New Mexico History
The first people who have been determined to have lived in the region were a group of the Paleo-Indians, the so called Clovis Culture. After them, the area was inhabited by the Ancestral Pueblo people and the Mogollon tribe. When the Europeans came to the region in the 16th century, these cultures have been replaced by different tribes of the Pueblo people as well as Ute, Apache and Navajo tribes.
The first Europeans to come to the region were Spanish explorers interested in the fabled Seven Golden Cities of Cibola. They came to the area of today’s New Mexico in 1540, led by Francisco Vazquez de Coronado. The state got its current name two decades later, in 1563, when another Spanish explorer, Francisco de Ibarra who was exploring the northern reaches of Mexico in search of gold mines, dubbed the region Nuevo Mexico. When the region was organized into a Spanish province in 1598, the name was officially confirmed by the first governor of the Province of New Mexico, Juan de Onate.
In the same year, the first permanent European settlement, a colony of San Juan de los Caballeros was established in the vicinity of the Ohkay Owinegh Pueblo on the Rio Grande River. The next larger settlement in the area, Santa Fe, was established in 1608 at the base of a southern range of the Rocky Mountains, Sangre de Cristo Mountains. As was the case with most of the newly settled regions, the colony of Santa Fe was met with a lot of resistance from the native people. These tensions escalated in the revolt of the Pueblo people, which has forced the Spanish forces to abandon the colony between the years 1680 and 1692. However, once the revolt was quenched, the Spaniards returned to Santa Fe, and resumed developing it into a large trading center. Currently the largest city in New Mexico, Albuquerque, was established by the colonists returning to Santa Fe in 1706.
In 1821, after the Mexican War for Independence, the Province of New Mexico came under the control of the newly independent Mexico. A part of the territory was later claimed by the Republic of Texas after its 1836 succession from Mexico. However, despite the fact that Texas was declaring possession over the region, it couldn’t actually claim the territory, as it was separated from it by the Comancheria. The only attempt to actually claim the land, Texas Santa Fe Expedition, was not successful. The northeastern part of the territory of today’s New Mexico came under US control as a part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that marked the end of the Mexican-American War officially transferred the control over the northern regions of Mexico to the US. Those regions are now forming parts of California and the American Southwest. Texas sold their part of the Province of New Mexico to the US, and in 1950, the New Mexico Territory was formed. At the time parts of today’s Colorado, as well as the entire state of Arizona were incorporated into the Territory. Southern parts of the state, as well as certain sections of today’s Arizona were acquired in 1853 in the Gadsden Purchase.
The state had an important role in the Civil War. Both the Union and the Confederacy considered the Territory to be under their ownership, and tried to claim it for themselves. The Arizona Territory was formed in 1861, when Confederate forces claimed the southern reaches of the New Mexico Territory. Forming of the new territory was a part of their New Mexico Campaign that was meant to give them passage to California across the American Southwest. However, their presence in New Mexico was crushed in 1862 with the Battle of Glorieta Pass. It is estimated that New Mexico Territory has produced some 8,000 Union soldiers.
In 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state in the Union. It is in New Mexico in Los Alamos that the first atomic bombs were manufactured in the World War II. It is also in the same state, in the White Sands Proving Grounds at the Trinity site that the bombs were first tested. Government has been investing heavily in New Mexico. There are two federal research laboratories in the state, Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as the White Sands Missile Range and three Air Force bases.
Economy of New Mexico
The most important boosts to the state’s economy are the federal government investments, tourism and gas and oil production. The government of the state is heavily invested in supporting business investments and job growth, mostly through technical assistance and different tax credits. State’s GDP in 2010 amounted to $79.7 billion, while its per capita personal income in 2007 was 43rd highest in the US at $31,474. It is estimated that in 2005 18.4% of the state’s residents were below the poverty level. The unemployment in the state was at 7.2% in 2012.
The state is the 3rd largest natural gas and crude oil producer in the nation. It has parts of two rich basins on its territory, the San Juan Basin and a part of the Mid-Continent Oil Field, the Permian Basin. In the year 2006, the state was responsible for 10.2% of the natural gas liquids, 8.5% of the dry natural gas and 3.4% of the crude oil produced in the nation. The value of the gas and oil that the state produced in 2000 was $8.2 billion.
State’s economy relies heavily on federal government’s investments. In 2005, for every dollar that the federal government gained from the state through taxes, it spent $2.3. This makes New Mexico’s rate of return higher than that of any other state in the nation. Most of the federal jobs in the state are in the military sector. The state has a maneuver range at Fort Bliss, White Sands Missile Range testing range and three air force bases, Cannon Air Force Base, Holloman Air Force Base and Kirtland Air Force Base. It is estimated that some 11.65% of the total number of jobs in the state come from military investments.
