Mexico had the highest percentage (47%) of Hispanics (of any race) of any state, with 83% of these native-born and 17% foreign-born. The majority of Hispanics in New Mexico claim a Spanish ancestry, especially in the northern part of the state. These people are the descendants of Spanish colonists who arrived during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. See Nuevomexicanos. The state also has a large Native American population, second in percentage behind that of Alaska.
According to estimates from the United States Census Bureau's 2006–2008 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimate, New Mexico's population was 1,962,226. The number of New Mexicans of different single races were: White, 1,375,334 (70.1%); Black, 43,931 (2.2%); American Indian or Alaskan Native, 182,136 (9.3%); Asian, 26,767 (1.4%), Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 854 (0.1%), and 273,778 (14.0%) of some other race. There were 59,415 (3.0%) of two or more races. There were 873,171 (44.5%) Hispanics or Latino (of any race).
According to the 2000 United States Census,:6 the most commonly claimed ancestry groups in New Mexico were:,
According the 2000 U.S. Census, 28.76% of the population aged 5 and older speak Spanish at home, while 4.07% speak Navajo. Speakers of New Mexican Spanish dialect are mainly descendants of Spanish colonists who arrived in New Mexico in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. New Mexican Spanish is an archaic form of 17th century Castilian Spanish.
The original state constitution of 1912 provided for a bilingual government with laws being published in both English and Spanish; this requirement was renewed twice, in 1931 and 1943. Nonetheless, the constitution does not declare any language as "official." While Spanish was permitted in the legislature until 1935, all state officials are required to have a good knowledge of English. Cobarrubias and Fishman therefore argue that New Mexico cannot be considered a bilingual state as not all laws are published in both languages. Others, such as Juan Perea, claim that the state was officially bilingual until 1953. In either case, Hawaii is the only state that remains officially bilingual in the 21st century.
With regard to the judiciary, witnesses have the right to testify in either of the two languages, and monolingual speakers of Spanish have the same right to be considered for jury-duty as do speakers of English. In public education, the state has the constitutional obligation to provide for bilingual education and Spanish-speaking instructors in school districts where the majority of students are hispanophone.
In 1995, the state adopted a State Bilingual Song, New Mexico – Mi Lindo Nuevo México.:75,81 In 1989, New Mexico became the first state to officially adopt the English Plus resolution, and in 2008, the first to officially adopt a Navajo textbook for use in public schools.
According to Association of Religion Data Archives(ARDA), the largest denominations in 2010 were the Catholic Church with 684,941; the Southern Baptist Convention with 113,452; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 67,637, and the United Methodist Church with 36,424 adherents. According to a 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center, the most common self-reported religious affiliation of New Mexico residents are mentioned in reference:100
Within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, New Mexico belongs to the Ecclesiastical Province of Santa Fe. New Mexico has three dioceses, one of which is an archdiocese: Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Diocese of Gallup, Diocese of Las Cruces.
Oil and gas production, tourism, and federal government spending are important drivers of the state economy. State government has an elaborate system of tax credits and technical assistance to promote job growth and business investment, especially in new technologies.
In 2010 New Mexico's Gross Domestic Product was $80 billion. In 2007 the per capita personal income was $31,474 (rank 43rd in the nation). In 2005 the percentage of persons below the poverty level was 18.4%. The New Mexico Tourism Department estimates that in Fiscal Year 2006 the travel industry in New Mexico generated expenditures of $6.5 billion. As of April 2012[update], the state's unemployment rate was 7.2%. During the Late 2000s Recession New Mexico's unemployment rate peaked at 8.0% for the period June–October 2010.
New Mexico is the third leading crude oil and natural gas producer in the United States. The Permian Basin (part of the Mid-Continent Oil Field) and San Juan Basin lie partly in New Mexico. In 2006 New Mexico accounted for 3.4% of the crude oil, 8.5% of the dry natural gas, and 10.2% of the natural gas liquids produced in the United States. In 2000 the value of oil and gas produced was $8.2 billion.
