New Mexico( NM) became the 47th state on January 6, 1912, and is the 36th most populous state. It shares the famous Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. The New Mexican landscape boasts beautiful rose-colored deserts to rugged broken mesas to snowy mountaintops. Contrary to its arid image, a mountainous, forested wilderness covers much of the state, especially in the north.
Native Americans lived in NM for thousands of years before Europeans began exploring the area, which was colonized by the Spanish in 1598. It was named Nuevo México 223 years before the establishment of what is today the country of Mexico. From 1824 – 1846, Mexico did try to gain control of NM, but its geographic characteristics made settlement and effective political control difficult. In addition to the rugged terrain, New Mexico’s Spanish origins made cultural integration with Mexico unsuitable, leading to the Revolt of 1837. Capitalizing on these tensions, the 1848 Mexican – American War created the U.S. New Mexico Territory.
New Mexico is unique in many ways, notably the Spanish spoken by residents is a unique dialect. As NM was historically isolated from other Spanish speakers, some of the vocabulary of New Mexican Spanish is unknown to other Spanish speakers and uses many Native American words for local features, and includes “anglicized” words that express American concepts and modern inventions.
NM is known as an artist’s haven, with Santa Fe being an epicenter of the art world in the American Southwest. The capital city has hosted such artists as Bruce Nauman, Richard Tuttle, John Connell and Steina Vasulka, to name a few. Santa Fe 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. Artists and writers thrive there having set up colonies for themselves, and the small city hosts an abundance of art galleries. The annual Santa Fe Indian Market occurs every August, and is the oldest and largest juried Native American art showcase in the world.
NM’s economy is diverse, with oil and gas production, tourism and federal government spending being critical drivers of the state’s economy. New Mexico is the fourth leading crude oil and eighth leading 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. Despite this abundance, in 2006 New Mexico accounted for only 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 addition to these industries, limited, scientifically controlled dryland farming is able to prosper alongside cattle ranching. NM’s major crops include hay, nursery stock, pecans and the famous Hatch chile peppers. Farmers also produce onions, potatoes and various dairy products. New Mexico’s specialty crops also include piñon nuts and pinto beans.