Different kinds of tax exemptions and tax credits are offered by the state as an economic incentive to businesses. The largest part of those incentives revolves around the creation of new jobs. The government is able to give infrastructure, buildings and land to new businesses, all with the goal of creating new jobs. One of the industries that the government is supporting in this way is the film industry. Government incentives have resulted in at least 85 projects in this sector, and have brought $1.2 billion to the state’s revenue since 2003.
As of 2008, there are four tax brackets in New Mexico ranging from 4.9% down to 1.7%, with the active military personnel being exempt from the personal income tax. Unlike most state that have a sales tax, New Mexico has a Gross Receipt Tax, which differs from the typical sales tax in that that it also applies to services, and not only goods. Just like most states do with their sales taxes, GRT is dictated by the state, and can be modified to a certain amount by particular municipalities. With those local adjustments, the GRT can range from 5.1% to 8.5%. Real property is subject to the property taxes, which are imposed by the school districts, counties, and naturally, by state.
New Mexico Geography and Climate
New Mexico covers 121,412 square miles, which makes it the 5th largest state in the nation. New Mexico has Colorado on the north, Arizona on the west, Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua and Texas on the south and Oklahoma on the east. Despite the size of the state, only 250 square miles of it are covered in water.
The state’s topography is characterized by mountain ranges and vast deserts. However that is not to say that the state doesn’t have wide stretches of lush forests, especially in the northern section. The extreme southern part of the Rocky Mountains, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains stretch along the Rio Grande in the northern part of the state. The most important state’s rivers are Gila, San Juan, Canadian, Pecos and Rio Grande.
A large portion of the state’s surface is covered in national forests, most notably Gila Wilderness, Gila National Forest, Santa Fe National Forest, Lincoln National Forest, Cibola National Forest and Carson National Forest. There are also a number of areas under the protection of the National Park Service, such as White Sands National Monument, Santa Fe National Historic Trail, Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, Petroglyph National Monument, Pecos National Historical Park, Old Spanish National Historic Trail, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, Fort Union National Monument, El Morro National Monument, El Malpais National Monument, El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Capulin Volcano National Monument, Bandelier National Monument and Aztec Ruins National Monument.
The southern part of the state mostly consists of semiarid plains covered in desert grasses such as burrograss, tobosa, purple three-awn and black grama, and other plants, including yucca, cacti, mesquite and creosote bush. Northern part of New Mexico is mostly covered in forests containing Russian olive, fir, spruce, cottonwood, aspen and ponderosa pine. The state is quite rich in animal life as well, with large populations of jackrabbit, kangaroo rat, western diamondback, pronghorn, chipmunks, squirrels, bighorn sheep, collared peccary, plains bison, elk, deer, Mexican grey wolf, skunk, porcupines, coyotes, cougars, black bears, wild turkey and great roadrunner.
Climate of the state is usually described as semi arid to arid, but there are parts of the state that have alpine or continental climate. This diversity is mostly caused by the differences in the terrain, which consists either of desert or high plains and mountains. The eastern portion of the state holds the Great Plains.
On average, the state is getting 13.9 inches of rain every year. The state yearly averages the temperature of 40 °F in the northern, mountainous region and 64 °F in the southeastern section. In the areas that are lower than 5,000 feet, it is not uncommon for the daytime temperatures in the summer to rise above 100 °F. In such regions summer temperatures average around 80 °F in the regions at higher altitudes, and 97 °F in those with lower. The lowest temperature of −50 °F was recorded in 1951 at Gavilan, while the highest temperature in the state of 122 °F was recorded in 1994 at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in the vicinity of Loving. The state is getting quite a bit of snowfall every year, especially in the mountainous regions.
Population of New Mexico
In 2011 the population of New Mexico was estimated at 2,082,224 which presented an increase of 1.12% when compared to the previous year. According to the place of birth, people born within the state make up 51.4% of the total state’s population, those born in some of the other state 37.9%, people born in US Island areas, Puerto Rico, or in some other place, but to US citizens 1.1% and those born somewhere else, whose parents weren’t US citizens 9.7%.
In 2008 the population of the state counted 1,984,356 people, which was a 9.1% or 165,315 people increase since the year 2000. This was a combination of 120,968 deaths and 235,551 births which resulted in a natural increase of 114,583 residents, and the net migrations that resulted in an increase of 59,499 people.