Federal government spending is a major driver of the New Mexico economy. In 2005 the federal government spent $2.03 on New Mexico for every dollar of tax revenue collected from the state. This rate of return is higher than any other state in the Union.
Many of the federal jobs relate to the military; the state hosts three air force bases (Kirtland Air Force Base, Holloman Air Force Base, and Cannon Air Force Base); a testing range (White Sands Missile Range); and an army proving ground and maneuver range (Fort Bliss – McGregor Range). A May 2005 estimate by New Mexico State University is that 11.65% of the state's total employment arises directly or indirectly from military spending. Other federal installations include the technology labs of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.
New Mexico provides a number of economic incentives to businesses operating in the state, including various types of tax credits and tax exemptions. Most of the incentives are based on job creation.
New Mexico law allows governments to provide land, buildings, and infrastructure to businesses to promote job creation. Several municipalities have imposed an Economic Development Gross Receipts Tax (a form of Municipal Infrastructure GRT) that is used to pay for these infrastructure improvements and for marketing their areas.
The state provides financial incentives for film production. The New Mexico Film Office estimated at the end of 2007 that the incentive program had brought more than 85 film projects to the state since 2003 and had added $1.2 billion to the economy.
Since 2008, personal income tax rates for New Mexico have ranged from 1.7% to 4.9%, within four income brackets. As of 2007, active-duty military salaries are exempt from state income tax.
New Mexico imposes a Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) on many transactions, which may even include some governmental receipts. This resembles a sales tax but, unlike the sales taxes in many states, it applies to services as well as tangible goods. Normally, the provider or seller passes the tax on to the purchaser, however legal incidence and burden apply to the business, as an excise tax. GRT is imposed by the state and there may an additional locality component to produce a total tax rate. As of July 1, 2013 the combined tax rate ranged from 5.125% to 8.6875%.
Property tax is imposed on real property by the state, by counties, and by school districts. In general, personal-use personal property is not subject to property taxation. On the other hand, property tax is levied on most business-use personal property. The taxable value of property is 1/3 of the assessed value. A tax rate of about 30 mills is applied to the taxable value, resulting in an effective tax rate of about 1%. In the 2005 tax year the average millage was about 26.47 for residential property and 29.80 for non-residential property. Assessed values of residences cannot be increased by more than 3% per year unless the residence is remodeled or sold. Property tax deductions are available for military veterans and heads of household.
New Mexico has long been an important corridor for trade and migration. The builders of the ruins at Chaco Canyon also created a radiating network of roads from the mysterious settlement. Chaco Canyon's trade function shifted to Casas Grandes in the present-day Mexican state of Chihuahua, however, north-south trade continued. The pre-Columbian trade with Mesoamerican cultures included northbound exotic birds, seashells and copper. Turquoise, pottery, and salt were some of the goods transported south along the Rio Grande. Present-day New Mexico's pre-Columbian trade is especially remarkable for being undertaken on foot. The north-south trade route later became a path for colonists with horses arriving from New Spain as well as trade and communication. The route was called El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.
The Santa Fe Trail was the 19th century US territory's vital commercial and military highway link to the Eastern United States. All with termini in Northern New Mexico, the Camino Real, the Santa Fe Trail and the Old Spanish Trail are all recognized as National Historic Trails. New Mexico's latitude and low passes made it an attractive east-west transportation corridor. As a territory, the Gadsden Purchase increased New Mexico's land area for the purpose of the construction of a southern transcontinental railroad, that of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Another transcontinental railroad was completed by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The railroads essentially replaced the earlier trails but brought on a population boom. Early transcontinental auto trails later crossed the state bringing more migrants. Railroads were later supplemented or replaced by a system of highways and airports. Today, New Mexico's Interstate Highways approximate the earlier land routes of the Camino Real, the Santa Fe Trail and the transcontinental railroads.
New Mexico has had a problem with drunk driving, but that has lessened. According to the Los Angeles Times, for years the state had the highest alcohol-related crash rates in the U.S., but ranked 25th in alcohol-related fatal crash rates, as of July 2009[update].
