World Facts

New Mexico State Flag

The flag of New Mexico features a red symbol of the sun on a yellow field.

Introduction

The state of New Mexico is located in the southwest of the United States of America. On January 6, 1912, it was acknowledged as the 47th state by the Union. New Mexico ranks fifth among states in terms of size (121,412 square miles), is the 36th most populated, and is the sixth least densely populated state. The assumption that the state of New Mexico was named after the sovereign nation of Mexico is incorrect. However, New Mexico has the highest population of Hispanics among US states. New Mexico is bordered by Texas to the south, as well as two Mexican states, Sonora and Chihuahua. The state is also bordered by Arizona to the west, Oklahoma to the east, and Colorado to the north.

State Flag

New Mexico’s flag contains the symbol of Zia, which is a red sun, on a yellow background. The Zia are a native tribe in the Zia Pueblo Indian reservation in New Mexico. The tribe is known for their usage of the sun symbol. The flag’s design was first conceived in 1920, with the aim of highlighting New Mexico’s roots, and was officially introduced in 1925. The sun shows the roots of the natives, while the yellow color reflects the flags of Habsburg Spain and the Crown of Aragon.

Interestingly, New Mexico’s flag does not contain the color blue. The absence of the blue is significant because it is considered a national color and is included on nearly all state flags. Other state flags that do not contain blue are California, Alabama, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Even more interesting, a 2001 survey by the North American Vexillological Association concluded that New Mexico’s flag is considered the best of all US states, territories, and Canadian provinces.

History of the Flag

The flag was created in 1920 through a design contest organized by the state. The contest was held after the Daughters of the American Revolution advised the state to devise a unique flag. The design was developed by archaeologist Harry Mera, who was familiar with the sun symbol and its meaning to the Zia people. Each of the four cardinal points around the circle has four red stripes jutting out from the edge, such that the total number of red stripes at the edge is sixteen. The four stripes at each compass point were used because the number four is sacred to the Zia. The number four represents the four seasons, the four compass points, the four phases of life, and the four divisions of a day. All of these elements are bound by the circle.

Fourteen years after becoming a state, New Mexico still had no official flag. During that period, an unofficial flag of New Mexico was used during the San Diego World Fair in 1915. The flag had a blue background with the US flag at the top left corner, along with the number "47" in the top right corner, as it was the 47th state, the words "New Mexico" written in silver at the center, and the state seal in the bottom right.

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