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New Mexico (NM): State Guide and Fun Facts


When did New Mexico become a state?
January 6, 1912

Which European country first explored New Mexico?
Spain

First Native American settlers:
Clovis Paleo-Indians, Mogollon, Anasazi, Pueblo, Navajo, Apache and Ute Native Americans

Square Miles:
121,593

US Rank:
5th

State Flower:
Yucca

State Bird:
Roadrunner

State Motto:
Crescit Eundo, which translated means Grows as it Goes.

Capital City

Santa Fe – Santa Fe is the capital city of New Mexico, however it is not the state’s largest city. The area was originally inhabited by Native American villages, who occupied the area along the Santa Fe River. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was the first European explorer to claim the land in 1540. However, it was not colonized or settled by Europeans until 1598, when Don Juan de Onate founded the province that he called Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico. Santa Fe did not gain official recognition as the capital of New Mexico until 1824.

 

What is New Mexico famous for?

1. adobe architecture
Adobe architecture is typically found in the southwestern area of the United States. The style is characterized by the use of adobe, which is composed of sand, clay, water and straw. The mixture is formed in large batches, and then made into bricks. The bricks are laid in a staggered pattern, similar to typical brick building practices, and then covered by an outer layer of the same material so that the structure of the stacked bricks is no longer visible, and the wall is significantly thicker than it was when construction began. The thick walls are important in the southwest because of the extremely dry heat that the area receives. The adobe is so thick that the hot sun cannot permeate the thick walls. Instead, the adobe dissipates the heat as it travels through the wall such that the inside never becomes warm like the outside.

2. Roswell
Roswell New Mexico is the site of a controversial incident that took place in the late 1940s. There are varying accounts of the story, but some people believe that sometime during the summer months of 1947, an unidentified flying object crashed in Roswell, sending alien bodies and spaceship remnants flying across the desert. The United States government has explained the incident as the unfortunate accident of a balloon that was being tested for surveying the Earth from a high-altitude, but decades later, skeptics spoke out, disagreeing with the government’s explanation, claiming the story was an attempt to cover up what really happened that day.

3. White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument is an enormous area, 275 square miles in size, in New Mexico that is characterized by pure white gypsum sand dunes. There is nothing like it in the United States, and the monument stands to preserve the area so that it can be studied, admired and enjoyed for generations to come. Native Americans from New Mexico believe in the legend of Pavla Blanca, a ghost that inhabits the White Sands. According to the story, in 1540, Hernando de Luna traveled with Coronado to America to discover new land. Unfortunately, de Luna was killed in a battle with Native Americans who wished to defend their land from European explorers. De Luna’s love is said to wander the sands in search of him, wearing a white wedding gown.

What is New Mexico’s economy?

1. Agriculture – Agriculture plays a large part in the economy of New Mexico. The state’s leading crop is hay on account of the fact that growing hay does not require a large amount of water. New Mexico also grows pecans, nursery products, chili peppers and onions. Livestock that are raised in New Mexico include beef cattle and calves as well as sheep and pigs.

2. Manufacturing – Manufacturing is another leading industry in New Mexico. The states largest manufacturers produce goods such as computer equipment, electronic equipment, computer chips, telephone equipment, chemicals, clothing, concrete and food products.

3. Services – The services industry in New Mexico contributes the largest percentage of money to the state’s GDP. This sector includes businesses such as private health care, hotels, ski areas, high technology companies, research labs, repair shops, government services, wholesale trade, retail trade, insurance and real estate.

 

New Mexico Historical Landmarks

1. Georgia O’Keefe Home and Studio
Painter Georgia O’Keefe gained inspiration from the New Mexico landscape that surrounded her home in Abiquiu. She purchased the home in 1945 from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe. She had her eye on the property for many years before she was able to purchase it, and through determination and persistence, came to own it. She remained at the home until 1984, and died two years later. The home is now owned and run by the George O’Keefe Museum.

2. Palace of the Governors
The Palace of the Governors was built in 1610 in the traditional adobe brick style that is typical of the southwestern United States. When it was built, it originally served as the seat of government of Nuevo Mexico, ruled by the Spanish Government. After New Mexico became part of the United States’ territory, the Palace served as the state’s capitol building. The building became New Mexico’s state history museum in 1909, and remained as such for 100 years. In 2009, a structure was built next to the former palace to house the new museum.

3. Ernie Pyle House and Library – In 1940, war correspondent Ernie Pyle and his wife, Jerry, built a house in Albuquerque New Mexico. Although he was often abroad reporting on World War II battles and happenings, Pyle enjoyed coming home to his sanctuary. Ernie Pyle was killed not long after his home was completed. A sniper shot him in 1956 while he was reporting on a small island in Japan. His wife died later that same year. The house was converted into the City of Albuquerque’s first public branch library in 1948 and it remains as such today.

Additional Resources

Airports in New Mexico

Chamber of Commerce in New Mexico

Towns and Cities in New Mexico

Counties in New Mexico

Zoos in New Mexico