The automobile changed the character of New Mexico, marking the start of large scale immigration to the state from elsewhere in the United States. Settlers moving West during the Great Depression and post-World War II American culture immortalized the National Old Trails Highway, later U.S. Route 66. Today, the automobile is heavily relied upon in New Mexico for transportation.
New Mexico had 59,927 route miles of highway as of 2000[update], of which 7,037 receive federal-aid. In that same year there were 1,003 miles (1,614 km) of freeways, of which 1000 were the route miles of Interstate Highways 10, 25 and 40. The former number has increased with the upgrading of roads near Pojoaque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces to freeways. The highway traffic fatality rate was 1.9 fatalities per million miles traveled in 2000, the 13th highest rate among U.S. states. Notable bridges include the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge near Taos. As of 2001[update], 703 highway bridges, or one percent, were declared "structurally deficient" or "structurally obsolete".
Rural and intercity public transportation by road is provided by Americanos USA, LLC, Greyhound Lines and several government operators.
The New Mexico Rail Runner Express is a commuter rail system serving the metropolitan area of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It began operation on July 14, 2006. The system runs from Belen to downtown Santa Fe. Larger cities in New Mexico typically have some form of public transportation by road; ABQ RIDE is the largest such system in the state.
There were 2,354 route miles of railroads in the year 2000, this number increased with the opening of the Rail Runner's extension to Santa Fe. In addition to local railroads and other tourist lines, the state jointly owns and operates a heritage narrow-gauge steam railroad, the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway, with the state of Colorado. Narrow gauge railroads once connected many communities in the northern part of the state, from Farmington to Santa Fe.:110 No fewer than 100 railroads of various names and lineage have operated in the jurisdiction at some point.:8 New Mexico's rail transportation system reached its height in terms of length following admission as a state; in 1914 eleven railroads operated 3124 route miles.:10
Railroad surveyors arrived in New Mexico in the 1850s. The first railroads incorporated in 1869.:9 The first operational railroad, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (ATSF), entered the territory by way of the lucrative and contested Raton Pass in 1878. It eventually reached El Paso, Texas in 1881 and with the Southern Pacific Railroad created the nation's second transcontinental railroad with a junction at Deming. The Southern Pacific Railroad entered the territory from the Territory of Arizona in 1880.:9, 18, 58–59 The Denver & Rio Grande Railway, who would generally use narrow gauge equipment in New Mexico, entered the territory from Colorado and began service to Española on December 31, 1880.:95–96 These first railroads were built as long-distance corridors, later railroad construction also targeted resource extraction.:8–11
New Mexico is served by two class I railroads, the BNSF Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad. Combined, they operate 2,200 route miles of railway in the state.
A commuter rail operation, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, connects the state's capital, its largest city, and other communities. The privately operated state owned railroad began operations in July 2006. The BNSF Railway's entire line from Belen to Raton, New Mexico was sold to the state, partially for the construction of phase II of this operation, which opened in December 2008. Phase II of Rail Runner extended the line northward to Santa Fe from the Sandoval County station, the northernmost station under Phase I service. The service now connects Santa Fe, Sandoval, Bernalillo, and Valencia counties. The trains connect Albuquerque's population base and central business district to downtown Santa Fe with up to eight roundtrips in a day. The section of the line running south to Belen is served less frequently. Rail Runner operates scheduled service seven days per week.
With the rise of rail transportation many settlements grew or were founded and the territory became a tourist destination. As early as 1878, the ATSF promoted tourism in the region with emphasis on Native American imagery.:64 Named trains often reflected the territory they traveled: Super Chief, the streamlined successor to the Chief; Navajo, an early transcontinental tourist train; and Cavern, a through car operation connecting Clovis and Carlsbad (by the early 1950s as train 23–24),:49–50:51 were some of the named passenger trains of the ATSF that connoted New Mexico.
