New Mexico

New Mexico: The land of enchantment

New Mexico was named by Spanish conquerors who used the name for the area North and East of the Rio Grande. Its scenic attractions and well-preserved historical sights make it an ideal place for sightseeing. In addition, the consistent use of the adobe architecture even in modern times makes capital Santa Fe and Albuquerque a different experience from the usually very uniform look of American cities in the West. Already in the 12th century, a Native American settlement was where the capital is today. The Spanish first settled there in the 16th century. In 1610 Santa Fe became the seat of the governor of the Province of Nuevo Mejico in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. That makes Santa Fe the oldest capital in the US. The famous British Pilgrims with their ship Mayflower arrived more than ten years later at the East Coast of what today is known as the U.S.

Native Americans had to yield to the Spanish

Native American tribes had lived in the area long before Europeans started exploring it. They had their settlements near the rivers or in the back-country. Great cultures emerged in the Southwest of what is today the U.S. between 1000 and 1300 AD, among them the Anasazi and Chaco. These cultures disappeared – probably due to climate changes – during the 13th and 14th century. When the Spanish conqueror Coronado roamed the country in search of the seven golden cities of Cibola, Pueblo peoples – Hopi and Zuni in particular – were living there. After the conquerors, Spanish missionaries and settlers arrived. Frequently, conflicts arose between the Natives and the immigrants. As in Mexico before, the Spanish soon oppressed the Natives and drove them off the land. In 1680 the Pueblo people formed an alliance with the Apache people and briefly succeeded in driving away the Spanish. However, the conquerors prevailed in the end. Until 1821 New Mexico was under Spanish rule, after that it was under Mexican rule until 1846. During the Mexican rule, trade with the settlements on the Missouri River via the Santa Fe Trail was established. This trade not only affected the economy, but also politics and culture of the Spanish region that until then had been a rather secluded one. On August 15, 1846, Stephen Watts Kearny proclaimed New Mexico part of the United States. In 1853 the southernmost part of the state, formerly part of Mexico, was purchased (the Gadsden Purchase Treaty). As secession began, New Mexico was, for a short time, divided along the 34th parallel into a northern and a southern part. However, in 1863 it was finally divided into an eastern and western part, creating the territory that became Arizona and drawing the borders where they still are today. With the construction of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railway, New Mexico experienced its first economic boom in the 1880s. Finally, on January 6, 1912, New Mexico was admitted into the United States as the 47th state.

Compared to the rest of the United States, population growth in New Mexico is way above average. Between 1990 and 2000, the growth rate was at 20.1 percent. This is a result of the high numbers of immigrants from Mexico and other Latin-American states, but also of the positive economic development. One significant example for legal and illegal immigration of people from the South is the town of Las Cruces near the Mexican border. While 30 years ago the population of the city had not even reached 30,000, today it has a population of roughly 75,000 – two-and-a-half times as much as 30 years ago. This has made Las Cruces the second biggest city of New Mexico. Farming (corn, wheat, sorghum and cotton) is – due to very dry and hot summers – only possible with the help of irrigation. Livestock breeding is a vital part of the New Mexican economy. Also, New Mexico is the United States’ greatest uranium supplier. It also produces crude oil, natural gas and potassium salt. Real GDP was at $ 31,986 in 2006, which puts New Mexico in place 40 in the national ranking.