Native American Indians built amazing cliff dwellings in New Mexico many centuries before the first Europeans arrived in the Americas, and structural remains of those cultures are spread across the state for all to see.
In 1536, the Spanish reached this undiscovered land, and in 1540, V?squez de Coronado, led an expedition north from Mexico City in search of the fabled "Seven Cities of Gold."He discovered the Grand Canyon, and made it all the way to Kansas, but in the end those "Cities of Gold" turned out to be a fabricated legend.
Over the next sixty years, Spanish exploration continued here, albeit slowly. Missionaries and settlers traded with the indigenous Pueblo Indians, and by the end of the 16th century, churches were being built, including the first one in all of North America.
The Spanish called this land New Mexico, appointed a governor and established Santa Fe as the capital; priests began to convert the local Indians to Christianity and many thousands of settlers moved in.
Discontent with Spain?s control grew, and in 1680, the Pueblo Indians revolted; they killed and terrorized the colonists; burnt their religious buildings, and surrounded Santa Fe - forcing hundreds to flee to Mexico.
A decade passed and the Spanish returned with just fifty soldiers; using diplomacy and an inflated military strength bluff, the Pueblo people surrendered. Many years of bloodshed and war followed, including raids by the Apache and Comanche Indians. In the end battles were won and agreements were forged, as the Spanish settlers were very determined - and here to stay.
Following Mexico's successful War of Independence from Spain in 1821, the New Mexico Territory came under Mexican control. Then, during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), both America and Mexico fought for control of Texas. When that war ended, (by agreement) the fast-growing U.S. took possession of Texas, and what is now California, Nevada, Utah, parts of Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming, and of course, the New Mexico Territory.
America's Civil War had a minor impact in New Mexico, but the westward expansion of America would change this land forever. Greedy cattleman and lawyers swindled local Indians out of their long-held land, and eventually, tragically, the U.S. army forced the once-proud Apache and Navajo Nations onto reservations.
In the 1880's the railroads arrived; commerce began flowing in and out, and the population expanded rapidly. It was still a mostly lawless territory when it achieved statehood on January 6, 1912, as the 47th state.
During World War II, troops from New Mexico served with honor. Especially notable were the Indian "code talkers" as they used their native languages to help confuse the Japanese and win the war in the Pacific.
New Mexico Today
In the post-war era New Mexico prospered, as this marvelous land of deserts, lakes, mountains and Indian legends - this "Land of Enchantment" - has blossomed into a business center, major tourism destination, and a vital part of America's past, present and future.
Intense Natural Beauty
New Mexico is the southeastern member of the ?four corners? states that also include Colorado, Arizona, and Utah, the only place in the U.S. where you can stand in four states at once. This thoroughly Southwestern state is bisected by the Rio Grande River and the trailing end of the Rocky Mountains. Outdoor adventurers love the grand, rugged landscape of gorges, canyons, and mesas on the Colorado Plateau, and the challenging climbs of the Sangre De Cristo and San Andres Mountains. Near the border of Texas and Mexico are the glistening gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument and the echoing depths of Carlsbad Caverns to explore.
Vibrant City Life & Economy
The cities of New Mexico are thriving today with travel and tourism bringing income to luxury health spas, outdoor adventure outfits, and ski resorts. Taos, Santa Fe, Los Gatos, Roswell, and Albuquerque each have their own unique flavor and attractions. This state supports many U.S. military installations which greatly contribute to the economy of local businesses. And let?s not forget?this is home to the infamous Area 51 near Roswell, NM, the site of one of the most debated alien encounters ever reported and a favorite New Mexico tourist attraction for UFO buffs. After tourism and the federal government, oil and natural gas production are New Mexico?s biggest economic drivers.
Albuquerque, New Mexico is the state?s biggest city and the Ballooning Capital of the World, with the famous old Route 66 running right through the center of town. The greatest Native American gathering in the world is held here annually and pueblo historic sites abound. At the tail end of the Rocky Mountains, the capital city of Santa Fe boasts outstanding ski resorts and is home to the world famous Santa Fe Opera, founded by Igor Stravinsky.