Passenger train service once connected nine of New Mexico's present ten most populous cities (the exception is Rio Rancho), while today passenger train service connects two: Albuquerque and Santa Fe. With the decline of most intercity rail service in the United States in the late 1960s, New Mexico was left with minimal services. No less than six daily long-distance roundtrip trains supplemented by many branch line and local trains served New Mexico in the early 1960s. Declines in passenger revenue, but not necessarily ridership, prompted many railroads to turn over their passenger services in truncated form to Amtrak, a state owned enterprise. Amtrak, also known as the National Passenger Railroad Corporation, began operating the two extant long-distance routes in May 1971. Resurrection of passenger rail service from Denver to El Paso, a route once plied in part by the ATSF's El Pasoan,:37 has been proposed over the years. As early as the 1980s former Governor Toney Anaya proposed building a high-speed rail line connecting the two cities with New Mexico's major cities. Front Range Commuter Rail is a project to connect Wyoming and New Mexico with high-speed rail.
Amtrak's Southwest Chief passes through daily at stations in Gallup, Albuquerque, Lamy, Las Vegas, and Raton, offering connections to Los Angeles, Chicago and intermediate points. The Southwest Chief is a fast Amtrak long distance train, being permitted a maximum speed of 90 mph (140 km/h) in various places on the tracks of the BNSF Railway. It also operates on New Mexico Rail Runner Express trackage. The Southwest Chief is the successor to the Super Chief and El Capitan.:115 The streamliner Super Chief, a favorite of early Hollywood stars, was one of the most famous named trains in the United States and one of the most esteemed for its luxury and exoticness—train cars were named for regional Native American tribes and outfitted with the artwork of many local artists—but also for its speed: as few as 39 hours 45 minutes westbound.
The Sunset Limited makes stops three times a week in both directions at Lordsburg, and Deming, serving Los Angeles, New Orleans and intermediate points. The Sunset Limited is the successor to the Southern Pacific Railroad's train of the same name and operates exclusively on Union Pacific trackage in New Mexico.
The Albuquerque International Sunport is the state's primary port of entry for air transportation.
Upham, near Truth or Consequences is the location of the world's first operational and purpose-built commercial spaceport, Spaceport America. Rocket launches began in April 2007. It is undeveloped and has one tenant, UP Aerospace, launching small payloads. Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company, plans to make this their primary operating base.
The governmental structure of New Mexico is established by the Constitution of New Mexico. The executive is composed of the Governor, several other statewide elected officials including the Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, and Commissioner of Public Lands, as well as the Governor's cabinet. The New Mexico Legislature consists of the House of Representatives and Senate. The judiciary is composed of the New Mexico Supreme Court and lower courts. There is also local government, consisting of counties, municipalities and special districts.
Current Governor Susana Martinez (R) and Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez (R), were elected in 2010. Their terms expire in January 2019. Governors serve a term of four years and may seek re-election for one additional term (limit of two terms). Other constitutional officers, all of whose terms also expire in January 2019, include Secretary of State Dianna Duran (R), Attorney General Hector Balderas (D), State Auditor Timothy Keller (D), State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn (R), and State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg (D).
Currently, the New Mexico State Legislature has split majorities, with Democrats controlling the Senate and the House of Representatives being controlled by Republicans. There are 27 Democrats and 15 Republicans in the Senate, and 37 Republicans and 33 Democrats in the House of Representatives.
New Mexico's members of the United States Senate are Democrats Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall. Democrats Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Ben R. Luján represent the first and third congressional districts, respectively, and Republican Steve Pearce represents the second congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. See New Mexico congressional map.
New Mexico is considered a swing state, whose population has favored both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates in the past. The current governor is Susana Martinez (R), who succeeded Bill Richardson (D) on January 1, 2011 after he served two terms as governor from 2003 to 2011. Prior to Richardson, Gary Johnson served as governor from 1995 to 2003. Johnson served as a Republican, but in 2012 he ran for President from the Libertarian Party. Governors in New Mexico are limited to two terms. In previous presidential elections, Al Gore carried the state (by 366 votes) in 2000; George W. Bush won New Mexico's five electoral votes in 2004, and the state's electoral votes were won by Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Since achieving statehood in 1912, New Mexico has been carried by the victor in every presidential election except 1976 and 2000.