The town of Manzano in the Torrence County is the state’s center of population. It is estimated that 50.7% of the state’s population is composed of females, and that 13.1% of the state’s inhabitants are older than 65 years, 25.3% younger than 18, and 7.5% younger than 5. Recent immigrations of people from Latin America, combined with the fact that most of the early state colonists were Spanish resulted in New Mexico having the highest percentage of Hispanic people – 46%. This contributed to making New Mexico one of four US minority-majority state, along with Texas, California and Hawaii.
When it comes to the ethnicity of the states inhabitants, non Hispanic white people make up 40.5% of the state’s population, Hispanic white people 27.9%, African Americans 2.1%, American Natives and Alaskan Natives 9.4%, Asian people 1.4%, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders 0.1% and multiethnic people 3.7%. New Mexico is second only to Alaska when it comes to the percentage of Native American inhabitants. In 2008, the same statistic expressed in number of inhabitants, instead of percentages was: there were 1,375,334 white people, 43,931 black, 182,136 of American Native or Alaskan Native people, 26,767 Asian people, 854 Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders, 59,415 of multiethnic people and 273,778 people belonging to some of the other races. When it comes to ancestry groups, 18.7% of the state’s population declared their ancestry as Spanish, 16.3% as Mexican, 10.3% as American Native and 9.8% as German.
When it comes to languages spoken at home, 82% of the population considers English to be their first language, 28% Spanish and 4% speak Navajo. The state doesn’t technically have an official language, even though the state officials need to have adequate knowledge of English in order to be allowed into the office. The 1912 constitution prescribed the rewriting of laws in both Spanish and English, setting up the background for an officially bilingual state. Even though this decision has been supported in 1931 and 1943, not all laws are written in both languages, which makes Hawaii the only officially bilingual state in the nation.
When it comes to religion it is estimated that 26% of the state’s inhabitants are members of the Roman Catholic Church, 42% Protestant, which is further subdivided into 15% mainline Protestants, 25% Evangelical Protestants and 2% of members of other Protestant denominations. Some 3% of the state’s residents are adherents of the Church of Latter Day Saints, 2% are Jewish, 2% Buddhist, 3% belong to some of the other religions, while 22% of the state’s inhabitants are religiously unaffiliated. According to the number of adherents, 670,500 people were members of the Catholic Church in the year 2000, 132,675 were members of the Southern Baptist Convention, 42,260 of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and 41,600 of the United Methodist Church.
New Mexico Government and Legislature
New Mexico’s government is structured in the same way as the federal government of the United States, with three government branches, executive, legislative and judicial.
The executive branch is responsible for the state budgeting and the public administration. It is led by Governor who is elected into four year terms. In New Mexico, a single person can only serve two terms as the state Governor, before someone else needs to be elected for the position. Governor’s duties and powers include vetoing bills proposed by the houses of legislature, commanding the state’s National Guard, granting pardons to convicts, appointing certain members of the state’s Supreme Court and calling special sessions of the state’s legislature. Executive branch operates through a number of different departments and agencies, which are meant to regulate specific sectors of public administration. Other officials of the executive branch are the State Land Commissioner, State Treasurer, State Auditor, Attorney General, Secretary of the State and the Lieutenant Governor.
New Mexico’s legislature is bicameral, as is the case with all other US states apart from Nebraska which has a unicameral legislature. This basically means that it is composed out of two bodies, the lower house of the legislature, the New Mexico House of Representatives, and the upper house, the New Mexico Senate. House of Representatives has 70 Representatives, while Senate has 42 Senators. The number of members of the houses is determined by the population that is represented by the appropriate legislature members. There are no term limits for Senators and Representatives. Senators serve 4 year terms, while Representatives serve for 2 years. The legislature is charged with proposing new bills and making them into laws. For a bill to become a law it must get the majority of votes in both houses of legislature, and it must then be signed by the state Governor. If the Governor decides to place a veto on the bill, houses of legislature can still make it into a law if they gather a two thirds majority of votes in favor of adopting the bill.
The judicial branch of New Mexico is represented through a number of courts with different jurisdictions and authority. The highest court in the state is the New Mexico Supreme Court. It mostly deals with determining the constitutionality of certain laws, but it can also listen to appeals and perform disciplinary hearings involving members of the judicial branch. However, it rarely has original jurisdiction, but instead most cases are relegated to it from some of the lower courts if the decisions that they were unsatisfactory and there were grounds for appeal.