Democratic strongholds in the state include the Santa Fe Area, various areas of the Albuquerque Metro Area (such as the southeast and central areas, including the affluent Nob Hill neighborhood and the vicinity of the University of New Mexico), Northern and West Central New Mexico, and most of the Native American reservations, particularly the Navajo Nation. Republicans have traditionally had their strongholds in the eastern and southern parts of the state, the Farmington area, Rio Rancho, and Albuquerque's Northeast Heights and the newly developed areas in the Northwest mesa. While registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by nearly 200,000, New Mexico voters have historically favored moderate to conservative candidates of both parties at the state and federal levels.
On major political issues, New Mexico abolished its death penalty statute, though not retroactively, effective July 1, 2009. This means individuals currently on New Mexico's Death Row can still be executed, and those convicted of capital crimes prior to July 1, 2009 may still be sentenced to capital punishment under the pre-existing death penalty statute. On March 18, 2009, then Governor Bill Richardson signed the law abolishing the death penalty (although the repeal is not retroactive to capital crimes committed before it took effect) in New Mexico following the assembly and senate vote the week before, thus becoming the 15th U.S. state to abolish the penalty.
On gun control, New Mexico arguably has some of the least restrictive firearms laws in the country. State law pre-empts all local gun control ordinances. Unlike states with strong gun control laws, a New Mexico resident may purchase any firearm deemed legal under federal law. There are no waiting periods under state law for picking up a firearm after it has been purchased, and there are no restrictions on magazine capacity. Additionally, New Mexico allows open carry of a loaded firearm without a permit, and is "shall-issue" for concealed carry permits.
Prior to December 2013, New Mexico law did not explicitly allow nor prohibit same-sex marriage. Policy concerning the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples was determined at the county level; that is, some county clerks issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, while others did not. In December 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling directing all county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, thereby making New Mexico the 17th state to recognize same-sex marriage at the statewide level.
Due to the state's various research facilities, such as Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico had the highest concentration of PhD holders of any state in 2000.
The New Mexico Public Education Department oversees the operation of primary and secondary schools.
With a Native American population of 134,000 in 1990, New Mexico still ranks as an important center of Native American culture. Both the Navajo and Apache share Athabaskan origin. The Apache and some Ute live on federal reservations within the state. With 16 million acres (6,500,000 ha), mostly in neighboring Arizona, the reservation of the Navajo Nation ranks as the largest in the United States. The prehistorically agricultural Pueblo Indians live in pueblos scattered throughout the state.
Almost half of New Mexicans claim Hispanic origin; many are descendants of colonial settlers. They settled in the northern portion of the state. Most of the Mexican immigrants reside in the southern part of the state. Also 10-15% of the population, mainly in the north, may contain Hispanic Jewish ancestry.
There are many New Mexicans who also speak a unique dialect of Spanish. New Mexican Spanish has vocabulary often unknown to other Spanish speakers. Because of the historical isolation of New Mexico from other speakers of the Spanish language adopts numerous Native American words for local features, and contains much Anglicized vocabulary for American concepts and modern inventions.
Albuquerque has the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, as well as hosts the famed annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta every fall.
The earliest New Mexico artists whose work survives today are the Mimbres Indians, whose black and white pottery could be mistaken for modern art, except for the fact that it was produced prior to the year 1130. See Mimbres culture. Many examples of this work can be seen at the Deming Luna Mimbres Museum and at the Western New Mexico University Museum.
A large artistic community thrives in Santa Fe, and has included such people as Bruce Nauman, Richard Tuttle, John Connell and Steina Vasulka. The capital city has several art museums, including the New Mexico Museum of Art, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, SITE Santa Fe and others. Colonies for artists and writers thrive, and the small city teems with art galleries. In August, the city hosts the annual Santa Fe Indian Market, which is the oldest and largest juried Native American art showcase in the world. Performing arts include the renowned Santa Fe Opera which presents five operas in repertory each July to August, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival held each summer, and the restored Lensic Theater a principal venue for many kinds of performances. The weekend after Labor Day boasts the burning of Zozobra, a 50 ft (15 m) marionette, during Fiestas de Santa Fe.
Art is also a frequent theme in Albuquerque, New Mexico's largest city. The National Hispanic Cultural Center has held hundreds of performing arts events, art showcases, and other events related to Spanish culture in New Mexico and worldwide in the centerpiece Roy E Disney Center for the Performing Arts or in other venues at the 53 acre facility. New Mexico residents and visitors alike can enjoy performing art from around the world at Popejoy Hall on the campus of the University of New Mexico. Popejoy Hall hosts singers, dancers, Broadway shows, other types of acts, and Shakespeare. Albuquerque also has the unique and memorable KiMo Theater built in 1927 in the Pueblo Revival Style architecture. The KiMo presents live theater and concerts as well as movies and simulcast operas. In addition to other general interest theaters, Albuquerque also has the African American Performing Arts Center and Exhibit Hall which showcases achievements by people of African descent and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center which highlights the cultural heritage of the First Nations people of New Mexico.
New Mexico still holds strong to its Spanish heritage. Old Spanish traditions such zarzuelas and flamenco are very popular in New Mexico. World renowned flamenco dancer and native New Mexican María Benítez founded the Maria Benítez Institute for Spanish Arts "to present programs of the highest quality of the rich artistic heritage of Spain as expressed through music, dance, visual arts and other art forms." There is also the Festival Flamenco Internacional de Alburquerque[dead link] held each year in which both native Spanish and New Mexican flamenco dancers perform at the University of New Mexico.
In the mid-20th century there was a thriving Hispano school of literature and scholarship being produced in both English and Spanish. Among the more notable authors were: Angélico Chávez, Nina Otero-Warren, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Aurelio Espinosa, Cleofas Jaramillo, Juan Bautista Rael, and Aurora Lucero-White Lea. As well, writer D. H. Lawrence lived near Taos in the 1920s at the D. H. Lawrence Ranch where there is a shrine said to contain his ashes.
New Mexico's strong Spanish, Native American, and Wild West frontier motifs have provided material for many authors in the state including internationally recognized Rudolfo Anaya and Tony Hillerman.
Silver City, in the southwestern mountains of the state, was originally a mining town, and at least one nearby mine still operates. It is perhaps better known now as the home of and/or exhibition center for large numbers of artists, visual and otherwise. Another former mining town turned art haven is Madrid, New Mexico. It was brought to national fame as the filming location for the movie Wild Hogs in 2007. The City of Las Cruces, in southern New Mexico, has a museum system that is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program. Las Cruces also has a variety of cultural and artistic opportunities for residents and visitors alike.
Aside from the aforementioned Wild Hogs, other movies filmed in New Mexico include Sunshine Cleaning and Vampires.
Professional sports teams based in New Mexico include the Albuquerque Isotopes (Pacific Coast League Triple-A baseball affiliate of the MLB Colorado Rockies), the New Mexico Mustangs (North American Hockey League), and the New Mexico Renegades (Western States Hockey League). New Mexico is home to several baseball teams of the Pecos League: Santa Fe Fuego, Roswell Aliens, Taos Blizzard, White Sands Pupfish and Las Vegas Train Robbers.
Collegiate athletics in New Mexico involve various University of New Mexico Lobos and New Mexico State Aggies teams in many sports.
Olympic gold medalist Tom Jager, who is an advocate of controversial high-altitude training for swimming, has conducted training camps in Albuquerque (elevation 5,312 ft (1,619.1 m)) and Los Alamos (7,320 ft (2,231 m)).
Topics related to New Mexico